Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 2, 2016

in Work

… is from page 160 of Princeton University economist Thomas Leonard’s splendid 2016 book, Illiberal Reformers (footnotes excluded):

41zmhibmykl-_sx329_bo1204203200_The theory that minimum wages discharged the least productive workers had been a constant of Anglophone political economy, dating to John Stuart Mill’s (1848) Principles of Political Economy.  When England established a minimum wage with the Trades Board Act in 1909, it did so notwithstanding the objections of a generation of England’s most eminent economists – Henry Sidgwick, Alfred Marshall, Philip Wicksteed, and A.C. Pigou – all of whom observed that while the law could make it criminal to pay a worker less than the minimum, it could not compel firms to hire someone at that rate.  Even the intellectual champions of the English minimum wage conceded the point.

As Leonard shows in his book, beyond any reasonable doubt, the fact that minimum wages cause the least ‘desirable’ people to be priced out of jobs was for “Progressives” of a century ago a feature of minimum wages and not a bug.

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