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A response to my critics on reducing the minimum wage

I am "inane," "dumb," a "jerk," a "moron," and a "troll." I know this because many of you told me so in response to my recent post suggesting that a reduction in the $7.25 federal minimum wage might help ease the current unemployment crisis. I should add "glutton for punishment," to the list, because here I am, back to answer the critics. Not every critic, of course: there's no point debating name-callers. But for those who questioned my argument in good faith -- here goes.

I am not arguing that reducing the minimum wage would magically end unemployment -- or even a majority of it. This microeconomic measure is no fix for America's macroeconomic ills. What I am saying, though, is that joblessness is so bad in this country right now that we should be looking for every conceivable means of reducing it, even somewhat. Certainly we should not be doing things -- such as raising the minimum wage -- that foreseeably destroy jobs. Yet in July, the federal minimum wage went up as planned, at the cost of 300,000 jobs, according to one economist's estimate.

As it happens, the employment-reducing effect of minimum wage laws is abundantly documented. Those who take issue with my suggestion are taking issue with that evidence.

The literature is thoroughly compiled and reviewed in "Minimum Wages and Employment," a 184-page article published three years ago by economists David Neumark and William L. Wascher in Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics, a peer-reviewed journal. I suggest that interested parties take a look at the study, whose principle conclusions are that "the preponderance of the evidence points to disemployment effects" from the minimum wage, and that "when researchers focus on the least-skilled groups most likely to be adversely affected by minimum wages, the evidence for disemployment effects seems especially strong."

In other words, increasing the minimum wage destroys jobs, especially for those who need them most. If you really wanted to throw the U.S. economy into a depression, just set the minimum wage at $50 per hour.

To be sure, reducing the minimum wage would cut some incomes. Many of my critics protest that this would be morally wrong and practically unwise, especially at a time when the economy needs all the consumer purchasing power it can get. What this criticism ignores, of course, is the trade-off: the extra income for current minimum-wage earners comes, to some extent, at the expense of those who end up priced out of the job market altogether and therefore receive zero income.

Granted, we are arguing about the distribution of income among those who have very little of it. That's always a little awkward, especially at a time when the spotlight is properly on Wall Street and its multimillion-dollar bonuses. Still, I am struggling to understand the principle of social justice that says people who have a little bit more should get to keep it -- and too bad for those who get nothing at all.

Minimum wages benefit suburban teenagers who work part-time for spending money. What's progressive about a policy that helps them, while stiffing, say, unskilled 30-year-old single moms, or an unskilled high-school grad just starting out. When it comes to the lifetime employment prospects of the poor, that first job is often the most important one.

The ostensible goals of the minimum wage -- protecting the poor from exploitation -- are laudable. As a method of achieving those goals, it strikes me as a relic of old-style, New Deal liberalism that needs to be reconsidered in light of contemporary knowledge and contemporary conditions (including the many other policies, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which more efficiently support the poor). I fully recognize that, politically, this is a quixotic notion, but can we at least debate it on the merits?

By Charles Lane  | January 6, 2010; 3:11 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Comments

Lane,

Plain and simple, lower your salary and offer someone a job. A journey begins with the first step. One person can make a difference.

The poor can't afford living expenses as it is with everything going up and up. Yet you're suggesting a pay decrease! Minimum wages should be even higher.Do you think you can live on $7.00 an hour?

It's all about profit big business, small business, they're all the same...the bottom line.

Have you bought a loaf of bread lately?

Posted by: nitababytoo | January 6, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I began reading this planning to defend the minimum wage for one reason and will end up defending it for another.

What C.Lane is talking about is redistributing wealth among the poor and poverty-stricken; let the poor make do with the table scraps that fall from the upper crust. I was going to defend the minimum wage on the grounds that the poor need to have a basic standard of living and minimum wage is a means to that end. By lowering the minimum wage, we may end up employing more people with slave wages - however, these people will inevitably need increased social assistance in the form of Medicaid, food stamps, and assisted living. It is difficult to survive on $12000 net income (after taxes), especially if you have a child.

However, I will disagree with C.Lane for his sheer hypocrisy. It seems amoral to push people to poverty when the executives and managers pushing them there will reap record profits and salaries due to lower wages. Why isn't this a discussion of the unbelievable and extravagant salaries of the upper echelon instead of an attack on the people bordering poverty?

We should be talking about income redistribution by taking from the wealthy instead of taking from the poor.

Posted by: scadolph | January 6, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

We must tax the wealthy at a rate that makes sense for our economy. Let's start at 69% for high income earners and set the tax on investment income at 30%. This will create more jobs as it did in the 50's, 60', 70's, and up to the Reagan era when the top tax rate declined to 39% and unemployment and the country's debt rose. Higher tax rates actually stimulate business growth because the top execs will invest more in their company as opposed to pocketing all the profits and paying little in tax.

Posted by: bruce19 | January 6, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

i hope you have a violent encounter with an unemployed or under employed human being...and you lose to the point of being unable to perform your cushy job.

Posted by: kiler616 | January 6, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I'll probably be the only one, but I agree with C. Lane 100%.

It was irresponsible to allow the increase in the minimum wage to occur when we were in the midst of a job-crushing recession. This hurt the poorest of us. The arguments made counter would argue that it's best to keep someone unemployed so that someone else's income doesn't get reduced....

And, I'll add, people who are only educationally equipped for a minimum wage job SHOULDN'T be having children anyway. The minimum wage was and should never be intended to support a family.

Posted by: boosterprez | January 6, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Once a shill, always a shill.

Chucky-boy, why don't you explain why your "suburban teenagers" will get the jobs and not "unskilled 30-year-old single moms, or an unskilled high-school grad just starting out"? And hey! Why don't you jerk a few tears while you're at it? How about an unemployed minority quadriplegic single mom? As if you really care.

Fix the economy by squeezing from the bottom up is what you're saying right? I just don't want any misunderstandings before I call you a capitalist pig.

Posted by: st50taw | January 6, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I think we should reduce the maximum wage.
90% tax on all income of $1M.

Posted by: chucky-el | January 6, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Bush Supports Shift of Jobs Overseas. February 10, 2004

"The loss of work to other countries, while painful in the short term, will enrich the economy eventually, his report to Congress says."

The embrace of foreign outsourcing, an accelerating trend that has contributed to U.S. job losses in recent years and has become an issue in the 2004 elections, is contained in the president's annual report to Congress on the health of the economy.

Bring back the Republicans as they know the costs of Americans for jobs are too high.

Repeal the minimum wage laws.

Discontinue payment and taxes for unemployment benefits.

Stop the food stamp program.

Repeal the child labor laws.

Imagine the tax cuts possible since there will no longer a need to spend on public education.

