Minimum Wage Vote Proves Ignorance Still a Majority

The November 4 elections included a minimum wage vote in four states. In all four states the measure to raise the minimum wage passed.


Josh Barro writes at the New York Times website,

The wage increase won its biggest margin of victory in Alaska, where it garnered 69 percent of the vote. In Arkansas, it received 65 percent; in Nebraska, 59 percent approved raising the minimum wage, while in South Dakota, the margin was 53 percent.

The proposals differed in their particulars. Alaska would set its minimum wage the highest, with a gradual rise to $9.75 by 2016. Nebraska would go to $9 in 2016, South Dakota to $8.50 in 2015 and Arkansas to $8.50 by 2017. In Alaska and South Dakota, the minimum wage would continue to rise in line with price inflation in following years, which makes an enormous difference in the long term.

The kicker is that, at least at the state level, majorities vote Republican. In fact, these laws were on the ballot because the Republican majorities refused to pass higher minimum wage laws (Good for them!).

The four states [that passed] referendums all have Republican-held legislatures that have not advanced minimum wage proposals. (Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is officially nonpartisan, but a majority of its members are Republicans.) Instead, minimum wage advocates put their proposals on the ballot by collecting signatures for initiative petitions. 

So what does this tell us?

It tells us that voting Democrats out of office doesn’t make you smart. Economic ignorance leads to economic superstitions that drive bad outcomes at elections.

It also tells us that Republicans have a choice. Are they going to assume that what people believe is a fixed limit on what they can do in politics? Or are they going to expect that people can change their minds when presented by rational arguments and objective evidence?

If Republicans side with an increased minimum wage law, they will be helping people damage themselves and their families as they create more unemployment and higher prices. It is unethical to assist people in self-destructive delusions.

[See also, “Seattle Minimum Wage Law Is How Some Businesses Try to Destroy Other Businesses.”]

They will also be denying that freedom works. If prices for labor negotiated by free people require government intervention to get the “right” result, then in principle all prices should be set by the government. A spontaneous, free society must be ended for the good of all. It must be replaced by a society regulated in every way by the state.

What we need is for all the grass-roots energy that went into political campaigning to go into grass-roots education efforts all year long. We need to get people to stop allowing wishful thinking to leave them vulnerable to lying politicians and lobbyists.

And, on the political side, if a candidate cannot or does not wish to champion the abolition of all minimum wage laws (along with all other price controls) then he is just a future Democrat. He may be worth supporting if the only alternative is a current Democrat, but he is the least desirable Republican.

We need people in office who really believe that freedom works.