It’s a new year, and an election year for Congress, so it’s about time for politicians and activists to bring up the minimum wage again. John Edwards, the former Senator from North Carolina and failed Vice-Presidential candidate, has been crusading for a hike in the federal minimum wage. It has been at $5.15 since September 1997, when it rose 35 cents from its previous level. “My view is, it should be $7.50 an hour, and I can make a great argument for it being a lot higher than that,” Edwards explained. If that were to happen, the national minimum wage would almost reach Washington state’s minimum wage of $7.67 per hour, currently the nation’s highest, and pass Vermont’s number two status of $7.25 per hour.

Raising the minimum wage has long been a rallying cry for liberals. It gives them the opportunity to pontificate and posture as they set themselves up as the champions of working America. They beat their breasts and boast of their solidarity with the tiny percentage of American minimum wage earners who are the sole breadwinners for their families. Their goal to raise the minimum wage is noble since as it rises, the poor and huddled masses will be better off, right?

Wrong.

Minimum wage hikes are a classic example of Quinn’s First Law in action — “Liberalism always produces the exact opposite of its stated intent.” In this case, the liberal intent is to give minimum wage earners more money and increased buying power with every raise in the minimum wage, but reality shows the exact opposite happens. The idea of a minimum wage became law almost 100 years ago in Massachusetts, but eleven years later in 1923, the Supreme Court found that wage requirements for private companies were unconstitutional because states had no right to interfere with private pay agreements. Fast-forward to 1938, and the Fair Labor Standards Act established a federal minimum wage of 25 cents. Try as I may, I cannot see where Congress derives authority as outlined in Section 8 of the Constitution to pass any law for a national minimum wage.

But after almost 70 years of existence, the idea that the federal government can legislate our wages is a fait accompli, and the likelihood of the minimum wage of being repealed is close to nil. So rather than focusing on the legality of the minimum wage, I’ll consider its effects on society. When I first started working, I earned the minimum wage for about a year. After that first year, I got a raise, and I have never returned to minimum-wage work. I’m hardly unique in this. Shawn Ritenour of the Ludwig von Mises Institute explains the minimum wage this way:

Nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage employees who continue employment are earning more than the minimum wage within a year. More than 97% of all employees in the United States move beyond the minimum wage by age 30.[4] Those who do not progress to a wage above the minimum either lack the skills or motivations for them to be attractive hires at a higher rate of pay. The key to increasing one’s income is not raising the minimum wage, but remaining employed. This is one reason why the minimum wage can actually be devastating to the working poor. The minimum wage tends to hurt the lowest skilled workers by making them less employable.

Less employable? How can that be, since the minimum wage is supposed to help out the poor and unskilled? It’s really not all that hard to understand if we figure out the real-world consequences whenever the minimum wage is raised. Warning: thar be math ahead!

For our Gedankenexperiment, let’s imagine a fast-food franchise. To make the math easy, let’s say the store manager has hired 40 employees so he can have 10 people working at a time from 9 am to midnight all seven days a week. If we multiply the 15 hours a day the store is open by 7 days and then by the 10 employees working, we find that the store manager has 1,050 hours of wages per week he needs to pay out to his workers. At a wage of $5.15 each, he needs to make a minimum profit of $5,407.50 each week to just pay his workers, and that’s ignoring other operational costs such as rent, power, supplies, and his own pay. If John Edwards’ dream of a $7.50 minimum wage becomes reality, then this same store manager needs to make a minimum profit of $7,875.00, or almost $2,500 more each week, to pay his people. With the rise in employee costs, the store manager has three options: cover the increase by lowering his own pay, make do with fewer man-hours of work each week, or pass the cost on to the public by raising his prices. Let’s look at each one.

Store manager pays for it

If the store manager is going to pay for the increased cost of labor from his own pocket, he will have to cough up almost $130,000 a year. I don’t know of anyone who is willing to see his yearly income drop by $130,000, do you? Contrary to what some people might think, a fast-food store manager works very hard for his money. I know one who owns two franchises. He is not poor, but he most certainly is hard-working, putting in at least 60 hours a week to run the two stores, and I know that he couldn’t afford to absorb the almost $2,500 a week our hypothetical manager would need to pay. A store manager who pays for this minimum wage increase from his own wages has just been shivved in the back by the self-professed liberals who care so much for the working man.

