Freedom on Trial

Newscaster: It’s been one year since the
new national minimum wage law went into effect, and lawmakers are claiming that it’s been
a success. The law forces businesses across the country
to increase worker pay, but critics claim the new rules and …
Police Officer #1: You the owner? Mr. Philip Carvel? Philip: Yes. Police Officer #1: We have a warrant for your
arrest. Philip: There must be some mistake. For what? Police Officer #2: For violation of the Fair
Labor Standards Act. Failure to pay minimum wage, Mr. Carvel. Police Officer #1: You have the right to remain
silent. Anything you say can and will be used against
you in a court of law. Philip: Hey. Hey, did you do this? Police Officer #1: You have a right to an
attorney … Philip: After everything I’ve done for you? Police Officer #1: Hey, let’s go! Philip: Hey! Let me go! William: Careful. That is hot. Holly: Thank you. William: Anything good today? Holly: Just arraigned in court. Shop owner. Arrested for not paying his employee the new
federally mandated minimum wage. He is looking at heavy fines, probation, and
if he’s not careful, a little jail time. William: Prison? Holly: For obeying the law of supply and
demand. William: We’re taking this case, Holly. Holly: It’s a divisive issue. Do we really want that kind of heat? William: Who’s the DA got on it? Holly: Sam Darby. William: Sam Darby. You see that? Holly: What? What am I looking at? William: I’m not shaking. Holly: Don’t underestimate Sam. He’s tough, but he also knows how to jab
when you think he’s going to cross. William: Yeah, yeah. Did I show you my hand already? Holly: You did. William: Let’s take this case. Holly: I have to admit, I am … kind of intrigued. William: Mm-hm. Holly: Okay. Let’s go talk to our prospective client. William: Love you! Philip: I can’t thank you enough. No one wanted to represent me. William: Well, you’ll learn quickly Holly
and I are passionate about what we do. Holly: I have to ask you. Why didn’t you pay your employee the minimum
wage? Philip: I was trying to. It was, uh, it’s complicated. William: Don’t worry. We’ll get to all that. Newscaster: The trial of Philip Carvel begins
today. The first individual charged under the new
federal law. Now, if you’ve been following the story
with us, you know that we have a long road … It’ll be a long week, but we promise to bring you
the very latest on this developing story. Sam: William and Holly. Lawyers for liberty. Libertarian wingnuts who fight tyranny. Or something like that. You know, I should’ve known you two would
be defending a wage dodger. That’s a new low, William. Even for you. William: Bring it, Sam. Sam: Careful, William. I’ve got the law on my side. William: Well, we’ve got … Holly: Economics? William: Economics. Sam: Well, good luck with that. Philip: Tommy, what is all this? Why’d you call the police? Tommy: Mr. Carvel, I …
Mother: You don’t talk to my son. Philip: It didn’t have to come to this. Mother: You better believe it did. You took advantage of him! Philip: That’s not true. No, that’s not true! Tommy, tell your mom …
Sam: Why don’t you act like a lawyer and control your client? Bailiff: All rise. Bailiff: Raise your right hand. Do each of you understand and agree that you
will try the case now pending before this court, and render a true verdict according only
to the evidence presented to you and to the instructions of the court? Jury: I do. Judge: The prosecution may begin its opening
remarks. Sam: Thank you, your honor. Now we all know the facts of this case. The defendant decided that he was above the
law and paid his employee a rate below the legal minimum wage. But this case, this case, is about something
bigger. Income inequality. What’s on trial here is the gap between
the rich and the poor. You’ve all heard of the one percent. But they don’t all look like billionaire
tycoons. Some look like shop owners. You must help us stop them. We must draw a line in the sand and that line,
ladies and gentlemen, goes right through that hardware store. Income inequality is the defining issue of our time. So right here, right now, all of us are going to do something about it. Holly: We need to rethink this case. William: Now? Holly: Yeah. Sam didn’t jab, he crossed. William: Your honor? I’d like to request a sidebar. Judge: My chambers. Now. William: He can’t do this. This case is about minimum wage. Judge: This case is about economics. Sam: Exactly, your honor. Holly: It’s that word. Inequality. How can we get a fair trial when the case
is framed that way? Judge: I realize it’s a hot-button topic,
but I’m going to allow Sam to open up this case. William: Your honor, there are a thousand
variables that go into the distribution of wealth in our society, from people’s skill
sets to their circumstances in life. You are asking us to defend the outcomes of
the entire U.S. economy! Holly: William, just …
