by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
Last week I was perplexed about something.
I mentioned what I called the “chest-thumping rhetoric used by those seeking a massive hike in the minimum wage.” I wrote about the minimum wage’s deeply racist founding and its well known negative effects, especially on the poor and low-skilled.
Then I wrote:
But oh how the media and the ‘morality’ scolds push for a hike — loudly, angrily, full of self-righteous fury against their opponents.
It reminds me of Carl Sandburg’s axiom, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”
Finally, I wrote
I’m perplexed why those who make such a show out of having compassion for the poor, least skilled, and minorities are so deliberately, truculently, and hyperaggressively in favor of hiking the minimum wage. Which is something empirically and historically harmful to the poor, least skilled, and minorities.
As if on cue, UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Gene Nichol had an op-ed this weekend in The News & Observer. Nichol is, of course, formerly the head of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity. Now his bio says “His scholarly work is supported by the North Carolina Poverty Research Fund.”
Following are excerpts from the op-ed by this supposed poverty scholar about a wage provision that “steps on the necks of low-wage workers.” That’s in reference to a provision that prevents local governments in North Carolina from imposing on companies they contract with a higher minimum wage than the state requires.
If you think “steps on the necks” is charged language, get a load of this for loud, angry, and full of self-righteous fury:
You know what, never mind. I’m quitting this list after just the first two paragraphs. There’s no need to go through the entire column. Nichol’s bridge-building diplomacy and tact are every bit as evident as his grasp of the effects of the minimum wage on the very groups whose economic welfare his latter academic career is built upon researching.
If only he could force economics to align with his passion.
If you want to see scholarship from academic centers on issues on poverty, work, and opportunity, look to, e.g., the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. I’ve also seen good work on entrepreneurship and the poor from the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University.