Readers React: The minimum wage’s less-than-racist origins

To the editor: Jonah Goldberg’s analysis of who advocated for minimum wages, and why, is mind-boggling to say the least. (“Martin O’Malley’s modern-day know-nothingness,” op-ed, April 20)

As a young graduate student, the subject of my master’s dissertation was, “The History of Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States.” I reviewednumerous documents related to this topic, including legislative proceedings, court decisions and more.

Those opposed to the passage of minimum-wage laws did so because they felt the laws violated the right of employers and employees to freely enter into contracts of their own choosing. Never once in my perusal of these documents did I see any reference to what Goldberg says the progressive economists supporting minimum-wage laws hoped to achieve: “If you forced employers to pay a ‘white man’s wage, they’d only hire white men.”

So much for the accuracy of Goldberg’s comments.


Irving Brotslaw, Milwaukee

The writer is a professor emeritus of labor studies at the University of Wisconsin.

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