With massive unemployment, American businesses will stop direct export of American jobs, and using visas for foreign workers when Americans finally understand their true worth and are realistic with wages.

Stop forcing American companies to send American jobs overseas.

Posted by: bsallamack | January 6, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"We must tax the wealthy at a rate that makes sense for our economy. Let's start at 69% for high income earners and set the tax on investment income at 30%. This will create more jobs as it did in the 50's, 60', 70's..."
____________________

HUH????

HOw does increasing taxes create jobs?????

Funny, but I thought innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit created jobs....how does taking from those that have these qualities create jobs?

You're gonna have to explain yourself further.

Unless, of course, like all liberals, your intention was to distribute those taxes to everyone else so that they'd have more "income" to spend....was that your point???

Posted by: boosterprez | January 6, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

You wrote: I am "inane," "dumb," a "jerk," a "moron," and a "troll."

You forgot "evil," "subhuman" and "beneath contempt." Because anyone who would consign minimum-wage workers to even greater poverty (only so that there would be even more workers at this far-less-than-subsistence level) deserves these terms and much, much worse.

If you have children, I feel terribly sorry for them.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | January 6, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good example of the comments made earlier, A manufacturer of compressors in a small town has to cut costs a decides to layoff 20 workers. As a result the company profits increase and stock goes up. After the layoffs the CEO of the company receives a bonus for acheiving the company's profit goals. The bonus was equal to the salary of 10 of the workers layed off. Why not contribute the bonus to to return half the workers to their jobs. One would argue the bonus is needed to keep competent CEO's with the company, but wouldn't the tax revenue and spending by the workers better benefit the community? By the way, the CEo purchased a new BMW with his bonus, so at least the car dealer benefitted.

Posted by: mkoch1 | January 6, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane: "The ostensible goals of the minimum wage -- protecting the poor from exploitation -- are laudable. As a method of achieving those goals, it strikes me as a relic of old-style, New Deal liberalism that needs to be reconsidered in light of contemporary knowledge and contemporary conditions (including the many other policies, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which more efficiently support the poor). I fully recognize that, politically, this is a quixotic notion, but can we at least debate it on the merits?"

To quote Pres. Obama, "Yes, we can." But that would require you two things. First, please propose a SPECIFIC mechanism to achieve your "laudable goal." All I see here is repeated complaints about efforts to help at least some of the working poor, based on the few studies that seem to support your bias.

Second, the tenor of your analysis is completely unsympathetic to those who would be most affected by the changes you advocate. To put it bluntly, I have no reason whatsoever to believe that you are sincere in wanting to help poor people. And accordingly, even if your policy prescription were superior to the status quo (which I very much doubt), I don't trust it--or you.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | January 6, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

This article is of a quality where to pay the author minimum wage for it would be a travesty.

Why not just replace Mr. Lane with Xerox machine that spits out the same column every week???

JB

Posted by: ba3344 | January 6, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

What a great idea! Perhaps we should reduce the pay of our low end wage earners to less than our overseas competitors, say $0.50 an hour (there was story in the Times about a Chinese factory worker happy to make $0.70 an hour the other day). This way all the businesses that have left our wonderful shores will return and we will enjoy full employment. There will be more than enough jobs for everyone, legal or not so the immigration issue will disappear also. Finally with very little expense the government and /or the businesses themselves can create several new not so little neighbors based on the Indian Calcutta model for all these, oh so grateful to be employed, folks to live out there happy lives.

Posted by: sundayblues | January 6, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Not one word in this column about the transfer of wealth, particularly in the last decade, from the middle class to the already wealthy. Not one word.

Just a call to continue our race to the bottom. If it's about creating jobs, why stop at the minimum wage? Let's get rid of workplace safety rules. Cancel workman's compensation. No more overtime or restrictions on hours. Get rid of those silly anti-discrimination laws. Eliminate consumer safety regulations. Forget about industrial pollution.

Now we'll have full employment! Business will be an unstoppable juggernaut! Prosperity for all! Whoops, I forgot... all the prosperity will end up in the executive offices and the board room. Oh, well, that's the American way!

Posted by: babsnjer | January 6, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Lane wrote:
Yet in July, the federal minimum wage went up as planned, at the cost of 300,000 jobs, according to one economist's estimate.
########################################

This "estimate" is based on historical data from the 1990's and does not take into account the shattering economic crisis of 2008.

Perhaps Lane could give us examples of businesses that have gone under in these trying times due to the high minimum wage. Personally, I believe that many of them did just fine. In the third quarter of 2009, McDonalds earned $1.26 billion ($1.15 per share), up compared to the same period last year with $1.19 billion in earnings ($1.05 per share).

So McDonald's made MORE money this Fall than in Fall 2008, despite the rise in the minimum wage.

http://business2press.com/2009/10/22/mcdonald%E2%80%99s-posts-strong-q3-2009-earnings/

Posted by: maggots | January 6, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Let them eat cake... ?

$280 a week for a full forty hours?
You gotta be kidding.

If not then you need to be chained to a sewing machine doing piecework or stood in front of a metal press shifting sheet metal.

You have no concept of value sir.
You seem happy to consign any number of people to a life of unending drudgery to support your middle class theorising.

I hope your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny door in (ancient Australian curse).

Posted by: jamesmmoylan | January 6, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The single most important thing that conservatives could do to promote sensible policies in this country would be to include some sort of provision to mandate the study of economics in the public schools. Complete ignorance of even the most fundamental economic principles can be the only explanation for support of the minimum wage and other similarly ruinous policies.
Come on people; try to understand a few very simple and well established ideas: Very, very few people actually earn the minimum wage. The jobs that pay that wage are almost always for completely unskilled workers. As soon as workers develop any kind of skills that make it difficult for an employer to simply grab someone off the street as a replacement, their pay goes up. It’s a big hassle for employers to find and train good workers.
When the government mandates a minimum wage, employers simply can’t afford to hire as many unskilled workers. It’s that simple. Workers have to produce more value than they earn in pay and benefits in order for their jobs to be viable. If you want to pay your workers more than they produce, you won’t stay in business very long. The only alternatives are to pass the extra costs on to the customers, or to find some way to increase productivity (maybe by automating some process and eliminating some employees).
Society as a whole is much worse off with artificially high minimum wages. A few workers make a little bit more than they would earn otherwise, but many others lose their jobs or aren’t hired at all. You can argue that nobody can live on $7/hour, but it’s a lot better than $0/hour. Paying folks more than their labor is worth incentivizes people to remain in unskilled jobs instead of improving their skills so they can earn more. It costs everybody in society more for the goods and services they buy when labor rates are artificially high. It also costs everybody more in taxes to support the people who can’t find jobs that otherwise would have. The benefits to a few who get a little boost in pay are far outweighed by the harm it does to many more folks. Think it through before offering knee-jerk support for well-intentioned but hare-brained economic schemes.

