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Ignorance or Cunning?

Here’s a letter to NPR:


On yesterday morning’s program A Martínez had a seven-minute-long segment on the minimum wage – a segment consisting mostly of softball questions lobbed to pro-minimum-wage activist Rev. William Barber (“14 years ago the federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 an hour. It hasn’t changed,” July 31). It is dismaying that for the entire seven minutes both Mr. Martínez and Rev. Barber completely ignored the chief objection to the minimum wage, namely, that it reduces employment opportunities for low-skilled workers. Are your reporter and the Reverend unaware of this argument? If so, they are intellectually unqualified to report and pontificate on the minimum wage. Yet if they are aware of the argument and nevertheless ignored it, they are ethically unqualified to so report and pontificate.

Reporting on the minimum wage without mentioning the argument that it decreases low-skilled workers’ opportunities to find employment – an argument, by the way, that has ample empirical support – is like reporting on poll taxes without mentioning the argument that they decrease low-income people’s opportunities to vote.

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

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