Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee wanted a San Diego State University economist to testify Wednesday about the effects of raising the minimum wage. But the hearing was cancelled after the committee discovered two ancient blog posts that the economist, Joseph Sabia, had written as a graduate student.
"Members were uncomfortable moving forward on the hearing," Kelley McNabb, communications director for the committee's Republican majority, tells Politico. San Diego State University has condemned "the language and sentiments expressed in" Sabia's posts, and university president Adela de la Torre has said on Twitter that she was "personally appalled" by what Sabia had written.
The posts were produced back in 2002, and Sabia had already deleted both; you have to use the Wayback Machine to access them. Neither has anything to do with the minimum wage. One of them claims that since "homosexual activity has been responsible" for a variety of STDs, the government should tax gay sex. Sabia is gay himself, and the post was clearly satiric. The post even paused to spell out the point:
In all seriousness, the bottom line is this—the government has no business interfering in the lives of smokers, fatties, or gays. In America, each citizen ought to be free to choose the risks he is willing to take and the potential rewards (or costs) he may receive. He should be free to make choices that could lead to heart disease, diabetes, or HIV. And if these bad outcomes materialize, he should not look to the public dole for relief.
The other post argues that feminism has encouraged young women to be promiscuous—or as the young Sabia put it, to be "sluts" and "whores." It's a dumb post. It was also written nearly 20 years ago by a grad student, and it doesn't really tell us anything about how mature the writer is today, let alone about the quality of his research on the minimum wage.
Sabia quickly apologized for his "hurtful and disrespectful language," noting in a statement that his "peer-reviewed professional work" on a variety of issues is "a more accurate representation of my more than 14-year career as an applied microeconomist." It should be obvious that that's true, but apparently it needs to be spelled out.
In the words of Reason's Robby Soave, "It's time to declare an end to the practice of mining people's past social media comments for fire-able offenses." Or in this case, not an offense that will get someone fired, but an offense that will keep legislators from hearing any insights he might have on a policy they might change.