Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Minimum Wage

Bob Robinson has a good discussion with Michael Kruse on the Minimum Wage. I could not resist joining in with the following comment.

This is not a technical issue, but a moral one. The technical issue of whether mimimum wages laws cost jobs is impossible to resolve, but is not really irrelevant. The moral issue is does the state have the right to force employers to pay a particular wage rate. We cannot get to this from a statement that Jesus encouraged us to care for the poor. We should care for the poor. Christian employeers should be generous to their employees. We may choose not to buy from businesses that are stingy with wages. We can start a business and pay generous wages. However, I do not think that Jesus was saying that we should use the power of the state to force unbelieving employers to be generous to the poor. I just don't think Jesus was in the business of using the power of the state to force people to be good, although many of this followers are quite keen on the idea.
When Bob asked about the legislating for the "common good", I responded as follows.
The "common good" is a very slippery concept. The problem is that if a good really is common, ie the action will be good for everyone, then everyone will do it, so there is no need for a law. So if you have to use law to force people to do something, it is not a common good. It will good for some, but bad for others. If it truely was a common good, a law would not be needed.

When we use the power of the state to coerce goodness, we always end up forcing a minority, and often a marjority, to do things that they do not want to do. That was never Jesus game.

We also end up advocating salvation by law, but Jesus came because salvation by law does not work. I can never understand why his followers want to take it up again. Is it because they do not believe that the Holy Spirit can his job?

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