We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Anecdotally speaking, there's probably truth in that suggestion. When I was in College & just after, I knew kids who took positions as unpaid interns & their folks floated the cost. But I also knew people who worked an unpaid internship and paying job at the same time.
In any case, I think it's pointless fretting by Progressive folk obsessed with smoothing out every kink in the economy they perceive as contrary to "social justice".
Ban them or tax the employer like they're paid and internships become the same as part-time jobs, with the same barriers to entry, such as whether job is available at all.
Certainly most all the lawyers I know who take on interns would simply stop the practice if they had to be paid, except those in the bigger law firms, and those outfits are already playing the diversity-hire game anyhow.
In any case I am not even close to convinced that unpaid internships are a vector of real and enduring social injustice, much less than I am convinced that the average Progressive can provide a definition of "social justice" that isn't pathetically self-serving to his ideological and personal aspirations.
Probably it's more a case that the pet occupations of Progressives with BA degrees don't tend to offer a stipend.
I agree that if people are willing to work at an unpaid internship, "so what". It's their right.
That said, I think it's slimy to have people provide work value to you "for the experience/exposure" - in a manner where, like the entertainment industry, the only "in" for most people is through internships - often unpaid. Minimum wage? Not necessarily. I agree that anecdotally, I've seen fields and employers that recruited heavily from unpaid internships (like a lot of people in the entertainment biz) skew a lot more to "mommy and daddy had money".
Not entirely - some do work part time as interns and have real jobs, or otherwise find an actual working "in" - but it does skew that way.
I've seen companies (and ever more of them) using internship contracts as a means to hire low wage labour. Usually low-medium tier employees, fresh out of college or university, get offered an internship for a year, sometimes longer, instead of an employment, as a way to circumvent minimum wage laws even in places like software development and other sectors that typically pay well above minimum wages.
Another benefit is that these interns are not falling under any other programs set in law or union negotiated contracts, like health insurance, pension plans, travel cost compensation, social security premiums, etc. etc.
Basically, you're getting a position filled that should cost you $60k a year for maybe $20k while retaining the revenue that $60k would have brought, and in the end leaving an employee without anything at all (no rights to pension funds, unemployment benefits, etc.etc.) when their contract ends and you kick them out for the next fresh body.
That's abuse of the internship system, which when employed as a work experience system for students is indeed a great thing to have and IMO needs no payments except compensation of cost incurred (travel cost mostly, maybe purchases of needed clothing and equipment).