William: You might as well find for the prosecution right now if you let this stand. Judge: Watch yourself, councilor. This is my court. My decision is final. The burden falls on you. Holly: William. William, are you trying to turn my headache
into a migraine? William: Income inequality on trial. We need a new tactic. Holly: What do you think we’re doing? I don’t read economic papers for fun. William: Yes you do. Holly: True. William: The jury won’t be able to get past
the emotion. We have all these conflicting feelings about
fairness. We don’t like it when one person earns too
much more than the other, yet we also don’t like it when people are rewarded without earning
it. Everybody shouldn’t get a trophy, yet no
trophy should be too big. How do we unpack all this for the jury? Holly: Sam owns the emotions surrounding the
issue, but we have the facts. We don’t have to sugar-coat anything. Will? We have a good case. And you have a secret weapon. William: Secret weapon? Holly: Me. Will! Judge: Is the defense ready for their opening
statement? William: We are, your honor. Holly: Good afternoon. You heard the prosecution’s opening statement. How he wants you to view this case beyond
the issue of minimum wage. How it’s also about income inequality. Well, Sam’s right. This is about income inequality, and what,
if anything, we expect our government to do about it. What we intend to demonstrate is that the
minimum wage is not in fact an effective tool in combating income inequality. Moreover, we will call into question the merit
of income inequality as the benchmark for our understanding of progress in our society. Inequality isn’t good, but it isn’t necessarily
bad either. Uh, we will be using the latest data and econometric
techniques … That’s all, your honor. We’re going to need a new secret weapon. Judge: The prosecution may call its first witness. Sam: You voted for the national minimum wage,
senator. Correct? Senator: I not only voted for it. I co-sponsored the bill. Sam: So, it’s your opinion that the government
had to intervene. Senator: Without regulation, workers could
be paid below a living wage. It would be slavery. William: Senator, you came up with the dollar
amount for the new law? Senator: I did. William: So you put a value on the price of
labor based on … a hunch? Senator: We consulted many experts. William: Right. And what about the free market? Philip: Can I help you? Tommy: Yeah, I was wondering. Are you hiring? William: Could you explain that again for
those of us that don’t have a Ph.D. in economics? Economist: As we see with the graph, an open,
well-functioning market is a necessary condition to lift people out of poverty, and that includes
labor market prices. But as soon as you start to change the prices,
you change the incentives. Sam: And what does an econometrician do? Econometrician: I apply mathematical and statistical
techniques to analyze economic data. Sam: And according to your analysis of that
data, what is happening with the income in this country? Econometrician: According to a decade of income
reports, the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is widening. Sam: And as an expert on that data, what do
you think the solution is to this widening gap? Econometrician: Government intervention to
address a clear market failure. Philip: I do need some help around here. But I can’t. Sorry. Tommy: Can’t or you don’t want to hire
me? Philip: No, it’s this new wage law. Tommy: So you can’t help me out? Philip: I’m sorry. Really wish I could. Holly: You study data. Econometrician: I do. Holly: Can you tell me what the GINI index
is? Econometrician: It’s a statistical measure
of income distribution for a country’s residents. Holly: So, a number that represents income
inequality? Econometrician: Yes. Holly: And if I were to tell you that you
could live in the bottom ten percent of Venezuela, where crime is rampant and people stand in
line for hours just to buy food, or you could live in the bottom ten percent of Singapore,
where there is low unemployment and nearly a ninety percent home ownership rate, which
country would you choose? Econometrician: Well, if I had to choose,
Singapore. Holly: And yet Venezuela and Singapore have
almost identical GINI indexes. So, income inequality isn’t an indicator
of quality of life. Of, uh, economic progress for the poor, is
it? Sam: Objection! Relevance? Judge: Ms. Dobis, what are you getting at? Holly: I’m trying to show that income inequality
doesn’t mean that a country can’t be prosperous. Judge: Sustained. Holly: Your honor, these concepts are difficult
to understand. I need every tool at my disposal. Judge: You will follow my rulings. Holly: Well, I can’t call the entire United States
economy to the stand and ask it how well it’s functioning. Judge: That is enough, councilor. Sustained, move on! Philip: Tommy, I know you’re not supposed
to talk to me. Tommy: Yeah. I’m sorry about this. When my ma found out what you were paying
