The Symbolic Value of Abolishing the Minimum Wage
By Bryan Caplan
Economists who support the minimum wage realize that it is – at best – a small transfer. Why do they keep focusing on it? A common answer: The minimum wage has symbolic value. Here are two of Klein’s respondents:
A low cost demonstration of concern for low wage workers that causes little damage. Elicits a buy-in by low wage workers to the polity…
Creating a culture where people realize that some basic needs of people should be satisfied.
I think these guys are right: The minimum wage is an important symbolic issue. But getting rid of the minimum wage would send a far more valuable message than raising it. By abolishing the minimum wage, we would be making a powerful statement that:
Last but not least, abolition sends the message to:
Now, I’m more than willing to let anyone with a pulse take my undergraduate Labor Economics class, where I hammer these points into my audience for fifteen weeks straight. But wouldn’t it be a lot less painful for everyone concerned to communicate these lessons by ceremoniously tossing the minimum wage into the dustbin of history?