Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Research Paper-Horace Mann

Thesis Statement: A study of the father of the Common Schools, Horace Mann, reveals that his ideas about education conflicted and sought to replace the gospel. He believed in the messianic nature of state education, which had its roots in his pelagian beliefs about man’s inherent goodness. These views will be analyzed and contrasted with the Biblical view.

Outline:
  1. Outline
    1. Importance of the Issue
    2. Framing the Issue
    3. Thesis
  2. The Perfectibility of Man
    1. Mann’s view
    2. Scripture’s view
    3. Practical application to education
  3. The Messianic State
    1. Mann’s View
    2. Scripture
  4. Practical Application/Conclusion



Introduction
Horace Mann was an educational reformer and advocate of compulsory state funded public education. He has been rightly regarded as the father of the Public School movement. An educational historian has said of Mann: “No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, and free.” (Cubberly, “Public Education in the United States”, 167). Plays and pageants have symbolized him as the great “Crusader” for educational equality, and he enjoys the reverence of many who are familiar with and students of education in general. This author has chosen him and his thought as the root and representation of ungodly thought in education today. His ideas have been the cause of many ills in the Public education system, some of which have been smuggled into Christian schools. It is important to the field of Christian education to understand the unchristian foundations of secular education so we don’t adopt them into our own schools. It is also helpful to know how the Bible answers these same questions. 
Horace Mann’s driving belief was that the state could solve man’s problems through education. He arrived at this conclusion because he believed that man was basically good, and his chief problem was that he was ignorant, not sinful. Mann characterized Calvinism’s belief in the depravity of man as evil. Mann believed that the state should then seek to solve man’s problem of ignorance by educating him to be a moral and active member of his society. Thus, education wasn’t for the end of learning to know and glorify God in all things (as in Christian education) but was instead to be trained by the state to be a good citizen. 
If one consults Scripture, he will find the complete converse of these assertions, and it is to these that we will turn in order to rebut Mann’s unbiblical positions. In short, Scripture asserts that man is completely depraved, unable to come to a knowledge of saving faith in Jesus, apart from the sovereign regenerating power of God. Mankind isn’t as bad as he could be, thanks to the common grace of God, but he is spiritually and morally dead. The only solution for man’s spiritual problem is for him to come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. No school can solve man’s most basic problems, and if we think it can, we will be bound for disaster. Secondly, Scripture places the responsibility to teach children about God and his world at the feet of their parents, and gives grave warnings for ignoring those commands. (Deuteronomy 6). The state should not and cannot fill this void. 
A study of the father of the Common Schools, Horace Mann, reveals that his ideas about education conflicted and sought to replace the gospel. He believed in the messianic nature of state education, which had its roots in his pelagian beliefs about man’s inherent goodness. These views will be analyzed and contrasted with the Biblical view. 

The Perfectibility of Man
It is somewhat hard believe Mann on this point because he was a very religious person and a consistent churchgoer. Rather than being antagonistic towards religion in education, he encouraged schools to teach the Bible and morality. However, we should know that a “religious” person does not a Godly person make, since Romans 1 asserts that ALL men are religious, but only some of those are Godly. Mann was a Unitarian, and as such loathed the Calvinistic doctrine of the depravity of man, instead believing that man was damaged but perfectible through natural means. Indeed, as R.J. Rushdoony points out in his book “The Messianic Character of American Education: "Since this [his] implicit interpretation of Christianity was anthropological, the natural realm was of more immediate interest as an arena of revelation than the supernatural. Accordingly, natural law looms large in Mann’s thinking.” (Rushdoony, Loc. 533) This preoccupation with “natural law” lead Mann to have a very shallow conception of religion, viewing it essentially as moralism. How, then, was he to square the obvious failure of man to live uprightly, with his doctrine of man in general? In short, man’s problem was not sin, but ignorance, and ignorance led to the social diseases of crime and poverty. Mann thought he could cure this problem through education, writing: 
If all the children in the community, from the age of four years to that of sixteen, could be brought within the reformatory and elevating influences of good schools, the dark host of private vices and public crimes which now embitter domestic peace and stain the civilization of the age might, in ninety-nine cases in every hundred, be banished from the world.” (Massachusetts Board of Education, Annual Report, 1849: 95-96)

