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Immigration: Liberal DC Pundit Denounces Minimum Wage on MSNBC
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For many years now, conservatives have denounced the so-called “long march through the institutions,” the process by which left-liberals gained control of universities and the media, and thereby the power to set the terms of our national policy debate on a whole host of major issues. Meanwhile, conservatives have been desperately paddling upstream, sometimes winning momentary political victories, but steadily losing ground over the decades. Today’s mainstream conservatives often endorse policies which would have been almost incomprehensible to their liberal counterparts of the 1970s.

But there has also been a simultaneous, though much less remarked “long march” in exactly the opposite direction as well. On many economic issues, today’s prominent “progressives” and “left-liberals” endorse notions that might have appalled the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party during the Eisenhower or even the Nixon Eras.

A perfect illustration may be seen in a brief discussion of my recent TAC immigration cover-story by the political pundits on MSNBC’s new “Up With Chris Hayes” show. After someone suggested raising America’s current minimum wage to a level between that of Canada and France, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post—founder of the famed Journo-List group and one of the most prominent young progressive journalists in DC—emphatically denounced the notion, arguing that it would lead to a massive black market in labor and wreck job prospects for millions of American workers. His criticism for such obvious nonsense was contrasted with his fullsome praise for the economic policies of Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who had created vast numbers of new jobs over the last decade, failing to mention that a huge fraction of these new jobs were at or below the poverty level.

Now young Mr. Klein majored in political science rather than economics, but it seems likely he took at least a class or two in the later field, and thereby acquired his understanding of economic doctrines, presumably heavily filtered through the lens of the Milton Friedmanites who today dominate most such academic departments. Given that Klein is a staunch progressive, he obviously rejects the overly conservative idea of eliminating the minimum wage entirely, but simultaneously also rejects the radical-extremist suggestion that America’s minimum wage might be restored to its 1968 level in current dollars. Instead, he realizes that our current minimum wage, less than half that in Australia, is highly optimal and even necessary given that American workers are so greatly inferior to their Australian counterparts. The widespread current prosperity of America’s middle class constitutes tangible proof of such theoretical claims.


A further sign of Klein’s left-populism is his refusal to endorse an elimination of the eight-hour day, collective bargaining rights, or labor unions in general. Instead, the courage to propose those important remaining steps to American prosperity will surely fall to a youthful successor to Mr. Klein, once the latter has achieved his middle-age triumph of becoming the dogmatically liberal columnist at The New York Times. That is, if the Gray Lady will even take him, given that as far back as the early 1980s the NYT Editorial Board had suggested that the proper American minimum wage was \$0.00.

In recent years, numerous political analysts have pointed out that the Democrat Party has been hemorrhaging the votes of working-class whites. This political development is of great political importance, but remains utterly mysterious to all observers.


On a much more substantive note, Reihan Salam, National Review’s chief domestic policy analyst, has begun a very detailed and thoughtful multi-part series analyzing my immigration article, with links to the first three parts given below. I would highly recommend it.

And here’s a link to my TAC article itself:

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics • Tags: Immigration, Minimum Wage 
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