In the fourth GOP debate, which came barely after the end of the third GOP debate, the focus was on the economy. Of course, Republicans can always be trusted to be absolutely clueless about the economy and everything that powers it (like consumer spending). Tonight, both Donald Trump and Ben Carson were asked about the minimum wage, and Carson, like any good little Republican, said we should not raise the minimum wage. Why? “Ladder of opportunity.” He said:
Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases … only 19.8 percent of black teenagers have a job. That’s because of those high wages. If you lower those wages, that comes down … I would not have [gotten the jobs I had as a teen] if someone had to pay me a large amount of money. What I did gain from those jobs was a tremendous amount of experience.
Yes, because experience is so valuable to people trying to raise families. Most minimum wage workers are not teenagers. Basically, what Carson is saying is that if we raise the minimum wage, then we raise that bottom rung of the ladder and low-skilled workers can’t get on that wonderful ladder. Isn’t this what Mitt Romney kept saying in 2012? This is an old and tired argument that needs to die, because it isn’t true. Labor doesn’t work this way, and it never has.
What Carson is doing is playing to the people who believe that labor is a commodity, and responds to the market the same way that inanimate products and services do. That anecdote he gave? It’s to put a personal touch on it, and make it more believable.
The ladder of opportunity doesn’t get impossible to climb with a higher minimum wage. A higher minimum wage makes it easier to get on that bottom rung.
Featured image by Gage Skidmore.