He not only believed that education was the solution, but that state education was the only solution. For Mann, it was either state-controlled education, or no education at all. He was essentially a Marxist, believing that the most basic institution was the state, and not the family. As such, the State should and could do anything the family could, but more effectively. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. In contrast to Mann’s essentially Pelagian view of Man, What does Scripture say about man, and how may we apply it’s teaching to education?
There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. The fallenness of man is affirmed after the first 2 of them, as we read in Genesis 3:6: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.” This was the first time man transgressed the law of God, but it would not be the last time. Paul, writing in Romans 3, and quoting several Psalms, writes: “None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless…” (Romans 3:10-12, ESV). Additionally, Psalm 58 says that men are evil from birth: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” (Psalm 58:3, ESV). The social problems (like crime) stem from their sinful nature, as James writes: (italics mine): “What causes Quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” (James 4:1-2, ESV) People commit crimes because they are sinful. The only solution to crime is the good news of the gospel, which is the only “pill” that can cure the “disease” of man. 
Now, what does this mean for education? For one thing, it means that education must have its proper place. It cannot save men, and shouldn’t be utilized for that purpose. Secondly, we must recognize that in order to educate people who are sinful, we are going to have to constantly fight against that sinful nature, and if we don’t believe sinful nature exists, we are doomed to fail and miss our mark. Mann didn’t believe in the sinfulness of man, and thus his educational philosophy was doomed to fail from the start, in the same way that a man who didn’t believe in gravity would have a hard time flying, because gravity would hinder his progress, whether he believed in it or not. Instead, we must consider education as something we can only accomplish after and through the gospel.

The Messianic State
According to Horace Mann, the goal of education is to prepare man for civic duty, making the state the idolatrous telos of man. And, because the goal cannot trump the means, and the goal is service to the state, then the means (education) will be controlled by the state. Mann believed education was a community affair, but only in the sense of using the resources of everyone to fund education. Ironically education for Mann was collective only as it manifested itself in the single organism of the state. 
Religious instruction is only useful if it can contribute to good manners in civic life. In general, Mann viewed education as the great savior of mankind, because the great problem of mankind was not sin, but rather ignorance.
What does Scripture say about the goals and means in education? Firstly, Scripture says that the goal of education is to raise up children to glorify Christ and take every thought captive to his way of thinking. Deuteronomy six commands us to teach our children to remember the great works of the Lord, so that we might glorify Him and remember whose we are.  Ephesians 6 says this: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Rather than the goal being to serve the state, the goal was to serve Christ, the only true Lord of all men. The distinction is crystal clear when the goals are laid out this way. All academic subjects should assist in allowing children to see the goodness, truth, and beauty of God and his works. 
As for the means of education, Scripture is equally clear that the parents of children have the authority and duty to educate their children, not the state. To understand this, it will be helpful to discuss this issue philosophically. Scripture delineates three main institutions with God-given duties in this world: Marriage, the family, and the state. Marriage is to be with one man and one women, who are to leave their respective families and cleave to one another. The family to born when these two people marry, and is extended and blessed as they have or adopt children. They are given the responsibility to care for and educate these children (Deuteronomy 6, 11, Joshua 4, Ephesians 6). The state is a legitimate institution established by God for the purpose of punishing evildoers, or those who commit crimes. (Romans 13) The church handles those who commit sins that aren’t crimes. (1 Corinthians 5).  But, nowhere is the state given the duty to either educate children, or punish those who don’t educate children. That duty is given to the family, and the authority to punish those who neglect to educate their children is given to the church. This is a striking departure from Public education today, which has its roots in the early reformers such as Horace Mann. 
Some practical ramifications of these differences would be that we, as Christians, need to relieve that our students are sinful people, who need the gospel more than anything. We should expect them to lie, cheat, steal, and generally grumble. We should realize that education is not going to go “with the grain” of their nature, contrary to Mann’s thinking. We should remit discipline in our schools, which Mann was vehemently opposed to, because we are dealing sinful children. Secondly, we should resist any and all encroachments upon the idea that education should be “pragmatic”. Education’s primary goal is NOT to allow its students to make as much money as possible, or to worship the state, which are the two biggest goals of public education today. We must affirm that the end of all things, including education, is to glorify Christ. This doesn’t mean that we don’t seek to prepare our students for the real world, but to do so in a God-honoring way. A good litmus test in a Christian school is to ask about their Theology curriculum. Do they have one? Are their Bible classes merely Sunday-school moralistic preaching, or are they just as rigorous as the AP History class? These subtle differences can reveal a school's priorities. The third practical application of our study is that we need to involve parents in their children’s education as much as possible. Parents are responsible to educate their children, and fathers are at the head of their families. At most schools, there are very few men, either in teaching positions or as fathers. This should not be the case at a Christian school! Fathers and mothers need to not only know what is going on at the school, but actively be teaching their children with the school. Picking a good school is only the beginning of a parent’s job in education. 
To close, we have analyzed some of Horace Mann’s thinking, though only in summary fashion. We have then compared it to God’s Word, and then practically applied our thinking. Hopefully, we have come away with a Biblical understanding of the nature of man and the goals and means of education. In addition, we hope to have instructed the reader with a picture of how the sinful world thinks about education, not only so we can avoid it, but also so we can keep from copying it in our own schools. 














