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There's no problem you can't solve by killing the economy

July 26, 2006

Tags Interventionism

I remember when I was at Walter Block's excellent Radical Austrianism, Radical Libertarianism seminar last summer, someone asked him if being an Austrian led people to become libertarians. Specifically, they were wondering how someone could not adopt libertarian views on something like the minimum wage once they understood the actual economic effects of it. Dr. Block's reply was to the effect that he supposed you could be a rather unpleasant person, and support the minimum wage because you thought it was good for certain groups of people to be unemployed. Well, it turns out that Walter Block is prescient.

An op-ed in the New York Times has the answer to ending illegal immigration. How? Raise the minimum wage nationwide to $8 an hour! As the logic runs, the economic distortion that would result is a good thing. Americans formerly unwilling to work for the $5.15/hr minimum wage will rush to fill these jobs, squeezing the illegal immigrants out of the labor market and making them turn around and go home. This will be accompanied by efficient government enforcement of wage laws, which of course will make it impossible for a black market in sub-minimum wage illegal labor to flourish (really). Every time I read a new proposal from a politician for what the government should do to handle immigration, I think we've hit bottom. But then I'm afraid we haven't.

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