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Living in a world of irrationality and economic illiteracy can push one toward misanthropy. But I have a feeling that experience is a better teacher than … teaching. It’s entirely frustrating to have a career that is probably irrelevant – that was not what I thought teaching economics was going to be like when I “signed up” for it. So, if it were not for the fact that poor people around the world suffer from bad economics, I would probably openly support the institution of bad economic policies. One need not invoke Venezuela, which has now set itself off on an experiment doomed to starve, main, and torture thousands of people. Let’s look right here at home.

There is serious discussion of not only raising the minimum wage, but to do so significantly in several places, as high as $15 per hour. I don’t need to try to discuss the economics, research, ethics, etc. of the minimum wage. Why? Because no one cares on either side. Never has an argument about it, even on ethical grounds, persuaded people. So all I will do is illustrate what I’ve seen just in the past week (I can’t format my posts, or add links right now, as in the process of fixing my site’s problem I have mysteriously had my WordPress editor disappear):

1) Jeff Bezos is close to having operational “delivery drones” for Amazon packages less than 5 pounds. It won’t be long before McCopters and Starbuckopters are dropping fries and latte’s on our doorsteps.

2) My wife was watching our trash truck this morning and sent me this text, “”In the new WM trucks the driver doesn’t even have to get out in order to load the garbage cans. The truck has an arm that grabs around the cans and lifts them up and dumps it from the side of the truck. Awesome and so time and staffing efficient – they did the upper half of our development in less than a few minutes.”

3) I have been on the phone in the evenings with call center workers … in India.

And more. So raise the wage to $25 for all I care. The only people who will immediately suffer are not me. Plus, maybe those copters will be coming along a bit more quickly. And you can bet a million bucks right now – when the inevitable technological advances come our way in the future, some idiot, yes idiot, is going to take credit for “advancing technology forward” because the minimum wage forced companies to do this. I’ll leave it to astute readers to figure out what’s wrong with it. Let’s think of an analogy. Let’s pass a law that says we have to pay orange skinned people three times more money than teal skinned people. When that law promotes the development of businesses taking advantage of teal skinned people, would we claim that as a success and “efficient?”

My site is still mostly dead, I do hope to have more time to resolve the issues soon.

4 Responses to “In Which I am Becoming a Misanthrope”

  1. Harry says:

    WC, may I be cast into fire for speculating idly, but…

    We have had the pleasure to have known some outstanding young adults. The older we both get, there are more of them.

    One of these exceptional people, the son of a friend of our families, went to the Naval Academy and got into the Top Gun program, and, much to his mother’s concern, rode rocket ships in perilous circumstances. He got married, retired from the Navy, and got an MBA from Wharton, maybe a year ago. And the punch line is…

    He works for Amazon. I asked his mother whether his military experience was helpful in a company like Amazon, where delivery and logistics are everything, and we both shook our heads yes.

    But then I saw the Amazon Drones, and thought of this Top Gun guy with his heads-up display, capable of killing MIGs from great distance. Delivering a Vokey 58 degree sand wedge by drone is simple by comparison.

    I may see him at Christmas, and this time he will not have to kill me after telling about his job.

  2. Graham Peterson says:

    What you just outlined will become, or at least needs to, the most important rhetorical development in popular libertarian thought — stressing the beneficence of technological progress and the necessity of the price system to convey it — as against throwing ethical indignity in everyone’s faces about allocative inefficiency.

    The second movement will have to come from libertarians actually taking up arguments about social issues rather than saying, “we’re socially liberal” as a side note to slamming everyone with our fiscal conservatism. There is no clearer case of the tyranny of the state to be made than its history of violent oppression of women and ethnic minorities over social issues. These should be our focus, not screaming at everyone about supply and demand diagrams.

    • wintercow20 says:

      This is a fine point – I wonder how effective you think Thomas Sowell has been on this front, since he has largely taken this tack? Of course I am very sympathetic to this point – but then again, see how many posts I end up writing about “symbolism.” I am afraid that showing folks the injustice of state intervention particularly on the poor and minorities is hitting people just as coldly as the “efficiency” arguments. They simply think that “trying” is the same as “succeeding” and I’ve found that it’s not all that clear that as many people actually care about those issues as rhetoric seems to indicate. Yikes.

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