Works Cited

ESV Study Bible. (2011). 1st ed. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles.

Cubberly, E. (1920). The History of Public Education. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Massachusetts Board of Education (1849). Annual Report.


Rushdoony, R. (1995). The Messianic character of American education. Vallecito, Calif: Ross House Books.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Myers Book Report

I recently had to write a book report for one of my classes, and I thought I would upload the full report to the blog for your edification. The book is a popular one on Culture entitled “All God’s Children in Blue Suede Shoes” by Ken Myers. Enjoy!


Cultural changes since 1989:

In the 29 years since Ken Myers wrote this book, I believe that pretty much all of his conclusions are more true now than they were in 1989. The main thesis of his book is that philosophically, modernism with its prioritizing of man and his feelings in the search for the New, bred the rise of a pop culture which has appealed to the worst in man’s sinful nature. Pop culture breeds impatience, novelty seeking, instant gratification, instant credit, the self, etc. and in 2018 with post-modernism in full swing, this has gotten even more true. Post-modernism is like modernism but without any sense of objective truth or shared cultural heritage!
And not only this, but materially and technologically, it has become even easier to be addicted to pop culture. Instead of a television, we have a flat screen with internet access, “streaming” an entire season of a show immediately. Instead of a telephone at your house or in your car, we have a computer we put in our pockets that we take with us everywhere. Instead of pornography in a magazine, it has become one of the largest videos-based industries in the world, all accessible from your phone. Myers’ comments about the TV are doubly true now. 
More recently, we have seen a breakup in the news industry as people have lost trust in their news sources. While some of this can be good, because it is usually not good to monopolize any one industry, it is a symptom of the fragmented nature of information in today’s age, where  people can exist in two completely different realities because they imbibe news and information from two different viewpoints (most noticeably politics, but also religion) and this makes the idealogical search for truth even harder. Aldous Huxley was right–The problem is not lack of information, it is that we are drowning in it, with no ability to know true from false.

