The War on Unskilled Workers

When the government imposes a new regulation, academics tend to study its effects in isolation— but in the real world, business owners don’t experience regulations piecemeal. Instead, they must navigate a maze of hundreds of such regulations simultaneously. In the Summer 2018 edition of Regulation magazine, entrepreneur and “Coyote Blog” blogger Warren Meyer offers a broad survey of the field of labor regulation and how it affects businesses that employ unskilled workers, from the perspective of someone who actually deals with this system on a day-to-day basis. Meyer laments that “The government makes it too difficult, in far too many ways, to try to make a living employing unskilled workers. … For those without the interest or ability to get a college degree, the avoidance of the unskilled by employers is undermining those workers’ bridge to future success, both in this generation and the next.” Also in this issue, Daniel A. Crane of the University of Michigan breaks down the unconventional politics of antitrust, and explains why the motivations behind it do not fit neatly into the standard left/right dichotomy; Thomas Lenard of the Technology Policy Institute and Lawrence J. White of New York University make the case for restoring market forces to music licensing; and Richard McKenzie of the University of California, Irvine, argues that economists since Adam Smith have continuously understated the welfare gains from free trade.

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