Hillary Clinton promises to jail employers who engage in “wage theft.”

Wage theft. What could possibly justify that? It sounds like taking wages away from innocent, hard-working people, brazenly stealing their hard earned property. Should people guilty of “wage theft” be immediately jailed? Of course!

I did a little research on the term. I discovered that wage theft is generally defined as the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft can be conducted through various means such as: failure to pay overtime, minimum wage violations, employee misclassification, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock, or not being paid at all.

Now think about it. Minimum wage laws are imposed on companies, businesses and employers against their will. We’re told it’s for the benefit of the employees. While it’s probably true that some employees benefit by getting a raise, other employees will lose their jobs or never get another job since the government laws have priced their wages out of the market.

On top of that, government mandates like minimum wage laws raise the costs of goods and services in companies affected by the laws. Fast food, Walmart supplies, groceries — these all go up in price as certain employees are now required to be paid a higher wage. These price increases hit low wage-earners first and hardest.

We never talk about the consequences of such laws. We simply mandate them as laws, and threaten to jail employers who do not comply with them. In an attempt to save her faltering campaign for president, Hillary Clinton gains applause lines by promising to jail even more of them. But she’s far from the first or only politician to do so.

Hillary Clinton claims that this money rightfully belongs to the employee. Under the law, she’s presumably correct. But is the law morally right, in the first place? Is there moral justification for forcing employers to act against their own will and their own interests?

All government mandates cost money. All such mandates and laws, by definition, force employers to act against their interests. If it were in the rational interests of employers to pay more than market rates for wages, they would already be doing so. And even without laws, many employers already do so, in order to attract the best quality employees.

When you force an employer to act against his or her rational interests, the cost has to go somewhere. The only two places it could go? Increased costs for the product or service;  or fewer jobs. This ends up screwing the very people — the low wage-earners — these laws are supposed to benefit.

It’s amazing how Orwellian our society has become. Words now mean the total opposite of the concepts to which they refer.

“Wage theft” is a perfect case in point. Governments steal directly from employers by forcing them to pay wages (and do other things) that market conditions do not require (or enable) them to do.

We do not call this coercive action by the government theft. But when the employers actually (or allegedly) fail to do what they’re told to do, we call it “theft.” Or, if an employer attempts to exploit a loophole or an exception in a law, this probably constitutes “theft” too.

If someone broke into your home and stole some of your property and money, you would not call it “theft” if you managed to reclaim some or all of that property from the thief. You’d call it recovery of what’s yours.

But when interest groups band together and use the force of government to impose minimum wage or other directives on private businesses, we refrain from calling this theft. Yet morally, it clearly is.

I don’t care if it’s the law. Communism and Nazism were the law. Were they right? Just because the government mandates something does not make it right. The law is morally wrong in this case, as in so many other cases where government initiates force, rather than protecting people from force, as it’s supposed to do.

The actual “wage thieves” are the politicians and others who impose minimum wage laws and other directives on the private sector. By impairing and ultimately destroying economic growth, politicians like Hillary Clinton are the ultimate wage thieves.

Oh, and when jobs dry up from such policies, most of us do not blame it on the government policy. We blame it on “capitalism” — the very capitalism that’s undermined if not eliminated by such laws.

What a racket — and a twisted, profound lie — our whole society and government have become. The real thieves who should be jailed are politicians like Hillary Clinton. Instead, we morally attack and legally prosecute their victims.

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Dr Michael Hurd

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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