Over at CatoUnbound, Dan Klein writes:
In 2006 there appeared a “raise the minimum wage” statement signed by 659 economists. I wanted to know why they favored the minimum wage, so I wrote up a questionnaire and sent it to them. But I also used the occasion to get their views on a very important matter: Did they view the minimum wage law as coercive?
Ninety-five graciously completed the survey. Very few of them simply accepted that the minimum wage law is coercive. More than half said the law is not coercive in any significant sense.
But the minimum wage law (and concomitant enforcement) threatens the initiation of physical aggression against employers who pay less than the minimum wage. It threatens physical aggression against people for engaging in certain kinds of voluntary exchange. To me, that is coercion. Just imagine if your neighbor decided that he would impose a minimum wage law on us. Wouldn’t we all agree that he was coercing us? If it is coercion when he does it, why isn’t it coercion when the government does it?
Coercion is not always bad, all things considered, but surely Dan is correct. Ed Glaeser, Richard Epstein, and others are due to respond.