A $12 Minimum Hourly Wage: Trading Cheap Happy Meals for a Happier Future

Categories: Schutze

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
All right, I've got my lanyard whistle around my neck, and I'm set for a session here. Let's hustle up out there, Lawners. Time for today's knee-jerk calisthenics.

Remember our interim motto: A knee-jerk reaction is better than not being able to feel your feet. (I'm working on shortening that.)

In today's New York Times is a long essay called, "Inequality Undermines Democracy," by Timesman Eduardo Porter.

You may recall that we used this same topic barely five days ago as a jumping off point for a big kneezercise freak-out, based on my own half-assed reading of a new book by UT-Austin (LBJ School) economist James Galbraith.

In keeping with the ethos of kneezercise, many of you were able to offer reactions that were every bit as half-assed as my original assessment, and some of you left me in your half-assed dust. I gotta tell you, we have some great knees out there in Lawnland.

Ever since Occupy, somebody somewhere talks about income inequality just about every day -- proof positive that Occupy changed the political landscape, if not for good, at least through the next election. So why get all kneezy about today's additional offering?

Well, it's a good example of how the best intentions go awry on this topic. Porter is writing from a much more balanced perspective than my own. As you known, my own point of view would always be progressive, nanny-state, bleeding-heart as hell if my heart had more blood left. But for all his greater probity, Porter still manages to toss off some unproven assertions that I think we could all get our knees into here today.

Speaking of a sharp trend toward greater income inequality in America today, Porter writes:

"There is little reason to think the trend will go into reverse any time soon, given globalization and technological change, which have weighed heavily on the wages of less educated workers who compete against machines and cheap foreign labor while increasing the returns of top executives and financiers."

norma jim.jpg
Let's go living in the past.
Umm, maybe not so fast there, Timesy. In his new book, Galbraith brings an awful lot of math to bear on knocking down that very assumption -- that it's all about technological advances, globalization and our own crappy public schools (everyone please do two quick knee-jerks and a forehead-slap).

By looking at other economies around the world, especially in northern Europe, Galbraith is able to show that nations can absorb a whole lot of iPads and cell phones without trending toward wage feudalism the way we have here. It's not like your iPad tells you to go out and snatch some money away from a homeless person every day.

Galbraith has been writing stuff for more than a decade to argue that using education as a whipping boy just doesn't fit the facts, either. He also poses some tough questions about the globalization argument.

The lowest wages in our economy go to people whose jobs can't be off-shored, he says. "You can't run a deep-fryer in Terre Haute from Bangalore," he has said.

God, I hope not.

By comparing us with other economies that have managed to maintain strong growth without an increase in inequality, he comes to the conclusion that our own trend is the result not of some inexorable randy-Randian force but of deliberate policy decisions -- bad decisions -- especially the big one in the 1970s when we decided to give up full employment as a national goal in order to fight inflation, trashing unions in the bargain.

OK, knees ready? Here is my tweet on the whistle: Galbraith says the big solution to all our woes -- everything from immigration to unemployment to what in the world to do with Sarah Palin now -- is a $12 minimum wage and stronger labor unions.

Wages. Full employment. People doing better by working. That's how the Greatest Generation did it. That's how Germany does it. That's how we can get back to glory.

Maybe Porter didn't mean this. He doesn't say it right out, but I get the feeling from his piece he thinks critics of income inequality are champions of income redistribution through tax policy as a principle solution.

Galbraith is not. In fact he has been pretty caustic about it for a long time. In 1998 he wrote: "An economy of tax slaves and debt peons is an economy of frightened and frustrated people."

But he does think public policy is the answer: "Without public solutions to the problems of life on the treadmill, and without the political parties, platforms and organizations to put them into effect, it is not surprising that people become open to the appeal of every man for himself. Ultimately, the power of this appeal will become irresistible. It is already nearly so: Witness the allergy on all sides of our politics to expanding welfare and to public investment; witness the accelerating and dangerously bipartisan assault on Social Security."

Higher minimum wage. Strong unions. Full employment. Social Security. That's the way to go. And finally -- let's get those knees up a little higher, please -- he addresses the question whether all this may raise prices:

"Would prices go up? Some would. But rich people can afford it -- and workers would have extra income to pay the higher prices, so most of them would come out ahead."

Did you hear that, Missy Rich Knees? He's talkin' about your patellas, baby! I wanta see those knees up high in the air now, people. Jerk!


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163 comments
Sbesly
Sbesly

Jim you act as if these issues are new.    Read his observations sure sounds like Dem and GOP candidates such as Perot, Heinz-Kerry, Edwards, Romney he also witnessed the buying of the mob with bribes, pork spending, etc. Watch Syria the first action of a Tyrant is to disarm the citizens and silence opposition. 

