Hayride Radio 4-16-19: Sounding Off On Raising The Minimum Wage

This edition of Hayride Radio actually made its debut on the air Tuesday morning, as it was a guest spot I did with Brian Haldane in the 7:00 hour of AM Baton Rouge, Brian’s morning talk show.

And it’s on a subject which is really making the rounds at the State Capitol; namely, attempts to raise the state’s minimum wage through various means.

The most interesting one of those is HB 422, a bill by New Orleans Democrat Rep. Royce Duplessis which would enable local governments in the state to set the minimum wage they choose themselves. That bill generated a major stink last week when the Republican-led House of Representatives routed it away from the Municipal, Parochial And Cultural Affairs Committee, where Republicans have a thin 10-9 majority and where it was expected to perhaps pass out to the floor, to the Labor And Industrial Relations Committee, which has a safer 9-6 Republican margin and where it’s almost certainly dead.

That created a good deal of screeching by the state’s Democrats over the “shenanigans” involving Duplessis’ bill – as though manipulating committee assignments to bills is something Democrats and their allies (as in former Democrat and current RINO Jphn Alario, the Senate president in service to Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards) don’t do every chance they get.

It’s a nearly sure thing the minimum wage bills – there is a bill in the Senate, SB 155 by New Orleans Democrat Troy Carter, which would put a $9/hour minimum wage in front of the voters as a constitutional amendment – will be killed either in House Labor or on the floor, but if that happens Democrats will be crowing about an LSU poll which had some 81 percent of respondents in favor of raising the minimum wage, and screaming that the GOP is out of touch with the people of the state.

The bet here is the state’s voters won’t really care enough about the minimum wage to make it a big campaign issue, and if Edwards and Democrats running for the legislature stump on the issue it won’t get them any appreciable amount of votes they aren’t already getting.

Either way, Economics 101 tells you raising the minimum wage is an awful idea, and exactly what Louisiana’s sclerotic economy does not need given its low labor participation rate, poor unemployment numbers and worst-in-the-nation ranking for economic opportunity. Pricing labor at above-market rates will only deny the state’s large population of low-skilled and entry-level workers the opportunity to access the social mobility ladder and learn the soft skills necessary to move up.

And that economics lesson is the subject of the discussion Haldane and I had Tuesday morning.

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