The Minimum Wage and Justice
Howes, Brandon A.
Washington and Lee University, Shepherd Poverty Program
Conduct of life
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Brandon A. Howes is a member of the Class of 2015 of Washington and Lee University.Capstone; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Examining the moral status of the minimum wage and determining whether it is just or unjust should be the foremost issue among individuals concerned with justice. Deontological theories need not endorse the conception of rights and freedom endorsed by this author. As for the minimum wage this paper sought to espouse the common misconception that paying someone a wage below $7.25 is immoral when such price determination is done in the context of voluntary and mutually beneficial exchange. More importantly this paper shows that to trespass on this agreement, as the minimum wage surely does, is not morally permissible because it violates the freedom of the worker and the employer to negotiate a labor contract. The minimum wage makes it illegal to hire someone below the mandated minimum wage and uses the coercive powers of the state to force employers and workers to comply. It is lamentable, but legislating a minimum wage is not compatible with the conception of freedom and justice that corresponds to the right to own property and the principle of nonaggression. [From concluding section]Brandon Howes