Polybius (Greek scholar) witnessed and chronicled the demise of Roman Democracy which seems to be where the US is in its democratic life.

      When a commonwealth, after warding off many great dangers, has arrived at a high pitch of prosperity and undisputed power, it is evident that, by the lengthened continuance of great wealth within it, the manner of life of its citizens will become more extravagant; and that the rivalry for office, and in other spheres of activity, will become fiercer than it ought to be.       And as this state of things goes on more and more, the desire of office and the shame of losing reputation, as well as the ostentation and extravagance of living, will prove the beginning of a deterioration. And of this change the people will be credited with being the authors, when they become convinced that they are being cheated by some from avarice, and are puffed up with flattery by others from love of office. For when that comes about, in their passionate resentment and acting under the dictates of anger, they will refuse to obey any longer, or to be content with having equal powers with their leaders, but will demand to have all or far the greatest themselves. And when that comes to pass the constitution will receive a new name, which sounds better than any other in the world—liberty or democracy—but, in fact, it will become that worst of all governments, mob-rule.

      And as long as any survive who have had experience of oligarchical supremacy and domination, they regard their present constitution as a blessing, and hold equality and freedom as of the utmost value. But as soon as a new generation has arisen, and the democracy has descended to their children's children, long association weakens their value for equality and freedom, and some seek to become more powerful than the ordinary citizens; and the most liable to this temptation are the rich. So when they begin to be fond of office, and find themselves unable to obtain it by their own unassisted efforts and their own merits, they ruin their estates, while enticing and corrupting the common people in every possible way. By which means when, in their senseless mania for reputation, they have made the populace ready and greedy to receive bribes, the virtue of democracy is destroyed, and it is transformed into a government of violence and the strong hand. For the mob, habituated to feed at the expense of others, and to have its hopes of a livelihood in the property of its neighbors, as soon as it has got a leader sufficiently ambitious and daring, being excluded by poverty from the sweets of civil honors, produces a reign of mere violence. Then come tumultuous assemblies, massacres, banishments, redivisions of land; until, after losing all trace of civilization, it has once more found a master and a despot.

Adapted from The Histories of Polybius, Vol 1., translated from the text of F. Hultsch by Evelyn S. Shuckburg. Macmillan and Co., London and New York, 1889.

donovan acree
donovan acree

We are talking about bringing minimum wage to meet the poverty level. So we are still talking about workers who will be living below the poverty line here.Economic theory aside, in the late 1960's minimum wage was enough to pay your rent and buy a car every few years. In fact, the actual data shows that when we place a freeze on the minimum wage increase, the real dollar minimum wage falls dramatically. Take a look http://oregonstate.edu/instruc...1.7 million worked at the minimum wage in 2001 while 2.2 million worked below it.Minimum wage is paid to only 2% of the work force. It's going to be pretty hard to convince me that a minor per hour increase in pay to the lowest paid 2% of the national work force is going to cause these terrible problems for our nation.Back to hard numbers - taking the worst case scenario here is what we get.Assuming your 1.7 million workers did a full 40 hours or a 2000 hour year, we paid them each $15,000 for that full years work or $112.5 billion in total. The proposed change would bring our minimum wage worker up to $24,000/year or $180 billion, a difference of $67.5 billion yearly. This is assuming your workers do a full 40 hour week with only 2 weeks off per year. So, we could reduce the amount of slave wage, below poverty line workers by a very significant amount for less than $67.5 billion a year.Right now we spend $579 billion per year on income security (programs to provide assistance to low income persons). It sounds like we could easily offset the cost of raising the minimum wage with credits from Function 600 Income Security for the first year or two while reducing the number of people needing assistance under those programs and thereby the need for such a high budget.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

When ordinary folks don't have enough money to buy stuff -- goods and services  --  business goes in the can and the economy suffers. When that happens the have-nots lose their jobs and have even less to spend. The haves somehow always manage to get by; look at the booming sales of luxury goods, even when unemployment was at a maximum. But you can't build an economy on luxury goods. You build it on the ordinary stuff ordinary folks buy and use. Computers became huge only after ordinary folks could afford them.All this seems self-evident to me, but then I'm not an economist, so maybe someone here can straighten me out. (I have avoided any arguments from justice or morality because I don't want to seem even more hopelessly geeky.)   

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

Clearly JS you long for the glory days of your home state and the Big 3. How did that work out ?

primi timpano
primi timpano

Lots of competing economics, but there must be some morality involved.  At 7.25 per hour, 52 weeks a year, 40 hours per week, you are right at the federal poverty level for a family of 2.  At some level it makes more sense to steal--politically, literally, or both-- than to work.  Morally, you should treat your employees well, economically, all of your private property is the target of your enemy.

pak152
pak152

In North Dakota in the Bakken shale fields Mcdonalds is paying over $15 an hour http://youtu.be/HEi0b7CFDHI

let the free market determine the minimum wage for a job

james
james

but then mcdonalds couldn't feed you a greaseburger for a dollar anymore.

james
james

ever' time they raise minimum wage, ever'thing else goes up, so if you work for mimimum wage you will be deeper in poverty.

