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The magical thinking of Brad Witt et al

Last week we were treated to a report from Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, with regard to the shenanigans of the 78th Assembly of the Oregon Legislature. He reports that he and his co-conspirators, Gov. John Kitzhaber, House Speaker Tina Kotek and the “Fair Shot for All” coalition, will be working to fix the problem of “1 in 5 families living in poverty.” It never occurs to him that the reason that families live in poverty might just be the very policies that he and his cohorts are promoting.

These policies are the result of magical thinking. Such thinking can be found among half-naked tribal savages in deep jungles, but if such thinking is dressed up in suits and ties, it can be made to appear reasonable to an uneducated public in a so-called civilized society.

However, I should apologize to jungle savages because the consequences of their magical thinking are far less destructive than the consequences of the dressed-up ones.

There is no space for me to explain all the destruction planned by Mr. Witt et. al., so let me focus on just one item, the minimum wage, as an example.

Witt appears to believe that raising the minimum wage to $15 dollars per hour or so will help poor families, but if it is such an good idea, why not go one better and raise the minimum wage to $25 or even $50 per hour? Then poor families can really be helped.

Somehow $25 or $50 per hour would not be acceptable, but, magically, $15 is just fine if the incantations of the savage mind declares it so. The minimum wage is actually a variant of an old economic fallacy known as the “Broken Window Fallacy,” as explained by great economists such Henry Hazlett and Ludwig von Mises. The bottom line of the Broken Window Fallacy is the assertion that destruction causes wealth. The irrationality of promoting destruction as a cause of wealth should be self evident to all but savages.

But let me put things more precisely. The savage mind believes that the destruction of negotiated wage rates caused by government interference in the free market will cause wealth to be created. Businesses will magically adjust to the higher wages they will be forced to pay while still magically remaining profitable and magically still able to provide the same level of production/services. Magically, few jobs, if any, will be lost as well.

There will be a few people helped by raising the minimum wage and this will be seen clearly by all and touted by the savages as proof that their schemes have worked, but the corresponding destruction will not be as readily seen and the lack of visibility will be touted as proof that no destruction has occurred at all.The savages will produce mounds of “evidence” and statistics from various dubious groups showing how raising the minimum wage has helped nearly everyone. They will cite famous “authorities” to “prove” their case, the most famous being economist John Maynard Keynes.

Yet, with all the government “help” to the poor that has occurred on both the state and federal level for at least 80 years, with the minimum wage being raised time and time again, the savages admit that one in five Oregon families are in poverty. How is this possible?

If we really want to help poor people, we must embrace the free market. The savages will never change their road to destruction as long as they remain in power. They need to be sent packing and be replaced by those who understand what it means to live in a civilized society.

Roy A. Fuller lives in Scappoose.

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