Fw: An Article From Slate

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Fri Mar 31 06:19:42 PST 2000

> >>Apparently the existence of low-paid work doesn't trouble her, just
>>>its raced and gendered slotting.
>>That's not fair to Barbara Bergmann. She would say that low-paid work
>>is better than zero-paid unemployment, but that high-paid work is
>>much much better than either...
>>Brad DeLong
>I don't know diddly about Bergmann, but I bet even George W. Bush could
>agree with that statement.
>What would she think of propagandist extraordinaire Paul Krugman's most
>recent column (available at the New York Times website)? In it, he says:
>"For example, how do you feel about the "living wage" movement, which in
>effect wants a large increase in the minimum wage? That would certainly
>increase the incomes of the lowest-paid workers; but it would also surely
>have at least some adverse effect on the number of jobs available. You may
>think that a price worth paying -- but the equations say that the extra
>unemployment would be a very bad thing for those who lose their jobs, while
>a higher wage would make only a small difference to the happiness of those
>who remain employed."
>Those damn equations again!

But as long as there is another sector unconstrained by the living wage act--which there will be--it should have no effect on the level of overall unemployment. It looks much more like a transfer from urban taxpayers to low-wage people who happen to work for businesses that sell to the city government. So I don't understand PK here...

Not that I'm in favor of the living wage, mind you: city governments have enough missions and too few resources already. I fear the backlash that comes when some latter-day successor of Howard Jarvis says that San Jose grossly overpays its contractors. And it's much better to attack inequality at the national level with overall minimum wage or EITC or (if you have a long-run view) education subsidies...

Brad DeLong

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