Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jim Crow and the minimum wage

I was rereading one of Dylan's post on racial issues over at Blindsight 20/20 and I got to thinking about how any legislature that impacts blacks negatively more than other groups - crack-cocaine punishments, welfare reform, public housing cuts, etc. - are presented as racist in nature and motivation.

Under Jim Crow laws, this was absolutely the case. Legislation that said in order to vote, you must ace a difficult voting test unless your grandfather was a voter was designed to target blacks without actually mentioning them.

Jim Crow laws were a horrible blight on our record, which makes it politically convenient for some lefties to invoke them to smear modern laws that would impact blacks more than whites.

So with that template in mind, shouldn't minimum wage laws fall under the 21st century Jim Crow umbrella?

I've added emphasis to the minimum wage entry on the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

At current U.S. wage levels, estimates of job losses suggest that a 10 percent in crease in the minimum wage would decrease employment of low-skilled workers by 1 or 2 percent. The job losses for black U.S. teenagers have been found to be even greater, presumably because, on average, they have fewer skills. As liberal economist Paul A. Samuelson wrote in 1973, “What good does it do a black youth to know that an employer must pay him $2.00 per hour if the fact that he must be paid that amount is what keeps him from getting a job?”

This has been well-understood for a long time. The white labor unions in South Africa under apartheid pushed for minimum wages to push blacks out of jobs. It doesn't matter that the proponents today are no longer motivated by racism when the results are identical.

If one is in the habit of calling racism on any legislation that makes things difficult for minority members more than anyone else, than they should see the minimum wage as nothing less than a Jim Crow law.

1 comment:

  1. Someone call Jesse Jackson! Does he know about this!?!

    No revelations for me here, but as always, well done.