Friday night topic: Minimum wage laws

— 5:58 PM on January 12, 2007

Recent polls and elections in the U.S. have shown that legislation to increase the minimum wage has broad support. Here in Missouri, voters passed a law that both raises the minimum wage and forces future increases by tying the minimum wage to the consumer price index.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the support for such laws, but I am. Raising the minimum wage—or heck, even having one—in an incredibly dynamic economy like ours makes little sense to me. Dictating wage structures when electronic communication makes for unprecedented flexibility in terms of who works, how they work, and the like seems anachronistic. Meanwhile, small business owners, especially in the service sector, will be forced to limit the number of people they can employ and the number of hours their shops can stay open. Teenagers and others looking for part-time work, and perhaps their first work experience, will find fewer jobs available. But surely I'm some kind of crazy radical for thinking such thoughts—thoughts which should be banned via legislation if possible.

What do you think? Is the minimum wage a good idea? Is now the right time for an increase? To what level? Should it be indexed to consumer prices? Or is the minimum wage a relic of a less dynamic economy? Discuss.

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