Posted by: jfreg | January 6, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I guess I should say I'm not surprised by the comments so far. And I really like the Killer616 comment wishing for violence and bodily harm. That makes us think you are something other than a thug how??

In any case, the rest of the comments all seem to come down to one thing: the rich get richer off the backs of the poor. Great line to shout while in college, but does anyone even think about what you are saying? Stop allowing yourselves to be blinded by your hatred of the rich and think about it for a minute. Which is better - 7 people that make seven dollars an hour, or 8 people that make 6? Either way, you can't support (and shouldn't expect too) a family on the minimum wage. So what's the difference, except to that 8th person that now has a job?

Posted by: Bailers | January 6, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I still remember the article in this paper profiling the owners of a framing store who paid their workers minimum wage, offered no benefits and paid themselves (husband and wife owners) over $100k a year. The article talked about what a great high-margin business framing is. The owners were just back from their semi-annual trip to sunny I-forget-where.

I'm sure they want to reduce the minimum wage, too. So they can buy an extra latte or two every week.

Posted by: gettingdizzy1 | January 6, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to accept a complete repeal of the minimum wage if the employers who would benefit would accept mass-scale labour organization. Otherwise you end up with the sorts of actions in the Grapes of Wrath.

Unions are a mechanism of the free market.

Posted by: scadolph | January 6, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

to Bruce19. The country and companies have changed considerably since the 50's,60's and 70's. Instead of most entities being Corporations, where, yes, they did reinvest to reduce the high tax rate: today, most entities are LLC's and a great number of them pass all income and losses to the members. If you decide to put such a high tax bracket on them, you will discourage investment. Have you not seen all the venture capital startups the last 20 years?

Posted by: robc1 | January 6, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I find the entire minimum wage argument to be absurd.

Some people want a "living wage" of $10 or some other high number. Other people, virtually all Republicans, are against any rise in the minimum wage.

You can argue that we should abolish the minimum wage. You can argue it should be higher. However, I never see a Republican come up with a number where they think it should be. Few Republicans have the guts to say the minimum wage should be eliminated. They just complain whenever anyone wants to raise it.

It is almost like health care. There are virtually no arguments against the health care bill that don't apply to Medicare. I want all 40 republican senators to come out and say that they want Medicare repealed. If they don't then they are hypocrites.

Posted by: neilwilson | January 6, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Bailers wrote: "I guess I should say I'm not surprised by the comments so far. And I really like the Killer616 comment wishing for violence and bodily harm. That makes us think you are something other than a thug how??"

The right to a subsistence wage and reasonable hours was won, mostly in the 30's, largely by use of violence and threats thereof. There is no other way to separate a greedy man from his money, is there? But thanks to laws enacted at that time, violence was no longer necessary for workers to live decent lives.

Lane, and presumably Bailers, would like to go back to the time that capitalists kept their workers in a sort of poverty that is unimaginable now. If that were to happen, the only genuine and reasonable response would be violence - however much would be necessary to fix the situation. And that violence would have legitimate targets.

People like Lane try to pretend that they are somehow not violent. But the misery and death that Lane would like to inflict on American workers - or at least he would like them to get used to again - is very real violence that he is wishing on very real people. He deserves no less in return.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | January 6, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

How can we ce sure that it was Charles Lane who wrote this & not Dan Balz, because it sure took alotr of balz to take credit for as moronic essay as this one.

Posted by: dougharty | January 6, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Lane, you idiot, the basic problem we have is dealing with third world labor as competition.

Every stinking corporation wants greater profits and one thing they can control is labor costs by going to a toilet like China (yes, CHINA IS A TOILET) and exploiting the workers there.

Your fanciful exploration of making us into something like China (we're almost there anyway) amuses me and makes it clear that there's enough maggots like you in the corporate world to screw over everyone who actually works for a living.

Posted by: dlkimura | January 6, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I thought communists were extinct but apparently there are lots of them, all reading The Washington Post online. Tax rich people 90% of their income? That's practically what they did in the U.S.S.R., and look how well that went.

Posted by: rick50 | January 6, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

"What I am saying, though, is that joblessness is so bad in this country right now that we should be looking for every conceivable means of reducing it, even somewhat."

So why aren't you then out there arguing for a second stimulus, instead of arguing for cutting the living conditions for the people at the very bottom?

Or are you simply trying to use a crisis as an excuse to cut down on any sort of program benefitting the poorest, while leaving the privileges of the well-off (such as yourself, and the people who pay you) intact?

Posted by: sembtex | January 6, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"In other words, increasing the minimum wage destroys jobs, especially for those who need them most. If you really wanted to throw the U.S. economy into a depression, just set the minimum wage at $50 per hour"
---------------------------------------
Duh!!! And you can add IDIOT to that list of names that you have accepted. Of course setting the minimum wage at $50/hr. would throw our economy into a depression, but there's a vast difference between $7.25 and $50 and hour. At $7.25 an hour one days work barely covers the cost of a round trip communte for 5 days and it certainly does not cover the average cost of day care for one kid. Go back to the stone age where a bottle of milk cost .25 cents and penny candy actually cost 1 penny. This is 2010 and it's clear that you just don't get it...

Signed

A reader who earns over $70/hr.

Posted by: Beingsensible | January 6, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

And, I'll add, people who are only educationally equipped for a minimum wage job SHOULDN'T be having children anyway. The minimum wage was and should never be intended to support a family.
Posted by: boosterprez
----------------------------------------
So basically what you are saying is the reward for getting a good education is the gift of a child; and those who can't find a job making more than the minimum don't deserve the right to have children? Hummmmmmm

Posted by: Beingsensible | January 6, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

So, what should people (not yourself of course)be paid. None of this "what you are worth?" or "what will make Wall Street happy?" Beltway cop-out drek. Come up with a concrete number so we can decide what this country is going to look like in the future.

Posted by: SoCal | January 6, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

In any case, the rest of the comments all seem to come down to one thing: the rich get richer off the backs of the poor. Great line to shout while in college, but does anyone even think about what you are saying? Stop allowing yourselves to be blinded by your hatred of the rich and think about it for a minute. Which is better - 7 people that make seven dollars an hour, or 8 people that make 6? Either way, you can't support (and shouldn't expect too) a family on the minimum wage. So what's the difference, except to that 8th person that now has a job?

Posted by: Bailers
--------------------------------------
Well if you look at it that way, but how about 7 people making 7 dollars an hour; six of them paying $200 a week to rent a 2 bdrm apartment in the slums for their family of 4 (granted they have a degree, but there are no jobs to be found in their area of speciality paying more than the minimum-oh yeah, they are the lucky ones--they have a job); another $36 to commute to work and back home; that leaves $44 dollars for food to feed 4, heat, electricity, clothes...oh now we've fallen behind on the rent...out in the streets homeless...loss of job...now 7 people unemployed all because their salary was cut by a dollar to hire one other person for a miserable $6 an hour and the cycle starts all over again.

