What Libertarians Don’t Understand

I once put out a video concerning the idea that low-skilled workers are only worth minimum wage. This is a notion crudely adapted from the wisdom of Milton Friedman by your pub counter advocates of liberty on the internet. In short, the market doesn’t value these folks enough to pay them more, hence the limited wage levels.

My point in the video was that wages actually come down to the jurisdiction in question. Companies aren’t paying sweatshop laborers $7.25 per hour because they can, but must give at least that to Americans by law. If the minimum wage were repealed, it is questionable that they would continue paying the same rate.

I also noted that these jobs are in some cases highly-demanding and emotionally-draining (retail customer service), or integral to the profit model of the company (Dominoes delivery driver). They might not require exorbitant skill sets, but they provide tremendous VALUE.

As I expected, a horde of libertarians descended on the comments section. They began with the furious “That’s a strawman!” volley, because no one likes seeing their talking points dissected.  

Others claimed I was wrong because the wage is determined by the replaceability of the worker/skillset. In their mind, the manual laborer is not worth more money because a new worker can easily be found, whilst a lawyer or doctor require advanced training.

They are absolutely right, and that’s the problem with Libertarianism. We can all sit here with smug attitudes and remark, “Oh just learn to code!” as though the economy should be merely built on some Darwinian mad dash. People have lives beyond competitive ambitions, and this flippant approach is destructive to their well-being.

Suppose for a second the libertarian position is implemented in a non-strawman way. Since our freedom-lovers collectively support the unrestricted moment of goods and services, there is nothing to stop migrants from underbidding jobs and creating a “race to the bottom” where wages decline and standards of living shrink. They can just live twenty people to an apartment and squeeze out the native citizens. Easy as pie.

Arrogance and superiority complexes don’t deceive. If we are to maintain the nation-state with any degree of dignity, we cannot allow free access to increasingly-cheaper labor. That way lies the path of poverty.  

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