Sunday, November 3, 2013

Minimum Wage Issue is Not "about what it’s like to live on $7.25 an hour"

New Jersey has a major gubernatorial election coming up on November 5th. But, there is a ballot question, New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase Amendment, Public Question 2, that will have greater impact on the state longer term than the choice of governor. As Eunice Lee and Mike Frassinelli report:

   On Nov. 5, New Jerseyans will vote on whether to amend the state Constitution to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25, followed by automatic annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index.
   Proponents say an increase would help employees improve their standard of living. Opponents say it would force businesses already operating on thin profit margins to raise prices and cut staff, creating an even worse situation for those on the bottom rung of the career ladder.
   “The money has to come from somewhere,” said Michael Saltsman, research director at Employment Policies Institute, a business-backed think tank.
   Raising the minimum wage, he said, “would be harmful to both the state’s employers and employees, and will hurt the least-skilled job seekers the most” in an economy where 26 percent of teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 already are unemployed.

Lee and Frassinelli go on to say, "Away from the political and philosophical discussions, The Star-Ledger spoke with minimum-wage workers from ages 19 to 66 about what it’s like to live on $7.25 an hour," followed by profiles of several minimum wage workers who report on their daily struggles and what an increase in the minimum wage would mean to them.

But individual economic circumstances of low wage workers are irrelevant to the minimum wage issue. Nature provides no material guarantees in life, and no adult has the right to expect others to provide him that guarantee. 

If one finds one's economic circumstances unsatisfactory, he has only one moral choice; take the self-corrective actions he deems necessary to raise his living standard, and only in voluntary association, trade, and contract with others. The only moral demand he has a right to expect of his fellow man is to not coercively hinder his freedom of action.

The immoral alternative is to force others to provide one with a living standard (or wage) that he has not earned, effectively making those others his slaves. This is the alternative of the criminal, and agitating for government to do it for one—of effectively using the government as one's hired gun—does not change the immoral nature of such actions. Neither does cobbling together an electoral majority justify it. There is no justification for slavery in any of its manifestations. If mere economic desires or needs are enough to justify initiating force against one's fellow man, then virtually every criminal act, whether done by individuals as private citizens or government officials, is justified.

The moral alternative of voluntarism vs. force underlies the political/economic conflicts of our day. On the minimum wage issue, as with so many other so-called "economic justice" issues, there is no way of getting "Away from the political and philosophical discussions." The fundamental issues are not economic. They are political and philosophical—especially moral—and nothing else.

I left these comments:

The economic and jobs destructiveness of minimum wage laws has been well-documented. But neither the economic argument nor the lifestyles and choices of the individuals profiled in this article get to the most fundamental issues voters will decide. 

1. Is need a license to steal? 

A "yes" vote on the Minimum Wage Amendment answers "license to steal", because it forces employers to pay higher wages than he would otherwise willingly pay, based solely on the employee's "need" for more money. The only difference between outright theft and minimum wage statutes is that with minimum wage laws,  the government is the employee's hired gun. Any denial of these facts is a dishonest evasion of the truth.

2. Do we live in a constitutional republic based on individual rights, or a democratic fascist dictatorship where the electoral majority can trample the rights of the minority, including the smallest minority on earth—the individual? 

A "yes" vote answers "democratic fascist dictatorship," because it substitutes majority mob rule for the inalienable rights of employers and employees to negotiate the terms of a voluntary, mutually advantageous employment contract without interference from government officials.

3. Is the constitution's function to limit the power of the government to its proper purpose of protecting every individual's inalienable rights to his life and liberty—including freedom of association and contract—equally and at all times, or is the constitution to become a rights violating, special interest tool of economic aggression?

A "yes" vote says "rights violating, special interest tool of economic aggression," in direct contravention to the political ideals of the Founding Fathers.

Contrary to this article, the issues voters will decide have nothing to do with the lifestyles and choices of people working for "minimum" wages. Those are their lifestyles and their choices. Self-responsible, able-bodied people of sound mind and integrity are free to take steps to improve their economic situations and would willingly do so. They do not depend on aggressive government force initiated against others to solve their problems.

The issues voters will decide are much deeper; a choice between a political philosophy of liberty and limited government or a political philosophy of tyranny. Which means, a choice between moral government and immoral government. 

Are New Jersey voters intellectually up to the task? We'll find out soon.

The moral and constitutionally responsible choice is to VOTE NO on the New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase Amendment, Public Question 2, on November 5, 2013.

Related Reading:

Morality and the Minimum Wage

Rights and Democracy 

Rights Are Inalienable, Not an Electoral Privilege

Minimum Wage Amendment Morally Disastrous—My letter-to-the-editor published in the Hunterdon County Democrat


Steve D said...

‘The Star-Ledger spoke with minimum-wage workers from ages 19 to 66 about what it’s like to live on $7.25 an hour,’

What The Star-Ledger should have asked them is what it would mean for them to have their pay cut by $7.25 an hour which is what the law is intended to accomplish.

The economic argument against minimum wage laws is so simple and straightforward, I consider it an ideological litmus test for anyone smarter than a moron. (the moral law is just as straightforward but because of the ethics they are taught, if you bring this up most people will stare at you blankly – been there, done that.)

If knowing what you and many others have written about the subject, a person still advocates for a minimum wage law, something else is going on; either they want to hurt the poor or are so ideologically committed, they can be considered willfully blind. That adult human beings can support such idiocy is frightening.

In either case, I think a good cultural indicator that we are winning the battle will come when these laws begin to be repealed or even scaled back.

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

Economic ignorance, political ideology, and altruism are certainly factors behind the minimum wage crusade. But so is cronyism. Unions favor it because they believe raising the bottom of the wage scale will justify higher union wages. Many business's see minimum wage laws as a back-door way to eliminate competition by driving out marginal business's that can't afford the higher rates.

I agree the minimum wage fight is a cultural indicator. By that measure, we're losing big time.

Mike Kevitt said...

Today is 11/06/13, eve. N.J. voters weren't intellectually up to voting for liberty, but for slavery instead. They didn't vote for immoral gvt. over moral gvt. They voted for crime over gvt.

Gvt., by my definition, is moral. Crime, by my definition, is immoral, including when it poses as law & gvt, and succesfully fooling the people.

The people chose glitz, based on their perception of lifestyles. That's what the ballot asked of them. They don't have the intellectuality to see the issue of freedom or slavery behind the choice offered. They must check their definition of crime and see and apply its full meaning. Then they'll see that 'gvt.' isn't always gvt. by law, but crime displacing gvt. by law.

(It was 11/06/13, eve. when I started this comment.)

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

"crime displacing gvt. by law."—Nice shorthand characterization of the regulatory welfare state.