Fewer man-hours worked

Staying open 15 hours a day with 10 workers each hour will cost the manager almost $2,500 more each week, so he may decide to stay open 14 hours with 8 workers. This would drop the number of weekly man-hours by 288, and the total cost of wages becomes $5,880, or almost $500 more than before. If the manager wants to break even with the new minimum wage costs, he would need to staff an average of 7.3 workers during the 14 hours the store is open. He could do this by not being fully staffed during the slower parts of the day. This means that the people who remain must work harder to maintain the same level of service, or the manager will have to accept the idea that his employees’ ability to serve their customers will suffer. But I’m sure the customers will put up with worse service, right? After all, the lives of the workers are now better with the minimum wage hike. But are they better? Certainly not for the two who were laid off, and not for the rest who work fewer hours at a more demanding job. They basically all got screwed by the liberals who profess to care about them.

Raising prices

The last option for the store manager is to raise the price of his wares. Since the people who visit fast-food places the most are the lower and middle classes, their quick bite to eat will be a harder hit on their budgets. As people pass their increased costs on to others, prices tend to inflate, which results in working people having less available pay and less purchasing power. With each increase in the cost of some good or service, there will be a drop-off in the number of people who will buy that good or service. We saw this with the recent rise in gas prices and how people voluntarily worked to reduce the miles they drove. If our hypothetical manager passes on the increased costs to the public, then the minimum wage hike affects all the people who stop by the store. Santa Fe raised the minimum wage of stores with 20 or more employees to $9.50 this year, and University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor Robert Pollin summed up how the Santa Fe businesses would adjust to a higher minimum wage: “The most likely way is raising prices to absorb the cost increases.” Again, the people who suffer from the raise in the minimum wage are the same people whom liberals claim to cherish.

Each of these three possibilities adversely affects the same working-class people that the liberals claim they are working to help. I doubt that any one of these will be the outcome of a minimum wage hike; it will most likely be a combination of all three.

Shawn Ritenour summed up the conventional wisdom of the minimum wage with the following:

The bottom line is that everything we have heard from conventional wisdom regarding the minimum wage is false. The poor are not that destitute. The minimum wage does not generally lift people out of poverty, because it exacerbates unemployment for lower skilled workers. A very small portion of minimum wage workers are the sole income earner for their families, and the vast majority of those who work a minimum wage job will earn above the minimum wage provided they stay employed. Staying employed is the very thing that a minimum wage hike makes it harder to do. Raising the minimum wage in an effort to help those truly in poverty would be not the height of wisdom, but the depth of folly.

Since this conventional wisdom is liberal conventional wisdom, and it produces the exact opposite of what the liberals profess they want, Ritenour succeeds in pointing out yet another instance of Quinn’s First Law holding true.

Stem cell research has been a big deal during this political season. Actor Christopher Reeve was a proponent of stem cell research before his death earlier this month. Senator Kerry and others have used it as a tool to beat on President Bush, who supposedly banned stem cell research. Of course, that’s a lie — President Bush never banned it, as I’ve pointed out before. The topic simmered in this year’s political soup, occasionally rolling to the top like a carrot in boiling stock. Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post wrote of this latest burst on October 15th:

It turned out days later that the Kerry campaign has a plan — nay, a promise — to cure paralysis. What is the plan? Vote for Kerry.

This is John Edwards on Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa: “If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”

In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable….

As a doctor by training, I’ve known better than to believe the hype — and have tried in my own counseling of people with new spinal cord injuries to place the possibility of cure in abeyance. I advise instead to concentrate on making a life (and a very good life it can be) with the hand one is dealt. The greatest enemies of this advice have been the snake-oil salesmen promising a miracle around the corner. I never expected a candidate for vice president to be one of them.

Recently, stem cell research hit the news again with California’s Proposition 71. This proposition would take $3 billion from Californians ($6 billion after interest kicks in — yes, that’s billion with a b) to fund embryonic stem cell research. The Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is backing Prop. 71, but not all Republicans are equally in favor of it. Actor and director Mel Gibson has come out publicly against Prop. 71.

In an October 28 appearance with Diane Sawyer of ABC’s Good Morning America, Mel Gibson had this to say:

I’m very concerned with, with, with the stem cell question. I’m for stem cell research. I think it can do a lot of good. When I heard about Proposition 71 to sort of promote stem cell research, I was overjoyed, you know, because it can do so much good. But then I began to look further into the proposition and I found that the cloning of human embryos will be used in the process, and that for me, I have an ethical problem with that.