Posted by: Beingsensible | January 6, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Lane,

Let's start by cutting your income. Why don't you propose that everyone who makes what you make take a 20 percent cut?

Posted by: babsygee2 | January 6, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I find it amazing that every time the mimimum wage is raised .. job are lost. .. This last time over 300,000 jobs lost. People who lost their jobs begged to not be let go... offered to work for less but the small family owned grocery store could not by law pay them less than mimimum wage... but could not stay open paying them more.

And knowing this, liberals still defend reaising the minimem wage.

The proff is there that this last hike in mimimum wage put 300,000 people on the streets... but liberals do not care. Amazing.
The job market is not like global warming science. You cant lie about the true the data and get what you want. Fired people are still going to be fired, jobless, on the streets .... because you want to send them there.

Posted by: markandbeth92 | January 6, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I find it amazing that every time the mimimum wage is raised .. job are lost.

I find it even more amazing that every time the repubs give the uber rich a massive tax cut, MILLIONS of jobs are lost.

And do repubs care? Not one damn bit.

Posted by: rcubedkc | January 6, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, sure things will be far better if instead of employing one person at $10 an hour we employ 10 people at $1. Just think of how the poor business-owners will prosper then. Instead of one poorly paid worker, you get 10 who will work for peanuts.

To hell with it. Let's just outsource the whole country to China and India. Let the U.S. become a Chinese province and have the Chinese set hours and wages. Then they can pay American workers what they pay their own and all the business owners will be happy. In addition, if any workers object or try to unionize they can simply be taken out and shot in the back of the head, the Chinese custom for dealing with unions. Nice, huh? But the business "community" will be ecstatically happy. The money people have tried to destroy unions ever since the word was invented anyway, so they will have no compunctions in applying the Chinese business model, I'm sure of that.

(By the way, Lane, don't write "principle" when you mean "principal." One would think a journalist whose work tool is the language would get elementary things like that right.)

Posted by: RichardHode | January 6, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Based on the general logic, I think the timing is off.

We are at risk of a deflation with excess capacity.

Prices already are cheap (assuming cheaper wages lead to cheaper products and more consumption), there is excess capacity in manufacturing.

Americans are saving more at the moment. So they may not buy more a product if it's cheaper.

So lowering the minimum wage will only decrease the purchasing power for those working and not add to employment.

Posted by: camasca | January 6, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I do want to thank Lane for reading and responding to these postings - the vast majority of WaPo columnists just ignore them.

Posted by: maggots | January 6, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

The proff is there that this last hike in mimimum wage put 300,000 people on the streets... but liberals do not care. Amazing.


Posted by: markandbeth92 | January 6, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

#########################################

No, this 300,000 figure is an estimate from a conservative columnist based on an economics model from the 90's. It has absolutely no basis in fact.

Posted by: maggots | January 6, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

If Congress were to cut the minimum wage, putting aside the fact that it would be political suicide, they would also have to enact wage and price freezes, and in some case mandate cuts in prices. I don't see any of this happening.

Posted by: mtnmanvt | January 6, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

One good thing about this rescission/depression is the American citizen is waking up from a very long slumber and discovering that they have been sold into bondage by both political parties in this country.

We are told that globalization is good for our country. Good for whom?

We are told that outsourcing is good for our country. Good for whom?

We are told that Illegal immigration is good for our country. Good for whom?

We are told some businesses are too big to fail and that bailing them out is good for the country. Good for whom?

We are told that giving tax breaks for businesses to relocate overseas is good for the country. Good for whom?

We are told by both political parties to turn a blind eye to corruption at the heart of our democracy. Good for whom?

You have to face the fact that weather you are from the left, right or middle that we have a dysfunctional government at time of national crisis and war. That is not merely wrong but it is treasonous.

We have been divided by race, creed, and political leanings for so long that we no longer know how to talk to each other. We play right into their hands by ignoring each other because we are told that the other fellow cannot be right because he is not my party or creed or race.

My answer to them is

I am an American before I am a party member.

I am an American before I pick up my bible.

I am an American no matter my skin color.

I am an American who will no longer be told to be ashamed of our history. We might not have been perfect but we have much much more to be proud of than to be ashamed of.

I am an American who no longer buys into the thin gruel that Washington is peddling.

I am an American who says we need term limits or we will lose our Democracy to the thieves occupying Washington.

I am an American who says we need Campaign finance reform now not 10 yrs from now

I am an American who says it is time to put aside our differences and stand up and be counted.

I am an American who will bow to no one except God.

What about you?


Steve
Scon101@hotmail.com

Posted by: scon101 | January 6, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey, that's a GREAT idea!!! How's about YOU go first???

Posted by: solsticebelle | January 6, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

William Greider's book "Who Will Tell the People" covered the excellent reasons the minimum wage so efficiently solves many social problems. Essentially without a minimum wage, some people will be forced through their own lack of negotiating skills into a long term way of living that leaves them unable to properly exist in this society. Such exploitative employers force others to make up for their workers' substandard wages when those people need medical care, education for their children, disability and retirement income, and even basics such as indoor plumbing, heat, and sanitation. A society that tolerates such substandard conditions will be one where diseases spread more easily, because living on 50 cents a day is simply not enough to avoid all these problems.

What the minimum wage does is tell society's brightest people who want to hire others "You must create businesses that can pay at least the minimum wage, or our society is simply not interested in your business ideas." This causes the brightest people to work for business conditions which help the more disadvantaged, because their businesses will create enough wealth so their workers and themselves will prosper. This keeps employers away from business ideas which could only prosper through the suffering of their workers. When you look at the minimum wage this way, it solves significant problems efficiently and makes our country more productive in using tools and machinery. Our "free trade" with other countries should also be conditioned on the increasing minimum wages there, so that the wealthy here don't escape their civic responsibilities and enslave other peoples in long term menial jobs through "capital flight." The primary problem with "free trade" with China is that their country is on such a slow path toward creating a vast wealthier and free working middle class that could trade with us and benefit both countries. It sounds like Lane would prefer to export jobs to countries where factory bosses can still ask the police to shoot and arrest any workers trying to organize for better working and living conditions instead of working 12-16 hour hazardous days with no break for a few pennies, and getting replacements when one is killed or maimed.

