[Paleopsych] Living wage thread

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Sat Nov 27 05:43:58 UTC 2004

My street level knowledge says that some
of these studies are not very scientific.
Worse, they are pseudoscience or
mercenary science.

In the real world there are plenty of people
who work their whole lives for low wages
and never move up.  They live all around
me in the Mission District.

Steve Hovland

-----Original Message-----
From:	Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. [SMTP:ljohnson at solution-consulting.com]
Sent:	Friday, November 26, 2004 8:45 PM
To:	The new improved paleopsych list
Subject:	[Paleopsych] Living wage thread

This is fairly easy to research. Type "living wage consequences" into a 
search engine.

Here is a simple 'compare and contrast' activity. One side is from UMass 
Amherst, supporting living wages. But note carefully, these studies, as 
far as I can tell, are from a theoretical POV. Exempli gratia: The 
author of their Santa Monica paper admits that his projections are 

The other side is from a Cato paper, referencing 80 studies showing that 
the Federal Minimum Wage laws and subsequent Living Wage laws actually 
increases unemployment among those they are designed to help. Every 
time. These are empirical studies. Cato points out the fallacies of the 
pro-living wage arguments, and an intelligent discussion of the topic is 
obligated to address those.
The Cato Institute study says:
    "The main beneficiaries of the living wage are public-sector 
unionized employees because of the reduced incentives for local 
governments to contract out work. Instead of exploiting grievances of 
the marginally employed against 'greedy' employers, advocates for the 
poor should focus their energies on building the skills of the poor."

Another e.g.from Thomas Sowell: People in minimum wage jobs do not stay 
at the minimum wage permanently. Their pay increases as they accumulate 
experience and develop skills. It increases an average of 30 percent in 
just their first year of employment, according to the Cato Institute 
Other studies show that low-income people become average-income people 
in a few years and high-income people later in life.
    - http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/ts20031105.shtml

Sowell obviously has some data to suggest that minimum wage jobs are 
'starter jobs' (4/5 in a minimum wage job are single young people in 
their first job.) Now you may dislike Sowell intensely, but he is a 
genuine economist, author of textbooks, and a researcher, so we 
shouldn't reject him because of bias and prejudice against the 
libertarian POV. We ought to examine the studies he bases his statements 
on, just as any fair-minded person seeking to understand complex group 

Before we argue, we can simply look at the research. Anyone who plows 
through research will find ammunition on both sides. (As Robert 
Rosenthal showed, researchers get what they want to get, especially in 
social science.) The best studies are empirical, not theoretical, and 
they appear to support my POV. My discussions with economists lends 
support to my notion that these findings are well known.  That they are 
not welcome facts is also well known.
 Another cato-like source FYI: http://www.epionline.org/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage
"The costs and benefits arising from minimum wages are subject to 
considerable disagreement among economists 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economist>, though the consensus among 
economics textbooks is that minimum wage laws should be avoided whenever 
possible as the costs exceed the benefits. " follow the discussion below 
this quote.

Michael Christopher wrote:

>>>Living wage laws -- government imposed -- reduce 
>the number of jobs to low income people, hurting the
>ones you pretend  to help. This is well known.<<
>--I think it's assumed, not "well known". What kind of
>sample was studied in making that determination?  
>>>More people out of work. More people in misery.
>Sounds like a typical left wing bit of nonsense.<<
>--Countered by a typical bit of right wing nonsense,
>apparently. A lot of people let ideology govern their
>thinking, rather than an actual analysis of what
>happens when variables are changed in a society. It
>requires humility, because in any multi-variable
>system, changing one variable can unexpectedly affect
>others, and it's all experimental. There is no
>shortage of people with opinions, willing to impose
>their opinions on the entire system, and the fallout
>from such experimentation can be tragic. Everyone is
>SO certain their hypothesis is correct, and so
>unwilling to step down to the street level to see the
>effects of their decisions up close.
>Do you Yahoo!? 
>The all-new My Yahoo! - Get yours free! 
>paleopsych mailing list
>paleopsych at paleopsych.org
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