I think the economics of the minimum wage are clear: it is bad for the unemployed and it is bad for those without skills to earn more than the minimum wage; it’s pretty much just bad.
But even if you think the economics are not clear cut (and there is considerable debate on this in the economics departments), I find this the issue of unpaid interns (thanks to Munogwitz for this particular link, though he has others, and there are plenty of others around on the web) to be an issue that proponents of minimum wage laws (particularly Congressmen) absolutely must resolve and absolutely cannot resolve. It is one of these litmus test issues that clearly shows a person to be capable or incapable of rational thought.
The issue is this:
If you are a proponent of minimum wage laws, how can you be a proponent of unpaid internships?
Or, more like an argument:
If you are a proponent of minimum wage laws, then you cannot be a proponent of unpaid internships.
If A, then B.
I see no way around it. The key is that every argument that can be given FOR unpaid internships is also – I believe – an argument that can be given for paying less than the minimum wage.
I believe that the minimum wage supporter must find a case where the unpaid intern is somehow different than the minimum wage-earning worker. I can think of no such case. Am I being unimaginative? Tell me.