Socialism as Deliberate Destruction

The economic illiteracy of liberals should never surprise us, despite repeated experience seeing liberals impervious to empirical findings about the perverse results of many liberal policies such as rent control and the minimum wage.

It took me a while to see that when you point out to a liberal that a higher minimum wage has the effect of reducing the hours and income of low-skill workers especially at fast-food restaurants, this is regarded by the liberals as a feature rather than a bug. Liberals hate fast food, with many liberals openly pining to have it destroyed or regulated (such as mandating the Michelle diet or something). If a higher minimum wage sets back the viability of fast-foot, so much the better!

This perception came into focus while reading Section V of Ludwig von Mises’ Socialism about how socialism is a purely destructive ideology by necessity. His description of labor law from nearly a century ago applies perfectly to our current moment:

The idea that wages correspond to the efficiency of labor is so far beyond his [the socialist’s] comprehension that he actually formulates a “law” that a high wage increases the product of labor, whilst a low wage reduces it, although nothing could be more clear than the fact that good work is paid for at a higher rate than bad.

From here von Mises goes on to cite Fredrich Engels (!) to the effect that supposedly “pro-labor” legislation was desirable precisely as a means of destroying the existing economic order:

In a later essay, he [Engels] said of the Ten Hour Day Bill: “It is no longer an isolated attempt to lame industrial development. It is one link in a long chain of measures which will transform the whole present form of society and gradually destroy the former class conflicts. It is not a reactionary but a revolutionary measure.”

Of course, Engels and his successors on the left today fail to realize that the real revolution is found in the innovations of capitalist industry. We see already the computerized kiosks coming rapidly to the fast-food industry to reduce the level of human labor necessary to operate a McDonald’s. Already there is talk of how fast-food will become even more automated with advanced robotics actually flipping and assembling your cheeseburger. It is entirely conceivable that the next generation of fast-food restaurants will require very little human labor to operate at all. This was likely to happen anyway, but the push for a minimum wage higher than the labor productivity of a young, unskilled worker is hastening this evolution.

But just wait till you hear von Mises dissect the socialist drive for higher taxes on the rich! That will have to wait until my next installment.


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