After reading Peter Mooney's June 10, Page 17, Perspective (``Economist defends minimum wage hike''), I realized that a history lesson was needed. The United States of America resulted from the rejection of rule from a self-perpetuating autocracy in England. The people who fought the revolution did not intend to replace English autocracy with Washington bureaucratic autocracy.
The founders of this country realized that some sort of central government was needed to bind together the 13 colonies while not controlling them. Then, as now, people who understood history knew that those in a ruling position want to perpetuate their power.
On March 4, 1789, Congress sent to the states for ratification 12 proposed amendments to the new Constitution, 10 of which were ratified and came to be called the Bill of Rights.
Regarding the matter of a legislated minimum wage, one of those amendments, the 10th, states in its entirety, ``The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.''
Over the years, the ruling class in Washington has bent the Constitution to try to make it fit their whims. Article One, Section 8 allows Congress ``to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states.''
In the late 1930s, the Supreme Court interpreted the Interstate Commerce clause very narrowly in cases involving the Wages & Hours Act. But bureaucratic-creep set in, so that now you will be advised that if you are, for example, a landscape contractor with all your employees living in your county, you will be subject to the minimum wage law when you mow the lawn of a shop in your county that makes molds for firms all located in your county.
But, you ask, if everything happens in the same county, how is there interstate commerce? Bureaucrats from the Labor Department will tell you that you are subject to minimum-wage requirements in the current interpretation of the law because either 1) one of your lawn mowing machines was made in another state or 2) parts produced in the molds - by a third party - are shipped out of state.
Now Mr. Mooney also makes reference to the Bible in justifying a minimum wage. The Bible does a good job of laying out a moral framework, and many people use the Bible to try to convince others that their morals are superior. But our government was intended to be a government of law, not of men - even though there are some in Washington who have not yet gotten that message.
He wrote that governments have regulated employer-employee relations for decades. People who ignore history fail to realize that one reason for the greatness of our country is that we do not do everything other countries do.
Mr. Mooney also admitted that an increased minimum wage might cause some people to lose their jobs, but he thinks that is justified by the country's economic gain. Try explaining that to a father who lost his job because of the mandated pay increase.
A friend in the industry who now lives and works in Germany has frightening stories to tell about what government regulation of industry has done to Germany, which until recently was the locomotive of prosperity pulling other countries of Europe.
German unemployment has exceeded 10 percent for several years. A worker in Germany can be unemployed and on a government dole equal to 90 percent of his previous pay for two years. The typical German employee gets five weeks of paid vacation a year, and lots of days off with pay.
Labor cost - much of it mandated by government - is so high in Germany that most new-plant expansion is outside Ger-many. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are building cars in the United States at lower cost than they can build them in Germany. They are providing thousands of high-paying U.S. jobs, but at the loss of those jobs to Germans. Mainly because of government regulation! Surely, this teaches a lesson.
Legislators proposed the minimum wage increase as ``right'' and ``fair.'' When legislators use that emotional argument, you know they are ignoring the law of unintended consequences. Low-tech jobs will be subcontracted out of the country and low-pay, entry-level training jobs will be eliminated. Legislators will boast of their vote that increased the pay of a few people while ignoring the loss of opportunity.
This sort of thinking never contributed to the success of a company or a country. Think about it the next time a congressman asks for your vote.
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