Book Summary of All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes
Myers begins by asking his readers to take into account how much of popular culture has invaded their homes, and how much of it, medium and content, they have around them. How much is it influencing them without them knowing? The main theme of his book is that not everything in popular culture that is permissible is constructive, and much of popular culture today is watered down and instant, much like the bad coffee he had gotten used to in college. Once addicted to lower forms of culture, it can be hard to appreciate the higher forms, but it is worth the struggle. 
Myers begins his book by stating that many Christians feel like they are like Lot living in Sodom. The culture around them is against them. He then details the main point of his chapter: Unfortunately, to combat this, Christians have compromised by being “of the world, but not in the world” (pg. 18). They have created alternative music, movies, shows, etc. and christianized them, but left them basically secular. Oftentimes these cultural products are popular only because they are like the “real” secular thing they copied. Myers questions the usefulness of this “contextualization” because it seems to be hurting more than it is helping. Sometimes Christians tend to believe that if something is popular, it is working. After all, if an evangelist brings lots of people to Christ, his method must be sound, right? Not all culture is good even though it is popular. 
In chapter two, Myers briefly defends why we should engage in culture, and then defines it. Per  C.S. Lewis, people should engage in culture basically because to live and move is to be a cultural animal. Thus, the question is not if, but how well we do culture, and what culture we engage in and consume. Briefly defined, Culture is “A dynamic pattern, an ever-changing matrix of objects, artifacts, sounds, institutions…” etc. 
In chapter three, Myers recounts the creation account, the original creation mandate, the fall, and the seed of the gospel given in Genesis 3. He connects this information to the idea of our cultural duty in creation and Noah’s similar command given in Genesis 9, though this command (covenant) had a more temporal nature, and was also given to creation–Myers’ point is that it was not given to a special people. The Adamic and Noah covenants were ecumenical covenants, and they inform the cultural details of the New Covenant, not the mosaic covenant. The goal is not to strive for another Israel and create a holy, segregated culture. The goal is to impact the common culture that you find yourself in, be it American, Greek, Russian, etc. 
In chapter four, Myers suggests that even though we aren’t called to set up a new, holy culture, we do have a duty to abstain from “its profanities.” The main point of this chapter was that modern, pop culture appeals to the novel seeker in all of us, and trains us to be impatient. The market for this arose because of the advances of the economy (leading to previously unknown leisure time) and advances in technology (that made the consumption of media and the spending of money instant).
Continuing this theme of the restless and instant, in chapter five Myers also elaborates on how popular art has contributed to the cheapening of high art, and thus beauty. He posits that beauty is objective, and taste, while having variations, is also more objective than popular art provides for. Not all tastes are equal, because not all tastes and pleasures are equally good. Aside from being objectively worse than high art, popular art is also safe. It is predictable to the consumer, never challenging them, again, appealing to the baser desires in us.
In chapter six, Myers looks at a work of C.S. Lewis on Literary criticism, specifically on the question: “What makes a good book?” His alternative method was to look at the reader rather than the book itself, and then judge the book by the types of people that read them. He distinguished between unliterary and literary readers, and one of the best way to tell between them was those who read for joy, and those who read for work. 
In chapters seven and eight Myers discusses the “twenty year decade” of the 1960’s and the introduction of pop art, which subsequently took over and corrupted high art. Once high art became pop art, art itself began to disappear. Without a common basis for aesthetics, art is everything, and then it is nothing.  Romanticism and modernism helped encourage this attitude of feelings-first towards art and the central-ness of the human interpretation of art, rather than the appreciation of something objectively beautiful.
Myers closes his book by talking about how television has fitted the description of popular art quite well: it is easy to consume, it appeals to the masses, it discourages deep thinking, and it offers immediate gratification. Thus it is an apt medium for music videos, tv, and other parts of culture. In the last chapter, he closes with some advice for parents, teachers, and pastors, basically urging them not to ride the stream of popular culture, or be overcome by it, but to conform to Christ. He compares pop culture to meat offered to idols: It is not bad to eat it, but it is bad to make it your idol. 

 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

How to Read Books, Part 2

In the last post, I gave some advice on how to find a good book to read. I mentioned that you should find a book easy enough to stick with. You should use websites like goodreads.com, and you should consult guides in the book's subject.

Now, once you have found a few books, I have some ideas about how you can move through these books efficiently, through using different book lengths, reading levels, genres, and formats. Additionally, we will talk about maximizing reading opportunities through those formats.

So, you have read part 1 and you have collected a few books to read. Let's say you have three: "The Holiness of God" by R.C. Sproul (medium devotional reading), "The Hunger Games" (brain candy, as my mother would say), and "Your Brain at Work" (tough reading about neurology).

It is a basic fact that the brain likes novelty. We like to be distracted. Some people (those with attention disorders or who exhibit symptoms) have even more difficulty focusing. The key when choosing a few books to read is to use that tendency in your favor. At times of the day when you are most focused (for most people, late morning) read the toughest books in your list, such as "Your Brain at Work". Maybe a few dozen pages. Later in the day, maybe right after work, you are going to be tired, more easily distracted, and less able to find the willpower to pick up a book. The brain uses willpower like a reserve, and as you use it throughout the day, you have less of it. Use this. Don't read more of the same book you read in the morning, read an easier book, like "The Holiness of God" or skip it and go for the easiest book. You might actually feel more focused right before bed, and then you can pick up a tougher book.

