Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

May 09, 2007

Maryland repeals the law of supply and demand

If economics is the dismal science, why not spice it up a little bit?

Look, economics offers up a lot of totally stupid laws. So if you're a legislature, whose very function is to pass laws, why not substitute your own better laws for those stupid economic laws?

One of the absolutely stupidest economics laws ever invented is the law of supply and demand. I mean, why should one necessarily affect the other? Why can't we just solve social problems without worrying that our solutions are going to affect human behavior?

And, of course, by "we" I mean the state legislature in Maryland, which has passed a law, just signed by Governor O'Malley, that would require contractors dealing with the state to pay a "living wage."

Maryland became the first state in the nation yesterday to require government contractors to pay their employees significantly more than the minimum wage under legislation signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

The "living wage" measure, which the General Assembly passed last month, will require contractors working in the Washington-Baltimore corridor to pay $11.30 an hour. For those in more rural counties, the minimum will be $8.50. The state's minimum wage is $6.15.
Who could possibly object to a law called "living wage"? It gives contractor employees an 84% increase in minimum pay, after all, and raises the comparative wages that unions in Maryland will use to negotiate their own. Presto! Money grows on trees.

Now, if you analyzed this "living wage" law under the dismal economic law of supply and demand, you'd reach the idiotic conclusion that state contractors would hire fewer employees and fire some of the ones they already had. You'd reach the even more ridiculous conclusion that they would charge the state more, or vote with their feet and take their business elsewhere.

Which is why our legislature felt the need to repeal the law of supply and demand. So now, contractors will hire the same number of employees and simply pay them higher wages, and they won't charge the state any more to perform the same services.

And if they do, the legislature will simply pass another law, prohibiting state contractors from laying off any of their workers and requiring them to continue providing services at the same rate as before.

Which is really a good thing. You can't let a little economics stand in the way of bettering the lives of our wage slaves.

Bonus: The same article reports that the Governor has also signed a bill repealing economics at the University of Maryland:
Despite a looming $1.5 billion budget deficit, O'Malley has pledged to try to continue holding the line on tuition at University of Maryland campuses. Annual tuition for in-state undergraduates at the system's flagship campus in College Park will remain at $6,566 this fall.
I guess that if the economics department at College Park isn't going to be out on the street, it'll have to start teaching wizardry instead.