Friday, October 17, 2014

The language of economics can be dangerous

A British government minister was using the language of economics when he said that disabled people may "not be worth" the minimum wage.  This was taken as a moral judgment but it was a perfectly orthodox statement in economics.  He was simply pointing out that what was produced by disabled people (in sheltered workshops etc.) may not sell for enough money to pay the minimum wage.  In those circumstances disabled people could be locked out of employment completely. Allowing a smaller minimum wage for disabled people, however, could keep them in work.  It was a compassionate argument but was grievously misunderstood so he had to grovel

Lord Freud said he was “foolish” to suggest that disabled people should not be entitled to the minimum wage and admitted that his comments could be seen as “offensive”.

The welfare minister offered a “full and unreserved apology” but stopped short of resigning after suggesting people with disabilities are not "worth" the minimum wage of £6.50 an hour.

It comes after David Cameron slapped down his welfare minister for the comments at Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon.

Lord Freud said: "I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else.

"I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment.

He added: "I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people."



Stan B said...

We have this debate quite often in America in regards to Goodwill Industries. They take advantage of a portion of the wage laws that allow them to pay "piece work" wages to the disabled. These are people on disability, earning well below the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

If you have to pay everyone minimum wage, the disabled who are unable to produce $7.25 worth of value will be displaced by people who can produce such value. Then, instead of having someone doing a job that they enjoy for a bit of pocket money on top of their government assistance (they can't make enough to be disqualified for it at piece-work rates), you have a disabled person sitting home all day, nothing to do, and an employer who, instead of 4 or 5 people, employs one, who hates the mindless job that the disabled loved.

Jerry Doctor said...


When will you learn that it is more important to CARE about the disadvantaged than it is to actually help them?

Bird of Paradise said...

Open mouth insert foot

stinky said...

Politicians should be allowed to work for less than minimum wage, sure. The logic holds.

Go Away Bird said...

Stinky. And they should'nt be allowed to vote themselves Pay raises they don't deserve