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Conscription and the Minimum Wage

Here’s another letter to a frequent – and always quite hostile – e-mail correspondent:

Mr. Aaron the Aaron

Dear Mr. the Aaron:

Like many ‘Progressives,’ you champion both conscription and the minimum wage.  As such, you call my opposition to conscription “dogmatic,” while you reckon that my opposition to minimum-wage legislation results from my being (quoting one of your earlier e-mails) “blind to employers’ power over employees.”

Allow me to summarize your policy position: You wish to force people to work for certain employers (governments) at wages that these people judge to be too low but that you judge to be acceptably high for them, while simultaneously forcing people not to work for other employers (private firms) at wages that these people judge to be acceptably high but that you judge to be too low for them.  In short, you presume to forcibly override with your own assessment – or with that of politicians whom you mysteriously trust – the assessments of each of millions of individuals of what are and what are not acceptable working terms and conditions for these individuals.

I could comment further on your arguments’ inconsistencies (for example, no employer has as much “power over employees” as does one that can actually conscript workers).  But I’ll simply add that the lone consistency that knits together all of your arguments is a faith that employment arrangements dictated by force are superior to those reached through mutual and voluntary consent.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030