SixthFloor1500Marilla
SixthFloor1500Marilla

How about this. (Wait, first apologies again for working where using my name is forbidden, lest I be cast out to search for a minimum wage job.)Carolyn Davis and our very own Sixth Floor is having another Lookee Here We're Great navel gaze at the showcase Bexar Street Project tomorrow night, 6pm, Rhoads Church at the corner of Macon and Bexar.

Research opportunity for reporter tryouts. So how about attending (it'll be daylight). Ask anyone you see if they'd like a minimum wage job. Any job. Heck, ask them if they'll take less than minimum wage. Ask any teenager if they've ever had a job. If they have any hope of a summer job? If they would sweep floors, wash windows, mow lawns, sling burgers, build trails? Take any job for any money? Or if they are keeping themselves purt for the $12 jobs. Look around and ask anyone, any age, who is NOT City staff or a pastor if they have a job? Pastors don't count, they probably don't even live in the area. THEN, while Housing and Ms Davis nearly piss themselves over our latest Bexar Project media event on April 28. Look around at the $30millions of your HUD dollars, bond dollars, street dollars in vacant, half-built buildings and ask how many jobs, partime jobs, jobs training, any job at any wage those dollars meant to the community? Ask how much public funds subsidized each of those brownstones, as dear Jerry Killingsworth loving calls them. And the new vacant home on Hooper? Over a year old, never occupied, 100% public dollars to build it. With 100% public funds, any locals get a job?

THEN, pull out the DO story from last April where DO nearly pisses itself over CoolWhiteGuys from OakLawn with Cool Ideas come to save the poor folks with a thowaway DISD portable classroom, without proper zoning or permit. (That's a favored DO narrative, "CoolWhiteGuys save poor people guerilla style.") And while at least $300,000 in City funds plus some free lots have since been given to CoolWhiteGuys, after a year it is still a boarded up old DISD building sitting there. Do CoolWhite Guys from Oak Cliff make minimum wage? Do they hire anyone from the neighborhood or do they even speak anyone in the neighborhood who is not a pastor? (If they weren't so darned cool and white DO could ask about the other $850,000 they got in City funds, but that's another failure story for another day).

THEN, look across the street at the unopened Barber Shop and Ice Cream Shop. Same as last April too. DO took photos. You could do a little research in the ROAM feature of the Dallas County records and learn about Mechanic's Liens, and wasted City HUD CDBG and HOME funds. Unpaid property taxes. And you could ask that nice white guy owner/builder from Plano how he won the 'bid' for any City project when he didn't have any matching funds? And you could ponder: if a vendor files a Mechanic's Lien and collects nothing, is that still minimum wage?

Oh yes, THEN, to the reason for the latest April 28 celebration, the glorious mixed-use project. Vacant apartments up top, vacant office at ground level built by owner of Big Daddy's Beer and Wine just a short hip hop down Bexar. Now our latest celebration taget also has tens of thousands of Mechanic's liens but that didn't stop us last year. Besides Housing held back over a half a million in HUD dollars budgeted to People Helping People. Just didn't spend it and 'reprogrammed' it. Walking around money sitting in Housing's shoe. So now PHP can move it's offices AND PAY RENT to Big Daddy, and even maybe payoff mechanic liens too. After all, we would not want the Sheriff's Office to have to come padlock the new PHP and DPD substation before it gets good and opened up. And besides, for building a fine mixed-use building and not a tattoo parlor or beer store, Big Daddy will be rewarded more City help and land to expand Big Daddy's. A little vagrancy, loitering, hanging, stealing is just fine as long as it's not around vacant barber shops, ice cream parlors, CoolWhiteGuy stuff, etc. all paid for with your City Hall dollars.

Look, I know, this is a rant and a stretch. If you made it this far, thank you for your forbearance. Here is the point, it does NOT matter if the minimum wage is doubled. The Bexar wage is zero. It does not matter if Uplift is better or worse than a TAG school. The school here is closed. Leave your left/right comfort zone and go take a look. It is remarkably uncomplicated. Take the dollars the public blesses you with and do not give it to an old cracker hack banker to hand out to his friends. Do not give it to CoolWhiteGuys from Oak Cliff. Do not give it to old (or young) pastors (any race). Do not give it to do-gooders from North Dallas who saw Waiting for Superman and felt called to start a mission and/or want to start job training programs for installing solar panels on moonian rayguns. Give the funds to folks with audited financials, real tax returns, track records, and hey, how about this, matching funds.

