Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Monday, October 4, 2010

Minimum Wage

I saw this comment by judesuper at the Huffington Post:

I just don't get why people making more money than they can spend a year, have such a hard time with folks making $290.00 a week?

Would the rich be any better off if the poor were only making $200.00 a week, instead of $290.00? I just can't get their argument for lowering minimum wage.

The comment is on an article discussing recent comments by Republican candidates, suggesting that the minimum wage is too high. It really gets at the heart of why so many Americans need to learn more about what the Republican Party represents.

What the comment reflects is the simple understanding, of most decent Americans, that those who have more than enough should respect the humanity of those who are far less fortunate. What it misses is the extent to which the unchecked greed of the last few decades has corrupted the souls of many wealthy Americans.

The rich are not better off, in any meaningful sense, because they can pay folks even less than they do already. They would still live a comfortable life of privilege even if the minimum wage were to double. Yet, after the restaurant and hotel bills are all paid, the rich expect to have something left over to add to a growing pile. Just because you live in a nice house, drive a nice car, and take nice vacations, you shouldn't think you're rich. To be truly rich requires being able to live well and accumulate money at the same time. This is why throwing money, in the form of tax-breaks, at the wealthy doesn't stimulate the economy. Someone who makes $2 million/year isn't likely to spend 4 times as much as someone making $500,000/year. There is only so much you can do with your money. What happens with much of the money is that it is put aside. Some of it may be invested in the stock-market. There it can be put to work by multinational corporations-- who are feverishly outsourcing jobs to labor markets without enforcement of meaningful wage or safety regulations.

Those wealthy, who would like to lower the minimum wage, realize that there are certain jobs that can't be outsourced to Bangladesh. If they could pay someone $2/hour less to rake their leaves, then they could keep that extra money in their pockets. They simply don't care that life was already a hard grind for those making the old wage. They justify their stinginess by suggesting that poor people don't have it so bad, after all. "Have you ever seen how many big-screen T.V.s there are in the projects? If they don't like minimum wage, maybe they should get another job!" Greed clouds their minds to the point where they lose the capacity to feel any sort of human sympathy for the poor.

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