By Chris Rossini
When a Presidential candidate declares war on economic law, they're declaring war on an opponent that they cannot beat. Leonardo da Vinci noted long ago that "Nature never breaks her own laws." As true as that statement is, it has never stopped politicians (and their supporters) from trying to do the impossible.
Presidential contender Bernie Sanders is vociferously trying to put da Vinci's truth to shame, specifically with the well-known economic law known as supply & demand. Sanders definitely knows that supply & demand exists. There's no doubt about that.
In fact, here is Ezra Klein describing Bernie's carbon tax proposal:
Sanders’s boldest move on climate change is his plan for a carbon tax. He has introduced legislation, alongside Sen. Barbara Boxer, that would tax carbon emissions at $20 per ton.
Let's put aside the fact that the federal government has absolutely no business creating a "carbon tax". Let's also put aside the arbitrary "$20 per ton" magic number that these politicians have concocted.
Let's focus on the motive:
The point of this tax, though, isn’t to raise money. It’s to change the way the economy works. By making carbon-intensive activities more expensive, Sanders hopes to push producers and consumers toward more sustainable alternatives.
So Bernie does understand supply & demand. He understands that if he pushes up the price of "carbon-intensive activities," it will force companies to find other alternatives. Sanders gets it! He shouldn't be making such a proposal, but he gets it!
Unfortunately, Sanders' respect for supply & demand is very selective. He wants it to exist for the "carbon tax," but he wants supply & demand to disappear when it comes to the minimum wage. As opposed to da Vinci, Sanders wants nature to break her own laws.
Bernie champions the imposition of a $15/hr minimum wage on employers. He sells this to his supporters as help from the government. In his mind, it's the job of the government to "give America a raise," or whatever slogan he uses.
But if Sanders forces an arbitrary $15/hr minimum wage, won't that make "labor activities" more expensive? Won't that force employers to find other alternatives? Yes, of course it will!
Raising the minimum wage is like a kick to the gut for teenagers, the poor and low-skilled. They're forced (by law) into the unemployment line. These individuals could find work were the minimum wage abolished, but politicians (like Bernie) are apparently fine with them remaining jobless.
What about the alternatives? What will employers look to do as a result of this disastrous law? Well, the minimum wage provides a major incentive for employers to automate as much as they can. Fast-food companies like McDonald's are already rolling out kiosks that customers can use to place their orders.
Sanders' proposal harms the very people that he's purportedly trying to help! Does he believe that supply & demand will work for the "carbon tax," but will not work for the minimum wage?
If so, my money is on Leonardo da Vinci, and his statement that "Nature never breaks her own laws."