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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Evolution of Minimum Wage

Adkins Vs. Children's Hospital was a Supreme Court case in 1918. At the time, the District of Columbia set up a minimum wage board. This board investigated claims that women, minors, and minorities weren't paid at least minimum wage. The board found that the Children's Hospital was employing several women at below minimum wage. The board demanded that these women be paid at least minimum wage. The Hospital fired them instead unable to pay them such wages. The hospital and the women in question both sued the District of Columbia and they won. The Supreme Court ruled that an employment contract is covered by the liberty of the fifth amendment. The court said that while this right was not absolute that it should only be incurred upon as the exception not the rule. The SC saw the minimum wage law and the action of the board as encroaching on the private activities of two private entities. Furthermore, in this case, the women were happy with their wages and they felt that D.C. was meddling where they shouldn't. That's the reason the were part of the suit. In fact, within the decision written by Justice Sutherland, the SC even used the term price fixing.

Now, that should give everyone an idea of just how far the concept of minimum wage has come. Such a lawsuit would be very unlikely today, and such a decision even unlikelier. Furthermore, can anyone imagine an employee standing up against the concept of minimum wage and proclaiming that they were happy with their wages. This is how far this country has come in the idea of limited government, regulations, property rights and state's rights. A hundred years ago, the country wouldn't have stood for a national minimum wage law because such a law would be seen as an affront to the tenth amendment.

The Tenth Amendment (Amendment X) of the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791. The Tenth Amendment restates the Constitution's principle of Federalism by providing that powers not granted to the National government nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the
states and to the people.

There was also a time when the country saw things like minimum wage as needless regulation. Now, politicians use the concept of minimum wage as a populist theme. It is truly amazing thing that we have gone in less than a hundred years from seeing minimum wage as an unnecessary incursion on things like liberty, private contracts, state's rights, to a concept that defines politicians in a populist manner.

1 comment:

Jason Gillman said...

And it remains unnecessary..

In fact it CAUSES unemployment.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed the last hike and destroyed the opportunity for thousands of summer jobs for kids..


the 10th BTW is being stepped on in so many ways in 2008 alone.. I am completely befuddled.. Where the hell are the Suits before the SC? For real..