Raise the minimum wage (and give Marx a prize)!

Protest supports raising minimum wage on April 29, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

The typical winner of the Nobel Prize in economics is a 67-year-old man, born in the United States, who is working at the University of Chicago when he wins. That’s what science writer Maggie Koerth found.

Technically, there is no Nobel Prize in economics, Koerth explains. Instead, there is the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. It was first awarded in 1969 and is named after the central bank of Sweden — the Sveriges Riksbank — which funds it. 

The Nobel Foundation doesn’t pay out the award or choose the winner. Members of the Nobel family have spoken out against the award.

Nonetheless, the award was given out this year and the media calls it the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. David Card, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, got half of the Sveriges Riksbank award this year.

Card is credited for showing that raising the minimum wage doesn’t increase unemployment. That’s good and it’s certainly true.

Funny though: A prize was never given to the first economist to point this out. 

Back in 1865, Karl Marx’s lecture series to the First International workers’ association was a response to John Weston, who had said that raising wages would be harmful and therefore labor unions are harmful.

The first five chapters of “Value, Price and Profit” are Marx’s responses to Weston. The rest of the lecture series is a condensed preview of Marx’s “Capital,” which was published two years later in 1867.

Of course, it’s good that David Card was able to use the most modern research tools available to confirm that there is no downside to raising wages. Indeed, raising wages is an excellent thing to do, as Marx pointed out more than 150 years ago.