Sunday, March 30, 2008

A 1930ish minimum wage + a 1939ish prohibition = one million more jail birds

Half of our two-million jail population are there for selling drugs (street gangs) or even possessing drugs (a few movie stars come to mind).

If the minimum wage had kept up with INFLATION alone since 1968 it would be $400/wk by now. If it had kept even half pace with PRODUCTIVITY growth (that's GROWTH -- progressives got to stop being closet Malthusians and start including growth in their comparisons at all times) it would be approaching $700-800/wk by now. It should/could very plausibly be $500-600/wk by now.

The Crips and the Bloods and other street gangs -- that exist because until very recently we had a 1939ish, $206/wk minimum wage on one hand and a new prohibition era on the other (this time drugs) -- couldn't whip a decent paying Ronald McDonald (and they would be the first to tell you). Read Venkatesh's American Project and see that the Taylor Homes only became a gang infested hell as the minimum wage level dropped from 1956 level to 1939.

Egro, half the jail population would not be there if the minimum wage had kept up decently with the rise in the demand curve (on that 101 chart) as other workers got inflation raises -- not to mention the rise in the demand curve because other workers were getting growth raises.

Many of the rest of the jail population would not be there either if they were not raised in economically deprived conditions that never should have existed.

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