Posted by: DMBicksler | January 6, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Well if you look at it that way, but how about 7 people making 7 dollars an hour; six of them paying $200 a week to rent a 2 bdrm apartment in the slums for their family of 4 (granted they have a degree, but there are no jobs to be found in their area of speciality paying more than the minimum-oh yeah, they are the lucky ones--they have a job); another $36 to commute to work and back home; that leaves $44 dollars for food to feed 4, heat, electricity, clothes...oh now we've fallen behind on the rent...out in the streets homeless...loss of job...now 7 people unemployed all because their salary was cut by a dollar to hire one other person for a miserable $6 an hour and the cycle starts all over again.

Posted by: Beingsensible
____________________________

Well, I guess I would say that someone making 7 or 8 dollars an hour would likely be getting government assistance in the form of food stamps and welfare. But even if they don't, does an extra 40 dollars a week really matter? Quit your job that requires you to spend 36 a week on commuting and find something closer to home. If you have a family of four, work a second job. Or have your spouse/girlfriend/baby daddy go get a job and work after you get home. Life is tough sometimes, get used to it.
Don't try and pawn off some sob story about the poor family of four making do on minimum wage. Try working hard and you'll get a raise shortly after you start working. It is only the unskilled (not the college grad that can't find any other job) and lazy that are working for minimum wage for any extended period of time.

Posted by: Bailers | January 6, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Live on minimum wage for 6 months with no other income beyond any wage that pays you a max of $2.00 more on a part-time basis on top of that. Make sure it's a job where you don't get to sit down a whole lot either.

Then come back and tell us all what you think. Really, I bet that will change your opinion a whole lot. I don't think you have the guts to do it personally. In fact, I know you don't, so the challenge is pretty empty. You're a gutless coward who's quite obviously had an all to easy life. Prove me wrong and take up the challenge, and I'll take it back. Otherwise, you get to live with that as the truth.

The simple truth is that the problem is wealth is far too concentrated amongst far too few, not that the rest of us aren't sharing the crumbs they leave. However, they might frown at you for suggesting otherwise, and you might not get the chance to toady to them the way you seem to value doing right now.

I don't like George Will's opinions much, but I respect him as a person. You? I don't like your vapid poorly researched opinions much, and I'll single you out as the only Post staffer who I'm developing contempt for as a person. Your opinions are those of a vapid and shallow intellect at best.

Posted by: Nymous | January 6, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

If Lane really wanted to respond to the legitimate criticism he received, he would not just fall back on the same literature he used to justify his initial claim. He would also have addressed the commentary of other journalists (e.g. Ezra Klein) and economists (e.g. Krugman, DeLong, Thoma, Sethi, etc.) in response to his article or in regards to the relationship between minimum wages and employment. Also, several of his readers in his initial post included links to other studies which contradicted his claims. All this post does is reiterate his previous claims without specifically addressing any criticism, without further elucidating his claims, and without introducing any additional evidence.

Posted by: atlasfugged | January 6, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Lets see the military recruiters are having "bonus years" due to the job market, people that would not normally even think about enlisting are now doing so, when I see 35 and 40 year old men and women joining the Army to provide medical care and to earn enough money to pay the rent, then things are tough all over. The Army recruiter that just enlisted my son told me they have quit even taking people with GEDs, they don't need them anymore, they have to many high school graduates enlisting. My son will start at 1400 a month, when I enlisted I got 200 a month quite a difference. But when I enlisted a pack of cigarettes was 50 cents and a gallon of gas was 18 cents, now a pack of cigarettes are 5 dollars a pack and gas is 2.50 a gallon quite a change since 1973, my dad got 15 dollars a month and all the beans he could eat when he was in the 7th Calvary in 1914-1916. Times do change and is 7.50 making anyone a "livable wage" no and reducing minimum wage is an idiotic idea, before the last mandated raise it had been 10 years, because the Republican controlled Congress could not bring themselves to raise the minimum wage, nor could they raise taxes to pay for the 2 wars, they voted to get into, they put it on the tab of our grand children, aren't they such nice people? Now they don't even want to vote to make people buy health insurance despite the fact all people will need health care, if you own a car you have to buy insurance, so if you live and breath the day is coming that you will need health insurance to pay for that "bus that runs you over" wether it be a bus, or cancer, or a heart attack all people will need hospital care at some point in their life, we all have to pay into Social Security, so we should all pay into health care, they claim that if you have a life threatening problem just go to the ER, they have to care for you, yes, but then who pays the bill, the taxpayers, so healthcare should be mandated and the republicans need to get over it.

Posted by: mikey30919 | January 6, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

All I ask is for right wing pundits who advocate reducing the minimum wage to try getting by for a year, only spending, what they think should be an appropriate lower rate.

A maximum wage of perhaps $70 an hour, about ten times the minimum wage, and/or reducing the standard work week to thirty two hours at comparable pay to the current forty-four week, are far better ideas.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | January 6, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Wait a second. Lane writes a column supporting a reduction of the minimum wage WITHOUT first writing a column about reducing the wages of the CEOs, movie stars, atheletes, and investment bankers. Forget about the fast food worker making 8 dollars an hour. How about that guy, Andrew something or other, working for AIG that got a one hundred million dollar bonus (Who the hell knows his salary, this was his BONUS), how about that?

Lane says nothing about the obscene wages (if they are wages, sometimes they are just profits some rich guy sitting on his butt collecting money without working, rich welfare in other words) but instead picks on the lowest wage earner of all - the minimum wager.

OBSCENITY IS WHAT THIS IS. So Lane, take your idea and shove it.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | January 6, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Only a person who never really worked for a living would make such a gesture,Mr Lane.Sitting in your ivory tower with the all the spoils of corrupt capitalism makes you arrogant beyond belief

Posted by: hyroller56 | January 6, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I wondered where this idiot came from. I checked. He has degrees from Harvard and Yale. He would have received a better education from any community college.

Posted by: esch | January 6, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Speaking as someone who was, until recently, unskilled and underemployed, cut minimum wage. Minimum wage has absolutely nothing to do with "capitalist pigs" or "Wall St. fatcats" or any of that bomb-throwing nonsense. If I own a business, and my payroll budget is, let's say, $10 per hour based on a 40 hour week, I can afford to hire one person if the minimum wage is $7.25/hour, or two people if the minimum wage is $5/hour. So that means an employer is short of labor and a potential employee is short of a job.

It's just that simple. Raising minimum wage doesn't magically create more money any more than rent controls create more decent apartments.

Posted by: whorton1 | January 6, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

So if you want to lower the limit on the poorest paid workers do you also want to put a cap on the highest paid workers? No, I thought not. Honestly, how does the author of this article sleep at night? Has he ever, as an adult, been put in the situation where he had to work a menial job? Wage deflation is eventually going to affect most of us and Lane is encouraging it.

Posted by: mikenike1 | January 6, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

A lot of you posters seem to lack the most basic grasp of economics. The fact is, if you are just not useful enough to the rest of society, the minimum wage criminalizes the sale of your labor for its market value. It is a free country--go ahead and emulate the work ethic of the "lucky" (Obama's term for hard-working people), or improve your skills, or show up for work on time, or whatever you need to do to get it done. I'm sorry, but if you are only worth $5 an hour, that is what you should get paid.

