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The paradoxical meanness of the minimum wage...

Discussion in 'OBOB General Politics Forum' started by Michie, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Michie

    Michie Manipulation Resistance Team Supporter CF Ambassador

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    The issue of pay disparities between the CEO of any company and it’s “front end” employees is one of those fights I leave to others, like Moses; I am never sure if people are seriously suggesting there should be no difference, salary-wise, between them, or if they’re just trying to make a point.


    The paradoxical meanness of the minimum wage...
     
  2. Maynard Keenan

    Maynard Keenan Well-Known Member

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    I'm confused. The author doesn't seem to be very good at clearly communicating the intended message, so I'm having trouble figuring out what opinion the author has. It almost seems like this argues that people would make more money if there weren't a minimum wage before going on to point out that if we took away the minimum wage we could get more people hired because they'd make less money.
     
  3. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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    He says that prior to minimum wage laws, smart employers knew that tha better workforce by paying well.

    Does this guy know why there was such pressure for things like minimum wage laws.

    And does he really think that people who point out the wage gap are saying all jobs should pay the same.

    I cannot really trust his insight given comments like that.
     
  4. KatherineS

    KatherineS New Member

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    The Catholic Church says America needs a higher minimum wage.
     
  5. AMDG

    AMDG Tenderized for Christ

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    Looks like finally someone is realizing that telling businesses what will be their minimum wage (instead of allowing businesses the freedom to hire and promote and raise salaries to the worth of the work provided (which used to be a matter of regular promotions and now is not.) For some unknown reason, raising of the "minimum wage" almost guarantees that the business will be encouraged to be less generous with the unskilled than they used to be.

    Somehow I feel it sad that an increased minimum wage is that it makes it more likely that people without the skills of a particular business will be simply be less likely to be employed and that means that youth unemployment will simply be up and that "catch 22" of not being able to get a job simple because on inexperience yet not be able to get experience will be exacerbated. I just think it's sadder still that in raising the "minimum wage" a business might well be forced to simply fire someone because he simply doesn't provide work worthy of what he's being paid.

    I feel it sad because the minimum wage was intended to help not hurt, but as they say "the road to 'h-e-double hockey sticks' is built with good intentions." Sure wish folks would think about the unintended consequences of their actions. Maybe this article is a start...
     
  6. Fantine

    Fantine Dona Quixote

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    We are subsidizing employers who pay their employees the minimum wage (which I believe is $7.25 an hour). Someone working 40 hours a week at minimum wage earns $14,700 a year (if they work 50 weeks a year).

    If you look at the Earned Income Tax Credit PDF:

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p596.pdf

    you will see that families can earn up to $46,000 (with three children) and get the EITC.

    There are an awful lot of working single parents out there who could get the EITC making quite a bit more than minimum wage.

    And so who pays for a low minimum wage? You and I do, with our taxes.

    And yet Republicans are against raising the minimum wage (they'd rather do away with the EITC, of course).
     
  7. Needing_Grace

    Needing_Grace Chief of Sinners

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    So, what you're basically saying is that the law of the marketplace should have absolute primacy over human labor.
     
  8. AMDG

    AMDG Tenderized for Christ

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    No. What I am saying is that the very law--minimum wage--that was intended to help, has an unintended consequence of hurting--hurting the dignity of the worker who finds that his services are not worth that minimum wage and so he is fired or never given a chance to begin with. And I am saying that it is sad that the minimum wage causes increased unemployment especially for the unskilled. I am also saying that it causes a "catch 22" of can't get a job without experience and can't get experience without a job.

    Think the article was starting to bring this out when it notes that business aren't as generous as they used to be *because* of the minimum wage.
     
  9. KatherineS

    KatherineS New Member

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    Well, you are going against over a century of Catholic Social Teaching about the modern economy. The Church does teach that the law of the marketplace should not have absolute primacy over human labor and that labor has dignity.

    The Church teaches that by natural law, labor is the means to self-sufficiency. A man offers his labor to a boss in exchange for the wage that allows him and his family to have those things necessary for a dignified life. Men have different levels of skills and abilities and it is just to offer a higher wage for greater skills. The boss is entitled to profit because he should have the skills of organizing work so that the worker produces a product that allows payment of a just wage to the worker and profit for the boss.

    But even an unskilled worker is giving the totality of the brawn of his back and the sweat of his brow to the boss for 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year is to have the basics for human life and dignity. And for that reason, we have the minimum wage. If the boss cannot produce a decent wage and a profit from taking the labor of a worker, it is the boss who has failed, not the worker.

    Every man's labor is worth a living wage and you claim that some people are not due a fair wage is against Catholic teachings.
     
  10. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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    yes, this.

    In a system where there are many workers and few bosses, it is necessary to put the main responsibility for making the job itself productive to the boss. The boss is the one setting the parameters for the job, integrating it into the total business plan. The worker has little or no influence at that, his main role is to do what the boss has asked him to to the best of his ability.

    In the case of the self-employed, an individual can choose to do work that pays less than a living wage, if he wants to. i do that, I watch a child and make about $2 an hour, and that works for me for a number of reasons. If it was no longer adequate, i would need to change the parameters of the job.

    The mistake of those who think the employee can just go get another job, or improve his skills, is that in a capitalist system, workers do not have the ability to affect the types of jobs available in the marketplace in a significant way. It is the capitalists - the owners of the jobs - who on a large level determine the types of positions available.

