Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Walter Williams: Minimum Wage, Maximum Dickhead

I really don't know who Walter Williams is, or thinks he is, but in a piece in the aptly-named Capitalist Magazine, entitled "Minimum Wage, Maximum Folly", he rails against minimum wage laws as being, among other things, "racist".

Williams, who judging from his photo, is African-American himself, really isn't clear as to why he believes that minimum wage laws are racist, aside from quoting some outdated report (that he wrote himself in 1989) on apartheid laws in South Africa, where the white-controlled unions were in support of minimum wage laws for blacks. (I know, it doesn't make any sense to me, either, and WW is no help).

But Williams, an obvious apologist for the excesses of capitalism (why else would he be writing in Capitalist Magazine?), cites a whole raft of US Labor Department statistics on the demographics of the minimum wage earner.

Well, you know the old saying about lies, damn lies and statistics. There's also another one: Statistics are like women of easy virtue--once you get 'em down you can do anything you want with them. For example, one statistic that appears on the Dept of Labor website is this one: "Among the four broad geographic regions, the West had the lowest proportion of hourly-paid workers with earnings at or below $5.15, at under 2 percent". This is literally true, but it does not take into account the inconvenient fact that the three most populous states of "The West", Washington, Oregon and California, all have state minimum wage amounts that are higher than the federally-mandated $5.15 -- the surprise is that the west has 2% of its workers who are criminally underpaid.

The capitalist-pig ruling class has been weeping and wailing and gnashing its teeth over the minimum wage law ever since it was first passed, way back during the New Deal. And every single time the minimum wage has been raised, they piss and moan about how many people will be forced out of work and onto the unemployment rolls, how it will be a drag on the economy, how it's oh-so-bad for poor people and women and minorities, blah blah blah.

Bullshit. While the Clinton administration was giving states the right to set their own minimum wage levels above the federal standard, this nation was experiencing an unprecedented economic boom that ended only when the so-called "business friendly" Bush Maladminstration started strangling the economy with its numerous misguided domestic and international policies.

Here's a sobering thought: Right now the federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. In the early 60s, when I was working at a pizza parlor making minimum wage, I was paid $1.25 an hour -- taking 42 years of inflation, into account that $1.25 is now worth $7.64. Which is more than two and a half dollars higher than the current federal minimum wage! (And while we're on the subject of inflation, gasoline was around 29 cents per gallon in 1963; that 29 cents is now equivalent to $1.77 -- which is what gas ought to cost; why is it over $3 per gallon?)

So, Walter Williams, you can piss up a rope. Shut the fuck up with all that sniveling because those poor employers are forced to pay an almost-living-wage to people who you think ought to be paid less than $4 an hour, because that's all their "productivity" warrants.

The next time you eat a meal at a restaurant, or stay in a hotel, or have a drink in your neighborhood bar, I hope you will be especially generous to the service-industry employees who take care of your needs, since they are -- by the very statistics you cite -- the most likely to be earning that exorbitantly high minimum wage.

But to be consistent with your own beliefs, maybe you shouldn't tip at all, since you apparently feel that they are already overpaid for the amount of "productivity" they demonstrate.

And I actually hope you don't, because I know firsthand what happens to deadbeat cheapskates who stiff the wait staff. It isn't pretty.


Granny said...

Professor of Economics - George Mason Univ.

and out of his mind of course.

stevo said...

has this dick, and any member of congress gotten a pay raise in the last decade?


Another excellent article. These asses want the gool old days. Like circa. 1890 urchins running in the streets and the poor living in hovels. Carpetbaggers and robber barrons just like dear old great-grand dad. I wonder if this guy knows the minute they get what they want they will throw him and his fellow black republicans shills to the back of the bus.

rightwingnut said...

GODAMNIT!!! WTF Are you talking about? Our state pays almost that amount, in fact my acountit tried to tell me that $8.00 an hour was below minimum wage for our state.

So why not force people to work for a gallon of gass an hour? or the federal min? Godamnit I waited in a line to get gas at safeway where it was $2.99 a gallon, OMG!!! everybody else who waited left their cars idling why they waited to pay a world record price for gas as oil companies made world record profits.

GOdamnit the minimum wage is going to be worthless in a few months. You will have to work hours to pay for a gallon of gas! and godamn the oil products you need

Anonymous said...

The minimum wage shoud be increased to $10 per hour, and go up (inflation + 2%) per year, forever. Let the business owners howl all they want. This crap where 1% sucks up 90% of the money is the real B.S.

nunya said...

That was snark, right? Congress has voted themselves pay raises since 1992 that equal three times the yearly minimum wage rate.

