Free Market

What the Government Really Thinks Is Despicable About the Minions

After multiple films, nearly everybody is familiar with the tic tac-shaped, clumsy, yellow sidekicks of the fictional villain Gru. With their own film drawing record attention, the minions are at the forefront of pop culture. So, what can we learn from these lovable characters that relates to public policy? 

It was recently argued in Vox that minions demonstrate labor exploitation. While the argument presented was interesting, it blindly overlooked how our government would, in actuality, interpret and respond to the actions of minions. 

Minions are primarily laborers. In the previously mentioned Vox article, this group is purported to be “the very class most heavily exploited in capitalist systems.” While it is true that this group is extremely exploited, the article’s authors misrepresent the source of exploitation. Instead of the free market exploiting these laborers, it is actually government regulation that becomes primarily detrimental to this societal group.

In a free market system, devoid of arbitrary government regulation, laborers, like the minions, would be afforded the opportunities to advance socioeconomically to the point they most viewed as appropriate. This group would have the ability to demand higher wages, better benefits, and better work-life balance as competition between employers is fostered This last point is definitely on the minions’ wish list, as they seem to never stop working.

To see how government regulations are what really exploits these workers, just look at occupational licensing laws. An occupational license allows an individual to legally practice their desired occupation. The process of obtaining an occupational license is often accompanied by a myriad of stringent and costly requirements. Additionally, to obtain a license, an individual must navigate through a plethora of often arbitrary restrictions.

Minions are mischievous creatures by nature and often are a culpable party to Gru’s crimes. With all the criminal acts that the minions engage in, it is reasonable to assume that many possess criminal records. 

Unfortunately, for the minions, particularly the ones who are reformed and want to step away from their life of crime, these records may bar them from being able to receive an occupational license. Across the country, there are over 16,000 occupation licensing limitations for ex-criminals with no expiration date and an additional 9,000 restrictions specify a “mandatory disqualification,” meaning that licensing agencies are required to reject the license application. 

Without an occupational license, many of the minions may be left unable to move away from their criminal ways and towards being productive members of society. This is because not having an occupational license means minions may miss out on raises in income and boosts to economic standing that licensure provides.

Individuals that obtain an occupational license earn nearly seven dollars more an hour than unlicensed professionals. Additionally, licensed workers also enjoy labor market advantages that go beyond higher wages; they have longer job tenure and lower incidences of being subjected to part-time work. If minions are left in the same socioeconomic position, they may remain desperate to obtain life’s necessities, like shelter, and thus continue to work for Gru and carry out his devious criminal acts.

Ultimately, the government views the minions as a lower socioeconomic class of laborers that are undeserving of the ability to improve their lives. Not only would the government prevent the licensure of minions, it would also possibly arrest minions for working specific jobs, like maintaining Gru’s car, without a license. 

The Vox article concludes with the point that minions are “desperate for any job they can find.” We agree. However, it is not capitalism that fuels this desperation; it is government restriction and regulation.