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Were there to exist powerful political and ideological forces that stand to benefit if the general public believes that small orange rocks dropped into swimming pools cause no increases in the water levels of swimming pools, there would be no shortage of physicists who conduct and publish studies allegedly offering evidence that, indeed, the dropping of small orange rocks into swimming pools does not tend to raise the water levels of swimming pools (and, indeed, might even lower pools water levels!).
A whole new school of physics research – the ‘new’ small-rock-in-pools physics research – would produce empirical study after empirical study showing evidence that the water levels of swimming pools remain either unchanged, or even lowered, whenever small orange rocks are dropped into pools.
Conventional physicists would point out that, because small orange rocks have mass, as they sink to the bottom of pools these rocks must displace water and, hence, cause the water levels of pools to rise.
The ‘new’ physicists would sneer contemptuously at the conventional physicists for dogmatically elevating abstract theory over empirical reality. The ‘new’ physicists would proudly boast of being “data driven” and not blinded by theoretical biases. They know only what the data that they gather tell them.
Conventional physicists would point out that they do not deny empirical reality; far from it. It is empirical reality that anything with mass that falls into a pool of water necessarily displaces water, and there’s no good reason to believe that small orange rocks are an exception to this well-established empirical fact.
Many other conventional physicists would conduct their own empirical research, controlling differently than do the ‘new’ physicists for factors other than the presence of small orange rocks that affect the water levels of pools – other factors such as rainfall and evaporation, swimmers jumping into and out of pools, and the condition of each of the many pools’ drainage and filtering systems. Conventional physicists would find, empirically, that dropping small orange rocks into swimming pools does indeed cause the water levels of pools to be higher than they would be absent the small orange rocks.
‘New’ physicists would respond with equally sophisticated empirical studies, controlling for other factors differently than do the conventional physicists. The ‘new’ physicists would continue to find, empirically, no evidence that dropping small orange rocks into swimming pools puts upward pressure on the water levels of pools.
The press would report the findings of the ‘new’ physics research, informing the public that ‘Physicists prove that small orange rocks do not displace water when dropped into the bottom of swimming pools.’ The public, yearning for this finding to be valid, cheer, and they accuse conventional physicists of being either dogmatically unscientific or paid shills for Big Corporations that have a financial interest in denying the truth that small orange rocks can be dropped into swimming pools without raising the water levels of pools.
And so it is with minimum-wage legislation. The strong political and ideological interests on the pro-minimum-wage side keep alive the debate over whether or not raising employers’ costs of employing low-skilled workers causes employers to further economize on the amounts of low-skilled labor that they hire. There is no furious empirical debate among scholars over whether or not, say, raising an excise tax on oranges would, ceteris paribus, cause fewer oranges to be bought and sold. There is no furious empirical debate among scholars over whether or not, say, an increase in the tuition charged to attend college would, ceteris paribus, discourage some people from enrolling in college. There is no furious empirical debate among scholars over whether or not, say, imposing a poll tax would, ceteris paribus, discourage some people from voting.
Yet because powerful political and ideological interests have a stake in the market for low-skilled workers being immune from the normal operation of the law of demand, a furious debate rages over whether or not employers forced to pay more for labor do or don’t further economize on labor.
Ovenstående er skrevet af Don Boudreaux på www.CafeHayek.com.