Here is another exchange from the same show:

[Diane Sawyer] One challenge that is raised is this is not a human being. This is a group of cells clustered in a petri dish, barely visible …

[Mel Gibson] Well, I was never in a petri dish, but at one stage, I was that little cluster of cells myself, as were you, as was the doctor, as is everybody. Tell me anybody who wasn’t that at some point in their development and I’ll give you a cigar.

You can read the whole transcript from this show on LexisNexis. In addition to this show and other media interviews and radio guest spots, Mel Gibson recorded a short ad speaking out against Prop. 71. The transcript is below; you can listen to the original on www.NoOn71.org:

Research on adult and umbilical cord stem cells have led to cures in 300,000 cases. But that’s not what Proposition 71 is about.

This is Mel Gibson. I’m concerned that people aren’t fully informed about Prop 71. We’ve got a lot of questions to ask, like, “Why are we being misled into thinking Prop 71 isn’t about cloning, when it is?” That’s what it says. “Somatic cell nuclear transfer,” and that’s a scientific term for cloning.

If cloning human embryos for destruction is so promising, why aren’t private companies paying the six billion dollars? Because in 23 years, embryonic stem cell research has not produced a single human cure. All it’s yielded is tumors, rejection and mutations.

See, bad science doesn’t attract venture capital, so why should the taxpayers be bled dry?

This is Mel Gibson. I’m voting No on Prop 71. Creating life simply to destroy it is wrong, particularly when there are effective alternatives readily available.

Why should the public be forced to fund something that could be handled by private industry? If this really is the end-all, be-all cure of the century, wouldn’t you expect wise-minded investors to toss a few dollars toward embryonic stem cell research? Of course they would. But they don’t, because the interesting research is coming from adult and umbilical cord stem cells. Heck, they have even found adult stem cells in fat, and if there is one thing the adults in this country have in good supply, it is fat.

There is no need to push embryonic stem cell research while adult and umbilical cord stem cells are available. And it certainly should not be achieved at public expense.

Addendum (11/3/2004): Well, Californians passed it. I hope they don’t mind ponying up the six billion dollars.

The other day I came across a list of reasons why President Bush should not be re-elected. Here’s the list:

  1. Bush is destroying workers’ rights and outsourcing jobs instead of protecting the right to organize and creating new jobs rebuilding schools, bridges, roads and hospitals.
  2. Bush is privatizing Medicare, Social Security and public education with phony reforms instead of enacting health care for all, protecting retirement funds and full funding for public education through college.
  3. Bush is bankrupting the Federal Government with giant tax cuts for the very rich and super-funds to the military instead of securing the budget for human needs by taxing the rich and spending on human needs.
  4. Bush is rolling back civil rights gains instead of enforcing and expanding affirmative action to end racism in all areas of life.
  5. Bush is curtailing women’s rights and choice by undermining Roe v. Wade instead of upholding the right to choice and ending the gender wage gap.
  6. Bush is abusing immigrant workers in low-wage jobs instead of providing a clear path to citizenship and equal rights.
  7. Bush is exploiting and ruining the environment by protecting corporate polluters instead of conserving our natural resources for the public good.
  8. Bush’s war in Iraq is a disaster for our security and economy. He is pushing for more preemptive wars and for first strike nuclear military policy instead of negotiations and cooperation utilizing the UN.
  9. Bush is denying civil liberties and free speech in the name of fighting terrorism instead of repealing the USA Patriot Act and helping cities, towns and states fund firefighters and police.
  10. Bush discriminates against Gays and Lesbians with a Constitutional Amendment instead of expanding civil rights and liberties for all.

If you have been following the latest election cycle as I have, you’d recognize these are reasons being used by Democrat Senator John Kerry’s campaign against President Bush (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10), but there is one catch — this list didn’t come from the Democratic National Committee site. It came from the Communist Party USA site. There is virtually no difference between the Democratic objections to President Bush and his administration, and the Communist ones. Why? The answer is simple enough — the modern Democratic party is Marxist by its very nature.

The American Left didn’t start out Marxist, but it has increasingly become so in the past decades. I pointed out before that the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto have been fully accepted by the Left (and, sadly, by the Right in too many instances). But the Marxist rot has spread the farthest and been accepted the most by the Democrats and the Left.

