Tag: Don Boudreaux

Reich Is Wrong on the Minimum Wage

Watching Robert Reich’s new video in which he endorses raising the minimum wage by $7.75 per hour – to $15 per hour – is painful.  It hurts to encounter such rapid-fire economic ignorance, even if the barrage lasts for only two minutes. 

Perhaps the most remarkable flaw in this video is Reich’s manner of addressing the bedrock economic objection to the minimum wage – namely, that minimum wage prices some low-skilled workers out of jobs.  Ignoring supply-and-demand analysis (which depicts the correct common-sense understanding that the higher the minimum wage, the lower is the quantity of unskilled workers that firms can profitably employ), Reich asserts that a higher minimum wage enables workers to spend more money on consumer goods which, in turn, prompts employers to hire more workers.  Reich apparently believes that his ability to describe and draw such a “virtuous circle” of increased spending and hiring is reason enough to dismiss the concerns of “scare-mongers” (his term) who worry that raising the price of unskilled labor makes such labor less attractive to employers. 

Ignore (as Reich does) that any additional amounts paid in total to workers mean lower profits for firms or higher prices paid by consumers – and, thus, less spending elsewhere in the economy by people other than the higher-paid workers.

Ignore (as Reich does) the extraordinarily low probability that workers who are paid a higher minimum wage will spend all of their additional earnings on goods and services produced by minimum-wage workers. 

Can a Tariff Wall Restore America’s Industrial Glory?

Did America become a great industrial power in the 19th century because of its high trade barriers? This is not just an academic question. Modern-day critics of trade, such as Pat Buchanan and Ian Fletcher, argue that the same tariff wall that made American great more than a century ago can bring back those days of industrial glory.

I did my best to debunk this flawed historical argument in Chapter 7 of Mad about Trade, but I’m delighted to see my free-trade buddy Don Boudreaux of George Mason University weigh in with an article in the new issue of The Freeman.

Under the title, “Tariffs and Freedom,” Don neatly dispels a number of myths surrounding that period in American economic history.

More Sense on the President’s Speech

I’m busy dealing with the fallout from the President’s address to students yesterday, especially the cheap-shot smearing as kooks or right-wing zealots anyone who dared question the propriety of the event. That has left me with little time to blog about the speech. Fortunately, I don’t have to: Over at Cafe Hayek, Cato Adjunct Scholar Donald Boudreaux has penned a terrific explanation of why very reasonable people could object to the president’s speech. Here’s the best part:

The idea that we should be ‘inspired’ by winners of political elections — the notion that successful politicians have some special wisdom to impart — the stupid consensus that high political office renders its holders unusually trustworthy when delivering clusters of cliches — is intolerable to men and women who value freedom and individuality.