What should the minimum wage be here in Illinois? Is the current rate of $8.25 an hour too low? Is $10, the figure proposed in the advisory question on the recent ballot, the right amount?

If raising the minimum wage by $1.75 an hour is such a good idea, why not raise it even more? How about $20 an hour for an entry-level position, or $25?

It's not like the minimum wage can be too high, right? After all, there's no downside to raising someone's wages, is there? How could it possibly be bad for the lowest-paid workers to make more money?

Actually, the negative effects of minimum wage hikes are well known to all economically literate and politically engaged persons – and can be extrapolated by anyone capable of critical thinking.

State Sen. Don Harmon, nevertheless, claims to be ignorant of them.

By his own admission, he's unaware that hikes in the minimum wage are likely to have negative consequences for anyone whose labor is worth less than the new minimum: that those seeking employment will find job searches more difficult and that those employed at the previous rate are at risk of being let go.

At a recent senate subcommittee hearing, Harmon insisted that he's never seen “any credible economic research that a modest increase in the minimum wage does anything other than help spur economic growth and help the economy.”

A subcommittee witness cited the widely respected, nonprofit, nonpartisan National Bureau for Economic Research (NEBR), which released, in 2006, a 155-page review of “the burgeoning literature on the employment effects of minimum wages.”

The majority of the studies NEBR surveyed document “negative employment effects of minimum wages,” and “the studies that focus on the least-skilled groups provide relatively overwhelming evidence of stronger disemployment effects for these groups.”

Harmon's response: NEBR? Never heard of it.

No matter what Harmon makes as a state senator, he's overpaid.

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