The Minimum Wage: Institutional Racism at Work

Liberals love to talk about discrimination and racism. When they can’t prove racist intent on the part of individuals, they blame “institutional racism.” How do they know when institutional racism exists? When there is disparate impact.

Thus, when a company in my home town like the (now departed) Circuit City promoted disproportionately more whites than blacks, it was found guilty in U.S. federal court of discrimination, even if it’s impossible to identify any individual acting out of conspicuously racist motives. When minorities graduate from high school at lower rates than whites or achieve lower scores on standardized tests, that’s another example of institutional racism at work.

Hold that thought as I describe a new study, “Unequal Harm: Racial Disparities in the Employment Consequences of Minimum Wage Increases,” published by the Employment Policies Institute. Authors William E. Even and David A. Macpherson examined the interstate variation in the minimum wage between 1994 and 2010 to shed light on the employment patterns of 16-to-24 year-old males without a high school diploma.

They found that for white males, each 10% increase in a federal or state minimum wage decreased employment by 2.5%. For Hispanic males, the figure was 1.2%. For black males, the figure was 6.5%. States the executive summary: “Across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, approximately 34,300 black young adults lost their job due to the recession; during the same period, 26,400 lost their job due to minimum wage increases that occurred.”

Among the 21 states whose state minimum wage tracks the federal minimum wage — that would include Virginia — the consequence of minimum wage increases in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for young African-American males were more harmful than the effects of the recession.

Now, let’s use lib-logic: The minimum wage has a disparate impact upon whites and blacks. Blacks are more negatively impacted than whites. Therefore, the minimum wage constitutes institutional racism. Legislators like Nancy Pelosi who championed the minimum wage are peddling racist policies, and all those who advocate the minimum wage should be presumed, absent evidence to the contrary, to be racist as well.

Do I really believe that liberals are racist? No, I just think they’re misguided. But they love throwing around the “r” word epithet, and they deserve to be skewered with their own logic.

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