Numerous pundits have noted a double standard between how members of the Left and Right are treated. Republican Senator Trent Lott made an off-the-cuff remark about fellow-Republican Senator Strom Thurmond’s presidential run of four decades earlier, and the subsequent backlash and cries of “Racist!” from the Left forced him to step down from his position of power in the Senate. Yet Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan in his past, and he recently used the word “nigger” multiple times on national TV. There were no similar calls of outrage and horror from the Left, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) dismissed this obvious demonstration of racism. Former President Clinton has been accused of multiple rapes and has confessed to multiple adulterous affairs, yet the National Organization of Women (NOW) has not only excused these actions, they actually stood by Clinton during the exposure of his affair with Monica Lewinsky and subsequent impeachment. The Left proudly claims to champion the rights of racial minorities and women, but willingly accepts bigotry and misogyny when it comes from within their own ranks. Lawrence Auster explains why this double standard exists: the American Left has become Marxist.

The basic reason for the “liberal” double standard has already been alluded to. It is that today’s “liberals” are really leftists who have rejected the older liberal belief in a shared equality of citizens before the law and have embraced the socialist vision of “equality as a fact and equality as a result,” as Lyndon Johnson famously put it. Since people are unequal in their ability to accumulate property, as Hayek argued in the Mirage of Social Justice, equality of results can only be pursued by treating people unequally. This is the origin of the double standard.

Still don’t believe me? I have already demonstrated the link between the Communist Party USA and the Democratic party in their shared anti-Bush message, and I previously wrote how the DNC fully embraces the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto, but you can also see it in some of the Democrat campaign slogans. Senator John Edwards’ “Two Americas” speech has been used repeatedly on the campaign trail:

Today under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one. One America does the work, while another America reaps the reward. One America pays the taxes, while another America gets the tax breaks.

Tell me whether there is any material difference between Senator Edwards’ stump speech and this quote by Joe Cannon, from the 1948 Socialist Workers’ Party convention speech:

There are two Americas — and millions of the people already distinguish between them. One is the America of the imperialists — of the little clique of capitalists, landlords and militarists, who are threatening and terrifying the world. This is the America the people of the world hate and fear. There is the other America — the America of the workers and farmers and the ‘little people.’

Another slogan for the Kerry/Edwards ticket, “Let America Be America Again,” was taken from the first line of a poem by Langston Hughes — a known Communist activist. This particular poem shows the poet’s admiration of Joseph Stalin, the most murderous of all the Soviet leaders. Senator Kerry wrote the preface to a recent re-release of Hughes’ poetry, so he seems to have no difficulty with the very pro-Communist flavor of Hughes’ work.

Speaking of Senator Kerry, the Left is rallying around him because he is their appointed leader. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group started to voice its concerns and opposition to Senator Kerry’s Navy record and service in Vietnam, the Left responded not by refuting these claims, but by launching attacks on the Swift Vets themselves. Apparently it is OK for the self-proclaimed “party of the little guy” to attack the little guys of the Swift Vets group when they dared to challenge the Left’s anointed leader. Any lie, dishonesty, sneaky behavior, or illegal act is defensible and right if it is done to uphold Marxist ideals.

This is why Leftists don’t care about their own hypocrisy. This is why it is useless to expose the Left’s double standard. Since treating people differently to achieve equality of result fits with Marxist ideals, the hypocrisy of their actions simply doesn’t matter. It is part of what they must do to achieve their desired ends. I believe in calling a spade a spade, so from now on, I will stop calling radical Democrats “the Left” or “the liberal Left” and call them by their true name: the Marxist Left.

As I type this, the Marxist Left is being exposed again. On October 14th, just a few weeks before the national election in November, the Democrat election playbook was leaked to the press. Chapter 2 of the playbook directs Democrats to “launch a pre-emptive strike” if no sign of voter intimidation appears. In other words, if nothing goes wrong, the Marxist Left is to go ballistic and claim voter intimidation anyway. You can see this in the shrill verbiage from the Marxist Left on the subject of the 2000 vote in Florida. They claim that a million blacks were disenfranchised, but nobody can point to a single black person who was prevented from voting. But since it assists their goal of regaining power, it’s acceptable for the Democrats to lie. In a further attempt to muddy the waters, the “Colorado Election Day Manual” says to round up the useful idiots and parade them before the media: in other words, describe “party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting”. The truth doesn’t matter to these people; all that matters is getting and keeping power. That is the essence of Marxism.

