Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We have often walked down this street before

William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal sez, 'Why can't a politician be more like homo economicus?';
Take Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.” In her role as Eliza Doolittle, she not only turned in a wonderful performance but also delivered a lesson about upward mobility that is particularly timely today in light of the latest war of modern progressivism: on nail salons.
It started, as these things often do, with a two-part exposé in the New York Times, one focusing on the lousy pay and the other on the health threats. This provoked howls of outrage, and was in turn followed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo invoking “emergency measures,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) citing federal legislation on product safety she’s introduced and of course New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presiding over a “day of action.” The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute declares nail salon abuses a function of “national policy failures.”
Almost perfect textbook Public Choice Economics, this is. McGurn spells it out, Ms Doolittle turned to the private sector (Professor 'enry 'iggins) to lift herself out of poverty;
Eliza didn’t place her hope in new regulations for street-side flower mongering. For Eliza, upward mobility was about acquiring the skills she needed to get ahead, in this case proper English and the manners that went with it.
How different this is to the approach to nail salons now being worked out in New York and Washington. Like so many other bursts of progressive passion, chances are that while their bid for more government will make the pols and activists feel better about themselves, it will do little to improve the lives of these women.
We hope that George Bernard Shaw turns over in his grave.

1 comment:

  1. Typical Progressive/Leftist groupism. Progressives see a group of perpetually exploited immigrants, enslaved to nail painting for their entire, miserable lives. They can't get other jobs, in part because they don't know much English.

    The minimum wage eliminates legal jobs at their level of productivity. A job painting nails seems worthless, except it pays something and puts these women in contact with native English speakers. Soon, their language skills will improve, so they can quit and find better work.

    This makes nail-painting a much better job than say doing laundry in the back room, and explains why these women would voluntarily submit to those working conditions.

    Nail-painting is a stage in a flow, not the end point for these women's lives. Like jobs at McDonalds for most of those working there.