Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Businessmen are Not Beasts of Burden

The statists' who fight for higher minimum or so-called "living" wage laws have recently begun employing a new rationalization: They claim that employers who pay low wages cost taxpayers money by causing their workers to go on public assistance to supplement their income. Employers are therefor being subsidized by taxpayers to the extent that their workers receive public assistance, and should be forced to pay higher wages to end the subsidy. 

A 4/1/14 New Jersey Star-Ledger letter illustrates this tactic. In Renters' pay dilemma should be employers' burden, Brian T. Lynch takes issue with housing advocates who call for more public rental assistance funds for low income households. Instead, Lynch writes:

    The real answer to affordable housing isn’t more taxpayer-funded housing programs, but higher wages. Funding employees to a level of economic self-sufficiency should be an employer’s burden.
    Businesses directly profit from every dollar of tax subsidies that go to support their employees. When wages are suppressed, consumer spending declines and the whole economy slumps. Less spending means less commerce and fewer jobs. Fewer jobs and lower wages mean more government spending and less tax revenue.
    Profitable business should be made to reimburse us for the added tax burden they impose by paying workers substandard wages.

I left these comments:

At first glance, I actually thought that this letter was an April Fool's joke, because I couldn't believe the economic ignorance, illogic, and depraved morals the letter embodies. Let's untangle this mess with some facts.

It is the government, not business, that imposes the tax burden of social welfare programs on us. Government seizes money by taxes—i.e., at gunpoint—from productive individuals and redistributes it to those who did not earn it. Businessmen, the most productive economic group, don't "profit from every dollar of tax subsidies" their workers may collect. They profit from the products and services they produce and market. They pay for those subsidies through their taxes. And businessmen ("the rich"), being the primary source of income taxes, are the biggest contributors to those subsidies. Businessmen are not the villains. They are the welfare state's biggest victims. 

Businessmen/entrepreneurs across the economic scale are the exceptional individuals who step out from the crowd to organize the factors of production toward creating the products and services that our lives, well-being, and flourishing depend on. In the process, they create the jobs that enable self-responsible individuals to contribute to the productive process, earn money, and become consumers. Businessmen accomplish this by mutually beneficial, mutually consensual voluntary trade and contract; and all toward a morally virtuous end—the same end that motivates workers and consumers—his own profit and self-interest.

Businessmen—the highest type of laborer, the risk-taking intellectual laborer—are the unsung heroes of the economy and of our historically wealthy standard of living, achieved despite an ever-growing burden of regulations. Yet, in our ever-more-morally twisted culture, they are increasingly the victims of a bigotry, exploitation, and persecution as virulent as any that has ever existed. As evidence, I submit Renters' pay dilemma should be employers' burden.

Lynch views businessmen as parasites who somehow owe "us"; an "us" which businessmen are excommunicated from. Like a savage who just stepped out of a jungle, ignorant of basic economics, Lynch simplistically thinks that more money equals more wealth, that one can consume without producing, and that forcing businessmen at gunpoint to pay their employees more than they agreed to work for and more than they are worth to him and to the company's productive mission will somehow create commerce and jobs. Businessmen will somehow make the impossible work. Lynch has apparently never learned that there is no free lunch, either in nature or in economics.

There are basically two types of parasites—material and spiritual. Spiritual parasites are those busybody do-gooders who want to "help" one group by picking the pockets of other groups—and then, their professed "compassion" for the needy having cost them nothing, hypocritically beating their chests about how wonderful they are. The material parasite merely seeks unearned wealth. The spiritual parasite seeks unearned humanitarian accolades. Lynch is the second, most vicious and most dangerous type of parasite. 

Lynch owes employers an apology for this despicably ignorant, bigoted, morally twisted letter.

As to New Jersey's so-called rental housing affordability crisis, one should look at the local zoning laws, environmental regulations, land preservation policies, rent control and other anti-landlord laws, and other government policies that combine to restrict or discourage adequate and affordable housing construction. Beyond that, people should stop blaming others for their problems, and learn to take responsibility for their own lives. As to those busybody Lynches of the world, they should put their own time and money where their mouths are, and butt out of other people's lives and pocketbooks.

Altruism obviously lies behind Lynch's reasoning. Since altruism holds that need is a moral claim on others, someone must be forced to supplement low-wage workers' incomes. Once you accept that notion, the debate comes down to who must be forced. It is only altruism that gives plausibility to the Lynch-type argument that profitable businessmen are beasts of burden. 

Related Reading:

3 Essays on Minimum Wage

NJ's "Affordable Housing Crisis" - It's the Zoning, Stupid It's the Zoning, Stupid!

Altruism vs. America—Craig Biddle

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