Monday, September 04, 2006

The unending Tyranny of Good intentions

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity (desire) may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Wendi Thomas, in her Commercial Appeal column, gives kudos to the Memphis City Council for considering "living wage" legislation which basically establishes a minimum wage of $12.56. What will be the result of this well intended "living wage"? It will make employers even more reluctant to take the risk of hiring low skilled workers because the cost of doing so will be significantly increased.

Liniving wage legislation will dramatically decrease the opportunities for the very people Wendi believes she is helping. Declaring that poor people should have more money is expressing a sentiment we all share and it makes us feel good about ourselves to say it but simply expressing the sentiment does nothing to address the real problem: expanding job opportunities for people with very low job skills and giving them a path out.