Thursday, December 24, 2015

Minimum Wages - The Impossibility of "No Vacancy"

Reply to: The Aluminum Rule by Miles Kimball


I feel like I read a story about why people should have the freedom to swim in the ocean. It’s a true story… but what if you knew, for a fact, that there were sharks in the ocean? Wouldn’t it be… ummm… “iffy” to leave this “minor” detail out of your story?

Not sure if I win the award for terrible analogies but I don’t think the minimum wage problem is a minor detail when it comes to immigration.

Since it’s Christmas and all… perhaps it would be like traveling to a motel that has a big bright sign in front that says “Vacancy”. But when you talk to the person at the front desk they inform you that the only vacancy is in the stables. Stables?  Barn? Parking lot? What’s the modern day equivalent of stables?

Minimum wages are the equivalent of preventing the “No Vacancy” sign from ever being turned on. It’s as if there could never ever ever ever be such a thing as a labor surplus. Except… the point of minimum wages is that wages would be really low without them. So the very existence of minimum wages means that a labor surplus isn’t just a high probability… it’s in fact the reality. But the reality of the labor situation is obscured by the presence of minimum wages. Just like a murky ocean hides the presence of sharks.

Now, if my next door neighbor invited me over for a sleepover, which would be strange, but it turned out that the only available space he had for me was in his dog’s house… then it wouldn’t be a huge problem because I could simply take a few seconds to walk back home and sleep in my comfortable bed. The cost incurred as the direct result of false information would be very low. I was tricked but it wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t like Jacob who worked 7 years to marry Rachel but ended up with Leah instead.

When it comes to immigration though… the cost of moving to a different country is quite high. This makes false information a very big problem. Well… certainly big enough that I feel that it would be irresponsible of me not to mention it at least once… or twice… or a dozen times.

I don’t think that I’ve actually dedicated even one blog entry to open borders. Unlike Bryan Caplan… he’s a huge fan of open borders. I do support open borders… but I don’t actively support them because the minimum wage makes me feel like I’m complicit in a major conspiracy to lie to every poor person in the world about our labor situation. Who lies to poor people about something so important as the availability, or lack thereof, of jobs? It would be a different situation if our wages accurately reflected/communicated our labor situation. Then I’d write a bunch of blog entries in support of open borders. Once the borders were open and wages accurately communicated our labor situation then poor people could make much more informed decisions whether it was worth the cost/risk to move here. Maybe poverty will be eliminated once poor people can easily avoid moving to countries that have a labor surplus.

Anyways, I know you oppose minimum wages. Well… at least that’s my impression. But my constructive criticism is that I feel it’s a bit… irresponsible… to write in support of open borders without also mentioning the importance of accurate information regarding the labor situation.

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