Sauce for the Progressive Goose Is Sauce for the Free-Market Gander
by DON BOUDREAUX on JUNE 28, 2015
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Here’s a letter to a gracious, learned, and smart long-time correspondent whose view of the world differs greatly from my view of it:
Mr. Claude Knowlton, Esq.
Dear Mr. Knowlton:
Thanks for your e-mail.
You think me “wooden” and “unrealistic” for criticizing the majority opinion inKing v. Burwell. Unsurprisingly, I disagree.
You are, of course, correct to note that the meanings of words and phrases are often ambiguous and, thus, require interpretation. And reasonable people can and do frequently disagree about the best interpretations of ambiguous words or phrases in their specific contexts. Recognition of this reality, however, is no license for a court to give to words and phrases meanings that those words and phrases plainly do not have.
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This controversial interpretation of the statute is then challenged in court. If Chief Justice Richard Epstein accepts – as he surely would – the administration’s claim that a minimum hourly wage of $7.25 harms many of the workers who Congress insists it meant to help, why should he and other like-minded members of the SCOTUS not use the logic of King v. Burwell to uphold the Paul administration’s reasonable argument that, to make the Fair Labor Standards Act work as Congress intended, “$7.25” must be read as meaning “$0.01”? I certainly now can see no good reason for any such “wooden” and “unrealistic” restraint on the part of the Court.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
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Of course, “liberals” (aka socialist Big Gooferment types), would insist that laws they favor mean what they say; not what a “classical liberal” (i.e., little L libertarian like the Dead Old White Guys) would want them to mean!