RTGolden
RTGolden

After a bit of crash-Googling, I discover two things.  This area of debate is far more complex than JimS, Phelps, or anyone else is making out to be.  I also find not a single peer-reviewed study showing a correlation between a minimum wage rise and unemployment rise.

Failing at GoogleU, I instead apply observation and experience to the puzzle, and ......

become more puzzled.

My own income has remained rock-steady from 2004-present day.  This is mainly because I am employed in a small business with thin margins.  Operating costs go up and take a bigger bite out of our available profit.  So, no raises.My purchasing power has decreased, and by looking at my budget, this is caused by two factors:  Increasing fuel prices and increasing food prices.  One is the result of relentless capitalism squeezing the consumer for every available penny of profit it can, and the other is a result of a massive government social program keeping the cost of basic agricultural goods artificially high.

As for raising the minimum wage, I have only two questions:

A) Is it fair to assume that a person making $7.25/hr can afford the bare essentials for survival across the nation?  I think not, and 24 cities across the nation feel the same way and have enacted livable wage laws.  These laws set the minimum wage in their city at a level determined to be able to support a person with the bare essentials.  I think a livable wage law makes more sense than a minimum wage law. (Note: bare essentials do not include flat-panel TV's, Iphones, bamboo bicycles, or cover charges at trendy nightclubs).

B) Would raising the minimum wage really send that many more jobs overseas?  I would think most factory jobs are not minimum wage jobs, so those jobs shouldn't be affected by a rise in the minimum wage floor.  As has been mentioned previously in this thread, most of your minimum wage jobs are of the type that can't be done offshore: lawn care/landscaping, fast food industry, janitorial, etc.  If, as the arguments go, the minimum wage increase and resulting price increase are a net zero, how could the wage increase lead to an increase in unemployment?

JimS
JimS

Redgreen whatever below thinks America has never been smart enough to produce prosperity through policy and that everything the nation accomplished in the last century was the dumb luck of war and blood money. Anybody else notice that this brand of randy conservative is profoundly unpatriotic, not to say fundamentally anti-American? Same folks I guess who swiftboated John Kerry for being a war hero.

Phelps
Phelps

If you are trying to raise a family on minimum wage, you have well and truly fucked up your life.  There is no other way to put it.  You have squandered every opportunity.

Min wage is for people just starting in the workforce.  Teenagers.  Housewives with side jobs.  It's not for bread-winners.  If you have been unable to climb above min wage, you are either an invalid, or barely employable.

Redbrickgreenlight
Redbrickgreenlight

That is some twisted logic. You choose to use the poverty line for a family of 2 - but do not utilize two incomes. Yes, it is true that a full time minimum wage job currently pays $15,080 annually - just a smidge above the poverty line for a family of 2, which is $14,710. However, your logic is disingenuous because in every practical situation this would be a two income household, which even at the minimum would add another $15,080 to the kitty - over $30K total - not great, but well above the poverty line for 2.

There are good arguments for an incremental adjustment to the minimum wage. I support a move to the $8.25/$8.50 range to adjust for the devaluation of the dollar and real inflation (not the BS published by the govt). You do not need to rely upon disingenuous arguments and prey on fear of the hungry mobs roaming the streets trying to steal our iPads and Prius because they float at the poverty line (which isn't even likely true).

scottindallas
scottindallas

 because there they have a shortage of housing and workers.  Hardly a national policy. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

false.  It's been shown to increase absolute demand.  Cause the wealthy are unaffected but the working poor get real raises.  

scottindallas
scottindallas

a raise in minumum wage would increase aggregate demand, and perhaps have a chance of filling these vacant buildings. 

Phelps
Phelps

Not only is there a correlation, it is a stronger correlation for black teenagers.

Not only are minimum wage laws regressive, they are racially regressive.

http://epionline.org/studies/e... 

scottindallas
scottindallas

I'd suggest that both food and gas are driven by speculation and the Commodities Futures Modernization Trade Act.  This made is illegal to regulate speculation in our commodities markets. 

I'll tell you that even illegals want $9/hour minimum.  So, raising minimum wage to $10/hr should be about the market minimum.  (as illegals get to keep all their money, (no withholding) and are the most disadvantaged workers in our economy.)

JimS
JimS

Yes, RT, life is very complicated. Glad to be of assistance on that breakthrough for you.

Phelps
Phelps

And Jim thinks that America has never been smart enough to produce prosperity through hard work, innovation, and risk taking and that everything the nation accomplished in the last century was through government policy.

Except that he really doesn't think that, and is only saying the other shit because he's painted himself into a corner.

Piqtoe
Piqtoe

Yeesh. This is bad. Even if the people you are arguing with are wrong, they are at least trying to have a thoughtful conversation about economics. You are babbling about Kool-Aid, patriotism, and John Kerry. Why do you keep making up dumb arguments for people that they didn't actually say? Like this stuff about slavery or blood money. That's a weird thing to do, bro. Do you just not understand economics all that well? I remember when I wasn't good at a subject I'd just write random things and hope the teacher gave me credit.

