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Bernie and Economic Law

Bernie Sanders, minimum wage,

One of the things Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is known for is his push for a $15 per hour “living wage.” But this is politics — a policy position is never complete until its advocates demonstrate just how idiotic the policy actually is.

As Bernie just did.

His presidential campaign has been embroiled in labor union negotiations and a mini-scandal.

Some staffers have been paid a flat salary, not according to a per-hour contract, making Bernie’s “living wage” commitment a bit murky. You see, these salaried employees worked longer hours than a typical 40-hour work week (as is common in political campaigns), dipping their wage breakdown below the $15/hour “minimum.” 

Now, no one is more deserving of this bit of policy blowback than resplendent millionaire Bernie Sanders.

Yet, it’s his campaign’s response that is especially droll: reduced hours!

So, while in one sense staffers got a pay raise, they did not get more money. Which is, as Matthew Yglesias acknowledged at Vox, “exactly the point that opponents of minimum wage increases are always making — if you force employers to pay more, they’re going to respond by cutting back elsewhere.” 

Ryan McMaken, at mises.org, dug deeper, noting that there are a number of ways that the new union deal could amount to cuts in real wages. By “cutting worker hours, the Sanders campaign elected to provide fewer ‘services’ in the form of campaign activities. In practice, this will likely mean fewer rallies, less travel, or fewer television ads.” Less chance for growth. And decreased likelihood for increased employment of other workers.

Not exactly shocking. But a lesson. A terrible way to run a business.

Or a campaign. 

Perhaps we should say, “Thanks, Bernie!”

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


Bernie Sanders, minimum wage,

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