me, she went ballistic. Philip: Well, did you tell her about how we
came … Tommy: Look, I have nothing against you, but
you broke the law, and I gotta testify. William: We need to talk to you. Holly: We are losing this case. William: Between the judge reframing it as
income inequality … Holly: … and the jury unable to wrap their heads
around hard data, we’re in the weeds. Philip: You want me to take the stand? I feel like the victim here. William: You are the victim. Philip: I tried to help out this neighborhood
kid, but it’s hard enough to keep a store like mine out of the red. If I could’ve paid him the minimum wage,
I would have, but … Holly: You see, there’s a story behind what
you did. William: The jury needs to hear it. Holly: Your employee is going to take the
stand, and when they hear the words coming out of his mouth, that’ll be it for us. William: You need to take the stand. Philip: It’ll be me up there. And news cameras outside the courtroom? Protesters? I might lose my business over this. Holly: Can you tell the court how you came
to pay your employee a rate below the minimum wage? Philip: Tommy came to me looking for a job. I’m just a small business. I didn’t have the money to pay him, but
I wanted to give him a shot. Holly: And then what happened? Philip: We, uh, worked it out. Holly: What does that mean? Philip: I mean we came to an agreement. What I could afford and what he would take. Holly: So, two consenting parties entered
into this business relationship? Philip: Your words, not mine. But yes. Holly: Let me say that again. Two consenting parties. Philip: You’re from up the block, aren’t
you? I’ve seen you and your mother around the
neighborhood. Tommy: Look, I’m trustworthy. I want to work hard. Philip: Well, could use an extra hand around
here. Tommy: Hey, I got an idea. Sam: Your honor, the state calls to the stand
Thomas Pursell. Bailiff: Raise your right hand. Do you promise to tell the truth and nothing
but the truth so help you God? Tommy: I do. Newscaster: In a shocking turn of events,
the defendant in what’s now being called the “income inequality trial” took the
stand today. This comes on the heels of the prosecution’s
star witness, the young employee claiming he was paid less than the mandated minimum
wage, who is set to take the stand later… Sam: Are you nervous, Tommy? Tommy: A little bit. Sam: It’s okay. You have nothing to worry about. Just tell the truth. Isn’t it true you reported your employer
to the authorities, because you felt like you were being exploited? That while he broke the law by paying you
less than the legal minimum wage, he also helped facilitate the income inequality in
this country!? Holly: Objection! Leading the witness. Judge: Sustained. Counselor, get to your point. Sam: My apologies, your honor. Can you tell the court about the events that
led the defendant to offer you less than the legal minimum wage? Tommy: I wanted a job. Make a little money to help out my ma. But, no one would hire me. I’ve been in and out of trouble, and … well,
you know the story. Sam: Tell us about how you came to work for
the defendant. Tommy: I asked him for the job, but he said
he couldn’t afford it. Sam: And that’s when he offered you an amount
lower than the legal minimum wage. Sam: It’s okay, Thomas. Just tell the court what happened. Tommy: I asked him if we could work it out. Sam: We? Sam: That’s not what you said in your deposition! You said that he offered you an amount that
was lower than the legal … Tommy: That was my ma. Tommy: When she found out what Mr. Carvel was paying
me, she made me call the police. Sam: Your mom? Tommy: She said I deserved the minimum wage. It was all her idea. Judge: Order! I will have quiet in my court! Sam: No further questions, your honor. Newscaster: As day five of the income inequality
trial begins to wind down, the prosecution has begun its closing arguments. Sam: Now, I know that this has been a complicated
case. Upon first blush, should’ve been a simple
one. The defendant broke the law when he did not
pay his employee what the law requires. But this is much more than that. It is about income inequality. And what’s on trial here is the notion that
government intervention is the best tool to eradicate this. I’m confident that you all will come back
with a guilty verdict. William: Let’s talk about fairness. Now, I’m sure all of you hate those Wall
Street bankers who influenced our government. Helped them rewrite laws that only benefitted
them. And we all dislike inequality when it’s
the result of a rigged system, because it’s just not fair. But that’s not what’s at work in this
case or the minimum wage. My client didn’t rig the system for his
personal gain. He took a risk. He took a risk, and he offered the plaintiff
an opportunity. An opportunity that both men agreed would
make each other better off. Now that’s the first step in the ladder
to something more. Minimum wage, heh, minimum wage removes the
