Dwight Lee, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, highlights the hypocrisy of politicians who, in one breath, boast of the great benefits that their offices’ unpaid internships offer to young men and women, and who then, in their next breath, pontificate self-righteously about how their support for a higher legislated minimum-wage is evidence of their special concern and care for low-skilled workers. Here’s are two slices:
Another advocate of a higher wage floor is Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.)—except in his congressional office. The Democrat promises that “interns will receive unique career development opportunities.” But that first rung on the ladder comes with this caveat: “All internships are unpaid.”
Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Charles Rangel are both Democrats from New York, and they share the same policy: “Although all internships in all offices are unpaid, students gain invaluable work experience.”
Then there is Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio). “Interns in my Washington, D.C. office work on a wide range of projects,” prospective applicants are told. But the young folks are on their own when it comes to expenses: “internships in my Ohio and Washington, D.C. offices are unpaid. In addition, we are unable to reimburse you for parking and mileage.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) is a case study in the Washington approach. Rep. Waters, who like so many of her peers offers unpaid internships, celebrated the passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007—raising the rate of the minimum wage to $7.25 from $5.15—with a House floor statement. “The economic gap between the rich and poor is growing. Too many people are living at or below the poverty line,” Rep. Waters said. “When we pass this bill, we will all feel better about ourselves.”
How gratifying that Ms. Waters is among those who “feel better” about themselves for forcibly shrinking the range of employment options open to low-paid workers. It’s public-policy as puerile theater-therapy for the ego-greedy elite.