May 14, 2013

Another View: Even with good intentions, hiking minimum wage is bad policy

There are better ways to help low-income breadwinners than adding to employers' costs.

By Martin Jones

For a good example of the kind of fuzzy thinking that results in so much bad legislation, read Rep. Scott Hamann's Maine Voices piece, "Minimum-wage hike will help breadwinners keep up with rising costs," (May 4).

Rep. Hamann thinks that raising the minimum wage magically creates a net economic benefit, but if that were true, why not raise it even more? Why not raise all wages a little? Then if that works, why not adjust prices to benefit consumers? Think of all the benefits that could be achieved by the arbitrary application of wage and price controls guided by good intentions.

Higher-minimum-wage advocates don't seem to understand that redistributing income according to political whim doesn't create any new wealth, but almost always results in new economic inefficiencies.

Politicians such as Rep. Hamann think that they can set wages and not have the benefits offset by less noticeable negative consequences, such as the job seeker who doesn't get hired, the employee who gets a smaller raise, the business investment that doesn't get made or higher prices for consumers.

Only a small portion of minimum-wage earners are family breadwinners, and there are better ways of helping these individuals, like expanding the earned income tax credit, than by raising costs for employers and distorting the entry-level job market for everyone else.

Bad economics almost always results in bad policy and unintended results, however good the intention. Rep. Hamann's minimum-wage bill is a classic example.

Martin Jones is a resident of Freeport.


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