Minimum Wage Laws Violate Fundamental Rights

By Aaron Rice
December 29, 2006

There has been much talk lately in Washington and in Jackson about raising the minimum wage for hourly employees. It's one thing for governments to require a minimum wage for government employees. But it's quite another for governments to tell private businesses how much they can pay their own, private employees.

Almost all of the arguments you hear will be either economic or emotional, or both. Some will argue that increasing the minimum wage will benefit the economy and is compassionate, while others will say that it will hurt the economy and reduce opportunity, which is the antithesis of compassion.

But there is a more fundamental reason the minimum wage is a bad idea. If I agree to work for you for six dollars per hour, and you agree to pay me six dollars per hour, why should it be a crime for me to work for you for that amount? Why should the state tell me I don't have the right to work for that amount of money? Why are you and I are not allowed to negotiate a contract that is satisfactory to both of us?

Minimum wage laws do limit opportunities, but more importantly, they violate fundamental rights.



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