Arm-a-Dildo
Arm-a-Dildo

 There it is, ladies and gentleman.  The GOP noise machine.  Breed 'em, bleed 'em but don't feed 'em.  If your life didn't turn out as well as mine, tough shit, try not to muss my BMW as I drive over your sorry ass.  Knew if I waited it out, Phelps would take off the sheet.

Redbrickgreenlight
Redbrickgreenlight

To follow up on that point - I worked minimum wage jobs before. Most of the employees are utterly terrible. It does not take much to shine in this positions. Any industry that actually is forced to carry a statistic for "No Call/No Shows" and is forced to give their employees a certain number of free passes where they did not show up and didn't bother to call in is scraping the bottom of the barrel for effective workforce. My experience is that anyone who shows up on time and does their job reasonably effectively will be given raises fast and will be a supervisor in no time. Make no bones about it  - anyone who is working minimum wage for a lengthly period of time has earned the wage they receive by being a terrible and irresponsible employee.

scottindallas
scottindallas

the poverty line is bullshit.  That is an arbitrary figure that is set so that a minimum wage worker will be above it.  It is essentially a tautology.

Sa
Sa

"However, your logic is disingenuous because in every practical situation this would be a two income household, which even at the minimum would add another $15,080 to the kitty - over $30K total - not great, but well above the poverty line for 2."

Umm...what about single parents who aren't receiving child support from the noncustodial parent?

pak152
pak152

 yup supply and demand"More than 6,000 job-seekers have packed their bags and headed to the small northern U.S. town with a normal population of just 3,000. Some of the newly arrived are currently homeless, since last year only 2,000 new housing units were built. This is not nearly enough to sustain the influx. Yet more come in droves each day."http://mjperry.blogspot.com/20...

"The only choices for North Dakota rental units are: a) market prices that accurately reflect the underlying market forces of supply, and transmit accurate and truthful information about the relative scarcity of rental housing, or b) artificially low rental prices enforced by government edict that do not reflect real market conditions and transmit inaccurate and untruthful information about the relative scarcity of rental housing.  "http://mjperry.blogspot.com/20... here is how the housing shortage is being taken care of http://bismarcktribune.com/new...

Phelps
Phelps

Exactly the point.  I think you've got it now.

pak152
pak152

 and that is the free market at work. supply and demand. classic example if you look at the history of the minimum wage it was established in the 1930s as a way to protect union wages as well as being a discriminatory weapon. Unions went to the federal government (no surprise there) and demanded the minimum wage because poor white and blacks from the South were migrating to the north and were willing to work for less than the minimum wage. Housing prices in the Bakken especially Williston are increasing because the supply is limited. Now to relieve that oil companies are bringing mobile housing and setting up camps. Many people are moving to the area because of the wages.

Another fallacy of the calls for a minimum wage increase is that one can't live on the minimum wage when in actuality very few people stay at the minimum wage as they gain pay increases as they acquire new skills

the problem with the minimum wage is that it locks unskilled labor out of the labor market. If you have no work skills why should you get paid $7.50 an hour when an employer can hire someone else at say $10 an hour who has a whole load of work skills needed by the business?

pak152
pak152

 could you provide clear, objective sources that show that an increase in the minimum wage increases demand?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Breeze through any version of the Omnibus Farm bill if you'd like to see how the government keeps food prices artificially high by bowing to big agriculture's demands for parity.  Whole-herd buyouts for the dairy industry, buy and burn programs for grains and citrus.  There are crop-insurance programs, acreage reduction programs, hell, even don't farm programs.  Many of these programs also fly in the face of modern knowledge concerning soil and water conservation, encouraging mono-cropping and the planting of highest yielding crops instead of most evironmentally suited crops.

Speculation does indeed have a lot to do with raising food prices, but the Agriculture Industry has had its teeth firmly clamped on the public teat for over 100 years now, and isn't about to let go.

Phelps
Phelps

I think Steve blow hacked his account.

JimS
JimS

Piqtoe, it's called owning up to the necessary and logical consequences of your own argument. Redgreen dismisses the longest sustained boom based on productivity in history as dumb luck based on the consequences of war. That writes off an entire era of incredible productivity and creativity in America. I'm sorry, but that's a crap view of this country's history. It's profoundly anti-American and it expresses a profoundly unpatriotic unAmerican theme in recent Republican politics, as illustrated in the John Kerry swiftboating saga. The argument that any wage increase at the bottom harms the economy is just stupid. It is, in effect, an argument for slavery. Someone else suggested that tyranny and slavery are "efficient." Those words are worth a thousand pictures. Oh, yeah, that's why slavery and tyranny always worked out so well. No, an efficient social system is based on strong trust relationships. You ain't got trust, you ain't got shit. I don;t think you have to be an Einstein to get that. And trust relationships depend entirely on basic social equity. You people have let yourselves get Rush-bummed into an addiction to a belief system that amounts to not believing in  democracy, which is not believing in America. If you're unhappy with that, join a 12-steps program or something.

