Meet Maryland Representative Jill P. Carter, Minimum Wage Supporter

by Jan 24, 2014Liberty & Economy15 comments

I attempted unsuccesfully to engage a supporter of increasing the minimum wage named Jill P. Carter in a reasoned discussion on Twitter.

I attempted unsuccesfully to engage a supporter of increasing the minimum wage named Jill P. Carter in a reasoned discussion on Twitter. I didn’t know it until halfway through the discussion, but she turned out to be a Maryland government legislator. What struck me was the fact that she was so strongly advocating increasing the minimum wage even though she was utterly incapable of supporting her position when I challenged it by pointing out that outlawing jobs — which is what minimum wage laws do — would exacerbate unemployment. Evidently clueless about basic economics and the law of supply and demand, she had absolutely no response to this. Here’s the amusing result of my attempt to reason with her:

At that point, I checked her profile and learned that she is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. She continued…

That was the last I heard from Jill P. Carter. But in the meantime, an apparent admirer of hers jumped in who likewise proved equally incapable of actually supporting his position favoring increasing the minimum wage.

Since he hadn’t addressed that to me, I didn’t see it until later, so didn’t reply. But I’ll share this post with my new friend Norman G. Johnson III, so he can click here and see the paper “Minimum Wages and Employment” by David Neumark and Fed economist William Wascher, published in Foundations and Trends in Microeconomics in 2007, which reviewed the literature on the subject and found that “the oft-stated assertion that recent research fails to support the conclusion that the minimum wage reduces employment of low-skilled workers is clearly incorrect.” Rather, “a sizeable majority” of the more than 100 studies they looked at indicated that minimum wage laws had a negative effect on employment. Moreover, “the studies that focus on the least-skilled groups that are likely most directly affected by minimum wage increases provide relatively overwhelming evidence of stronger disemployment effects for these groups”.

Or he could click this link to see a study by Neumark, Wascher, and J.M. Ian Salas titled “Revisiting the Minimum Wage-Employment Debate: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater” and published by the National Bureau for Economic Research in January 2013, which concluded that “the evidence still shows that minimum wages pose a tradeoff of higher wages for some against job losses for others”.

Or he could click this link to see a study by economists from the Central Bank of Turkey and the London School of Economics, Yusuf Soner Baskaya and Yona Rubinstein (respectively), titled “Using Federal Minimum Wages to Identify the Impact of Minimum Wages on Employment and Earnings Across the U.S. States” and published in October 2011, which found that higher minimum wages increased unemployment.

Those were just a few such papers I found in a few minutes of research via Google for this previous post of mine. But, really, it doesn’t matter what any of these papers say. After all, Norman G. Johnson III could share links to other studies citing other statistics and arriving at another conclusion. It isn’t statistics that tells us that minimum wage laws create unemployment. It’s basic economics, the law of supply and demand. When the government engages in price fixing and sets a price below that determined by the market, it creates a shortage, and vise versa. Any study that cites statistics to claim that an increase in the minimum wage did not cause an increase in unemployment is inherently invalid for the simple reason that it cannot cite any statistics to show what jobs would otherwise existed. It is a simple logical truism that the consequence of outlawing jobs is unemployment. To argue otherwise is to insist either that (a) there are no workers out there who would prefer to work for less than the minimum wage than to have no job or (b) there are no employers out there who who would hire workers for less than minimum wage, even though those workers would prefer to work for such a wage than to have no income at all. And as if it wasn’t already self-evident enough that neither of those conditions exist, we can also prove that through logic, since if either of those things were true, then there would be no perceived need to increase the minimum wage.

Next, Norman G. Johnson III had this to say:

I’m not sure what his “Textbook economics” remark was supposed to mean, but he’s right, it is textbook economics. As the New York Times editorialized in 1987, to increase the federal minimum wage would be “a mistake” because “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.” A higher minimum wage “means fewer jobs”; it “would increase unemployment: Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired.” In conclusion, “The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable—and fundamentally flawed.” The title of the editorial was “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00”.