Posted by: mark31 | January 6, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Contrary to Mr. Lane's assertion, economists most certainly do not agree that the evidence indicates that increasing the minimum wage results in higher unemployment. This is very much in debate and even some conservative economists wouldn't agree with Mr. Lane. The authors of the article he cites aren't even definitive ("preponderance of the evidence," "evidence seems").

Also, even if the evidence were definitive, no society is required to make decisions solely on likely economic outcomes. I hope we never get to the point in this country in which people think that it is old fashioned to to uphold values like fair treatment of employees. Sorry, Mr. Lane. No sale. You haven't even come close to making your case.

Posted by: Bob22003 | January 6, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

"inane", "dumb", "a jerk", "a troll". How about a "dooosh-bag"?

Posted by: kurthunt | January 6, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I have a better plan, America's overpaid CEO's take a million dollar paycut and create (50) 20,000. a year jobs! We have at least 10,000 overpaid ceo's here in America. That would create 500,000 well paying jobs! All from the kindness of America's gluton's!

Posted by: writedave | January 6, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

The government has no business setting a minimum wage in the first place. It's not its job to artifically increase the wages of workers the market has determined are not worth $7.25. Also, its quite intuitive that in a global marketplace that if you force a company to pay more wages then it will have to lay off workers to compensate since they can't increase prices due to competiton from home grown and foreign companies. Even businesses that don't have to deal with foreign competition like restaurants and hotels will have to lay off workers in this economy since they can't pass on additional expenses to their customers. I also don't get all the left wing BS here about raising taxes on the rich, which according to Democrats are anyone who works. Taxes are already sky high in this country for individuals and busiesses(the U.S. has the second highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world). We can't afford any more taxes.

Posted by: RobT1 | January 6, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, I'm willing to bet that not one of your critics, name-callers and other cretins, has read the economic study you reference. And they never will. Facts and evidence do not interest them. Their little minds are made up.

Posted by: RossOdom | January 6, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

So basically what you are saying is the reward for getting a good education is the gift of a child; and those who can't find a job making more than the minimum don't deserve the right to have children? Hummmmmmm

Posted by: Beingsensible
___________________

Yes, basically that IS what I'm saying...it's not fair to the child if the parent can't afford to take care of that child. Why is this hard to understand? If the parent can't afford it, the child becomes the welfare responsibility of the state....so where is the responsibility of the parent?

Posted by: boosterprez | January 6, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

My 7.50 an hour working 17 yr. son would be better of just staying home!

It's not worth the gas and car insurance to send him off to a big corporate job to work four hours, which is what these so called teenage jobs do.

Start picking them up and feeding them lunch than you can pay them less.

And by the way how can mickey D get away with hiring mostly undocumented workers in the Chicagoland area?

Posted by: writedave | January 6, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

It's easy for you to say to cut the minimum wage when you've got a good paying job and benefits. I agree with other people who have commented, let the CEOs take a cut in pay or at the very least pay more in taxes. Republicans have shown themselves to be self-centered and self-serving (e.g. Bush and his tax cuts for the rich -- which includes himself). There is no such thing as a compassionate conservative, especially when you hear your views about health care for everyone and that the minimum wage should be lower!

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | January 6, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

"The poor can't afford living expenses as it is with everything going up and up"

It will get worse with the new taxes that Obama will end up laying on businesses.

If you are working for minimum now, you have no chance of being employed in the future because you have no skills. And if you have no skills, you'll be replaced by illegals who will work for $4-5 an hour and won't demand medical insurnace.

So any sort of tax you force on businesses to pay for the so-called "working poor" will simply mean these people will sit at home doing nothing with no prospects.

You can force businesses to pay taxes and entitle their workers, but you can't make them hire and you can't stop them from firing.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | January 6, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

iddoyle wrote "Republicans have shown themselves to be self-centered and self-serving" but that leaves a question. Is it self-centered to accept the capitalist fact that you have to be useful to others in order to get business and make a profit? Doesn't that focus on meeting the needs of others, and accepting the value set by a free market, imply that capitalism is a way to improve the world? And just how does arbitrarily demanding more value in exchange for work--value above what the work is worth--how is that not self-serving? If you are working for the highest wage you can find, you are getting paid what you are worth--deal with it. We'll give you food stamps if it isn't enough to buy groceries, and we'll put you up in gov't housing so you won't freeze to death. But wouldn't you be better off if you improved your value to the rest of society so you could pull your own weight?

Posted by: mark31 | January 6, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

"I have no reason whatsoever to believe that you are sincere in wanting to help poor people. "

Funny, I feel that way about most people who claim to be helping the poor.

What I mean is these types of measures claim to be helping the poor, but nobody really goes back and measures the actual impact. Does it help the poor in way that can be proven? Or is it simply a way to salve conscience that something has been done?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | January 6, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Did you even do the math as to how much someone making the current minimum wage would make in a week? Even working 2 jobs full-time at minimum wage isn't enough to live on unless you're a teenager or someone else is paying for your housing.
Babysitters in your neck of the woods charge more per hour than minimum wage!

Posted by: RIPRussert | January 6, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I didn't believe it when I saw the lead in and now that I have read it is am really floored, like people working for minimum wage have it cushy, and I know you didn't say that, but seem to indicate it in the fact you feel teenagers are being paid too much. Dismissing the numbers who are working on minimum wage, who are not teenagers, without insurance, or any fall back, you, are an elitist snob.

Posted by: hmmmmmer | January 6, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

only idiots would disagree with Lane. afterall, reducing the minimum wage is essentially like a furlough. that is what state and local government do to accomodate THEIR workers, so why dont they allow the private sector to do the same? instead pelosi instituted a kind of reverse furlough by mandating jobs cuts to benefit the wages of the workers left standing.

it would be easy to ridicule libs, dems, anyone else who would savage Lane--but whats the point? some people simply dont understand (and are incapable of understanding) economics.

Posted by: dummypants | January 6, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Effectively bar illegal immigrants from the labor market in the U.S. and wages will rise naturally to the point that no minimum wage is necessary.

Posted by: robert17 | January 6, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: boosterprez: "Funny, but I thought innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit created jobs....how does taking from those that have these qualities create jobs?"
============================================

You can have as much "innovation" and "entrepreneurial spirit" as you want. If there's nobody around to pay for your sh-t, your sh-t goes to waste. Considering the wealth that has gone to the "innovators" and the "entrepeneurs", the US should have booming economy with full employment right now.

The only way the US can regain it's economic power again is a redistribution of wealth from the top quintiles to the lower quintiles. Only they lower quintiles in the income distribution have the mass to spur on the economy.

