In a previous post I wrote that the labor market is one of the most regulated markets in our economy:
Minimum wage laws effectively tell teenagers they cannot work unless they can produce $7.25 an hour. When the ObamaCare mandate kicks in next year, that hurdle will climb to more than $15 an hour for many potential employees. OSHA regulations dictate what risks workers may and may not take while on the job. Wage and hour laws dictate what wage rate a worker can accept in order to be able to work at nights and on weekends. Those same laws tell many parents they can’t take off to see their kid’s soccer game and make up the time in the next pay period…
Occupational licensing laws keep potential entrants out of 92 different trades, in the average state, covering almost one-third of all workers. These regulations, for example, prevent you from putting a bowl over someone’s head, cutting around the edges and collecting 50 cents for the effort unless you have undergone many hours of training in barbering.
You would think that those opinion writers who complain the most about stagnating wages and persistent unemployment would be first in line in the attempt to liberate workers from all this. After all, you can’t earn an income if you don’t have a job and you can’t earn a higher income if you are not working and learning new and better skills.
But no. The reverse is true. Those who complain the most about the plight of workers seem to have an insatiable desire to tax and regulate them out of the job market. After the usual arguments ad hominem against Republicans, Paul Krugman’s Labor Daycolumn celebrates the welfare state (which Casey Mulligan estimates is responsible for half the current excess unemployment) and lauds ObamaCare (which may be responsible for the other half).
You wouldn’t know this from reading Krugman columns (but you can be sure he knows) that economic studies consistently show that employee benefits ultimately substitute dollar for dollar for employee wages. ObamaCare is not helping workers. It is costing them their jobs and lowering their take-home pay.