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Quick quiz: If you jack up the price of something, do you think people will buy more or less of it? Apparently, the obvious answer “Less!” eludes the folks who argue that if the government forces employers to pay all workers a $15 minimum wage, that said employers will be tripping over themselves to keep current workers and maybe even hire some new ones.
A new short video—warning, it’s complete with expletives!—explains a simple truth about the minimum wage to those poor folks—pay attention young Bernie Sanders supporters!—who might have been victims of government schools and, thus, never learned even elementary economics.
Ayn Rand explained that “Unemployment is the inevitable result of forcing wage rates above their free-market level.” But this is no declaration of “Starve, you damned workers.” Rand explains that “A country’s standard of living, including the wages of workers, depends on the productivity of labor; high productivity depends on machines, inventions, and capital investment … which requires for its exercise, a politico-economic system that protects the individual’s rights and freedom.” That includes freedom to trade and do business without government mandates.
Most workers today can trade their labor for a comfortable middle class life. This is not because they work that much harder than their compatriots who, hundreds of years ago, could not even dream of today’s high living standards. Nor is because governments force businesses to pay them more. Rather, it is because of productivity advances made by free individuals in free markets.
Living standards for many in the middle class are stagnant today because of the $1 trillion burden of government regulations and job-killing policies like minimum wage mandates. So those of you who want to help workers—and everyone—should work to keep the government out of the way!
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.