PhD-level thinking in economics

“Fed researchers: $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis and St. Paul boosted pay — but cost jobs” (

The push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in both Minneapolis and St. Paul has successfully boosted the average worker’s hourly pay in both cities, but it has also led to sharp drops in the numbers of available jobs and hours worked, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has found.

Note that this is consistent with what I learned from fast food restaurant owners in Maskachusetts. Workers aren’t stupid so they cut their hours to retain eligibility for free housing, free health care, free food, and free smartphone. (See Fast-food economics in Massachusetts: Higher minimum wage leads to a shorter work week, not fewer people on welfare)

Here’s my favorite part of the article:

“Somebody who loses their job because of a minimum wage increase is going to find another job,” said UC Berkeley economist Michael Reich. “Probably not right away, they’re going to work fewer weeks per year — but they’re not going to be permanently unemployed.”

Professor Dr. Jill Biden, PhD’s colleague Professor Dr. Reich, PhD posits the existence of someone who wasn’t worth $15/hr to Employer A. In the superstar academic’s opinion, this person will be, after a period of unemployment spent playing Xbox, drinking beer, and watching TV, worth more than $15/hr to Employer B. (The worker has to produce at least some amount over $15/hr in order to be worth hiring at $15/hr.) A combination of unemployment and increased age will make the worker more valuable.

These are the technocrats pulling the levers of the U.S. economy…

11 thoughts on “PhD-level thinking in economics

    • Due to my belief that they have no chance to win votes from the meekest and most compliant humans ever to exist (the majority of Americans), I’m not following any of the Republicans except Nikki Haley (because I am a huge fan). I saw a headline that Vivek is proposing a minimum age of 25 for voting, which sounds vaguely like my idea that voting should require 8 years of W-2 or 1099 earnings (that’s effectively what we had for the first 100+ years of the U.S.; men started working at 13 and could vote at 21). I don’t think a 25-year-old graduate student who is living off his/her/zir/their parents and/or government grants should vote. He/she/ze/they hasn’t paid into the system and therefore has no idea what is being asked of those who do work.

    • The proposals are nice, but recently it seems that Ramaswamy is being endorsed by Trump to split the vote (and perhaps deliberately float these ideas to test the reception):

      “I am pleased to see that Vivek Ramaswamy is doing so well in the most recent Republican Primary Poll, CBS YouGov,” Trump said in a post on his social-media site. “He is tied with Mike Pence, and seems to be on his way to catching Ron DeSanctimonious” — Trump’s cumbersome nickname for the Florida governor.

      “The thing I like about Vivek is that he only has good things to say about ‘President Trump,’” the message continued, “and all that the Trump Administration has so successfully done — This is the reason he is doing so well. In any event, good luck to all of them, they will need it!”

      I think Trump can win the election, but he cannot underestimate Biden for even one second and he needs to do better debates (for some reason Republicans are held to higher standards; Democrats do not have to be sentient on TV). I think it is good if people think he loses, that’s the same situation as in 2016.

  1. Fun fact: the quoted “UC Berkeley economist Michael Reich” is one of the founders of the Union for Radical Political Economics (, self-described as “an alternative professional organization for left political economists and an intellectual home for academics, policy-makers, and activists who are interested in participating in a left intellectual debate on theoretical and policy issues.”

    I guess that’s where you have to go to find an economist willing to defend, however lamely, minimum wage laws.

    • Interesting. He got his PhD in 1973 according to

      Let’s assume that he was 27 at the time. That means he was born in 1946 and would be 77 today. The journalists found someone who hadn’t had any personal experience with private employers for perhaps 60 years (maybe Professor Dr. Reich, Ph.D. had a job during high school?) to comment on the likely behavior of private employers.

  2. On a completely different topic, though related to the issue in economics of the “seen vs. the unseen”, I ran into an “unseen” issue. I recall a post on this site some years ago bashing voting by mail. There are issues with it that are “unseen” that have nothing to do with the nonsense about counting fraud that hasn’t been proven. I just saw a blurb in a political newsletter about this “unseen” issue that if you look at the site is even bigger than the one facet this blurb mentioned which is a tiny tip of the iceberg of flaws in our democracy, backed up by simple logic and data. This is the blurb:

    “Fair elections require protection against coercion
    Over the last couple decades, there’s been lots of fuss over the ability to use mail-in ballots. The idea being that, if someone could have their ballot mailed to them, we’d see more participation, and thereby conclude there was less “disenfranchisement.” Although this change has made the voting process more convenient by not needing to travel to a poll, I believe it undermines a more fundamental requirement of fair election. That is true privacy.

    You see, nearly 2000 years ago, the Athenians came to know the importance of people being able to cast their vote without any outside influence. At the time, all citizens had to worry about the Roman aristocracy employing bribes and threats to influence the vote outcome.

    Nearly every western country followed suit and eventually adopted secret ballots. With France starting in 1795, the UK in 1872, and the US in 1884.

    Private voting at a polling place was the norm – except for rare exceptions, such as during times of war – until about 25 years go. Additional, an exception was allowed for votes to be cast using an absentee ballot, assuming someone had a specific reason for requesting an absentee ballot.

    Along with increased convenience, however, a seldom-discussed problem as accompanied the mail-in ballot, that being domestic coercion.

    While domestic violence has become more openly discussed, other forms of abuse remain hidden. According to a CDC survey, 42% of both men and women report being physically abused by a partner in their lifetime. Even today, it’s not well known that many people experience coercive control by a partner, 49% of women and 46^ of men. A significant minority also confess that in their lifetime a partner “made decisions that should have been yours to make”, affecting 26% of women and 21% of men. Moreover, there exists another form of domestic abuse that still is not acknowledged in the US which exposes a flaw in our democracy.

    The Center for American Progress states, “Survivors of intimate partner violence must be able to make their voices heard in elections. To do this, they need access to election information materials, along with the ability to register to vote and vote safely in person at polling places or other designated voting locations.”

    So while we might cheer the increased convenience of mail voting, let’s not be so naive as to think there’s no downside to it.

    For more information on this topic, see”

    The site gives evidence and logic on the issue. Again, there is more to it than just that issue, its worse than that sounds if you look closely. Though its unclear if the less rational people in politics will step away from their partisan battles to look closely. The site goes into other concerns like those John Stuart Mill pointed out in our democracy that indirectly lead to minority rule and perhaps indirectly the political polarization and rising tensions in our country.

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