Or here’s Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who supports increasing the minimum wage, on what the effect of doing so would be:

So what are the effects of increasing minimum wages? Any Econ 101 student can tell you the answer: The higher wage reduces the quantity of labor demanded, and hence leads to unemployment…. This is what happens when there is a price floor on the wage rate paid for an hour of labor, the minimum wage: when the minimum wage is above the equilibrium wage rate, some people who are willing to work — that is, sell labor — cannot find buyers — that is, employers — willing to give them jobs.

Here’s what two different textbooks coauthored by Krugman has to say about it:

This is what happens when there is a price floor on the wage rate paid for an hour of labor, the minimum wage: when the minimum wage is above the equilibrium wage rate, some people who are willing to work — that is, sell labor — cannot find buyers — that is, employers — willing to give them jobs.

How opposing the placement of additional obstacles in the way of young and low-skilled people trying to get a job is to be “out of touch with the mainstream working class” is something Norman G. Johnson III didn’t explain. He continued:

Well, I don’t know who “Martin” is, but moving on…

So that was my intellectual stimulation for the day.

UPDATE (1/25/2014): See here for more from Jill P. Carter illustrating how she supports raising the minimum wage even though she understands that this very well could hurt the very people she claims to want to help.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

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15 Comments

  1. cjayengel

    Good stuff Jeremy. But my favorite part was the constant reiteration that you are “fighting a losing battle” and states need to “keep up with the feds.” Because apparently political trends, not economic law, define reality.

    Reply
    • Ishmam Ahmed

      Those fighting the winning battle aka the supporters of higher minimum wages must be eager for a Pyrrhic victory. One more victory, such as boosting the minimum wage to $15/hr, and they will be undone by the consequences.

      Reply
  2. Karl W. Braun

    Jeremy, it is very hard to carry on a discussion, especially on a topic like this, on Twitter when one is pretty much limited to stating mere quips. Maybe email, Facebook, or an old fashioned letter would be a better means to really express your ideas.

    Reply
    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      Karl, I wasn’t the one having any trouble in that regard, and it is perfectly evident that the troubles my interlocutors were having wasn’t due to being limited to 140 character comments.

      Reply
      • Karl W. Braun

        It was just a suggestion. :-)

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Understood, Karl. You have my above post as a better means for me to express my ideas.

  3. Steve Swygert

    I appreciate your candor Jeremy, as well as your attempts to engage a less then engaging politician. Here is what i think, for what it is worth, and although we may not agree, I will at least keep an open mind yo your response as a professional and a writer too. I hope you can read through and past a few typos and see what the vision is that I am trying to share, and I look forward to and appreciate your response and/or additions. What I do see is failure today, and what I envision is what I have written and been published about. I know this is just not as simple as raising minimum wage, but I do think it, a raise, can and will work, under the right parameters. Thanks

    Reply
    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      Does the article have anything to do with minimum wage laws?

      Reply
  4. Ebron

    Just came across this – Jeremy, you make a number of assumptions here not rooted in fact but that merely support your obvious predisposition to oppose raising the minimum wage. Singling out one member of a legislature in a liberal state, that is not even a House leader or minimum wage primary bill sponsor, was silly on your part. Personally, I agree with raising the wage because I believe fat and waste can and should be cut from the top earners and other places. I do not agree with your OPINION that it will promote unemployment. Grow up. You might know something about the economy, but you know nothing about politics, policy, or diplomacy. I don’t want my elected representatives wasting their valuable time engaging with closed-minded, stubborn, non-voters, on twitter, on issues that are beyond their control. In short, Del. Jill Carter’s only failing is that she wasted ant time tweeting with you. Maybe stick to your own state economy and keep your nose out of others. We’re happy here in Maryland with our representation that cares enough to raise the wage!!!! Good day! .

    Reply
    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      There is nothing substantive in your comment for me to respond to. And the law of supply and demand is not my “OPINION”.

      Reply

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