Markets over Mandates: A better diversity dogma
“Americans should not be subsidizing the richest family in America and Walmart workers should not be living in poverty,” Sanders tweeted last month, castigating the big box retailer for not paying all workers $15 per hour. “Walmart’s greed has got to end,” he added.
“More importantly, if you care about improving the quality of life and living standards over time, the essential question is always about creating broad-based, sustainable economic growth. What are the conditions that are most likely to help the economy get bigger, stronger, and more resilient? At the top of the list is a government which promulgates simple, predictable, and widely enforced rules; spends within its limits and doesn’t pursue arbitrary trade wars and military interventions; and doesn’t bog down the future with an ever-increasing mountain of debt that tamps down growth and freezes out investment. Near the bottom of the list is something that is part of Sanders’ policy repertoire: Announcing bold new plans (Medicare for All! Free College for All!) without even pretending to know how to pay for them.“
“The disconnect between the intention and what emerges”
A conversation with Dr. Thomas Sowell about the folly of political initiatives to solve disparate impact. With predictable irony, these same interventions often exacerbate the same problems the were commissioned to fix.
Another explanation for stagnant wages is increasing market power for a dwindling number of corporations: the fewer corporations there are competing for labor, the more able they will be to negotiate down wages. In the book “The Captured Economy,” Niskanen Center scholar Brink Lindsey and Johns Hopkins professor Steven Teles argue that “regressive regulation”––or regulation supported by established corporate interests in order to drive out competitors––has contributed to this phenomenon. As regressive regulation limits the number of corporations, it means the fewer larger remaining corporations can bid down wages.
The progressive proposal for increasing wages in a labor market in which a few corporations have dominant market power is to raise the minimum wage. Unfortunately, minimum wage increases exacerbate the problem of the concentration of market power for big corporations. According to a Harvard study released this past April, minimum wage increases lead to smaller businesses closing down, hence hurting people trying to start enterprises and advantaging wealthier, more established players. Not to mention that the minimum wage hurts the poorest members of society trying to enter the labor market. Minimum wage hikes are not the way to increase low-income wages, but free marketers need to present their own remedies.
The solution to the high level of market power of a handful of companies is to empower small businesses to enter the market. And government regulation disproportionately harms small businesses: according to a Lafayette University study, the regulatory burden per worker is 28 percent higher for companies with fewer than 500 workers than for companies with more than 500 workers. Specific, targeted reform directed at regulations that have especially high fixed costs and create barriers to entry would go a long way in empowering workers and new entrepreneurs.
Occupational licensing laws are an excellent example of a regulation that depresses the wages of low-income people by imposing high fixed costs, and they have exploded over the past half-century. In 1950, only five percent of jobs were subject to licensing requirements. Now, that figure is closer to 30 percent. According to conservative think tank Goldwater Institute, occupational licensing requirements seriously depress low-income entrepreneurship, hence both holding more people in poverty and preventing the entry of new, small firms…Repealing these regulations would both directly increase the wages of low-income workers while also easing the process for firm entry into the market.
Furthermore, the Dodd-Frank Act is another package of regulations that has seriously weakened small businesses. The burden of the regulatory rules in Dodd-Frank has disproportionately hurt community banks, and while community banks only form 20 percent of all banking in the United States, they are responsible for 50 percent of small business loans. Therefore, as community banks die off––almost 20 percent of them have shuttered since Dodd-Frank’s implementation––would-be small business founders lose access to capital. This loss of access to capital perpetuates the problem of the shrinking number of businesses in the market as a whole. Therefore, repealing Dodd-Frank would enable for more firm entry and a more dynamic labor market, addressing the decline in business formation partially responsible for wage stagnation.
Increased competition in the labor market for workers is a viable solution to slow wage growth that conservatives must champion. Free marketers cannot afford to surrender the issue of wage stagnation to progressives championing more government intervention, and present their own liberty-minded solutions to raise the wages and living standards of low-income workers.
“The results indicate that these regulations, especially minimum wage policy, contribute to higher unemployment rates and constraint formalization in Morocco, especially for youth and women.”
For anyone who still thinks minimum wage laws help people get ahead or climb the economic ladder… first you must actually be able to reach the first rung on the ladder!
While economists are famous for their disagreements (and their incompetent forecasts), there is universal consensus in the profession that demand curves slope downward. That may be meaningless
And this is why it makes no senseto impose minimum wage requirements, or to increase mandated wages where such laws already exist.
If you don’t understand this, just do a thought experiment and imagine what would happen if the minimum wage was $100 per hour. The answer is terrible unemployment, of course, which means it’s a very bad idea.
So why, then, is it okay to throw a “modest” number of people into the unemployment line with a “small” increase in the minimum wage?