New Jersey Minimum Wage: The Garden State Votes For More Misery


"Do you agree that government should use its coercive powers to increase the likelihood that minorities, low-skilled workers and students become unemployed?" No person in their right mind would vote for such a proposition, unless it was sugar-coated with the trappings of a popular progressive cause, like raising the minimum wage. And that's exactly what voters in New Jersey did on Nov. 5.

Over 60% of New Jersey voters approved an increase of the minimum wage by one dollar to $8.25 starting Jan. 1, 2014, which will increase according to government-induced inflation (deceptively called the "cost of living") every September. Of course, so-called "liberals" are rejoicing at such a measure, since it "will give nearly half a million working New Jerseyans a crucial leg up while pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the state’s economy," according to Gordon MacInnis, president of liberal think thank New Jersey Policy Perspective.

Some people think this issue was as vital as same-sex marriage, on the premise the increase would in order to reduce (unimportant) economic inequalities (which are not disturbing in the first place). Other will cite biased studies, conducteddone by the government-sponsored organization Council of Economic Advisers, saying that a "modest" increase in minimum wage won't increase unemployment. In other words, supporters of the minimum wage are not only ignorant of basic economics, they are also ignorant of history.

Indeed, when minimum wage laws were first enacted, their eugenic premises were barely veiled. They sought to "weed out" inferior workers, including women, so "respectable" unionized white men could have higher pay. So-called "economists" helped spread the myth about "inferior" workers (i.e. non-Anglo Saxon) by saying that they would soon overcome white men since they were better fit for industrial work. That's why they supported minimum wage laws: They wanted "inferior" workers to be unemployed and saw their unemployment as a social good.

These laws would have been impossible without a substantial expansion of government power. In fact, as the founder of the London School of Economics Sidney Webb puts it, "No eugenicist can be a laissez-faire individualist." For example, that was the explicit aim of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931: to stop lower-skilled workers (usually black men) from competing with white unionized workers in the North. 

So shame on you, New Jersey voters. November 5, 2013 is a day that will go down in infamy as you condemned the weakest members of your state to unemployment and misery with an ever-increasing minimum wage. Shame on you for ignoring basic economics – increasing the price of something, even wage, means demand for it decreases. And shame on you for believing that government intervention in the economy brings no consequences.