Battlepanda: Zing/Counter Zing


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Zing/Counter Zing

(Via Ezra)

Daniel Gross gets a good dig in at Mankiw's expense:
There he goes again. Gregory Mankiw earlier this week chastised a few House Republicans for voting for an increase in the minimum wage.
Some Republicans in Congress are apparently worried about the midterm elections. They are so worried, they are starting to vote like Democrats.

And in Mankiw's view, voting like a Democrat on fiscal and entitlement issues is very, very bad--unwise economically and unwise politically. (I guess he slept through the 1993 budget debate.) Now, lets say Congress approved a new open-ended and very expensive entitlement program with no concurrent budget cuts to offset the higher spending. And lets say the President enthusiastically signed it. I think it's a safe assumption that Mankiw would characterize that as "voting like Democrats," and hence economically unwise.

Hmm. I seem to remember an episode a few years ago when a whole lot of Republicans--and not many Democrats--voted to create an open-ended entitlement program without enacting concurrent cost savings, and when a Republican president enthusiastically signed it. It's called the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

At the time, did Mankiw publicly accuse Republicans of voting like Democrats? Of course not. He was working at the White House.

In other minimum-wage debate news, Ezra Klein roots over a list of minimum-wage vs. unemployment rates for different states and opines that some of the states with the lowest rates of unemployment actually have state minimum wages well-above the federal. But a-ho! Jane Galt slices and dices those same figures differently to declare that of all the states with higher-than-federal minimum wages, more than half have unemployment rates that are higher than the national average. Frankly, this is a good demonstration of how numbers can be bent to the ideology of their interpreters. For my money, I suspect that labor market conditions are so dissimilar across states that comparisons between them are so riddled with noise as to be meaningless. Hawaii has the lowest unemployment level and Alabama the highest? You don't say.

Ultimately, it is more meaningful to ditch the comparison between states and look at what happens to a state's economy when the minimum wage is raised. Everytime this happens, we are told that the sky is (probably) going to fall. Well it didn't in Florida. And it didn't in New Jersey. And as political pressure inevitably mandates the racheting up of more minimum-wage rates across the country, we're going to get more opportunities to observe whether or not raising the minimum wage really has the disasterous effects as predicted by neoliberal economics.