How About A "Minimum Temperature Law"?
The brutally cold weather (so cold that I saw a lawyer yesterday who actually had his hands in his own pockets) and all of the complaints about low temperatures got me to thinking about this.... Couldn't the government intervene in the market for temperature-reading equipment to counteract the unfair "excessively low" temperatures, just like it does in the unskilled labor market for unfair "excessively low" wages???
In Defense of the Minimum Wage Law:
Unskilled workers are at the mercy of greedy, cold-hearted, ruthless, profit-seeking employers. Without some kind of government intervention in the unskilled labor market, employers will continually and ruthlessly exploit and take advantage of unskilled workers, and pay them sub-standard wages (e.g. $5 per hour) that are so low that the wages could be considered unconscionable, unfair, unethical and unjust.
To counteract this inherent injustice in the labor market for unskilled workers, our collective sense of fairness and justice demands legislation that will force employers to pay a minimum wage of $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008, and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Wages below those minimums (e.g. $5 per hour or $6 per hour) are unconscionably low, and will be illegal and outlawed by the minimum wage legislation, with violations subject to penalties, fines and possible jail time for employers paying less than the government-mandated minimum wage.
In Defense of the Minimum Temperature Law:
The frigid, cold, and harsh winter of 2008-2009, and the hardships it has caused for millions of Americans (including many deaths, an estimated 700 this year), firmly establishes that we are at the mercy of a very cruel, ruthless, merciless, cold-hearted, uncaring force: Mother Nature.
Something must be done about this unacceptable situation. Without some kind of government intervention in the market for low temperature readings being registered on existing thermometers and thermostats, Mother Nature will continually and ruthlessly expose Americans to harsh winter conditions of unconscionably low temperatures. And some experts are even now saying that we are entering a period of Global Cooling, so we can expect even colder winters in the future from Mother Nature. Who among us wouldn’t agree that these excessively low winter temperatures are unfair, unreasonable and unjust?
To counteract this inherent injustice in cold winter weather, the possible trend towards Global Cooling, and Mother Nature’s ongoing lack of concern for cold Americans, our collective sense of fairness and justice requires legislation that will force all thermostats and thermometers sold in the United States to have a minimum, reasonable and fair temperature reading of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, effective immediately. As part of the new Minimum Temperature legislation, all existing thermometers and thermostats in homes, offices, and businesses should be immediately replaced with new temperature-reading equipment with a minimum reading of 0 degrees.
Any temperatures below that minimum (e.g. -10 degrees F. or -20 degrees F.) are considered to be unfair and unconscionably low, and will be illegal and outlawed by the Minimum Temperature Law, with violations subject to penalties, fines and possible jail time for thermostat manufacturers continuing to sell thermostats with temperature readings below the government-mandated minimum temperature. Further, all news and weather reports, all TV and radio stations, and all newspapers and websites are immediately prohibited from quoting any temperatures below the federally-mandated minimum of 0 degrees F, with violations punishable by fines, penalties and jail time.
Bottom Line: If the Minimum Temperature Law seems ridiculous, that's because it is totally ridiculous. And so is the Minimum Wage Law. Forcing employers to pay an unskilled worker $7.25 per hour doesn't change the reality that those workers are actually only worth $5 or $6 per hour. The artificially high minimum wage has to cause distortions and inefficiencies in the unskilled labor market because the minimum wage does not accurately and truthfully reflect the workers' true productivity, and it's like creating a government-mandated fantasy world. A disconnect is created between the true measure (e.g. $5 hour) and an artificial, government-mandated measure ($7.25), of a worker's value or productivity.
Likewise, imposing a minimum temperature law would create a government-mandated fantasy world about weather conditions, with a disconnect between the true temperature (e.g. -20 degrees F) and an artificial government-mandated temperature (0 degrees). And just like the minimum wage law creates havoc in the labor market, so would the minimum temperature law create havoc for Americans.
When it comes to the weather, what we want most are truthful and precise measures of temperatures, and we get those from accurate thermostats and thermometers, not from minimum temperature laws. When it comes to the labor market, what we want are accurate, truthful and precise measures of worker productivity, and we get those from market wages, not from minimum wage laws.