jeudi 18 février 2010

L'eugénisme et le salaire minimum

Via le QL.

L'article vaut la peine d'être lu au complet, et voici quelques extraits:

Libertarian and Conservative economists like George Mason University's Thomas Sowell have long argued that a high minimum wage and heavy labour regulations exclude unskilled workers from the labour market, thus denying them access to jobs in which they could learn the skills and earn the experience that would justify a wage increase. Often presented today as a tool for poverty reduction and income redistribution, the minimum wage is believed to be an efficient and moral social policy. However, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, proponents of the minimum wage actually desired the negative effects described above. The Eugenics movement sought the improvement of mankind by strong government intervention to isolate and exclude the weakest so as to improve the gene pool.

The publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species revolutionized more than just the natural sciences; it also started a radical revolution in the world of economics. Alfred Russell Wallace, an opponent of eugenics, postulated that the natural selection process was not at work in human civilization. For Wallace, any human being feels sympathy for the destitute and will try to help them in a variety of ways. As Adam Smith puts it in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, "[I]f by some extraordinary misfortune you are fallen into poverty, into diseases, into disgrace and disappointment […] you may generally depend upon the sincerest sympathy of all your friends."


Since World War II, with the horrors of Nazi Germany, eugenics has completely disappeared from the mainstream academic community. Academic papers like the Journal of Eugenics, Eugenics Review, and Applied Eugenics have disappeared, and the Eugenics Society is less than a shadow of its former self. However, some of the policies they proposed, like the minimum wage, remain alive today. The minimum wage is today presented as a tool for providing anyone with a decent wage, regardless of racial origin, and its level is always calculated by government officials so as to produce the least possible distortion of employment. Still, when analyzing ideas, it is worth remembering who first bandied them about, and their reasons for doing so.

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