I had a relatively low stipend-ed internship last summer. For the upcoming summer, I will be in a similar situation. I am fine with it. Both of my respective employers were/are happy to have me on board. A potential problem? Such work – it is work – comes out to being paid below minimum wage. Some say that unpaid internships or low-paid internships should violate minimum wage laws.

Consider the outcomes if unpaid or low-paid internships were deemed illegal. Just as I would propose in a normal labor market, the wage would go up but the number of positions would go down. Forget about what minimum wage laws are designed for or who they are targeted at when the legislation is passed; these laws could be applied to internships.

Now, in this scenario I am happy to work for the think tanks at the given benefits they give me. The think tanks are happy to employ me at the given benefits. Such an arrangement is inherently victimless. I think this situation illustrates that not only can minimum wage laws have adverse and unintended consequences on the poor, but such legislation intrudes on my ability to bargain with an employer and engage in labor I deem personally beneficial. We’ll see how it shakes out.

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