JimS
JimS

It's called a mirror, Piqtoe. I can understand why you hate it so.

Ian_Smith
Ian_Smith

Jim just writes down any brainfart 'zinger' that happens to pass through his increasingly senile mind.

Phelps
Phelps

So do you think that when a racist comes in and makes a comment that ends with calling someone a n- that we should try to look at the "bulk" of thier comment? Fuck that. Casual accusations of racism are as bad as casual racism. I won't abide them, and I won't bother trying to understand the rest of thier filth.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 that's not the bulk of his point. 

The real question is how I got back into this thread.  I think my daughter somehow opened it. 

Phelps
Phelps

Sheet is a klan reference. I know when I'm being called a racist. Fuck you too for being an apologist for race batters. You give these scum moral justification.

scottindallas
scottindallas

his comment wasn't based on race, but classism

Phelps
Phelps

Right, because I don't think that people should be encouraged to flip burgers their whole life and try to raise a family that way, that makes me a racist.

Fuck you in the most complete way possible, you race baiting piece of shit.

scottindallas
scottindallas

They're harder working.  I think Jim knows he's part of the lazy middle class.  The poor bust ass for their money.  There's a lot of people who make good money, and don't seem to do much work.  

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Generally, I was in your corner in this fight until you dropped into your anti-middle-class song and shuffle. Come on, Jim. In case you haven't noticed, you ARE middle class, right down to your journalist's computer-whacking knuckles. Everything else is pretense and reverse snobbery, nasty instincts that spoil your best writing again and again."I have worked lots of minimum wage jobs," indeed! And some of your best friends are working stiffs. I call bullshit, Jim, bullshit and worse. Yeah, you worked minimum wage jobs. So did most of us, one time or another. Does that give us entry into the ranks of the working poor? The working poor are no more wise, authentic, honest, forthright, on the whole than the rest of us. They're just more put upon. Defend them, that's good. Advocate an end to their exploitation, that's very good. But stop patronizing them and insulting your readers.

JimS
JimS

Funny, I have worked lots of minumum wage jobs, and I always found most of the people I worked with a cut above your GCB middle class types -- less given to kissing ass for a living, more generous to those in need, more able to decide things for themselves without looking over their shoulders. An awful lot of "success" in this country means having some  money. Not even a lot. People live in a Hummer tract house, and they think they're aristocracy.  Then they decide they're geniuses. More often they're suck-up jokes who couldn;t go out and scratch up a buck on the street if their lives depended on it. Put me in a life boat, I'll take the minumum wagers to the salary sissies any day.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Those subsidies are subsidies for the employers.  The employers should be forced to pay what it takes to live.  From a libertarian perspective, if we image these subsidies vanished these workers would better appreciate the price/value of their labor.  And, paying them more, pushing the pay schedule along will lift many off of these benefits.  Likewise, those slightly above them will also enjoy an acceleration of pay, furthering this virtuous cycle. 

Redbrickgreenlight
Redbrickgreenlight

As pointed out below, this whole line of reasoning is drivel because so few ppl actually hold full time jobs at minimum wage, but to answer your question - such person who is raising a child at minimum wage full time would equally have the income augmented considerably by the generosity of the taxpayer. Such a person would qualify for: food stamps, WIC benefits, Section 8 subisidies for housing, CHIP health care for the children, Medicaid for themselves, and would be taxed at a negative rate for earned income credit up to $3,094 annually for tax year 2011. Thus, the single parent actually working full time at minimum wage receives considerable subsidies that would keep them well about the $14,071 poverty line for the year. I am not saying that is wrong - I have no problem with such benefits. I am pointing the disingenousness of claiming that anyone who works full time for minimum wage is likely looking at a gun store and coming to take your stuff out of desperation. These are people who are fed, have health care, a roof over their heads. Not ideal at all - but also not riot inducing either. Our notion of poverty is so skewed in this country. Travel to the colonias district in Juarez sometime. You will see desperate people. Our nation's poorest citizens suffer from an epidemic of obesity. Pretty sure the rest of the world sees that as oxymoronic.

Phelps
Phelps

What about them?  If you want to bitch about the child support system, that's a different thread.

scottindallas
scottindallas

as a policy matter, raising the minimum wage would raise consumption and GDP.  Your stats don't look at how many would get a raise if minimum wage were increased, as they are barely above minimum wage.  (you failed to note this group)  Employers often pay 25c over minimum wage, a group your analysis would utterly miss.

