In the name of helping all, our government often benefits the few at the expense of everybody else and young Americans often experience this dynamic firsthand.
Authors Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer, scholars at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, explore in their book “Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young” how many government policies cause significant harm to younger generations, namely those new to the workforce like the millennials.
The book, which came out May 12, details everything from pensions building up unfathomable debt and how the federal student loan program is actually hurting students. More so it shows how laws like the federal minimum wage, despite being meant to help some, prevents millennials from entering the job market.
And they draw on America’s most beloved tech to tell the story:
If only it was that easy to end poverty. Just require a higher wage, and everyone would be better off. Instead, a higher wage squeezes young people and low-skilled workers out of the labor market, damaging their job prospects until they can invest in more training.
Though often seen as an economic cure-all, minimum-wage requirements have the unfortunate side effect of decreasing economic opportunity for young workers. Over half of those who earn at or below the minimum wage are between the ages of 16 and 24. Since the majority of those earning minimum wage are younger workers, increases in the minimum-wage rate affects them the most. The effect extends into the future, because young people often use minimum-wage jobs as steppingstones to better careers.
Businesses do not have to pay the minimum wage, they always have the option to not pay people at all-by letting workers go or not hiring new applicants. When the minimum wage rises, employers try to replace their less-skilled workers with more-skilled ones or with machines.
Some restaurants are installing tablets on their tables to substitute for waiters. (As well as not requiring wages, the tablets can increase orders because they have faster turnaround times and do not judge diners who order high-carbohydrate meals or several desserts.) The restaurant chain Chili’s has just invested in 45,000 tablets for its 823 restaurants. High school students and recent graduates might now be unemployed because Ziosk tablet have replaced them and they cannot compete with more-skilled workers for higher-paying jobs.
The reality is that very few workers in America make the minimum wage, because they rapidly move up the wage scale after attaining their first job. People who take minimum-wage jobs gain an entry to the world of work. Once they are in, they can keep climbing. It is not out of kindness that employers pay experienced employees more than the minimum wage; it is because that is the only way they can prevent employees from moving to other jobs. If people cannot get their first job, they cannot get their second job or their third.
How the minimum wage and other such regulations prevent younger adults from working is just a part of the book which details all sorts of policies which, by design or by accident, hurt millennials. The book is a must read for young adults and worthwhile for anyone willing to stand up against bad government policies that benefit some at the expense of others.
More importantly though, we learn that despite the stereotype of laziness, more often than not young adults and those coming to age simply are prevented from entering the workforce, a tragedy unique to the millennials.
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