Steve Horwitz weighs in on the pay gap between men and women. A slice, which challenges those who make a case for government intervention to be more specific in that part of their formula when they (unwittingly) proclaim “Then a miracle occurs“:
Finally, as libertarians we might want to challenge some of our feminist friends with the following consideration: if patriarchy is real and men have disproportionate power over all of society’s major institutions, why should a feminist trust the government to be the solution to problems like the gender wage gap? Even without assuming patriarchy, given the track record of government in the 20th century and before, why should we believe it will not only care about women’s interests but be able to effectively pursue them? To simultaneously complain about how Congress is controlled by men and still think that the federal government is the solution to men’s oppression of women seems… problematic. And if our feminist friends agree that the state is not the solution, then it would seem we’re all on the same side.
When Steve Landsburg disagrees with me, I worry. But on this issue I’m sticking to my guns – hopefully not foolishly, but also not without some anxiety that my reasoning is awry. (I respond to Steve in the comments to his post.)
But let’s remember that the destruction of some low-wage jobs is only one of the many possible negative consequences of minimum-wage legislation. U.C.-Irvine economist Richard McKenzie highlights – and documents – some other of the negative consequences. (HT Tyler Cowen) A slice:
Employers are certainly capable of responding to wage hikes by making direct changes to the employment status of their workers. They can shift their workforce to noncovered workers (such as unpaid interns) or to automated machines. Or, businesses can import their products from overseas, where workers earn far less per hour than American minimum-wage workers. That the employment effects of wage floors have been so small, therefore, is explained by the reduction in workers’ nonmonetary compensation. Granted, a decade ago researchers found minimum-wage hikes had little to no effect on workers’ fringe benefits, but they considered only the expensive benefits that high-income workers receive (for example, health insurance), and they took no account of the easily obscured work-demand effects of mandated wage hikes (or any of the other nonmoney forms of compensation, for example, job security).