This week the good people of New Jersey voted to automatically increase the minimum wage every year.
Now, why did they do this? Don’t they know that when the minimum wage is high, minimum wage jobs become scarce? It’s a fact: minimum wage increases depress the job market. Were Jersey voters trying to do that on purpose?
No–the explanation’s simpler than that.
The voters simply couldn’t resist the temptation to do something that seemed to be generous and which, if they did it, would make them feel good about themselves. “I am generous! What a nice guy I am–I raised the minimum wage!” Nothing makes an American feel more self-righteous than to give away something that he doesn’t own and which he thinks costs him nothing.
What happens after 20 years or so of automatic minimum wage increases? Hmmm… gonna be kinda high, ain’t it? I mean, would you pay some teenager $30 an hour to pick up litter from your parking lot? And if the minimum wage is that high, then “standard” wages will be even higher–to say nothing of a “good” wage.
Either our money will be so debased by then that $30 an hour won’t be enough to live on, or wages in New Jersey will be so high that no one will be able to afford to hire anybody to do anything.
But it’s nice to be generous.