Mickister
Mickister

 The last time I saw the statistics was a few years ago, but at the time, most minimum wage workers were students and young people working part-time who did not depend on their own income to live.  That means that raising minimum wage would be a highly inefficient way of helping poor families as most of the help would probably actually be going to suburban families with teenage or young adult kids working part-time after school.

The percentage of single parents making minimum wage is very low.  Less than 3% of the workforce makes minimum wage, and of those making minimum wage, less than 10% are single parents.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 I agree those are problematic, and need to capped and scaled down or out.  Food production should be a free market, our channeling so much through a few companies exacerbates the utility nature of farming.  Sadly, most of the subsidies go to Monsanto, ADM and Con-Agra. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

 here's where you're confused.   Even under Ike the effective tax rate barely budged above 20%.  Higher tax rates simply drives capital to deductible avenues, hiring, expansion, reinvestment, advertising... all those are more productive than giving the owner/management more cash to blow.

NatWu
NatWu

Actually I don't see where he requested an example of such. But that would certainly be a better example. However, now that I see where you're going, I would point out that the Cherokee put their trust in a nation they weren't part of. And by "trust", I mean bribes to American politicians and payments to lobbyists and journalists for favorable representation. Unfortunately, it could never be enough.

What Schutze was actually saying was that if you believe in America at all, you believe in democracy. If you don't, you're really un-American. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

His request wasn't relevant to the thread, my comment was in response to his request for an example of where trust could be seen to be taken to perverse limits with detrimental effect.  I gave such an example.  Another example could be those people who worked tirelessly for years and years for corporations, contributing to a pension plan, trusting that the company was doing its part to shepherd their contributions into a suitable retirement.  We know how most of those employer sponsored pensions panned out.

Is that example relevant enough for you? 

NatWu
NatWu

And you didn't figure that it should be? It kind of goes unspoken.

RTGolden
RTGolden

He asked for an example of Trust being taken to perverse extremes.  He didn't specify the situation in question had to be relevant to this article or thread.

Parisrec
Parisrec

Yeah i'll send another 5 million to  the irs...i paid my share. Confiscfate someone else's money

scottindallas
scottindallas

 the democracy argument is as old as the divide between Jefferson and Hamilton.  Namely, Jefferson was a democrat, and believed in some sense of equal footing before the law (and in policy); where Hamilton was much more into "meritocracy"

scottindallas
scottindallas

asst manager at a fast food restaurant IS NOT management. 

Actually, one of the biggest factors for our post WW2 success was our tax rates.  Imagine, we had a top marginal tax rate of 94% (this nearly full-fills the reducteo ad absurdum challenge of 100%)   Now, the effective tax rate never budged much above 20%.  That means that vast sums of capital were driven into deductible avenues--avenues such as reinvestment, R&D, hiring, pensions, expansion...  See, there's a difference between gross and net profits (though you'd never know it by talking to a macro economist)  Profitable firms will simply avoid taxes by reinvesting and spending.  Now, I'd rather a firm spend than allowing the corporate execs to squander the money on golden trashcans and shower curtains (Richard Scruchy) 

High tax rates encourage capital intensive investment, as these are favored by higher nominal rates.  Not only are dollars diverted from gross profits to reduce net profits; but there is an additional incentive to invest in capital intensive equipment to capture depreciation.  Depreciation is more lucrative under higher tax rates.  So, there is a double incentive to invest in capital intensive production under higher tax rates.

Now, lets reflect on our economy since Reagan, and rates literally dropping from 70%  to 15%.  We've seen our two greatest manufacturers move into finance.  Finance is another of the capital lite fields that grow under low tax rates.  Why invest vast sums into production, when shuffling paper is just as lucrative?  That's why finance, professions, lobbying, off-shoring, outsourcing and other capital lite production is encouraged under nominally lower rates.  (again, remember that the EFFECTIVE tax rate hasn't varied by 5% over this historical period, so nominal rates are nothing like effective rates.  I argued this with Alice Rivlin, from the CBO--but the CBO has to treat high tax rates like low ones, nominal rates are assumed to be effective rates, this explains her/their ignorance. 

I've argued this point with 50 MBAs from Harvard, Kellogg (NWern) Columbia, Wharton, Stanford, SMU and UT; none could refute my point.  Every acct and small businessman has to grudgingly admit I'm right.  Those that aren't convinced are left muttering the non-sensical low tax slogans sophists have been feeding them for 40 years.  These people at least have a self serving reason to support these oligarchical policies, but what's your excuse? 

Grow GDP, demand higher top nominal tax rates now!  These are the most benign taxes in the economy--we should raise these before we move to regressive alternatives like VATs, consumption taxes, fees and any suggestions to broaden the tax base.

