If one person can be considered responsible for the post-World War II West German economic “miracle,” it is Wilhelm Röpke. In his book, “A Humane Economy,” Röpke writes, “Economically ignorant moralism is as objectionable as morally callous economism.” It seems that by interceding in the minimum wage debate the Catholic Church is guilty of economically ignorant moralism.
Because of the deplorable conditions in many public schools even high school graduates have few marketable skills. A minimum wage job, particularly for younger workers, almost always includes a large training component.
For young, unskilled workers the training and experience they receive at an entry level position is of equal value to the salaries they are paid. An attempt to raise the minimum wage in the current economic environment will almost certainly lead to a loss of employment for many this policy was ostensibly supposed to help. At the start of the Great Depression, President Hoover pursued a policy that forced employers to maintain wages at their pre-depression levels. The result of this “humane” but economically ignorant policy was an unemployment rate that peaked at 25 percent. Why will raising the minimum wage produce different results than this?
Peter C. Schmidt