Hit & Run

Steve Chapman on the Phony Promise of Minimum Wage Hikes

Despite high-flying promises, government can't decree the price of labor without killing jobs.

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Crumpled dollar
Steve A Johnson / Foter.com / CC BY

If you offer people something that is too good to be true, you will always find takers. Ask Bernie Madoff. Or ask Barack Obama, who recently proposed an increase in the minimum wage. That's an idea that suits the natural predilections of many people enough to distract them from the unsentimental and unwelcome logic of economics, writes Steve Chapman. The proposal rests on the assumption that the government can decree the price of a commodity—in this case, labor—in defiance of the dictates of the market, without ill effects. But that view requires a heroic suspension of disbelief.