In the 1970s, when oil prices jumped, most liberals embraced a simple solution: price controls. It should be illegal, they thought, to sell oil or gasoline for more than a certain amount. They soon learned an unforgettable lesson from shortages and lines at the pump: Price controls on gasoline don't work. In recent decades, when gas prices have soared, Democrats have shown no desire to repeat the lesson.
But they embrace a similar approach for another problem: low pay for many workers. Chicago decided last year to boost the minimum wage to $13 an hour by the middle of 2019. Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have gone even higher, raising the floor to $15 an hour in the next few years, and other cities may follow suit. It's a price control on labor. This time, writes Steve Chapman, the hard lesson is likely to be learned from lost jobs.