Ron Unz’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to make illegal immigration less profitable for both employers and illegals (see Ron Unz Has A Modest Proposal For Mitt Romney: To Encourage Self-Deportation, Raise The Minimum Wage) is getting some mainstream attention.
by Ron Unz, American Conservative. February 8, 2013
Earlier this week Washington Post Columnist Matt Miller published an excellent piece making the case for a large increase in the federal minimum wage, including arguments drawn from a wide range of prominent business and political figures, as well as mention of my own recent New America article on that issue.
Given the importance of the topic, it is hardly unexpected that the column attracted some 600 comments. But far more surprising was the overwhelmingly negative response of those readers. Given that the Post is a centrist-liberal newspaper and Miller a centrist-liberal columnist, one suspects that the vast majority of the commenters were similarly of the centrist-liberal orientation. [More]
One problem is that people have been told for years that minimum wages are bad for minorities (especially black teenagers) who may not be able to do work worth more than whatever the minimum wage is. Milton Friedman used to say that what minimum wages did was “ensure that people whose skills do not justify that wage will be unemployed."
However, in the cause of fighting the use of what, just for the hell of it, I will refer to as wetback labor, that’s a feature, not a bug. If illegals can’t do work worth more than 12 dollars an hour, they’re a net loss to American society. Black teenagers, who are after all, American citizens, can be helped in other ways. Not having to compete with illegal Mexicans will help them a lot—as black labor union pioneer A. Philip Randolph could have told you.
The near-total intellectual hegemony established by neoliberal economics during the last generation is further demonstrated by the skeptical response to Miller’s minimum wage column by Slate financial columnist and progressive pundit Matt Yglesias (refuted here). The latter seems to see Federal Reserve monetary policy as the solution to all our economic problems, worrying that the inflationary impact from increasing wages at the lower end of the spectrum would interfere with attempts to keep interest rates low, thereby derailing the desperately-awaited recovery. Given that five years of exceptionally low interest rates seem to have benefited Wall Street a great deal but Main Street little or nothing, it’s far from clear whether another five years of the same policy would do much different.
If they did pass this federal minimum wage law, they’d have to enforce it. It’s been pointed out to me that liberals, unions, and the Democratic Party would support Draconian enforcement penalties on cheating employers, which you can’t get on immigration enforcement. Also, while it’s easy for an employer to say he was "fooled" by forged documents, it's a lot harder for him to say he "forgot" to pay his workers the money they're legally entitled to.