Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Price controls destroy wealth: NY Living Wage version

Old theory, new application, via Richard Epstein

The first of these stories carries the headline “After Winning a Raise, 175 Workers At a Queens Casino Lose Their Jobs.” That result would never have happened if the workers had won their raises by demonstrating higher levels of productivity to their employer, The Resorts World Casino. Instead, these wage increases were dictated by a labor arbitrator who doubled the base wages for workers in the casino under the living wage arrangement that he imposed on the firm.

No one should be thrilled that restaurant workers have to settle for wages of $5 per hour plus tips. But a steady job at that level is better than no job at the $12 base pay ordered by the arbitrator. The casino sought to raise food prices to compensate for the increased costs, but the law of demand applies to consumers as well. In hard times, they won’t stand for the increased prices, so the casino closed a food operation that could only operate at a loss, leaving 175 union members to scramble for jobs.

When will they learn?

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