Building on recent fast-food strikes, Fran Quigley, a leader of the “Raise the Wage Indiana” movement, made an appeal in Indiana newspapers for higher minimum wages. His reasoning, though, runs counter to my work experience as a young man and that of many others he professes to help.
Quigley, a law professor, trots out the usual advocate research, plus celebrity endorsements and finally a plea for basic fairness, complete with hard-up stories painting an image of minimum-wage earners struggling to feed their children. He dismisses any and all research to the contrary, suggesting that opponents of a minimum-wage increase are nothing but bought-and-paid-for shills of multinational corporations.
The problem for Quigley is that for each of his arguments an equal and opposite argument can be produced. For example, for each left-wing think tank or academic study “proving” that minimum wages have no effect on employment, a right-wing think tank or academic study “proving” otherwise can be shown. For every Nobel Prize- winning economist in Quigley’s corner, at least one with the opposite view is in the other corner. For every CEO advocating higher minimum wages, a hundred large- and small-business operators advocating free-market pricing of labor can be found.