The Modern Day Witch Hunt

Yesterday the BBC reported on the witch hunt it is eagerly participating in:

“Business Minister Jo Swinson said paying less than the minimum wage was illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable.

“Naming and shaming gives a clear warning to employers who ignore the rules, that they will face reputational consequences as well as financial penalties of up to £20,000 if they don’t pay the minimum wage,” she said.

Legislation is being planned so that the fine can be applied to each underpaid worker, rather than per employer.

“We are helping workers recover the hundreds of thousands of pounds in pay owed to them as well as raising awareness to make sure workers are paid fairly in the first place,” Ms Swinson added.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called for more prosecutions and higher fines.

“Cheating bosses who fleece their workers out of their hard earned pay must end up in court – and there are still lots of under-paying employers who are getting away with it,” she said.

Government and media prosecution and persecution of employers that commit the heinous ‘crime’ of paying their employees precisely the amount they agreed to receive in exchange for their labour is fast becoming the modern-day version of the medieval witch hunt.

They’re underpayers! Burn Them! Burn them all!

Just like witch hunts of old, it’s the persecutors who are actually the ones committing acts of evil, and not those being accused of being evil. However, the persecutors have an armed mob behind them. Thus violence triumphs over reason and just as those who believed in witches got to kill ‘witches’, dangerous unthinkers like ‘business minister’ Jo Swinson and TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, get to force employers to pay higher wages. And to wallow in their own deluded sense of righteousness with the BBC amplifying their every nonsensical outburst. 

Witch hunters conducted hunts because they believed something that isn’t true: that witches exist. Those in positions of government power prosecute employers because they believe that it’s morally legitimate for an individual to have the right to a certain minimum amount of someone else’s property to be given to them in exchange for their labour (i.e. the thing valued by others that they are selling). But this cannot be so, because the only way to uphold such a right is to (through government) threaten people with theft or imprisonment in order to force them to hand over a certain amount of their money – actions which are in direct violation of the moral principle and law prohibiting extortion.

The truth that government ministers and the leaders of workers’ unions are either ignorant of or in denial of is that a wage is just the price of our labour – determined by supply and demand like any other. If there could be such a thing as a right to a minimum amount of someone’s property in exchange for your product, then that would mean the government would have to prosecute everyone who refused to pay the minimum price demanded by McDonald’s for their Big Mac, for example. When viewed from this angle the injustices that such a right would lead to when universally implemented are plain to see.  

A wage is a price, but people like Swinson and O’Grady believe it ought not to be. They hate it being a price, they desperately wish it wasn’t, but it just is. They cannot bring themselves to accept this reality, however, because doing so would mean abandoning the much cherished belief that capitalism is exploitation of the masses and that the masses need a hero to protect them.

In their minds a wage should not be a price and they use government force as a way to try to make that a reality. It’s the equivalent of grown adults unceasingly trying to push a square peg into a round hole. 

As Ayn Rand once observed: we can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. The harmful economic and social consequences of ignoring the reality that a wage is a price and implementing a minimum wage law have been deduced, demonstrated, evidenced and explained countless times so I won’t go into them here. There are many good articles on the subject, but this brief one is particularly good as a starting point.

The likes of Jo Swinson and Frances O’ Grady might sound authoritative, virtuous and have good intentions, but the fact is they have made careers out of rejecting reason and reality in favour of coercion and delusion.

Just as we correctly look back on witch hunters from centuries ago, whom at the time were believed to be doing good, as people who in fact did much harm, the zealous socialists of today will be looked back on by the corrective lens of history as those who caused a great deal of harm in society.

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