"If we raise the minimum wage, the whole economy will definitely fall apart" — said no economist. However, that doesn't prevent a lot of other people from proclaiming it be true. Even people who should know better.
In the most recent example of missing the point, The Daily Show's Samantha Bee interviewed Peter Schiff, financial commentator, investment broker, talk radio host and CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, who argued that basic laws of economics dictate that a raise in the minimum wage would have devastating effects on the economy.
When Bee asked Schiff to describe someone whose work would be worth, say, $2, Schiff said:
"You know somebody who might be? Maybe somebody who is, uh, you know, what's the politically correct word? Uh, you know, uh, for, uh, you know, mentally retarded? ... I'm not going to say that we're all created equal ... you're worth what you're worth." The full video is here.
Whie his comments were tone deaf, here's the crux of the problem: when a policy is specific to a certain group of people, others who know what they experience are more likely to be supportive. And when you don't know anyone who benefits from a policy, you are less likely to support it. We've seen this with gay marriage and LGBT rights and we see it with the minimum wage and food stamps.
However, we should never let our views on public policy solely be shaped by the people we know. Otherwise, we could get caught with our foot in our mouth, like Peter Schiff so clearly has.
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