Minimum Wage-Pushing Democrats Don’t Pay Congressional Interns

-By Warner Todd Huston

Hypocrisy, they name is Democrat. Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy has laid bare another example of the hypocrisy of Congressional Democrats. In this case while those representatives that are all hot and bothered to push an ever rising minimum wage law are making noise about how inequities exist in the workplace, these same congressmen are sponsoring unpaid internships in their own offices.

How can one be all for the control of wages from Washington D.C. and feel that business should not be allowed to set its own pay rates, yet at the same time offer only unpaid internships in your own offices> It is a hypocrisy that is at once galling and awe inspiring for its brazenness. Yet this is where our out-of-touch, arrogant Congress has come to.

There is nothing wrong with an unpaid or a low paid internship, to be sure. Back in 1981 I served as a $50 a week intern at Chicago Magazine as a way to get some experience in the publishing industry. The money was sort of pointless, really. It wasn’t even enough to buy lunch for the week! But it made sense to me to do this and it makes sense for those with political leanings to get their young feet wet in a congressman’s office to see how it all works and to make contacts for the future.

The hypocrisy isn’t that these congressmen are having unpaid internships, though. The hypocrisy is in their arrogant assumption that they know better than business what a job is worth. Their hypocrisy is in the fact that they want to force businesses to pay more every year to a low skilled labor force all the while they themselves are paying their own unskilled labor force absolutely nothing at all!

Now that is some chutzpah!

Mackinac finds that a bevy of Michigan’s federal representatives are paying nothing to interns.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act was enacted in 2007, passing overwhelmingly. The law raised the minimum wage gradually from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour. Both Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow voted for the bill. In the House, Reps. Dale Kildee (D-5), Fred Upton (R-6), Candice Miller (R-10), Thaddeus McCotter (R-11), Sandy Levin (D-12), John Conyers (D-14) and John Dingell (D-15) all voted for the higher wage.

The same is true of the rest of Congress, too. It isn’t just Michigan.

Mackinac quotes Donald Boudreaux, a professor of economics at George Mason University who finds the whole minimum wage law absurd.

“Are young men and women who choose to build their resume by working free of charge for [Levin] more intelligent and far-sighted than are young men and women who would choose to build their resumes by working in the private sector at wages below the legislated minimum?”

Indeed, let the market decide.

Congress has no business whatsoever telling private companies what they must pay employees.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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Copyright Publius Forum 2001