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The New York Times, on the Minimum Wage

Back in January of 1987, about thirty years ago, before it opposed economic theory on principle, The New York Times wrote an editorial against the minimum wage.

In a short piece provocatively entitled: “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00”, they said, among other things:

[…]It’s no wonder then that Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, is being pressed by organized labor to battle for an increase.

No wonder, but still a mistake. Anyone working in America surely deserves a better living standard than can be managed on $3.35 an hour. But there’s a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market.[…]

The newspaper was hardly expressing the sort of fully libertarian view I would prefer — the editorial suggests wage subsidies and state sponsored job training as an alternative to minimum wage laws. However, it is still noteworthy that thirty years ago, the New York Times’ editors still possessed the fundamental understanding that raising the price of something lowers demand, and that labor isn’t an exception.

It is worth reading, if you can, if only to remember how far the terms of the debate have slipped over the decades. Today, the editorial board of the same newspaper strongly favors doubling the minimum wage, to $15 an hour, which, in inflation adjusted dollars, vastly exceeds any level it has had in the past. No serious consideration is given in the more recent editorials to the notion that doubling the price of low skill labor might result in unemployment. This is quite a change, and not one for the better.

9 comments to The New York Times, on the Minimum Wage

  • about thirty years ago, before it opposed economic theory on principle

    This line is funny because it is true.

  • rxc

    This editorial was written before the progressives had 30 years to stuff the universities full of people who really, really believe in socialism. They have not only indoctrinated over a generation of people in the wonders of socialized living, but they have used the opportunity to generate all sorts of economic and social “science research” to support their beliefs. In the face of this overwhelming consensus (at least 97%) by academic experts that the Times cannot ignore or oppose, because they don’t understand what was done or what the research days, we get all sorts of new economic theories that have seemed to be crazy in the past, but which are now foundational parts of modern economic and social theory. When they are put into place and fail, we will just be told that they were not omplemented correctly – they will get it right next time, once they get rid of all the wreckers and deniers.

    They never stop.

  • Alan H.

    The pre-dementia NYT? Yes I vaguely remember those days.

  • llamas

    There’s a video at the Tube of You of Ben Shapiro debating the solons of Seattle city government who were the first to pass a $15 minimum wage law. For straight-up barking sunshine-and-unicorns moonbattery, it’s hard to beat.



  • lucklucky

    Marxism won the fight on the Left and dominates western culture.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    The same people who support a high minimum wage probably also support high carbon emission taxes. 🙄

  • Fred the Fourth

    Then, NYT said the “right minimum wage is $0.00”
    Then, and now, the actual minimum wage is $0.00.

  • Thailover

    Fred the 4th, nice point.

  • Paul Marks

    The New York Times used to be a mixture good and bad – I often forget the good part.

    It is less complex now – it is just bad (evil).