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Bernie Sanders Is to Economics What Road-Runner Cartoons Are to Physics

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants to punitively tax certain firms that pay any employees less than $15 per hour (“Plan B for a $15 Minimum Wage,” March 1).

Sen. Sanders clearly believes that employers are responsible for low-skilled workers earning less than $15 per hour, and that employers whose actions keep worker pay lower than this amount commit an ethical offense that government should discourage with punitive taxes.

By this logic, Sen. Sanders should agree that even heftier punitive taxes – roughly twice the amount – should be imposed on himself and other supporters of a minimum wage of $15 per hour. After all, forcing employers to pay more for low-skilled workers, either directly or through punitive taxes, will cause some of these workers to lose employment. These individuals’ hourly incomes will thereby fall to $0, which is fully $15 less than is the amount that Sen. Sanders thinks is minimally acceptable, and a bit more than double the difference between what workers at the current minimum wage of $7.25 actually earn and the amount that Sen. Sanders has somehow divined these workers ‘should’ earn.

Unless Sen. Sanders is willing to take personal responsibility by being punitively taxed for the huge income losses that his proposed policy would cause, his proposal deserves only to be ridiculed for the political grandstanding that it is.

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