first rung of that ladder and expects somebody else to pay for it! Is that fair? And if we truly want to reduce inequality,
you tell me, how does preventing a young man from getting his first steady job achieve
that goal? That’s not fair, either. William: Do the right thing. Judge: I ask you now to retire to the jury
room to begin deliberating. Now, while this case discussed income inequality,
the defendant has been charged with breaking the law. Juror #1: So what does everyone think? Juror #2: He broke the law. End of discussion. Juror #3: If we let the state set a minimum
wage, will they set a maximum wage? Juror #4: People who don’t work hard don’t
deserve a minimum wage. Juror #5: Someone needs to protect workers
from being exploited. Juror #6: Why can’t they just be free to
make up their own minds? Juror #7: This new minimum wage law is going
to hurt people trying to get their first jobs. Juror #8: If you don’t protect the working
poor, the one percent is just going to keep taking and taking. Juror #1: Let’s get one thing out of the
way: The store owner broke the law. I think we can all agree on that, but this
trial is about income inequality. Did any of you really know what that meant
before this? Well, it’s a really big issue and an important
one. I think it warrants a serious discussion. Philip: I can’t take it anymore. When are they going to decide? William: My gut says we’re good, but… Philip: But your gut has been wrong before. Holly: Tommy’s testimony really helped us. Philip: Then why is he pacing? William: I’m nervous… not about losing. This case is more than just saving your reputation. It’s more than us just winning. It’s about preserving freedom. Sam: You know, I have to admit it. You two ran a great defense. William: That snark, or sarcasm? Sam: Neither. Just tell me one thing. How’d you get the kid to flip? William: We didn’t do anything. Holly: Tommy came to his senses. Sam: I wish I could believe you. Doesn’t matter. You’re going to lose. Bailiff: We’re back in session. Bailiff: All rise. Judge: Foreman, has the jury reached a decision? Juror #1: We have, your honor. We find the defendant … … guilty. Sam: Justice was served today, and a strong
message was sent regarding income inequality, an issue that has been defined by this generation. If we refocus our energies on building an
economy that grows for everybody… William: I wish we could’ve done more. Philip: I know you don’t like to lose. William: It’s so much more than that. Philip: I know. Philip: Tommy? Juror #1: Excuse me? Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you, but the judge said
it was okay to talk to you now that the trial’s over. Holly: Yes? Juror #1: I just wanted you to know that you
really moved me. William: We did? Juror #1: I wasn’t the only one. William: But you eventually found for the
prosecution. Juror #1: Well, it all came to the law, and
your client clearly broke it, but … Holly: But what? Juror #1: Well, let’s just say that before
the trial I was one hundred percent behind the new minimum wage law. William: And now? Juror #1: I’m starting to rethink what income
inequality really means. Thank you. William: We got to one person. Depending on how you look at it, that could
be considered a win. Holly: It’s a first step. William: You ready for this fight? It’s gonna get rough. Holly: You see that? William: What? What am I looking at? What’s… Holly: You have to ask? William: You’re right.

6 thoughts on “Freedom on Trial

  • This was great. I'm hoping someone will take events from Atlas Shrugged and do them justice one day in short bits like this. If only kids in school had to create a little business for a project and could experience first hand all the red tape. Every kid lemonade stand shut down fosters the growth of a libertarian!

  • Eh. A little cheesy, but pretty good at showing the very real disability of free thinkers to convey their ideas and articulate their arguments fort the masses. Opponents of Liberty appeal emotionally; they hit people in the heart. We can hit people over the head with every argument in the natural universe, but if it doesn't "feel" right, they will never agree with you.
    Thank you for showing this through the scenes in the court room.

    Are there any more of these?

  • Minimum wage laws will alway put the economy in a serious rutt. but very complex to understand and requires a very unselfish mind to understand why. Free enterprise is about supply and demand and no government should decide how much I should be paid!!! At the early age of 18, I decided to never get a job in my life, because I wanted to get paid according to my value to the market which only made sense. I had been offered jobs that paid hundreds of thousand per year, but even then it didn't make any sense to me. I will only get paid according to my value to a free enterprise market.

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