“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine - the special pleading of selfish interests. While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible." -Henry Hazlitt in Economics in One Lesson
The minimum wage, initially promoted by labor unions and eugenicists who sought to squeeze out unwanted competition in the labor market, is one such policy. Modern proponents make the case that the minimum wage elevates workers to a higher level of living, and that it was such laws which raised the general standard of living in the past. We will see that these claims are erroneous on all counts. Minimum wage laws are detrimental to society as a whole while disproportionately having the worst effect on those it means to help: the poor, and low skill laborers.