One of Congress’ specific responsibilities is to propose amendments to the Constitution. This requires a two-thirds vote of both houses to start the process moving. Once Congress has voted on and passed with sufficient numbers the proposed amendment, it is then handed to the 50 states to be voted up or down. Once three-fourths of the states have voted in favor of the proposed amendment, it is fully ratified and becomes part of the Constitution. This has only been accomplished 27 times in our country’s history, with the last amendment ratified in 1992. (Not that the government pays any attention to this simple amendment.)

A majority of the people of the United States are in favor of legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This definition would effectively block people of the same sex from being married, as well as polygamy, bigamy, group, clan, line, and a myriad of other non-traditional marriage arrangements. If “adult” is added to the definition, as in “an adult man and an adult woman,” it would also prohibit the man/boy unions championed by organizations like NAMBLA. While “adult” doesn’t appear in the text, here is the exact phrasing of the proposed amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

What would the passing of this proposed amendment accomplish? Well, for starters, it would stop various judges in the U.S. from messing with what is a legislative function, as stated in Senate Resolution 275: “the power to regulate marriage lies with the legislature and not with the judiciary and the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts specifically states that the judiciary ‘shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men’…” What I find interesting in the various judicial rulings is that marriage has already been defined by Congress: the “word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” This legal precedent was set by the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 and signed by President Clinton.

I find it interesting that marriage was defined in the law years before the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled 4 to 3 that the Massachusetts state constitution prohibits denying a marriage license to same-sex couples. Why are these justices allowing same-sex marriage licenses when federal law prohibits it? The most wet-behind-the-ears lawyer could remind them that when there is a conflict between state and federal laws, the federal law trumps. Don’t believe me? There was a heated debate that settled the matter some years ago.

Since people who should know better have been ignoring the law of the land, it is understandable that some senators have wanted to strengthen the laws by elevating them to the status of a Constitutional amendment. But this isn’t likely to happen any time soon. On July 14th, the Senate voted on a motion of cloture, a legal term for ending the debate in preparation for a final vote on the bill. A motion of cloture requires 60 votes in the Senate, and the motion died with only 48 voting in favor. Three Democrats voted in favor of the motion: Robert Byrd, Zell Miller, and Ben Nelson. But six Republicans voted against it: Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Lincoln Chaffee, Susan Collins, John McCain, Olympia Snow, and John Sununu. Even if all the Republicans had voted for the motion and the three Democrats joined in, the motion still would have failed to reach the 60 votes required.

Regardless of what the senators and pundits may say about why they voted against this motion, the reality is that the 50 senators who voted against it did so because they consider you, Joe and Jane Citizen, too stupid to be bothered with this proposed amendment. I often hear Democrats talk about the importance of democracy and how every vote should count, but when it comes to putting issues before the people, Democrats have proven that they’d rather not have you deal with government. The Senate could have passed the proposed amendment and placed the decision at the feet of the masses, but in the mind’s eye of roughly half the Senate, the masses are asses and shouldn’t be bothered. In addition to this attitude of disdain for the American voters, Democrats couldn’t vote for the amendment because they were afraid that it might actually be ratified. After all, 38 states currently have laws with language similar to this proposed amendment, and 38 is the magic number of states needed to ratify a proposed Constitutional amendment.

This 48-50 vote also exposes something else important — Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, the Democrat President and Vice-President hopefuls, didn’t show up to vote at all. They say that their presence wasn’t necessary to defeat the motion, but the reality is they were too busy campaigning to do their senatorial jobs. As pointed out by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Senator Kerry was absent 64% of the time in 2003, and 87% of the time in 2004 when the Senate voted on legislative issues. How would you respond to an employee who only showed up to do his or her job 13% to 36% of the time? And being a senator is John Kerry’s job. Kerry took an oath “that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter,” but it is clear from his working history that he doesn’t hold this oath too seriously.

In a news article published today, Lee Davidson discusses how Senator John Edwards’ record is equally lackluster. Davidson points out that Edwards has been consistently at or near the bottom of attendance in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the three years he has served on this committee, he has attended only 18% of the hearings and 20% of the business meetings when the average for the entire committee was double and triple Edwards’ attendance. In the 108th Congress alone, Edwards’ attendance at business meetings has slipped even more; his attendance at three out of 34 meetings means his 9% attendance is almost eight times lower than the committee average.

So Senators Kerry and Edwards want to be your next President and Vice-President. If elected, they will place their hands on a Bible and swear, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of (Vice) President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Does this mean the “best of [their] Ability” lies somewhere between 9% and 36% of their time? Boy, that’s the kind of work ethic I really want to see in a President. Not!