Friday, March 8, 2013

Minimum wage laws as racism

This post by an American Hero, George Mason University economist Walter Williams, takes a different line of attack on minimum wage laws.  Williams argues persuasively that minimum wage laws have been among the most "successful" racist policies ever employed by our federal government.  Interestingly, I was making this very same point to my undergrads a few weeks back, but not as powerfully as Williams, alas.  At least next semester, I'll be able to have them read his excellent article.  In the meantime, here's a selection:
Our nation's first minimum wage came in the form of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. During the legislative debate over the Davis-Bacon Act, which sets minimum wages on federally financed or assisted construction projects, racist intents were obvious. Rep. John Cochran, D-Mo., supported the bill, saying he had "received numerous complaints in recent months about Southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South."..... American Federation of Labor President William Green said, "Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates." The Davis-Bacon Act, still on the books today, virtually eliminated blacks from federally financed construction projects when it was passed.
This is an absolute must-read article. Find it here.