Payroll tax payers have subsidized the income tax payers to the tune of $2.2 trillion dollars.  It's offensive that they dare complain that the income tax payers are over taxed.  Now that it's time for them to pay their share, they want to talk of haircuts.  It's unjust, and worst of all, it's bad economic policy.  High taxes have kept Germany reinvesting in itself, and kept it an exporting powerhouse.  We need higher nominal tax rates--they won't fix our budget problems, but it will do more to grow GDP, increase  capital intensive production and balance our trade.

NatWu
NatWu

So...is the US the Cherokee Nation now or what? I don't get what you're saying. Nice shout to to Cherokee history though. Unfortunately, I don't think it's relevant. 

Redbrickgreenlight
Redbrickgreenlight

Apparently any effort at pragmatic discussion is "unpatriotic." I am simply pointing out a reality of our position in the world in the immediate postwar world. Now is that an inconvenient of a truth as global warming?

You cannot have a pragmatic discussion of economic policy if we constantly look to the halycon days of the 1950s as some kind of a baseline. You have to recognize that global factors were at work that gave us a massive competitive advantage that allowed for us to maintain an industrialized society in an era of global economic trade despite our relatively high wages. Any failure to recognize such isn't unpatriotic - it is ignorance.

This doesn't dismiss the achievements made by Americans during this period of largesse. On the contrary, we made the most of it. But you cannot continue to view this era as "normal." It lasted only 20 years. The republic has existed for over 230. America had a class system prior to the war. It has inevitably returned to one after the postwar boom ended. Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in 1965 - it has proven as successful as the war on drugs. Should we throw in the towel? Of course not.  Should there be a modest increase in the minimum wage? Perhaps. $12 an hour seems extreme - that represents an annual full time wage of almost $25,000 a year (probably damn close to newbies at Village Voice Media). That approaches the current pay rate for assistant management at many chain franchises. Paying the entire workforce close to current management pay will increase prices. In construction trades, the demand for undocumented labor would likely explode.

My point was we have to debate these issues from a place of pragmatism. You want to place the nation on the best footing possible. You want to fight poverty effectively. You have to play under 21st Century rules and stop trying to re-create conditions that will likely never resurface.

BTW, swiftboating??? Really???

RTGolden
RTGolden

Treaty of Tellico, 1798, 1804, 1805, and 1805 again (one day later).  All treaties in which the Cherokee nation was guaranteed that their lands would not be ceded to the US.  All treaties in which the Cherokee nation had to cede land to the US.  Preceded and followed by more treaties in which the Cherokee Nation, despite living up to their end of the bargains and trusting the US would do the same, had to cede land to the US.  Trust, taken to a perversely extreme level (Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results - Einstein), becoming detrimental instead of beneficial.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Is this the first time you've ever read Schutze?

JimS
JimS

Well, Piqtoe, if you're going to say stuff like, "a lot of economics is luck," then don't go on to suggest that you are invoking "classical economics." By economics, do you mean money? That's a different use of the word. And, no, I'm not conflating social efficiency with morality. You are. I am saying tyranny and slavery are inneficient on a strictly pragmatric basis, because they have instability written into them. The ultimate self-interest is equity. I thought John Locke pretty well settled that. You're camouflaging utterly unreasonable assertions in a tone of faux dispassion, but it still shows. Like your suggestion that trust can be "taken to perversely extreme levels." How about a for-instance on that one doctor? 

Piqtoe
Piqtoe

I won't redo it, but some other people here already pointed out that slavery isn't the logical end to their arguments.

A lot of economics is "luck" if that's the word we're going with. Much of economic prosperity comes down to geography, opportunity, timing, and other factors not in our control. That's not to say that Americans weren't also creative and productive during that time. An honest reading of the comment from the person who posted that would not preclude those as possibilities. Your use of words like "writes off" and "anti-American" suggests an emotional or narrative dynamic that history cannot provide.

Comparing swiftboating and classical economics is just wrong. There are plenty of moderates and libertarians who believe in classical economics who do not believe swiftboating was proper. The two are unrelated issues.

You then say we're claiming "any" wage increase at the bottom harms the economy. We're not saying that. We're saying a drastic, artificial increase harms the economy. It proves nothing if you recreate weaker versions of people's arguments and then attack those.

Tyranny and slavery are, in some ways, extremely efficient. We're not conflating efficiency with morality. I don't know why you continue to choose to do so. Nearly any value, when taken to an extreme, can become detrimental. Even "trust", the value you mention, can be taken to perversely extreme levels.

I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh. I don't know how thinking $12 minimum wage means I listen to Limbaugh, but those are the kinds of leaps you're making today. I also don't know how not believing in democracy got in here. Honestly, that's a completely different subject that I don't want to get into right now. I'm not arrogant enough to say I know I'm right about this subject, but I'm genuinely stunned by the lack of humility, class, and inellectual rigor you are displaying.

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