Our Innumerate Overlords

When Representative Ryan Winkler talks, people listen.

And then the smart people snicker.

He tweeted this yesterday:

Of course, he had the point of the op-ed all wrong.  Read it for yourself.

The point is that low wages aren’t the sole cause of poverty.  In the great scheme of things, they aren’t even especially important, in and of themselves.

Much more important?  When there is no opportunity to earn higher wages.

How does that happen?

To further address the point, though, I’d like to ask Rep. Winkler (or his defenders) this question:  at what minimum wage hourly rate will poverty disappear?

Put a number on it.

That’s the question I’d like to ask.  In fact, I asked it.

Hopefully we’ll see an answer.

I’m sure we will.

Of course, Winkler would be correct in answering my question “It’s more complicated than that”.  And he’d be right – it is.  Raising the minimum wage doesn’t cure poverty…

…anymore than not raising it causes it.

8 thoughts on “Our Innumerate Overlords

  1. Winkler (and those like him) have only a dim grasp on economics. The idea that economies obey a set of natural laws (analogous to the same laws that make the earth orbit the sun) is foreign to him. Yes, the laws are more complex than Newtonian physics, granted, but nations ignore the laws at their peril. Look what happened to the Communist bloc countries’ economies after a few generations of trying to legislate prosperity. We might as well pass laws outlawing earthquakes and hurricanes. I guess the carbon tax is supposed to do that, but it won’t work either. Cheap, simplistic slogans might look great on TV, but they won’t create wealth, just rent-seeking politicians.

  2. I don’t know that economics is really more complicated than physics. Let’s take two basic questions, one from each discipline:

    1. The friction coefficient of a popular tire is .8. How long, assuming optimal brakes, will it take for a vehicle moving 55mph to come to a full stop?

    2. The price of a commodity increases 20%. Does the average person purchase more, or less, of this commodity?

    Yes, you can get into the minutiae of econometrics in the same way one can get into the variations of tire friction with speed, air flow, and the like, but most sensible people can answer #2 without picking up a calculator.

  3. Bubbasan, that’s marvelous. We have data to answer the “how much” question, but my principles students would know the answer to #2 and they are allergic to theirs (oddly, their calculators are on their cellphones, and yet…)

  4. More important, I think: Suppose I could show you that a $.50 rise in the minimum wage would produce $10 million in transfers from employers to employees, but this caused employers to lay off 20,000 workers. (That’d be about 2/3 of 1%, so it’s statistically in the ballpark of the “how much” question.) What does Rep. Winkler propose to do for the 20,000? How would he know who they were?

  5. The only way demand side solutions work is if they are ultimately supply side solutions.

    *Obama and Bernanke benevolently “give” each community a compact nuclear reactor for cheap electricity.

    *Obama could have given away free tuition for all of the high skill trade jobs we are reportedly in short supply of.

    *Widen a road that requires it. Shovel ready job.

    The venal and ignorant led by the venal and ignorant. We are doomed.

  6. King; thank you. It would suggest that our DFL overlords are not just innumerate, but also impervious to logic. Praying that we make it to the next election….

  7. Pingback: “Sharp-Tongued” | Shot in the Dark

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