“There is Profit in ALL Hard Work…”

“Idle hands make one poor; but diligent hands bring riches. Proverbs 10:4

“There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty.”  Proverbs 14:23

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.”  Winston Churchill

“Proponents of raising the minimum wage assert in effect that the laws of economics don’t apply to human labor.  Yet wishful thinking aside, no employer can afford to pay a worker more than that worker’s services are worth to the firm.  Importantly, though, no employer who wants productive employees can afford to pay less than that worker’s services are worth to the firm, either.  Wages in market economies reflect each worker’s productivity.

“The evidence is overwhelming that minimum-wage legislation has a negative effect on the employment of low-skilled workers.  As a careful empirical study done in 2000 by Cornell University economist Richard Burkhauser and some co-authors concluded: ‘Minimum wage increases significantly reduce the employment of the most vulnerable groups in the working-age population—young adults without a high-school diploma (aged 20-24), young black adults and teenagers (aged 16-24), and teenagers (aged 16-19).’

“Even the loudly and proudly progressive economist Paul Krugman—who called the Card-Krueger result ‘iffy’—has admitted that raising the minimum wage likely reduces employment prospects for low-skilled workers.

“If minimum-wage legislation only destroyed jobs for teenagers, it would be bad enough.  But its long-term consequences are more dire.  Precisely because the climb to higher wages begins for most workers during their teenage years with entry-level jobs, the minimum wage—by knocking off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder—effectively tells young workers:  Unless you can jump immediately to higher rungs of the ladder, you must remain unskilled and unemployed for the indefinite future.

“Moreover, the little bit of money a teen can earn after school or in the summer is nowhere near as important as what he learns from these early work experiences, such as showing up on time, respect for supervisors, and pride from being financially semi-independent.  Such experiences are even more vital to minority youths who attend rotten schools or live in broken homes.  If they are to learn to become valuable workers, it will be through jobs they hold and not the schools they attend.

“All the good intentions of the champions of minimum-wage raises do nothing to cure these evil consequences.  In New Jersey, and everywhere else, compassionate policy requires that we think with our brains and not with our untutored hearts.” Donald J. Boudreaux and Walter E. Williams, The Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2012, p. A11

“In January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sir Donald Tsang Yamkuen, the current head of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, made a comment that keeps me wondering about where we could go from here:  ‘I have been in public service, most of which involved public finance, for over four decades. Let me share with you:  I have never been as scared as now about the world.’

“I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say we are in a kind of fragile ‘social’ moment in Europe, where the leadership remains in a state of denial of the real problems underlying their economies. This is especially true when we look at youth unemployment.  In Spain, the number is a staggering 48.7%; Greece 47%; Portugal 30.8%; Italy 31%; Ireland 29%; France 23.8%; UK 22.3%, and finally Germany at 7.8%.” Hans Parisis, Financial Intelligence Report, March 2012, p. 12

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