Because of the circumstances in which they encounter it, children tend to misunderstand wealth. They confuse it with money. They think that there is a fixed amount of it. And they think of it as something that’s distributed by authorities (and so should be distributed equally), rather than something that has to be created (and might be created unequally).
In fact, wealth is not money. Money is just a convenient way of trading one form of wealth for another. Wealth is the underlying stuff—the goods and services we buy. When you travel to a rich or poor country, you don’t have to look at people’s bank accounts to tell which kind you’re in. You can see wealth—in buildings and streets, in the clothes and the health of the people.
Where does wealth come from? People make it. This was easier to grasp when most people lived on farms, and made many of the things they wanted with their own hands. Then you could see in the house, the herds, and the granary the wealth that each family created. It was obvious then too that the wealth of the world was not a fixed quantity that had to be shared out, like slices of a pie. If you wanted more wealth, you could make it.
When Washington outlawed alcohol, booze vanished overnight and everyone stopped drinking. Can anyone deny this? When Washington banned the use of cannabis, all of us made insane by Reefer Madness quit smoking dope, and today there is probably not a town in America in which one might buy a joint. Similarly, Washington made illegal the downloading of copyrighted music—which also stopped immediately. No one now has illegal music. Ask your adolescent daughter.
So with guns. They are small, easily smuggled, of high value to criminals and will be of higher value when only criminals have them, so it is virtually certain that they will vanish when the government says so.
Mexico, where I live, has stringent laws against guns, which have proved at least a partial success. Criminals have AKs, RPGs, and grenades, while nobody else has anything. That’s a partial success, isn’t it?
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.
Labour is a service that employers purchase from workers. It follows that if its price rises because of a government decree, employers will buy less. The minimum wage is directed at low-skilled workers. If government sets or raises the minimum, employers have an incentive to use fewer low-skilled workers; employers will substitute machines where possible (have you seen how automated fast-food restaurants are these days?) or switch to higher-skilled workers. The minimum wage, therefore, harms the people most in need. Some lose jobs, and others looking for jobs won’t find them. That is not the only consequence. Some workers might retain their jobs but find that some benefits have vanished: There may be less on-the-job training and fewer workplace amenities.
Most people, including advocates of the minimum wage, understand that a rising price generally discourages purchases. People who want to discourage smoking believe that higher cigarette taxes will accomplish that objective. So why is the pricing of unskilled labour an exception? Is ideology interfering with reasoning here?