by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been running one of the most anti-business election campaigns of any major party in modern history. In fact, hardly a day goes by without the Democratic candidates offering another idea that seems almost perversely designed to kill jobs.
Start with a simple economic fact. Businesses cannot — at least for long — operate at a loss. That means, among other things, as Greg Mankiw, chairman of the economics department at Harvard, points out, that “the wage a worker earns, measured in units of output, equals the amount of output the worker can produce.” In non-economist speak, you can’t pay more for a worker than the value that worker provides. Pay, in this case, means the full cost of employing that worker: wages, insurance, training, retirement benefits, and so on.
But both Clinton and Sanders seem determined to order businesses to do exactly that. For instance, Clinton has called for raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour — a hike of more than 60 percent over the current federal level — while supporting state and local efforts to go even further. Recently, she came out in support of efforts in Los Angeles and New York State to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Of course, that’s not enough for Sanders. He wants the federal government to impose a $15-an-hour minimum across the board.
And it doesn’t stop there. Sanders would also require businesses to provide twelve weeks of paid family leave, two weeks minimum of vacation, and at least five days of paid sick leave per year. Clinton has also called for paid sick leave and some type of paid family leave. Both candidates also back the Obama administration’s push to expand the number of workers who would qualify for overtime pay. And both would even have the federal government involve itself in how businesses schedule work hours, demanding fixed schedules and limiting the ability of employers to change shifts or reschedule employees.
Maybe all this is a secret plan to support the robot industry.