There are many factors that can make a book "harder" to read, and these include: The style of writing,  (whether it is an obtuse style or simply an older style, which is why we don't like older classics as much), the subject matter (If you don't like reading about gardening, gardening is a hard subject for you to get through, or philosophy, psychology, etc), and the level of expertise the author assumes you have on the subject. For instance, church history might be a subject you like, and thus in that way an "easy" subject, but if you are reading primary source texts, or something translated, or something really specific (A specific history of the Anabaptists), then it can be "harder" (that is, requiring more willpower and focus) to read. So, once you have your list of books, make sure you have some easy ones and some hard ones, and list them from hardest to easiest:

1. "Your Brain on Work" (hard)
2. "The Holiness of God" (medium)
3. "The Hunger Games" (easy)


Now, we have maximized our reading so we are using our tendency to become distracted to our advantage. But here is another layer to all of this. There are many times during your day when you could be reading, but you can't be reading a physical book. Here is where E-books and audiobooks come in.  Make sure one of the books on your list is an audiobook. I wouldn't make it the easiest book since you won't have trouble getting through that one, but I also wouldn't make it the hardest, since it's harder to follow an audiobook if you are already driving, waiting in line, at work, etc. Something easy/medium. Let's say you add "At Home" by Bill Bryson to your reading list as an audiobook. It's a light read about the history of everyday objects in your home. Informative, but not too dense. I recommend Audible and also Librivox for public-domain stuff. So now we have:


1. "Your Brain on Work" (hard) (book)
2. "The Holiness of God" (medium) (book)
3. "At Home" (medium/easy) (audiobook)
4. "Hunger Games" (easy) (book)

And now you have a format you can access during times of day when you wouldn't ordinarily be able to read. But what about e-books? The great thing about e-books is that you can put them on your phone, and you always have your phone with you. Additionally, your phone is always smaller than the physical edition is, so it's easier to hold. You also don't need an outside source of light to read e-books (just make sure you set your phone screen to a warm light at night so you don't keep yourself up looking at blue light!) I read Kindle books at night so I don't disturb my family, and because the darkness helps me get ready for bed anyway.

So there again, e-books allow you to redeem some time for reading that you wouldn't ordinarily use for reading. So now our list might look like:


1. "Your Brain at Work" (hard) (book)
2. "The Holiness of God" (medium) (book)
3. "At Home" (medium/easy) (audiobook)
4. "Hunger Games" (easy) (book)
5. "Mere Christianity" (easy) (e-book)


It is better for you to read a dozen pages in some of these books each day, than try and slog through one of them at a time. You will find that you can read more pages each day (and thus more books per year) by reading 5 books at a time than trying to read 1 book at a time.


To summarize: Use different kinds of books, of varying "toughness" levels, to maximize different times of day according to your willpower/motivation to read and focus. Also, use different formats of books to maximize times of day when you can't read physical books. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Abolish the Minimum Wage! (Paper)


Note: The formatting is always wonky when I copy/paste from Micorsoft word, because the editing notes from grammerly always show through and some spacing/formatting issues ocurr en route to blogger. Forgive the formatting issues! They certainly weren't there in the official version. :-)

If you have any questions about my research or want to see any of the sources I used, feel free to email me at philomathpodcast@gmail.com. 








Thesis Statement: The minimum wage is destructive to current employees, potential employees, and consumers, because it stifles potential employers, lowers actual income, leads to layoffs, and raises prices. It should be abolished.   

Outline:
1.      Introduction
1.      Framing the Issue/Argument
2.      Thesis
2.      Argument
1.      The Economic Argument
1.      The Extremist Objection
2.      The Rational Argument (Supply/Demand)
3.      The Empirical Evidence
2.      The Moral Argument
3.      Conclusion



Introduction
In a debate on the issue of the minimum wage, the economist Russell Roberts, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, told this story:  
In September of 2011, the Governor of American Samoa traveled seven thousand miles to testify for 5 minutes in front of Congress. He begged Congress to stop increasing the minimum wage in American Samoa, a process that had begun in 2007 and was scheduled to increase until it reached the U.S. minimum of $7.25. In 2009 employment on American Samoa fell 19%. That’s because employment in the tuna canning industry, which was third of their jobs, had fallen 55%. The governor of American Samoa…blamed that collapse on the minimum wage.” (Abolish the Minimum Wage, Youtube, 2013)

