SCENE: Mitch BERG is getting a cup of coffee. Aaron ROSTON, a writer at the (possibly fictional) progressive blog “MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com“, walks up behind him in the line, looking for a free refill. ROSTON is a crossing guard at a school in rural southern Minnesota, and is a bullying activist – mostly focusing on promoting bullying of children of conservatives.
ROSTON: Merg! The economy is doing great! Look at all the new jobs!
BERG: 2/3 of the new jobs are minimum wage. Times are OK, so far – provided you’re a college educated professional. If you’re poor, or black, or low-skilled, not so much.
ROSTON: So it’s time to raise the minimum wage.
BERG: Raising the minimum wage just rewards some workers by causing others to get laid off. Prosperity is the only real minimum wage hike. Here’s the alarming part; the best measure of an economy is how fast people move up and out of the lowest economic quintile. We used to be among the best in the worlds. Now, most of the Western world is better than we are.
ROSTON: Well, funny you should mention that. Income mobility was pretty good back under the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, when the tax rates were much higher. Hmmmmmmmmm.
BERG: Wait, what’s with the theatrical “hmmmmmmmm”?
ROSTON: It proves you have been outfoxed.
BERG: Well, no. It’s a false correlation. In the fifties and sixties, the US had the world’s only functional economy. Japan and Germany were still recovering from the war; Singapore and South Korea and Taiwan were third-world hellholes; China was an Orwellian dystopia; India was still at the bottom of its experiment with “democratic socialism”.
The US was the only place where things actually could get built; it was the world’s only functional market. We could afford high taxes, and cushy union jobs, because we were the only place actually building things.
Correlation doesn’t equal causation. Ascribing mobility to higher taxes is the same as chalking them up to the fact that “laws against sexual harassment and racism were more lax in the fifties”; they were facts that corresponded in time, but weren’t related.
ROSTON: What? You’re a racist!
BERG: Um, no. That was an illustration…
ROSTON: I will not interact with racists and sexists!
(ROSTON winds up and throws his coffee cup toward BERG from a range of three feet. And misses. ROSTON stomps away in a huff – grabbing a handful of sugar packets from the credenza on his way out).
BERG: (Sotto voce) Never let it be said that liberals suck at economics.