    That is why we have things like minimum wage laws. It is a way of reigning in the power of the capitalist to determine the ultimate nature of the marketplace. Because the marketplace alone can only take account of monetary values, not human values.

    If we want to insert human values - like, say, the dignity of human work - we need to manage the nature of the marketplace in some way. Minimum wage laws are a way of stopping capitalists from creating a glut of jobs that do not treat human work with dignity.

    And that is what has happened historically when we don't have those kinds of controls - working conditions have been abusive and immoral.

    I have no clue where people get the idea that under laissez faire policies things were great for workers.
     
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  11. AMDG

    AMDG Tenderized for Christ

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    Probably from actual cases. You know, the young inexperienced teen that convinces the employer to "just take a chance", works hard and learns, and so is promoted (and given a raise based on job performance) time and time again (in short order) until he gains the experience he needs and is finally "in demand". Also it's probably from folks who have actually been "let go" because well-intentioned legislators raised the minimum wage not thinking of unintentional consequences (while the employer had money to pay for two employees, with a newer higher "minumum wage", the employer can only hire one employee.)

    There have been a number of folks who started out "in the mail room" or "bussing tables" and rose through the ranks to be successful. A number of people note that they would never have been successful if they hadn't been given that "chance". And it should be noted that that "chance" is almost like the apprenticeships of years, and years ago. You know a master craftsman is one who has the experience and IMO *should* be paid far more than an entry level employee who is still needs to learn "the ropes".

    It's taking awhile, but it looks like articles (like this one that is linked to) is starting to realize it.
     
  12. KatherineS

    KatherineS New Member

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    Actually, AMDG, what you wrote has little to no relation to the real world of economics. Most minimum wage workers are not new entrants to the labor market who quickly move on to a living wage. And much of minimum wage work is devoid of any training that actually enables a worker to move to skilled work.

    The Catholic Church teaches us that work should hav dignity and lead to the ability to support oneself and one's family. That is why basic minimal standards should exist, according to the Church.

    And your comment of "apprenticeships of years, and years ago" further shows how out of touch you are with the world of modest wage work. We still have apprenticeship programs. They teach real skills and allow for real advancement while paying a living wage and organizing work so that it is profitable to the employer. That is the right way to do it, not by undermining fair labor standards as the Right-Wing would do.
     
  13. Fantine

    Fantine Dona Quixote

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    Many minimum wage jobs are in small rural areas where there are few if any opportunities for upward mobility.

    I lived in one such place, a small college town in South Dakota. My hubby commuted 30 miles to his job, so he was not involved with the local workforce. I taught piano so I made $20 an hour for the hours I worked.

    But at one point two companies wanted to share a large building to operate two customer service centers, paying the munificient sum of $8 an hour (this was in the 1990's). The Chamber of Commerce was up in arms because the local businessmen were afraid that they would have to stop paying their employees the minimum wage.

    I couldn't believe it. Didn't they realize that these companies, employing 600 people, would result in more shopping, more customers for them? Didn't they realize that people with a little more money in their pockets would bring them more business?

    So yeah, AMDG, the local Chamber of Commerce wasn't taking all their minimum wage employees and training them for bigger and better things....they were trying to prevent the bigger and better things from moving in.

    Fortunately they did not succeed.
     
  14. Tallguy88

    Tallguy88 Theology Category Supervisor Staff Member Supervisor Supporter CF Ambassador

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    I work at Walmart for just over minimum wage. I've been with the company for about 4 years and have never made enough to live on my own and pay all my bills. Working 40 hours a week, I barely brought home more than $500 a check. Now, with cut hours, I bring home less than $400 a check, on average. An increase in the minimum wage of $1 would help. Arkansas is considering it right now.
     
  15. Fantine

    Fantine Dona Quixote

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    I hope things improve for you soon, TallGuy. With four years' experience you can hopefully find a job that values your skills and work ethic more.
     
  16. Tallguy88

    Tallguy88 Theology Category Supervisor Staff Member Supervisor Supporter CF Ambassador

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    Thanks. I'm in the process of joining the Air Force. So, my prospects are definitely looking up.
     
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  17. KatherineS

    KatherineS New Member

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    God bless you and thank you for your service to our nation.
     
  18. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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    Not anecdotal evidence, or single examples. Exceptions do not show that something is working at a systematic level. One person who does well is not that important if 1oo are locked in systematic poverty.

    Show me an example of a laissez faire economy somewhat comparable to our own where the lot of the workers, especially the ones towards the bottom of the economic scale, was good.
     
  19. Chany

    Chany Imperfect Perfectionist

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    *cough* "civilian in uniform" branch *cough* :)
     
  20. AMDG

    AMDG Tenderized for Christ

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    Well, there was Michie's article. And then there's this:

    Minimum wage hike hurts teenage workers

    Then the Heritage Foundation had one. Then there was an article on the Boston Globe. I have seen many folks say that if they never had a chance, they simply would not have been able to succeed. Maybe as a teen, they waited tables or bussed tables, or washed dishes, or worked in the "mail room", or worked as a "go-fer" and now they are the manager of a restaurant or the head of a department. Besides, it's only common sense, if a business is forced to pay double or triple what they intended to pay for some teen without any skills *plus* provide expensive health plans for any unskilled entry-level worker, there are simply going to be less people the business can afford to hire.

    Just said that I'm reading more and more articles that finally have realized this.
     
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