 The issue of the minimum wage is a deeply personal issue because it affects people directly. It affects how much money they earn, which affects how they can live their lives. It has been assumed in contemporary society that the federally mandated minimum wage, enacted in 1938, is necessary to provide a safety net for the lower paid workers in American society. Anyone who even suggests lowering, or abolishing this mandate, is called extreme, stupid, or uncaring to the poor. This paper will contend that both economically and morally, abolishing the minimum wage allows for the free market to equalize the supply and demand curves and provide the most amount of people with the best jobs they can acquire. In the end, abolishing the minimum wage is the most loving and caring thing to do for American workers. 
            There are two basic sides to the minimum wage argument: the moral argument and the economic argument. The economic argument says that it doesn’t cost the economy much to have a minimum wage, so why not have it? These people would argue that the implementation of the minimum wage, or the increase of it, would have very little effect on employment, while at the same time raising wages for millions of workers. We will rebut this argument first. 
 The second argument is stronger and is worth entertaining: This argument would possibly concede the economic argument against a minimum wage but argue that it is worth slowing the overall economy/causing higher unemployment by imposing higher wage floors because we should take care of those poorest among us. We respond to this argument as well. 
 The crux of the argument really does rest on this debated issue: Does employment suffer from the minimum wage? And if so, are the gains in labor worth the disemployment caused by that same policy? (Goldfarb 1974, 261) We will spend most of our time looking at this issue since it is the crux of the minimum wage debate. 
            The minimum wage is destructive to current employees, prospective employees, and consumers, because it stifles potential employers, lowers actual income, leads to layoffs, and raises prices. It should be abolished.   
Argument
The Economic Argument
            Opponents of abolishing the MW typically argue that such a measure would be “extreme” Indeed, oftentimes this seems to be their main objection to it! (Minimum Wage Debate, Youtube, 2013). They argue that the MW has been in place for 80-odd years, and our economy is fine! Why would we get rid of it? But appeals to the stability of the economy under a minimum wage are spurious because our position only argues that things would be even better than they are without a MW! As for the extremist argument, firstly, time does not a good argument make. The U.S. sanctioned slavery for hundreds of years, even enshrining it into the Constitution, before abolishing it in the 19th century. When the MW was implemented at the state level, it was declared unconstitutional by the supreme court! (Adkins vs. Children’s Hospital, 1923) and again struck down in 1933 for similar reasons. Ever since settlers began coming to America in the 17th century, they had worked with no social safety programs at all, much less a minimum wage, and some countries still don’t have minimum wages (Hong Kong and New Zealand.) Both countries (especially Hong Kong) have prospered because of their economic freedoms, which include their unregulated labor standards. The extremist might better belong to the side wanting to impose or increase the MW, not the other way around. when you take into account the full breadth of American history. However! This argument is largely irrelevant for both sides, the question is, what does the data show?
            On a purely rational level, the law of supply and demand would indicate that when the price of a commodity is artificially raised relative to the stable demand, then the demand will decrease, which harms the business and the employers. When the commodity is labor, then the labor is worked less, laid off, or looked for in cheaper areas. Thomas Sowell, one of the best economists alive today, says as much: 
“by the simplest and most basic economics, price artificial raised tends to cause more to be supplied and less to be demanded than when prices are left to be determined by the free market. The result is a surplus, whether the price that is set artificially high is that of farm produce or labor.” (Basic Economics, page 153).  
            
            Empirically, this has been confirmed as well. In the decades after the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938), which introduced the minimum wage, the data seemed to suggest that the MW was hurting employment for low-skilled workers: “Much of this research [suggested] that increases in the wage floor were having adverse effects on the employment opportunities of low-skilled workers.” (Neumark and Wascher, 1).  In a huge landmark study commissioned in the 1970’s but only completed in 1981 (“The most exhaustive inquiry ever undertaken into the issues surrounding that Act [FLSA] since it’s inception.”) (Labor Commission, letter of transmission) a group of economists sought to compile a consensus of all other studies and they too found that employment was considerably affected, citing that a 10% rise in the MW would cause disemployment of 1-3% of teenage workers, most of whom were earning the MW. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June of 2018, 12.5 percent of all American unemployed were teenagers, the vast majority of whom earn the minimum wage or slightly higher. Per the same source, there are 6.6 million people unemployed, so that equals 825,000 unemployed teenagers. (U.S. Department of Labor, 2018) If we plug in the Labor Commission Study’s algorithm, there could be 8,250-24,750 more teenagers unemployed if the minimum wage were raised by just 10%. If the popular movement known as the “Fight for 15” got their way, and the minimum wage was increased from $7.25 to just double ($14.50) we could possibly expect to see an additional 247,000 teen and low-wage workers laid off, bringing the total low-wage unemployment to 1,072,000! This data only considers the direct bearing it has on teenage workers, but the effects would also be disastrous for anyone earning anywhere from $7.25 to $14.50, since they would now have to be paid more (or, as we contend, nothing at all, leading to an even higher unemployment rate!) Since the 1990 ’s, interest in the minimum wage began to increase again, and David Neumark and William Wascher, both economists at the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research, published another summary-style study in 2006 that summarized the data collected since the publication of the Minimum Wage Study Commission in 1981. They too found that adjusting for the best data, “Almost all [studies] point to negative employment effects, both for the United States as well as for many other countries.” (Neumark and Wascher, Abstract) One problem with the analysis of some studies that gather data on employment in certain industries (such as fast food) is that they fail to measure how things would be if there were NO minimum wage (a price control) in the market. Another problem with studies that survey businesses before and then again after a MW increase (see Card and Krugeur 1994) is that it doesn’t consider the businesses that fail due to the increased wage–shops will deal with the higher wage until they can’t survive anymore. As the economist George Sigler once quipped, using these methods you could survey all WWII survivors and prove that not a single soldier died in WWII! (Basic Economics, page 155). 

