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Instead of Shaming the Poor, Let’s Raise the Minimum Wage


Instead of Shaming the Poor, Let’s Raise the Minimum Wage

Rebecca Vallas

Yesterday I joined Fox and Friends for what they billed, in typical Fox News fashion, as a “fair and balanced debate.” The topic was a Maine mayor’s call to publish the names and addresses of all recipients of public assistance online as a sort of “poverty-offender registry.” Mayor Robert MacDonald of Lewistown announced this ugly proposal last week in an


Great work, Ms. Vallas. Thank you for standing up to those Calvinist Ebenezer Scrooge clones without having the assistance of a ghostly body!

It's great that this issue (raising the minimum wage) is gaining support in important places. I also take some solace in the spiritual idea that these people who denied others their daily bread (out of a misplaced religious arrogance) will one day have to repent for their cruelty.


Oregon has 2 complimentary ballot measures for 2016 regarding the minimum wage. One is calling for phasing in $13.50/hourly over 24 months and the other is for phasing in $15.00/hourly over 36 months, or thereabouts. The median rent for a 1 bedroom apt in Portland, Oregon is currently, $1132 a month without utilities. Figure $ 400 each for food and healthcare, $200 for transportation and $250-350 for the rest of the whole shebang. And, a couple living in about a 780 sq.ft box have about $300 a month left over to save up ( ? ) for that white picket fenced, 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom condo they always dreamed of. And, best of all, :wink: they won't have to buy a very big fence, either.


Calvinist Ebenezer Scrooge clones?

You do have your moments madam ! :sunglasses:


It is nice to hear the historical data on how the minimum wage has worked out. I agree that people should be able to keep their American Dream as such a law implies should exist. Yet, do to the ~Free Trade~ policies of the last 20 years, for companies to the economically survive they have to cow to finding way to compete the wages, worker and environmental safety environment the foreign companies they are competing against are allowed to function in. If we are to be able to project our better standards to others there needs to be a way to balance the playing field for those generating the better standards. My personal vision for a solution is to have a universal fee on any product made anywhere that is made in a substandard conditions as our law defines it for us. The reason it needs to be a universal law is so it can be acceptable to present Free Trade laws.

Gernany's VAT tax is an example of a univeral law that effectively has a similar balancing effect. It is just not a very progressive tax, as it charges the same tax for any increase in value made, no matter how much was put into making the value increase. So an entity that puts a lot of work into generating the increase in value (and so get little profit for it) sees the same tax on their sales as one that perchance has an artistic way fancied for the day and so sell something for a high price over what material what put into making it. That way of taxing, though, puts a huge tax on imports.

Anyway, to actually project our standards to those needing it, the fees generated would need to be used to address generating the needed changes in the manufacturing environment to match our standards. To be wise, there should be no demand to make a foreign government or other entity change. Instead the simple fact that the funds are available to help them achieve a situation where the fee no longer applies is enough. Nor should the definition of matching wages (and it potential to supply various healthy and even necessary services) be so rigid that the actual wage must match. Rather, for the sake of many endeavors to preserve integrity in the community from those abusing the less enlightened; achieving a near equivalent result in effect may be considered enough to see the fee ended.

It is nice that the Chinese are now more open to using a monetary system to manage things. Though I'll have to add that I believe our present system is getting behind what should be possible these days as an ideal resource management tool. Frankly, the poor economy may even be an opportunity for such a better system to find daylight. The bottom line of what is possible in an economy is the resources available to do the job. There are both material resources and the human skill resources to be noted. Human skill can often be developed pretty quickly for redundant tasks. It is not as rigid a factor as resources can be. In any case, I've yet to note any system try to inform its people as that just what the resources per person is in their environment. The ability to transports things from where something is abundant makes this a variable answer for any given position on the planet; as the available resources for transporting things is also limited. So admittedly, this is not a simple request. Nor is this to be a foundation for demanding such a calculated estimate to become an entitlement to anyone. What I see is for competing institutions that proclaim a set of values to try to also see what is possible to functionally execute and to use records systems in place of money, if necessary, to integrate the entities available, into a better result than what is happening now. Now funds do not match the actual God given potential available. Even where endeavors fail, the record of just how things didn't work is a valuable tool to prevent it from happening again. (One definition fo insanity, I am told it to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.)

