If nothing else, Ron Unz would win my admiration for his innovative and carefully argued treatises on anti-Gentile discrimination in college admissions and IQ-related topics. For a long time now, he’s also been making the case for a large increase in the minimum wage (to $12/hour in his state of California). A short summary of his argument is here. An even shorter summary is
- Having wages so low that workers rely on welfare to survive means the taxpayers are effectively paying business’s labor costs for them. If one is going to have welfare programs, there needs to be a minimum wage that keeps businesses from unfairly socializing their costs like this.
- Illegal immigration is largely driven by the allure of jobs at such low wages that only desperate third-worlders would take them. Raise wages, and there won’t be jobs “Americans won’t do”, and businesses would have strong incentives to choose the now-available workers that they can legally hire. Unz originally proposed his plan as the best way to dramatically reduce illegal immigration.
My own interest in the minimum wage stems from my commitment to the core principle of Catholic social teaching in industrial economies, namely that a man should be able to work for a high enough wage that his wife can be home with the kids. (Even having the men away from home is not the Catholic ideal enunciated by Pope Leo, but it is the ideal compromise with industrialism.) In a family wage regime, wages would be higher, and the labor pool would be smaller, because the only married women working (family businesses aside) would be those with some special career talent or ambition. (And remember, we should not be designing economic policies exclusively for that minority of people with a passion for some sort of career.)
The question is, does raising the minimum wage automatically lead to the family wage regime, as most families choose the now available option of a father-only income? Or does it just increase full family unemployment, with some families getting two incomes and some moving onto the dole? Surely this depends somewhat on the cultural and legal environment (e.g. demands for proportional representation) and is a matter for careful thought.
Still, I am pleased that, for once, there is an idea on the table that conceivably might lead us toward a more Christian social order. If you don’t think it would work, can you think of anything that would work better?