On Seriousness and Incentives
Although I’ll resist the temptation to offer snarky comments about the qualities of “serious” columnists, I will acknowledge that they aren’t apparent in Froma Harrop’s lunge into the minimum wage debate:
There is a conservative worldview that people who don’t make serious money aren’t serious people. Economic incentives are for entrepreneurs. For the low-of-wage, you put a bowl of nuggets on the ground and pat their heads.
Longtime readers might have the general sense that I haven’t found Harrop’s powers of perception to be particularly impressive, but it appears that she has now confused the worldviews of conservatives and liberals! Condescending handouts and a general premise that disadvantaged people are constitutionally incapable of capitalizing on profferred opportunities are ideological markers of the Left. Contra Harrop, contriving regular increases in pay for sticking it out in the same menial, bottom-rung job — far from creating it — undermines incentive. In summary, as I’ve said recently, piecemeal minimum wage laws are precisely the scattered nuggets and pats on the head that Harrop laments, and any attempted push of such legislation past that point would be devastating.
I’m left struggling for words to say about a columnist who could write the following:
If business owners can’t make a decent profit paying their workers a minimum wage — that adjusted for inflation would still be lower than it was in 1969 — then perhaps, just perhaps, they shouldn’t be in business.
Nevermind that, as I explained in the post just linked, beginning small businesses on razor-thin margins represents an escape from the rut of low-wage work, and knocking such businesses off the playing field will only ease the growth of megaglobalconglomerates. As is more often the case than I’ve interest in voicing, I find myself wondering whether the letters FROMA HARROP are some supremely clever acronym or anagram meaning “out of touch columnist” and can only opine that she is clearly too well paid.