The heartless minimum wage

By Tom Quiner

A top-down minimum wage imposed by the federal government is impractical.

As this blog has written before, a one-size fits all approach is illogical when you consider the cost-of-living disparity between states.

There is another  deleterious consequence to a minimum wage hike: it disproportionately hurts young black workers.

Only 2% of hourly workers in the U.S. even earn the minimum wage. But the vast majority of teenagers begin working at the minimum wage since they have fewer marketable skills.

Nationally, the unemployment rate for black teenagers is six times that of the general population, and double that of the general teen population. These gaps don’t seem to change, and will get far worse if the president and his party have their way and increase the wage to fifteen dollars per hour.

Liberal economist, Paul Samuelson, admitted the harm a minimum wage can inflict on black teens in his iconic text book, “Economics”:

“What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him a minimum wage if the fact that he must be paid that wage keeps him from getting a job?”

In the Prager University video above, economist David Henderson points out that liberal thinking on the minimum wage issue was far from a consensus as recently as 1987. Opposition to the wage included the New York Times.

That has changed, to the detriment of black teens.

Sadly, a majority of black teens live in single parent homes without a father present. Statistically, children in these homes, regardless of skin color, experience the consequences of social pathology in greater numbers. These pathologies manifest themselves in terms of lower literacy rates, lower graduation rates, increased drug use, increased gang activity, increased likelihood of crime and even violent death.

A job can be a stabilizing factor in a young person’s life, giving him/her increased feelings of self-respect. An entry level job, even if it is merely flipping burgers, teaches young workers skills to help them get a better job.

What are these skills? My first job many years ago earned me $1.50 an hour washing dishes at a neighborhood hospital. I learned the importance of being punctual, following directions, and getting along with people.

I got a raise within a year. Today, two out of three young workers on the minimum wage get a raise within their first year.

There’s no getting around it: a hike in the minimum wage will hamper the ability of minority youth to land that first job that can turn their life around. That’s why I consider the proposed hike in the minimum wage to be particularly heartless.



  1. Shawn Pavlik on May 26, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Churchill once commented that if you are under 30 and a conservative that you have no heart, and if you are over 30 and a liberal you have no brain. Liberal policies, I think, often have good intentions. The problem is that they do not logically think through the unintended consequences of their actions. Proof?

    1. Welfare – It’s great that we have a safety net for those who truly need it. The problem is that we have made welfare so easy to get and keep getting, that people stay on it for very long periods of time. Prior to the “war on poverty” black illegitimacy rates were in the high teens, low 20’s in percent. Now after 50+ years of the welfare state, we are at 80%. No question that there is a correlation.

    2. Social Security – It was a great deal for the first recipients. They paid in for 0-2 years, and got money until they died. 40 people paying in for every 1 person who collected. Set the retirement age at 65, which just so happened at that time to be the average life expectancy. Had they indexed the retirement age to the life expectancy even a little bit, we would not currently be paying out more money than we are paying in, and we would not have fewer than 3 payors for every payee.

    Those are just 2 of the better examples of liberal good intentions going very wrong.

    • quinersdiner on May 26, 2016 at 11:48 am

      These are two great examples, Shawn, especially #1. What American liberalism has done to Black families is shocking.