Sunday, October 29, 2006

MacEachern Mouths Myths (Say that three times fast)

Some of the windows are open, allowing in the sound of the little waterfall that aerates our koi pond running between the windows and the outside wall. Cool morning air has me reaching for the warmth of the coffee cup. Baroque music on the radio, its polyphonic lines emanating from the Martin-Logans and I notice the existential pun: it's Handel's "Water Music."

Though we've worked hard for this, I feel gratitude rather than entitlement.

But wait, there's even more to this lovely Sunday morning. To my delight (but no surprise) the inimitable Doug MacEachern has provided another ignorant snot-filled eruption of paranoid and inverted class-warfare strict-father-morality conservative talking point for us to consider.

From the opinion pages of the third-rate-and-not-even trying-for-better Arizona Repubic, MacEachern warms our hearts with this little homily:

"Proposition 202 won't make much of a wave. Not because it isn't a wretched idea. It is. An indexed minimum wage will cost entry-level jobs, no matter how union activists twist the facts. But it won't matter because the veil of good intentions lies so heavily over Proposition 202. Few will hear of the lost low-wage jobs, the training cuts or the rise in youth unemployment. It's all about feeling good about yourself."

This, of course, is theoretical nonsense. So-called conservatives have been repeating the mantra "increased minimum wages costs jobs" for all the years they've been building their right-wing noise machine. But that doesn't make it true.

David Card and Alan B. Krueger head up the reality-based arguments against the conventional (as in "oft-repeated") assertions regarding this issue.

"In a work that has important implications for public policy as well as for the direction of economic research, the authors put standard economic theory to the test, using data from a series of recent episodes, including the 1992 increase in New Jersey's minimum wage, the 1988 rise in California's minimum wage, and the 1990-91 increases in the federal minimum wage. In each case they present a battery of evidence showing that increases in the minimum wage lead to increases in pay, but no loss in jobs."

But that can't be right, can it? I mean, if company upper management raises their own income by multiples of millions of dollars each year, then employment at lower levels doesn't... oh, never mind.

Anyways, C&K have had their critics. From the Vermont Legislative Research Shop:

"Card and Krueger have received some criticism for their study from a number of conservative think tanks that published their commentaries in opinion-editorial fashion rather than in peer-reviewed journals. Critics claim that the Princeton Study looked specifically at minimum wage issues in the fast food industry, which leaves out a significant population of the minimum wage work force. They also claim that the Card and Krueger data is inconsistent with the actual payroll records of the Burger King franchises; Card and Kreuger chose to rely on the Bureau of Labor Statistics for their data. Richard Berman of the Employment Policies Institute also disagreed with the methodology of the Card and Kruger study. He argues that the analysis should have focused on the number of hours worked instead of the number of employees (Berman 1998). Despite the claims of these critics, there has been no peer-reviewed research to date that contradicts the findings of Card and Kreuger or supports the claim that an increase in the minimum wage increases unemployment."

There you go.

Other economists, hundreds of them actually, have weighed in on the increased-minimun-wage issue and have found conclusions similar to those of C&K. But that doesn't fit MacEachern's frame through which he sees his altered reality, and as Lakoff says, "When the facts don't fit the frames, the frames are kept and the facts ignored." It's on page 73.

So MacEachern rumbles on with his fact-defying newspeak. You can easily imagine the maggots crawling out of his facial orifices.

I suppose I could try to take him head-on and maybe send him a link like say maybe one from the Economic Policy Institute, but I'm sure he'd stay true to form and probably just attack the messenger or blame it all on Clinton.

"Minimum wage opponents often say that higher minimum wages will yield substantial job losses, but empirical evidence does not support this claim. A 1998 Economic Policy Institute study failed to find job loss associated with the 1996-97 minimum wage increase.3 In fact, following that minimum wage increase, the low-wage labor market performed better than it had in decades (e.g., lower unemployment rates, increased average hourly wages, increased family income, decreased poverty rates).

This reality is leading many economists to support minimum wage increases as a useful policy measure, especially in an era of increasing economic inequality. In October 2004, 526 economists signed a statement that said, in part, that "a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve the well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effect that critics have claimed." This list of economists included four Nobel Prize winners in economics and three past presidents of the American Economics Association.4"


Facts and footnotes. These are on our side, that of the reality-based nurturant-parent-morality community. But for the MacEacherns of this world, the deserving rich must prosper while the undeserving poor remain poor, or his entire internal concept of moral order explodes inside his follicle-challenged pointy little head.

3 comments:

DisappearingJohn said...

Th biggest myth at all is that there are any minimum-wage jobs to be had in Phoenix, anyway...

Having 2 teenage children who both have jobs, the lowest entry-level wage they found was above even what the "new" minimum wage would be...

The net effect of this proposition will be to make everyone feel better for trying. I see it having no true effect on anyone...

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Charles said...

Disappearing John is not correct about the effect.

Based on a very small sample, he assumes that there are no minimum wage jobs. That's not a good assumption. Granted, the present minimum wage is so incredibly low in buying power that many employers would be embarrassed to pay it.

But minimum wage also tends to boost wage levels above minimum wage. This is especially important in recessions, where employers are tempted to cut back on wages. If they can't, if they actually have to decide whether to keep or let go employees, they make better decisions.