"Moreover, as employers are forced to pay low-skilled workers a higher wage, they are less likely to hire such workers. Citing a study by Michigan State University's David Neumark, Horowitz writes that a living wage set at 50 percent above the minimum wage increases the average wage for workers in the bottom tenth on the pay scale by 3.5 percent. However, the same wage increase reduces the...
Economist adherence to the posited semantics of “liberty”
"The final section of the questionnaire took the minimum wage as a concrete setting to explore people’s thinking about the meaning of 'liberty' and 'coercion.' Here follows from the questionnaire a statement and two questions:
In one manner of speaking, liberty is freedom from political or legal restrictions on one’s property or freedom of association. Subscribers to this definition are apt to say that the minimum wage law is coercive because it (along with concomitant enforcement) threatens physical aggression against people for engaging in certain voluntary, consensual acts (namely, employing people at sub-minimum wages). (Notice that even subscribers to this definition of liberty recognize that it does not by itself carry a policy recommendation; values other than liberty exist and might conflict with it.)
Q7: Please indicate which of the following options best fits your view of this semantic issue:
A. [ ] I agree that that definition of liberty is the primary definition of liberty, and in that sense the minimum wage law is coercive.
B. [ ] I give some weight to that definition of liberty, but not primary weight; the minimum wage law is only coercive in a sense.
C. [ ] I give little to no weight to that definition of liberty; the minimum wage law is not coercive in any significant sense.
D. [ ] Other [please specify]
Only five respondents assented to the primacy of the posited definition of liberty and that the minimum wage was coercive. Forty-seven (or 67 percent of those selecting A, B, or C) said they give little to no weight to that definition and denied that the minimum wage law is coercive in any significant sense. Furthermore, of the 23 individuals who selected 'Other,' the vast majority wrote in comments which indicated strong reservations about that definition, if not outright rejection. Thus, 90-95 percent all minimum-wage supporters reject the primacy of the posited semantics, and about 65 percent reject any significant place for those semantics. We hazard to guess that a survey of minimum-wage opponents would yield a frequency ranking A > B > C, the reverse of what is found here. If so, disputants of the issue for the most part do not agree on what 'liberty' and 'coercion' mean. Since those conceptions relate directly to one’s understandings of 'voluntary choice,' 'the free market,' 'intervention,' and other fundamental analytic distinctions and categories, the implication is that conceptual cleavages probably often separate how the two sides formulate and analyze the issue."
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