New at Forbes: McDonald's and Minimum Wages
By Art Carden
Here’s my latest Forbes.com article, which is written in part in response to fellow Forbes.com contributor Laura Shin’s question about whether the attention given to McDonald’s wages will lead a higher minimum wage.
I highlight what is, I think, one of the most important and overlooked aspects of price controls: they encourage wasteful competition. In the case of a price ceiling, people will “spend” the difference between the maximum they are willing to pay and the maximum they are allowed to pay by doing things like waiting in long lines. In the case of a price floor, people will “spend” the difference between the minimum they are allowed to accept and the minimum they are willing to accept by doing wasteful things like waiting, accumulating more signals, and other things. Michael Munger explains in the context of price controls on gas after disasters.
I close the article with one of my favorite quotes; this one is from Robert Lucas:
Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution. In this very minute, a child is being born to an American family and another child, equally valued by God, is being born to a family in India. The resources of all kinds that will be at the disposal of this new American will be on the order of 15 times the resources available to his Indian brother. This seems to us a terrible wrong, justifying direct corrective action, and perhaps some actions of this kind can and should be taken. But of the vast increase in the well-being of hundreds of millions of people that has occurred in the 200-year course of the industrial revolution to date, virtually none of it can be attributed to the direct redistribution of resources from rich to poor. The potential for improving the lives of poor people by finding different ways of distributing current production is nothing compared to the apparently limitless potential of increasing production.