To conclude, the majority of studies and an even higher majority of good studies point to the disemployment effects of a minimum wage. Basically, it is better to have a low paying job than no job, and the minimum wage will cause many workers to have no job at all, though it will, in the short term, raise wages for the remaining workers who aren’t fired. 


The Moral Argument
            One side of the moral argument is tied to the principles of a free society, and thus simply will not make sense to those who typically are on the Left. The Left usually thinks in immediate, pragmatic terms, rather than in principled ones. For instance, a conservative would hesitate to implement social safety net programs due to the principle that it is wrong to take money from one person and give it to another, while the liberal person would only think in terms of “helping the poor”. The moral argument against the minimum wage is drafted in a similar vein: It is immoral to get between a consensual relationship between an employee and an employer about the employee's wage. The government simply overreaches its bounds of governance here. It is ironic that the Left wants the government to get out of the marriage business (get out of my bedroom!) but is fine with the government reaching in between the employer/employee relationship. In addition, when we consider the before mentioned discussions on the supply/demand laws, any time an artificial price floor is put in place, it will cause a shortage or a surplus. Basic economic theory and empirical evidence strongly concur that when you raise the price of labor, it will shut out workers who aren ’t worth that higher labor price. Is it moral to cause the unemployment of millions of low-skilled workers who can’t find a job now? The examples become more obvious when we consider a point Ben Shapiro, an author and political analyst, made in a debate on the proposed $15/hour MW in Seattle. (KTTH $15/Hour Minimum Wage Debate) He asked the proponents why they didn’t fight for $30/hour, or $100/hour? Why not? Wouldn't it be better to pay workers even more? The obvious answer is that it would be disastrous for workers because anyone who isn’t worth $30/hour (millions of workers) wouldn’t be able to find jobs! This is highly immoral. The same thing occurs to some extent when any artificial price floor is imposed, though the effects would be minimal (even inconsequential) at numbers such as $2/hour, etc. 

Conclusion
            The typical reaction to anyone suggesting a cut, or an abolition of the minimum wage is “Why? Hasn’t it worked for so long?” Or “Workers’ wages would decrease! Don’t you care about the poor?” The response to these questions is that of course we care about the poor, we just prefer policies that actually help them, rather than policies that only seem to help them. Having a minimum wage is a good way to get points from your constituents, or to seem to have given workers a raise with no cost, but in reality the minimum wage prices many low-skilled, young, and minority workers out of the labor market entirely, which is a wage of zero dollars/hour.










Works Cited


Industrial Relations Research Association (1974). The Policy Content of Qualitative Minimum                    Wage Research.

Minimum Wage Study Commision (1981). Final Report of the Minimum Wage Study                                 Commission.

Neumark, D. and Wascher, W. (2006). Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of  Evidence From the New Minimum Wage Research. National Bureau of Economic Research.

Sowell, T. (2000). Basic Economics. 1st ed. Washington: The Perseus Books Group.

U.S. Department of Labor (2018). The Employment SituationJune 2018.

YouTube. (2013). Abolish the Minimum Wage. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/                watch?v=84t4pTUDFGo [Accessed 14 Jul. 2018].

YouTube. (2014). AM 770 KTTH $15 Minimum Wage Debate. [online] Available at: https://                      www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfLx6XMdCiY&t=65s [Accessed 17 Jul. 2018].