Because currently, we do not have anything approaching a free market. A free market would not have bailouts, bail-ins, subsidies, licensure requirements, exemptions from regulations as size increases, QE, ZIRP, rigged prices, etc.
Libertarians often say that a minimum wage goes “against liberty” because the freedom of the employer is infringed when the employer is required to pay workers a certain amount and that therefore, wages should be set by the free market (which we don’t have, as pointed out above). The only problem with this theory is that the “free market” usually tends toward free labor (NOTE: this sentence originally had quotation marks around the words “free labor”–see comments for explanation of why this was changed). Did they somehow miss the epidemic of involuntary servitude for lo these past several millenia?
Hell, there’s involuntary servitude for lo this millenium. Like, for right now. We live in prisons without bars. That is, we seem to be free. After all, we can choose Mexican over Chinese for dinner. We can drive a Jeep or maybe a Lexus. Maybe even both. We can fly to Easter Island or Machu Picchu–for a price. That price must be paid in dollars (or your own country’s fiat currency of choice). And the only (legal) way to get the dollars? Work. Toil. More often than not, for someone else. Someone else that you despise or that despises you.
One might understandably ask how working for a living is involuntary servitude. It’s called wage slavery. Not a new concept, certainly not original with me. Wikipedia has some great quotes in a really good article about wage slavery, but the one from Frederick Douglass stands out, as he knew from slavery:
“…experience demonstrates that there may be a slavery of wages only a little less galling and crushing in its effects than chattel slavery, and that this slavery of wages must go down with the other.”
So that’s what this minimum wage fight is all about: being a little better-paid wage slave. Hey, it’s a start…
Nature itself ensures that we must work or die. We’re required to expend effort to sustain ourselves even on the most primitive level.
Also, how do you believe that a free market tends toward ‘free labour’? Are you arguing that there existed a free market in 1100 AD? Or that if minimum wage laws existed back then, the people living would have been better off?
I agree with your point that in nature, “we must work or die.” But nature does not dictate that we work 2 and 3 jobs for subsistence wages being paid in near-worthless currency which causes us to be in perpetual debt to those who sell the near-worthless currency to us in the first place. That’s the situation we have from my vantage point. And then those of us working 2 and 3 jobs are forced to bailout those that sell us the near-worthless currency.
As to the “free market” tending towards “free labor” quip, I shouldn’t have put “free labor” in quotes. I will change that. What I meant is that it seems to me that the more we are told we have a “free market,” the more that so-called free market is likely underpinned by free labor. Or labor that is remunerated with near-worthless currency.
Would a minimum wage have helped in 1100 AD? Who knows, man. But the broad outline of Western civilization between then and now is essentially the story of an attempt to ensure that the balance of power between the top and the bottom is as equal as possible. That attempt has largely failed of course, but at least we have officialdom mouthing that words that “all men are created equal” and so forth.
Ahh, I might have misunderstood what you meant by free market. You don’t mean an actual free market, but what we are told is a free market aka what we have now. Is that correct?
Yes, I don’t mean an actual free market. I mean that the more we have a false “free market,” the more likely that “free market” (as opposed to free market without quotes) is thriving on free (or vastly underpaid) labor. I don’t know that there’s ever been an actual free market in existence or that there ever really could be a truly free market. We could probably get close, but what we have now is so far from being an actual free market that I sometimes chuckle to myself when I hear people refer to the current system as a free market.
“I sometimes chuckle…”
You and me both!