Minimum Wage: South Africa Edition

I realize that I’m not the first person to make these points … but it appears many have not gotten the message.

1. Minimum-wage laws are harming these people not helping them. This point can not be made strongly enough.
2. We can not simply legislate away the laws of economics any more than we can legislate away the laws of gravity or physics.

With respect to item #1 above, the effect is not neutral or null simply because people are not being helped, it’s markedly worse than that. These people are being actively harmed. The fact that the laws may be well-intentioned does absolutely nothing to mitigate the harm. And that is only the economic concern, there’s also the fact that these minimum-wage laws infringe on their liberty to make voluntary contractual agreements with others.

In short, you can not claim to support liberty and prosperity and support minimum-wage laws.

Wage Laws Squeeze South Africa’s Poor – NYTimes.com: “NEWCASTLE, South Africa — The sheriff arrived at the factory here to shut it down, part of a national enforcement drive against clothing manufacturers who violate the minimum wage. But women working on the factory floor — the supposed beneficiaries of the crackdown — clambered atop cutting tables and ironing boards to raise anguished cries against it. ‘Why? Why?’ shouted Nokuthula Masango, 25, after the authorities carted away bolts of gaily colored fabric. She made just $36 a week, $21 less than the minimum wage, but needed the meager pay to help support a large extended family that includes her five unemployed siblings and their children.”

  • ABK

    I always find it ironic when elected officials who champion the minimum wage and its subsequent raises employ unpaid interns.

    Talk about a minimum wage, it can't get any lower than $0 an hour, unless you're paying for the internship (which some parents actually theoretically do if their kid gets an internship because of political donations…)

    I believe the NYT did an article about that a while back, or maybe it was the WSJ.