There are liberal pikers and there are conservative pikers.
Every few years, liberals and progressives in and out of Congress push for an increase in the federal minimum wage. During one such time back in the 1980s, economist Murray Rothbard, in the course of explaining how a “minimum wage law provides no jobs; it only outlaws them,” made this noteworthy statement:
The advocates of the minimum wage and its periodic boosting reply that all this is scare talk and that minimum wage rates do not and never have caused any unemployment. The proper riposte is to raise them one better; all right, if the minimum wage is such a wonderful anti-poverty measure, and can have no unemployment-raising effects, why are you such pikers? Why you are helping the working poor by such piddling amounts? Why stop at $4.55 an hour? Why not $10 an hour? $100? $1,000?
It is obvious that the minimum wage advocates do not pursue their own logic, because if they push it to such heights, virtually the entire labor force will be disemployed. In short, you can have as much unemployment as you want, simply by pushing the legally minimum wage high enough.
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This is still true today. Liberals who are calling for a $15 federal minimum wage are pikers. Why not do something to really help the working poor and demand that the minimum wage be raised to $150 an hour?
But conservatives can be pikers too. Not when it comes to the minimum wage, but on the subject of tariffs.
Some conservatives have always made veiled criticisms of free trade in their writings that, correctly, disparage government-managed trade agreements. But since the elevation of the protectionist, economic…