Reflecting on the two negative e-mails that I’ve gotten in response to my open letter to Hillary Clinton – in which I criticize Clinton for her call to make disabled workers subject to the minimum wage – I’m struck anew by people’s apparent belief in government’s ability to work miracles.
Suppose that scholarly research discovers that men who date or who marry only unattractive women are less happy than are men who date or who marry attractive women. Driven by this empirical finding, Congress passes legislation mandating that all women who date or who marry men must be at least minimally attractive.
Proponents of this minimum-attractiveness legislation declare,in stentorian tones, that from this day forward America will finally fulfill its promise as a land in which no man suffers the indignity and misfortune of dating or marrying an unattractive woman. Every woman who dates or who marries a man will from now on satisfy a minimum threshold of attractiveness, as determined by science and as set and enforced by government officials.
Many naive men support this legislation. They believe that the mere declaration by government that every woman who dates or who marries a man must be at least minimally fetchin’ will in fact miraculously ensure that all dates that these men have from here on in will be with women who are indeed more attractive than were the women they dated prior to the implementation of this regulation. And this happy outcome will transpire, of course, without reducing any man’s frequency of dating or marrying.
Sadly, of course, these men will later discover that they are unable to get dates or wives at all. They’ll discover that their romantic fortunes, far from improving, have tanked. Very few unattractive women, prohibited from dating and marrying, will be transformed by this regulation into at-least-minimally-attractive women. Instead, unattractive women will be removed by government diktat from the dating & mating market. Unattractive men – the ones who before the legislation dated and married unattractive women – were intended by the legislation to be given access to more-attractive women. The result will be that these men get no women at all.
The above hypothetical sounds absurd. “No one is stupid enough to believe that some men’s romantic fortunes would be improved by a government prohibition on their dating and marrying woman who fail to meet a minimum standard of attractiveness. No one is ignorant enough to think that such a prohibition will miraculously result in men who once enjoyed only the romantic companionship of unattractive women now enjoying the romantic companionship of more-attractive women.”
But people who support minimum wages believe something equally absurd. Minimum-wage supporters believe that by prohibiting employers from associating with workers who are not minimally productive that some miracle occurs to raise these workers’ productivity to levels high enough to justify their employment. “Voila! It is declared, so it will be!”
The above originally appeared at Cafe Hayek.