Yeoman Farmer emails:
I thoroughly enjoy your two blogs, reading them several times a day. There has been a movement in our county in flyover country to get our county Board of Supervisors to raise the minimum wage. Last night there was a public "discussion" on that topic at a liberal arts college in the county seat. Our county is primarily big ag in the country and big labor unions in the city. When I read about the upcoming discussion, I thought it would be a good venue for some "libertarian rabble rousing".
The event was held in a small auditorium at the college and attended by about a hundred people. I got there a few minutes early to survey the audience and see if there might be any allies in the crowd. I approached a few different folks and asked if they were for or against raising the minimum wage. Without exception they were for raising it. I began to think I might be on my own at this event. The four member panel consisted of one Democrat member of the Board of Supervisors, one Democrat state representative and two small business people. The audience was about evenly split between older folks (many with labor union hats and jackets) and college age kids.
I have read your blogs for several years, always taking a little extra time to carefully read and understand the posts on minimum wage laws because it struck me as so inimical to the rights of a "free" people to have government dictate what an employer could pay his/her employees. I did not have a whole lot of time to prepare for the "discussion" so I just went to your blog, typed "minimum wage" into the search bar, copied several cogent articles, printed them out, and highlighted the main points. With that, I was now armed and dangerous.
After the discussion moderator introduced the panel members, they each gave their spiel on why our county needed to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, what a shame it was that we had not, how great the poverty was in our area (even though we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation) and how it would be reduced with a raise in the minimum wage, how wonderful life would be once we did raise it, and on and on and on. I figured I would only get one shot at this. After panel finished there was a brief lull, so I secured the moderators approval and dove in.
I started with a brief history of the minimum wage laws being the favourite tool of labor unions to suppress "colored" races, "quoting Thomas Sowell in his NY Times article. Then I related the findings of the studies done in Canada that showed with a 10% increase in minimum wage there was a corresponding reduction of employment among teens and young adults of 3-6%. I asked the panel and audience what they had against young people and lower skilled that they wanted to make it illegal for them to take a job at less than what government said they could. I said the greatest poverty in our area was not economic poverty but a poverty of mind and spirit with it's accompanying lack of self-reliance and initiative that consequently looks to government for all the essentials of life; a poverty that government works non-stop to reinforce.My closing statement was this: "Heaven help us and save us from social do-gooders who wrap themselves in the cloak of self-righteousness social justice and arrogate to themselves the power of Leviathan State to tell others how to run their businesses and live their lives."
As a result of my statements and the ensuing firestorm of comments, I have a better understanding how the prophet Daniel felt in the lions den. There was no real, factual refutation of my points, only innuendo, emotion and obfuscation, as well as general hate and discontent. There was definitely a "deer in the headlights" look on the faces of the panel. By far, the majority of the audience was in favor of raising the minimum wage and had never even entertained the remote possibility that minimum wage laws were just plain wrong. My goal was not to convert everyone but just possibly light a few brushfires in the minds of men. One comment to that effect was from an older man in the audience who expressed his appreciation saying "I came hoping for a discussion of the issue and wish there had been this much discussion at the last Board of Supervisors meeting." Mission accomplished.
Thank you Robert for all the hard work that goes into Target Liberty and Economic Policy Journal. They are an essential part of the arsenal of liberty in our times.