Intentions vs Results

Milton Friedman once said “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs on their intentions rather than their results.”  Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to economic policy in the political sphere.

Take, for example, minimum wage.  Minimum wage is often sold as a method of helping the poor, of providing a living wage, of generally making people’s lives better off.  So, then, why do so many economists from all walks of live and political views, oppose minimum wage?  The reason why is simple: because it doesn’t achieve its stated goals.

Personally, I have never met anyone, economist or otherwise, who opposes helping the poor, helping people achieve a livable wage, or making people’s lives better off.  I’m sure they’re out there, but I’ve never met one.  In fact, I’d argue the goal of the study of economics is to do these very things.  Economists, from Paul Krugman on the left to Greg Mankiw on the right, have come out against minimum wage because it does the opposite of what it intends.

The topic of conversation is not about whether or not to help the poor, or to get corrupting influences out of politics, or to feed the hungry, etc.  The conversation is, rather, how to best achieve those goals.

2 thoughts on “Intentions vs Results

  1. Does Paul Krugman actually oppose the minimum wage? I thought I remembered hearing about some minimum wage sophistry from him.

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