McDonalds and Wal-Mart are doing okay in this economy. Charles Lane and you want even those companies to struggle?

Posted by: wimprange | January 6, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

One would think that the person whose judgment allowed Stephen Glass to publish fabricated stories would hesitate to expound on who deserves to receive what compensation, but given that he has chosen to do so I need to respond. Mr. Lane, you and I both are I trust, well paid. Where we differ is that I have examined the issue at a more comprehensive level. It is absolutely true that if nothing else is changed when one raises the cost to employ the lowest rung on the ladder, the short term impact is to employ smaller numbers of those people. However, that is simply the initial impact.

What takes place next is a very extended sequence of events that drives wages up through out the economy - due to the combination of a need to hold on to successive layers of marginally more well paid employees and attempts by those same employers who, as you indicate, attempt to avoid hiring those now outrageously compensated minimum wage earners. Eventually, equilibrium is again reached and in fact, those jobs that may have been temporarily lost are once again regained.

But wait, what about the competition from outside the US? It is absolutely true that our manufacturing, and even some service jobs are under great pressure from 3rd world economies and developing ones like China. I am not about to advocate for a protectionist approach to this BUT, what we can and should do and what WOULD greatly change the playing field upon which we compete, is to require minimum standards for those who wish to have access to our markets. Those standards should be environmental and human and worker rights based. We as a nation should never allow countries to compete with us if they do not adhere to standards comparable to ours. Instead of attempting to lower our own standard of living to that of the third world for the worker class, we would raise those nations who choose to compete for access to our markets to first world status very quickly - and when we do that, truly everyone wins.

Do I think you will agree? No. But perhaps I will inspire you to do your job and actually attempt to understand issues prior to publishing poorly formed opinions on them.

Posted by: JoelB8 | January 6, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Mark31: "A lot of you posters seem to lack the most basic grasp of economics. The fact is, if you are just not useful enough to the rest of society, the minimum wage criminalizes the sale of your labor for its market value. It is a free country--go ahead and emulate the work ethic of the "lucky" (Obama's term for hard-working people), or improve your skills, or show up for work on time, or whatever you need to do to get it done. I'm sorry, but if you are only worth $5 an hour, that is what you should get paid."

Get a grip! There are (for example) assistant teachers with valid high school diplomas and bachelor's degrees working hard in local schools who are not even making a living wage--and the salaries here are better than many elsewhere. Meanwhile, I know of at least one school superintendent who continues to pull down 6 GENEROUS digits while so many others are losing their jobs and class sizes are increasing by the year. I can't blame ALL the wealthy ones for ALL our economic troubles, but honestly, I KNOW he won't be giving up any of his own benefits anytime soon.

Me? I'm just thankful that my cum laude degree and many years of valuable experience put me a tad higher on the pay scale. Luckily, I don't have to depend on my single salary to support myself, and I don't have children who depend on me for food, shelter, and clothing.

BTW--got an A+ in economics, but "you don't need to be a rocket scientist" to know what's wrong with Lane's proposal. Something tells me that you probably don't have one, anyway.....

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | January 6, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

The Netherlands has a high minimum wage (living wage). Their unemployment rate is currently 3.9. Many countries in the EU with high minimum wages have better unemployment than the US.

Compare todays minimum wage of $7.25 to the minimum wage in 1968, adjusted for inflation: $$9.92. The 60s was by far the most prosperous for the nation.
How come? Because the lower income population was able to consume a lot more than they are today.

Posted by: wimprange | January 6, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I have to laugh at all the people who think that only the most unskilled and uneducated workers are making minimum wage. Eighteen months ago, I was laid off from a job in corporate training. I'm now working three part-time jobs in unrelated fields, two of them at minimum wage with no prospect of a "raise" for good performance. My two masters degrees and fifteen years of corporate experience have no bearing on my wages and never will.

And by the way, if minimum wage were lowered, we would not hire more employees. We would use the extra money to try to pay our utility bills closer to their due dates.

Posted by: swmuva | January 6, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Lane,

I hope that you will try living on a minimum wage for one month and then report back and tell us how many days you lasted before you ran out of money.

People critical of welfare grants found that they were unable to exist on that amount of money when they accepted the challenge to try it themselves. It changed their whole way of thinking.

Posted by: fred41 | January 6, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Here are a few points to consider on the perennial minimum wage debate:

1. If more help will benefit the business
both in its operation and bottom line, an emplyer will pay the higher minimum wage.
2. If the worker is not needed, the business will not hire or retain an emplyee no matter how low the wage.
3. A low minimu wage is actual a subsidy to the employer by the community which will have to pay for health care, low income housing and other necessities for the low wage earner.
4. On the accelerator theory of wage levels, rasing the wages of each level creates more business for the next level up. For example, if the bottom layer worker is paid more, the worker will have more money for basic needs like clothing and food. The incresed spending power of the minimum wage worker will generate money for the clothier to have dental work and for the dentist to feel comfortable in buying a new car. Trickle up works,trickle down does not. It all starts with the bottom layer. A good example, in Eastern Europe when the bottom layer wages went up it was a stimulus for the entire economy and for the creation of a middle class. The same phenomenon is happening now in China and India. Another example, the State of Washington has the highest US minimum wage and Idaho one of the lowest. The border towns in Washington have thrived in comparison to the Idaho towns just across the border. Economics is a baffling subject and neither ad hominem attcks nor making econ omi questions political question draws us closer to a reasoned answer on complex economic questions.

Posted by: eraskauskas | January 6, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Where did we get these imbe*ciles like Lane?
The minimum wage should be raised to at least $10/hr.
Let's give you an example. I live in Baltimore. Our mayor has been indicted for some wrong doing and will resign next month. She will be given an annual pension for retirement of $83,000. She is in her 50s which means counting on our life expectancy she may get it for 30 years totaling $2.5M.
That's just a mayor. Consider all politicians. How much we pay them and what they get when retired. Consider middle class, executives, Hollywood people and wall street people.
Less than 10 per cent of US population is getting more than 70 per cent of US wealth.
Yet this idi*ot is suggesting a cut of the income of struggling people.
Why not cut self awarding salaries of those 10 percent executives that get paid in one year what middle class people make in their entire lives?
Does an average American have a say on how much people who run our accounts award themselves? No. They call themselves self made successful people and decide whatever salaries please them, make it a law so that we can't call them robber barons or predators.
We have a legalized predatocracy in this country. Their greed is causing all the problems that we have.

Posted by: Makiz | January 6, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

@RossOdom:

The article Lane cites is behind a pay-wall. Did you pay the $150 to read it? (Did Charles Lane?).

