I’ve said for many years that there’s an unacceptable side to capitalism – when business, otherwise laissez-faire, tries to use regulation to boost itself but impede everyone else, and refuses to ‘share the wealth’ by treating others just as fairly as it demands to be treated itself. In his latest column, Fred Reed sums it up very neatly.
To understand the arguments of capitalists against the minimum wage, follow the money. In all the thickets of pious reasoning about the merits of capitalism and the market, and of freedom of contract, and of allowing this marvelous mechanism to work its magic, and of what Adam Smith said, the key is the dollar. The rest is fraud. Carefully ignored is the question that will be crucial in coming decades: What to do about an ever-increasing number of people for whom there is no work.
There is of course much hypocrisy in the theoretical edifice. For example, businessmen argue that the minimum wage constitutes intolerable interference by the government in the conduct of business—meanwhile sending armies of lobbyists to Washington to make the government interfere in the conduct of business. In fact capitalists have no objection to federal meddling. They just want it to be such meddling as puts more money in their pockets. Nothing more. Ever.
In like fashion they say that they want to protect the worker’s freedom—yes, his freedom, such is the capitalist’s benevolence, the worker’s freedom–to sell his labor at a mutually agreed price. Curiously, in practice this means the employer’s freedom to push wages as close to starvation as he can get away with. This miraculous congruence of high principle with low profit is among the wonders of the universe.
A capitalist will similarly object to zoning on grounds of protecting property rights–it’s his land, and he can do with it as he likes—but if you buy the lot next to his house and build a hog-rendering plant, he will shriek for… zoning.
In every case, without exception, his high principles will lead to more in his pocket. He will be against a minimum wage because, he says, it prevents young blacks from entering the job market and learning its ways. You can just tell he is deeply concerned about young blacks. He probably wakes up in the middle of the night, worrying about them. He doesn’t, however, hire any. Purely incidentally, not having a minimum wage saves him… money. And if he were truly concerned about young blacks, might he not express this concern by—paying them a living wage?
The quest for cheap labor has perhaps caused less misery than war—itself a most profitable business, war—but it is neck and neck. Businessmen imported blacks as slaves to have cheap labor, with disastrous results continuing to this day. Businessmen encourage illegal immigration from the Latin lands so as to have cheap labor. They sent America’s factories to China to have cheap labor. And now they peer with wet lips and avid gaze at… robots.
These will drudge away day and night, making no demands, never unionizing,, needing no retirement or medical benefits. Actually, though, capitalists want robots because capitalists care about freedom and want to help young blacks.
A cynic might see this as intellectual scaffolding for social Darwinism and unaccountability–see, it’s all due to the workings of the market. and the capitalist is only a bystander But no. It is about freedom., and justice, and all.
There’s much more at the link. Highly recommended reading. Fred gets it said.