The Mises Economics Blog takes the Obama administration to task for initiating a broad campaign of enforcement against farmers who employ children and underpay workers. Here’s Mises’ argument:
Youth unemployment is terribly high. More than half of kids age 16 to 19 do not engage in any gainful labor, a higher percentage than since World War II. The reason has to do with the combination of recession, the wicked minimum wage, and child labor laws that give kids too late a start in the workforce.
One blessed exception is the farm, which has been exempted from child labor laws since the times of the New Deal. Farms can hire people 12 and up. (There are other exceptions that apply child actors in Hollywood and also the wreath making industry – go figure.) Many lawmakers want to change that and force farms to only hire kids 14 or 15 and older.
Meanwhile, the geniuses at the Department of Labor are cracking down to enforce existing law, driving vans onto blueberry farms in North Carolina and elsewhere and rounding up kids and fining farmers for offering poor people jobs and offering kids great work experience. This is all done in the name of human rights of course.
In fact, the truth is the reverse: this is a violation of human rights. Most of the people who are working in these plots are very poor and they need the jobs. The kids are made more valuable as workers and they get great experience. In fact, the American bourgeoisie could benefit from following this model, so that graduating kids have some more skills besides the ability to update their Facebook from their iPhone during classroom lectures.
But the Department of Labor, which has been working for 70 years to cartelize the labor force for labor unions and crush workers who dare to work for less than a wage of which Washington approves, will have none of it. It wants to make sure that youth have as few opportunities as possible.
This is a tough one. It would be nice if every child could be reared in a home where there were enough resources that it wasn’t necessary for them to have to begin working at a young age. That isn’t going to happen, however.
And there’s no disputing that often the most valuable thing an entry-level job offers is not the skill itself, but the experiences associated with working, such as showing up on time, fulfilling responsibilities, etc. These are things that carry over to all aspects of life.
Mises’ argument is counterintuitive for many folks, but interesting, nonetheless. Still, don’t expect that side of the discussion to get much leverage.
South Carolina’s political climate is poisonous enough without the media doing dirty work for the state’s party-obsessed hatchet men.
Take The State’s article on Florence County Councilman Ken Ard’s victory Tuesday over Bill Connor in the runoff for the Republican Lieutenant Governor’s nomination.
The State begins its piece by giving the result of the runoff, informing readers that Ard will face Democrat Ashley Cooper in the November general election and includes a nice quote from Ard about his victory being an example of the American dream being alive and well.
It then adds that Ard campaigned advocating accountable, lean and efficient government as the best formula for greater individual liberty and increased economic opportunity.
After a short description of Cooper, The State then lets one of Cooper’s advisors tee off on Ard.
“We congratulate Councilman Ard for his victory tonight,” said Lachlan McIntosh, Cooper’s senior advisor. “Councilman Ard has proven over the years to be a skilled and shrewd politician. After all, just a few years ago, he led the charge to raise the sales tax in Florence, yet still claims to be for lower taxes.”
McIntosh continued, “Ard does not represent the change South Carolina desperately needs.”
Cooper has more than four months to make his case against Ard. Why The State felt it was necessary to take this occasion - likely the biggest political victory of Ard’s career – to give his opponent free rein to take unsubstantiated cheap shots is perplexing and embarrassing for a paper that prides itself on its coverage of state politics.
If The State truly wants to help South Carolina voters see through the smokescreens put up by both Democrats and Republicans, it would do well to go easy when it comes to reprinting the mindless soundbites that consultants and advisors whip out at a moment’s notice.