New Mexico: Stuck on Stupid

New Mexico: Stuck on Stupid by Peter Burrows 4/25/19 elburropete@gmail.com  – silvercityburro.com

The economist Walter Williams once wrote that minimum wage laws were “breathtakingly stupid.” Welcome to New Mexico, where the minimum wage will jump 20 percent on the first of January to $9 an hour, on its way to $12 in a few years.

It could have been worse. Rep. Patricia Roybal Cabellero, D-Albuquerque, proposed $15 an hour starting next year, which would have made New Mexico’s minimum wage the highest in the nation, breathtakingly stupidest, so to speak.  I wonder what Rep. Cabellero pays HER employees? It’s so easy to be compassionate with somebody else’s payroll.

Would Rep Cabellero, who is doubtlessly a very nice person, think it acceptable if the police were to walk into her home and take something in order to give it to someone earning less than whatever she thinks is an appropriate wage?   That’s what she wanted to do to New Mexico’s employers with her $15 proposal.

You’re thinking, “Whoa, Burro! Outright theft is not the same thing as a minimum wage law.”

That’s only because minimum wage laws are a LEGAL form of theft. The biggest difference is that the intended victim, the employer, has the option to either go along with the robbery or thwart the crime by going out of business.  In either event, the employer is the bad guy, not the badge-wearing thief.

And that illustrates the most obvious stupidity of minimum wage laws: the assumption that poverty is caused by evil employers because they don’t pay “enough.”  This in turn rests on the false assumption that employers are the source of the workers’ wages. They are not.  The customer pays all the bills, folks, including the payroll.

That means that when Robin Hood Government robs the employer to pay the employee, it is the customer who gets the arrow, not the employer.  And if the customer ducks, i.e. refuses to pay the higher prices necessitated by a higher minimum, the business closes and the worker who loses his job is the one who takes the arrow.

Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe already have minimum wage laws greater than $9. Those three cities comprise over 35% of New Mexico’s population and are solidly Democrat.  Seen in that light, we are fortunate that $15 wasn’t enacted into law.

Even at $9, I’m afraid our corner of New Mexico is going to have a lot of arrows coming our way in the upcoming year.  Grant, Hidalgo and Catron Counties have a combined population of 35,000, less than five percent of the three cities mentioned above and less than two percent of New Mexico’s population. Furthermore, since 2010, the three counties have suffered almost a seven percent DECREASE in population since 2010.

The area’s three largest employers, the mine, the university and the hospital, will probably be able to withstand $9.  Walmart will hire fewer people, but at least they’ll keep the doors open, something questionable at $15.  The many small businesses will try to pass on the wage increase and some will not be able to. We shall see.

In the meantime, attracting new businesses will be a tough sell with a $9 minimum going to $12.  The message sent is loud and clear: “Hey employers!  Nine dollars now and twelve coming! Take that, you evil-dirty-exploiting bastards!”

Breathtakingly stupid.

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