Daniel Rigby said...

"Williams, who judging from his photo, is African-American himself, really isn't clear as to why he believes that minimum wage laws are racist." Because the color of your skin determines your opinion on Minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

No, moron, it's because the minimum wage has NOTHING to to with the color of your skin.
Don't pick a fight with Farnsworth -- you'll lose.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you can't get your facts right - or are you trying to mislead people on purpose? It wasn't the Clinton administration that "was giving states the right to set their own minimum wage levels above the federal standard" - Wisconsin had legislated a higher-than-federal level at least as far back as 1989 - reference

"[In 1989] The department increased minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate..."

And you don't need to be a professor of economics (or of anything else for that matter) to know that $6.54 is not more than $2.50 higher than $5.15 - it's slightly lower.

While I disagree with your viewpoint, I am very grateful that you served your country in uniform, and thank you for your service.

Farnsworth said...

Anonymous, it's too bad you can't get YOUR facts straight.
Nobody said that Wisconsin didn't jump the gun on the minimum wage -- but it did it without the "blessing" of the US Dept of Labor.
It was Clinton's Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, who pulled out the stops and removed the impediments to allow the states to raise their minimum wage. It's to Wisconsin's credit -- progressive state that it is known to be -- that it raised it first. (BTW, here's a working link to Wisconsin's Min Wage history:
And where did I say that $6.54 was over 2.50 higher than anything?
I said -- if you would take the time to actually read my post -- that $7.64 is more than 2.50 higher than the current minimum wage.
And it is.
But nevertheless, thank you for your kind comments about my military service.

andrew said...

Can you explain how these wage increases are paid for(find me a fortune 500 tha pays min wage, Wal-Mart doesn't), why it won't reduce the number of min wage jobs, why it won;t increase foreign outsouring, why any increase in wage won't be spent on increased prices, why more small US business won't go out of business? I think this topic has gotten out of hand, the class warfare (i am in the lower class and have a hard time paying water bills) is nonsense, and does not improve anyone's situation. Raising the min wage will hurt people on the bottom rung and will hurt the US, prove otherwise.

Hardcore said...

This guy evidently doesn't possess the reading comprehension skills of a 5th grader in Arkansas. Williams' point on South Africa was that, the racist agenda was furthered by a minimum wage for blacks... the reason for this was that by setting a minimum wage that was higher than the value of the labor, it kept blacks from being hired AT ALL. I got this first time around, as did all of the people whom I've talked to about it. He's pointing out that there is a parallel here (not intentional) that if the minumum wage is raised higher than the actual value of the labor, it will exclude those unskilled workers from obtaining ANY work, thus experience and training to further their trade. Grow a brain... read it again.

Bombolini said...

Let's see- If I make $5.15 per hour times 40 hours- would that be more than $7.25 per hour times 0 hours?

Let's see- If an employer has determined that hiring another worker would cause his revenue to rise by $6.50 per hour- I wonder if he hire one that he has to pay $7.25 per hour?

Of course this question does not take into consideration the other cost associated with hiring a worker.

Anonymous said...

William’s is correct. The minimum wages laws do discriminate against blacks. It’s a historical fact. Given the vernacular of the left, that means it' is racist. Minimum wage laws in America were pushed for by white union leaders in the north states who were trying to stop jobs from moving to southern states where wages were lower, and most workers were black. The laws certainly do hurt low-skilled blacks more than any other group. Every time minimum wage rates are raised, it disproportionably throws more blacks out of work. Hence, it is “racist.”

Anonymous said...

If minimum wage laws actual did what they claim to do, then why not make it $50 an hour? Why stop at $7.50? Or just make it $100 an hour. You might then realize that some people can’t produce $50 an hour worth of value, so no one would employ them. The REAL minimum wage is $0, which is what someone whose job skills far below the federal minimum wage rate. They can’t get a job; hence their wage rate is $0.

If $50 is too high, then maybe $40 an hour? Maybe more people would get jobs, but still most people would not have jobs. $30, or $20 an hour then? Still, many, many people would not have jobs, and I think you all know it. What is magical about $7.50 an hour, or $5.15 an hour? No matter what the minimum wage is, it will destroy some jobs, and it hurts those that it claims to help.

Farnsworth said...

Cite some legitimate economic studies that back up this ludicrous claim of yours or else shut the fuck up. Listening to Rush "Viagra plus Oxycontin equals Oxyagra" Limbaugh doesn't count, nor does anything ginned up by some rightwing thinktank who hires "scientists" the way Shriners hire hookers, and pretty much for the same reasons.