- - Thursday, December 26, 2013

In his passionate but shortsighted op-ed (“The guillotine, minimum wage and other inventions of ‘equality,’” Dec. 23). William Murchison rejects the liberal framing of the minimum-wage issue, but doesn’t offer a new framing. Republicans need to redefine the minimum-wage debate in a way that makes sense and stop simply stomping in frustration.

Many Republicans agree on the need for government to respond when the marketplace hurts the corporations and employers that drive our economy. We see this belief show up in trade policy, farm policy, etc., that help corporations and employers grow their businesses. But when we look at market failures at an individual level, we react quite differently.

We Republicans resist labor-market failure at the individual level because we’ve allowed the left to define the agenda as one of “fair wages” rather than merit, and as a step toward a more socialistic world order. We defend inaction by declaring that the labor market is a competitive free market and that any failures in this marketplace are the personal failings of the individual (i.e., low-wage workers have failed to compete and failed to get the education they need for success).

The problem is that the labor market is wildly perverted by government, corporations and special interests and is not free in any real sense. Without a free market, those who can exert the most economic power will reap the greatest economic reward — and the working class will have lost out.

We allow this to continue at our own peril. It’s time to take back the agenda that we’ve allowed the left to define. We need to address the market failures and help the millions of hardworking but low-paid Americans looking for our leadership.


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