The $15 minimum wage paradox

Economists know and have been telling everyone who will listen that the mandatory minimum wage is a paradox because it hurts the very people it is supposed to help. Most minimum wage jobs are held by unskilled workers who lack qualifications for a higher paying job.  For most of them, that is temporary condition that can change over time as they acquire work history and basic job skills. It is time they need, however.  A law forcing employers to pay more than a worker is worth will inevitably result in that worker running out of time to gain job skills needed to improve his position. The unskilled worker loses his job to be replaced either by a more qualified worker or, where possible, by automation.

It appears and is probably true that many if not most of the lowest paid unskilled labor jobs are held by illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The current push for $15 minimum wage results in an additional paradox. It is liberals, now calling themselves “progressives,” who support the increase, and also support open borders because they see more Democrat voters in illegal immigration.

Conservatives and Republicans generally do not support a $15 minimum wage because of the first paradox. The second paradox is that the $15 minimum wage will cut down on illegal immigration by destroying most of the jobs which attracted immigrants to sneak across the Southern border to the United States in the first place. Conservatives and Republicans generally oppose open borders and are concerned about massive illegal immigration. That’s the explanation for much of Donald Trump’s success in the Republican primaries.

So here’s the upshot: The $15 minimum wage may prevent its supporters, Democrats, from getting all the new Democrat voters from Mexico that they’ve been hoping for. At the same time it will give its opponents something they have been wanting, a more secure border. Trump may not need to build a wall at our Southern border. The $15 minimum wage may effectively do that for him.

The lesson here, for Democrats at least,  is that one really should be careful about what one wants.

This is an interesting and fascinating story that you can explore further at Minimum Wage v. the Carwasheros. It goes deep into this ongoing political saga.

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