Sincerely, gdm


Raising minimum wage as you have pointed out raises aggregate demand which as a business and as an economy as a whole is the most important economic number. When the media argues against a rise in minimum wage it is presented like a zero sum situation i.e. that that increase in labor unit cost will be subtracted from the bottom line which will remain the same. In business the most important number is the top line. If your business is making, say $100,000/mo, you have certain static costs: rent, utilities, insurance, phone, internet, cable etc. that vary little. You have a minimum staff that is necessary to provide service or produce product that can be included in static costs necessary to keep the doors open. When increase in aggregate demand increases your business by say $10,000/mo your static costs remain the same so your bottom line increases. The cost of materials will increase in relation to the top line but the labor cost may not. Your minimum staff may be able to handle the increased demand but if your minimum staff cannot handle the increased volume you are left with the choice of hiring more or refusing the increased business. Since the average labor cost in small successful businesses is around 20% you would be losing $8,000/mo minus cost of supplies from your bottom line. Would you hire or would you refuse to hire because the new worker would be making more than you thought appropriate? The most important number in business is the gross (top line) and as Henry Ford is supposed to have said "If the workers can't afford to buy what they make. who will?"
To put another slant on this discussion the CPI is always used as a measuring stick. To use that for all socio-economic strata is bogus.Poor people have a different CPI as do older people than the average American. The basics are food, shelter, transportation, entertainment and education.
In 1965 the minimum wage was $1.50/hr in California and NY. An hours work would buy 10 subway rides To do that today minimum wage would have to be $25/hr. An hours work would buy 6 gallons of gas. Today minimum wage would have to be $15/hr in NYC and $18/hr in SF. To buy the 30 Hersey Bars that one hour of work could purchase in 1965, today the wage would have to be $30/hr. 40 hours of work would pay for a full years student fees at Berkeley. Today minimum wage would have to be $300/hr to do the same. You can do the same comparisons for housing and entertainment and the result will be between $20 and $30/hr minimum wage to purchase the same as could be purchased in 1965 for an hours work at minimum wage. In 1965 the economy was thriving despite the military waste in Vietnam.
I think an objective analysis of the macro economics and the real world results justify a large increase in minimum wage on the Federal level. Perhaps an increase of a dollar an hour every six months until $18/hr is reached and then $1/hr every year until $25/hr is reached. A required analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on an on going basis to determine the effects could be included to stop the increases, keep them the same or increase the rate depending on how the overall economy and employment rates are affected. That would bring some rationality into the situation and perhaps the current generation will eventually be able to make what their grandparents did.


I virtually never eat in restaurants, and don't buy much in luxury treats, but my monthly food expenses have tripled in the past twenty years, most of that coming in the last couple years.

That's all people living near or below the poverty level in America need to know about the need to raise the minimum wage...


You are leaving out of your discussion the historical low-esteem employers have towards their employees. In other words "they don't deserve to be paid much because they are just labor/employees." That attitude comes from the historical attitude that the aristocracy held in regard to the peasantry. That attitude towards "the help" has a lot to do with why employees aren't being paid living wages; business models and profit margins have little to do with it. For example: J.P. Morgan made millions, so why couldn't he afford to pay his thousands of employees more than mere starvation wages? He could have afforded to but wouldn't. Self-interest in maximizing profits by paying the employees living wages doesn't enter into the equation in regards to why employers won't pay better because historical attitudes towards employees trumps that realization. In your discussion and list of questions, you make the incorrect assumption that employers are humanists. They are not. It is more accurate to think of them as modern day equivalents of aristocracy.


I've said it here before but maybe not this group...I am disabled, it is a 24/7/365 Job...my Social Security Disability Insurance equals to $1.50 an hour...the state pays my Medicare Premium because I cannot...the state gives me "extra help" with my Part D drug insurance because I cannot afford the drugs and AARP the company that covers my Part D charges me a yearly premium and still I am refused drugs the doctors prescribe...if I made the minimum wage it would mean new clothes, food, gasoline, auto repairs on a 1989 car and a little bit of dignity...I shop at the grocery store when I know it will not be busy, I shop at used clothing stores, shoes? cannot afford them, co-pays for medical treatments? I make minimum payments and have 3 maxed-out credit cards...try living a life like this, or a single mom working 2/3/4 jobs, then come back to me with all the jingoism's from above my post.