I read the WSJ Op-Ed that Lane used as the basis of his original Post-Partisan post. It essentially rehashes the standard counterargument used against the minimum wage. There are as many legitimate studies and theoretical arguments in support of the minimum wage as there are against. If Lane weren't trying to be willfully disingenuous (by holding up one paper as if it were the quintessential work in the field) he would concede that there is no real consensus on the effects of the minimum wage on employment.

Posted by: atlasfugged | January 7, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse

you make less then minimum wage lane,see how your family survives.be thankful your blessed over the poor you moron.

Posted by: gilliam | January 7, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

"We must tax the wealthy at a rate that makes sense for our economy. Let's start at 69% for high income earners and set the tax on investment income at 30%. This will create more jobs as it did in the 50's, 60', 70's..."
____________________

HUH????

HOw does increasing taxes create jobs?????

Funny, but I thought innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit created jobs....how does taking from those that have these qualities create jobs?

You're gonna have to explain yourself further.

Unless, of course, like all liberals, your intention was to distribute those taxes to everyone else so that they'd have more "income" to spend....was that your point???
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It is very simple, a billion in after tax corporate income will go out in cash to stockholders, reinvested with the highest return (usually overseas) when taxes are low. When taxes are high, the money is reinvested in the corp. increasing share price. Too many times that corporate re-investment is also overseas judging by yearly increases in American corporate overseas income.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 7, 2010 4:06 AM | Report abuse

You want to create jobs put a flat 5% tax on all income personal and corporate, redistribute it back directly to American citizens equally on a bank issued credit card with accompanying photo national I.D. issued by banks that can only be spent on American made goods and healthcare costs. Combine that with a Reagan investment tax credit to rebuild the manufacturing base and we will create millions of jobs, lower the trade imbalance, and increase the standard of living from the records we set for people on food stamps and amount spent on medicaid (over 300 billion).

Posted by: jameschirico | January 7, 2010 4:42 AM | Report abuse

You make perfect sense. When in trouble take from the people at the bottom. Taking a nickel an hour away from the working poorest makes so much sense, I can't believe someone hasn't thought of it before. Think of how much more the CEO's bonuses and perks could be!

Posted by: MNUSA | January 7, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Lane should (but will not) have the common decency to either disclose (and defend) his own bloated salary, or stop pronouncing on this subject.

Posted by: misterjrthed | January 7, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

The adjectives Lane uses to describe himself in the column's initial paragraph may not be correct. However, there is no doubt he is a right-wing ideologue if he seriously favors lowering the minimum wage. He should remain in the right-wing nuthouse. Don't let him loose upon us.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | January 7, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Lower the minimum wage and you just give license to every company who is bent to do so to reduce the already low wage they pay their workers. THAT is a guarantee. What do you want it to go down to -- back to 5.15 an hour? You live on that, Lane. Many businessess in this country that are crying tough times are full of c+++. They aren't making the unrealistic quarterly profits that satisfy their stockholders and their greedy CEO's that they were used to seeing for many years, so they cut and cut and cut -- hours of the employees, the benefits of the employees, and now you want to let them cut the wage of their employees. This is not a way to put people back to work, it is a way to further take advantage of people who are the least able to fight for themselves. People ion this country are angry and frustrated and on edge enough with just being able to survive and you want to add to the problem.

Posted by: creatia52 | January 7, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

This was almost as weak as your replies to Ezra Klein. DougJ of Balloon Juice eviscerates you here: http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=32243

Posted by: crust1 | January 7, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Don't blame the author, it's hard to get a man to understand something that his job requires him to be ignorant of.

The post editorial section, and the paper generally, has been on a mission to make the WSJ look like dirty hippies. They want to please the powerful (and ignore their 'customers' who are overwhelmingly liberal).

Maybe that'll help their access or ad revenue. Or, maybe they are just sick and cruel. Who cares, I can barely read the post anymore.

Tomorrow's headline: "Obama troubles with ..." Just like everyday, they are trying to tear down progressive causes.

Posted by: rat-raceparent | January 7, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

So, you want the lowest paid folks in our country to fix the economy?

Posted by: jckdoors | January 7, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Look we do not need more Minimum wage jobs we need living wage jobs and lowering the Minimum wage will not do anything in that regard. All any reduction will do is increase the profit margins of those companies that employ minimum wage workers.

Posted by: notthatdum | January 7, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The utter ignorance of basic economics reflected in the bulk of your readers' comments is breathtaking. The laws of economics are merciless and, despite our fond wishes to the contrary, raising the price of something invariably reduces the demand for it -- be it apples, Double Whoppers or workers making or picking them. Whether to divvy up a small wage pie among more or less people is primarily a moral or ethical question, not an economic one. We have, though, seen many cases of employees offering to work fewer hours for less pay to prevent other workers from being laid off. So the laws of economics as well as the tug of morality are both at play here. As for the fat cat execs unaffected by any of this, theirs is a totally different kind of economic dislocation that I hope pundit Lane will address with similar rigor

Posted by: kantcould | January 7, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Charles, I know it is tough for you and the rest of the Washington Post editorial board (and some of the responders) to disenthralled yourselves from the tired dogmas of the Chicago School of economics, to paraphrase Lincoln, that has dominated the last 30 years, but the fact is that the data does not not support what the Chicago theory says must be true. The matter is in contention, something that you are less than honest in failing to acknowledge. See http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/bjir/2009/00000047/00000002/art00011

Unfortunately, in economics the minds of the researchers as each side finds that results are warped by their respective "idols of the theater and idols of the marketplace" to use Sir Fancis Bacon's terms for how the mind can obscure the truth with its conscious and unconscious biases. Economists who favor conservative policies and like the results that award the buiness elite tend to find evidence that increasing the minimum wage reduces employment. Those who are more liberal find that the data does not support that case, and that it may in fact in some circumstances increase employment and wealth.

Similarly, moderate tax increases on the wealthy and redistribution of it may spur economic growth by discouraging the wealthy CEOS and Hedge Fund managers from rent seeking and by taking money from those who cannot find something use to invest in or to spend on and who as a result just sit on the money to those who will spend it or in the improvement of the countries infrastructure and healing the environment.

Posted by: rickstersherpa | January 7, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Charlie, I'm still waiting for you to say you will take the challenge posed by quite a few of these commenters: take a leave of absence from WaPo and YOU try living for a month on the minimum wage. No credit cards, no drawing down your savings, no going back every night to your Georgetown apartment or your house in the suburbs, since minimum-wage earners can't afford to live where you do. And if you get sick during that month, no charging the doctor visit to your insurance carrier since very few (if any) minimum-wage earners have health insurance.

Since you haven't said you'll do this, I assume you're afraid to let your precious hide leave your ivory tower. So to all those names your mean ol' readers keep calling you, I'll add another one: coward.

Posted by: angelas1 | January 7, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

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