Arnold Kling

New Law to Repeal Gravity

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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The front page of today's Washington Post had an economically illiterate headline:

'Living Wage' Accord Reached
Montgomery Rule Would Aid Poor

The "living wage" bill will require any company that does business with the County to pay workers a wage about double the current minimum wage. This will hurt the poor, not help them.

  • This will raise the cost of government services, which ultimately will force cutbacks. Chances are, cutbacks in government services will hurt the poor the most.
  • This will make it uneconomical to hire unskilled workers. Companies will substitute with capital and high-skilled workers. There will be fewer employment opportunities for low-skilled workers, and this will hurt the poor the most.

The "living wage" bill is special-interest legislation on behalf of unionized public-sector workers. Like all special-interest legislation, it has absolutely nothing to do with aiding the poor.

If the Washington Post cares to express a different opinion on its editorial page, that is one thing. To pass it off as a news headline shows total economic ignorance.

Discussion Question. This example typifies the bias that conservatives complain about in the media. When liberal reporters and editors cover legislation that is favored by the left, they cannot distinguish propaganda from news. Are conservatives paranoid, or is this a real issue?

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