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An Obama-Friendly Solution To Unemployment

OK, to call this a "solution" to unemployment is a bit of oversell, but it certainly will help. And it's drawn directly from Obama's own words and beliefs.

Remember the Joe The Plumber incident? If you need a reminder, here are Obama's own words expounding on his economic theories.

"It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too... My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're gonna be better off [...] if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Spread the wealth around. Share the wealth. Spread the money around. Sounds like it could work out, if done properly.

Such as, say, cutting the minimum wage.

Not by a lot. Say, about 10%, from $7.25 to $6.50. That's still pretty decent, considering the demands of most minimum-wage jobs. And if it's cut 10%, that means that for every 9 employees currently making minimum wage, we could have 10 for the same payroll.

And let's be honest -- unemployment tends to hit the people at the bottom of the economic strata hardest. Increasing the number of minimum-wage jobs at a time when unemployment is over 9% will at least help a little towards getting people back to work.

It's at least as likely to help as the infamous stimulus package. Remember those projections of what unemployment would be with and without the stimulus? When you add in the actual unemployment figures, it is well above both lines.

We've tried the best ideas the left has, and it's gone nowhere. Unless, of course, you actually buy into the "we kept things from getting so, so much worse!" argument -- that's the perfect political excuse, as it is utterly unverifiable. No, it's much more honest to look at that chart, look at what the Democrats promised would happen, and what really happened.

So why not give this one a try?


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Comments (79)

Look at the block quote fro... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Look at the block quote from obama above. It speaks volumes about this fool's views of economics. For obama economics is a zero sum game. If Man A is successful it comes directly out of and success that Man B can have.

The statement that obama wants to "make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success" says that if you have success that you are removing the possibility for someone else to be successful. This is dangerously ignorant.

In a free market we compete for business. But a successful businessman does not only win market share from competitors but he also increases the total market size. Obama's statement tells us that he believes that markets are (or at least ought to be) static and not change in size.

His comments about ATM's taking jobs reveal the same viewpoint. In this case the labor market should be unchanging. A change in the market should not mean that people should lose business (in this case for their labor). obama believes that once a market is created it should be forever static. It should not grow because that could reduce the size of other markets nor should any one person have too much market share because that removes the possibility of other people being successful.

obama lives in a world where we would still be using typewriters, where IBM's chief competitors are still Smith-Corona and Olivetti. He lives in a world where cable television cannot increase it's market share against broadcast networks because that would reduce the network's chance at success. Markets change. They expand and contract. Hard work and innovation create opportunity for success. An expanding market means that more people can be successful.

obama's view of economics is so divorced from the real world as to be highly dangerous to our nation.

Cutting the minimum 10% wou... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

Cutting the minimum 10% would help but, it's not quite 10 for 9 as you described. Their are more factors going into an individuals pay than his actual wage. Depending on the type of work, an employer's cost will be almost two dollars for every dollar of wages.

There are more factors........ (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

There are more factors.....it's early..

RLD... hush up. I know all ... (Below threshold)

RLD... hush up. I know all that, but I'm trying to sell it to the economic ignoranuses (stupid assholes) who actually believe Obama knows what he's doing. Don't confuse them with facts. You'll blow my whole cunning plan here.


Wow, Jim. do you really thi... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Wow, Jim. do you really think two offhand remarks encompass "Obama's view of economics" and prove he is "dangerously ignorant?" If so, I suggest you are, ummmmm, incorrect. Although Obama may indeed BE "dangerously ignorant," these two examples hardly prove it. The JtP thing was akin to saying something like "A rising tide raises all boats" or "When everybody's better off, everybody's better off," two sentiments that most Democrats hold dear, rather than some well-thought-out philosophy of government confiscation of Peter's property to benefit Paul. And the ATM thingie, it sounded to me, was just a shorthand example of how automation can, IN THE SHORT TERM, displace workers.

The thing is, YOU KNOW THIS, yet you disengenuously expound on how these two remarks reveal Obama to be "dangerously ignorant." Excuse me while I sneer at your cynical dishonesty, buddy.

Just another example, in the Kerry's-botched-joke vein, of how conservatives will twist the truth to make a point they know is a stretch. I saw, just the other day, a talking head on FOX claim that Bill Maher "said the 9/11 terrorists were more heroic than our troops," which is a flat-out lie, but close enough for fundamentally dishonest or "dangerously ignorant" conservatives such as yourself, Jim.

And Jay Tea, why do you hate the working poor? Full time, a minimum wage worker makes $15,080 per year (IF he can get 40 hours). Cutting the rate would mean that same poor schnook would make $13,520. But you have no problem with billionaire hedge fund managers paying taxes at 15% on income. What does the parasitic other-people's-money-manipulator produce to benefit society? Jack shit, that's what. At least the min-wage guy grills a mean burger.

Bruce, you might have misse... (Below threshold)

Bruce, you might have missed it, but we have a social "safety net" for the poor. I'd like to see it beefed up for the working poor (for example, benefits reduced $1.00 for every $2.00 of income they earn), but it's still there.

OK, how about a caveat: we grandfather in those already making minimum wage, and only apply it to new hires. $6.50 an hour ain't as good as $7.25 an hour, but it's a lot better than $0.00 an hour.

Plus, there's one more factor: what are those jobs worth? There's a lot of supply of workers at that level, and the work isn't very demanding. How many jobs have been lost because employers, instead of paying the same number of people, just cut back and make the remainder work harder to pick up the slack?

Be honest, Bruce -- pushing a broom at a Wal-Mart ain't worth $7.25 an hour.


One reason why you cant cut... (Below threshold)
retired military:

One reason why you cant cut the minimum wage jobs is UNIONS. Unions base they lower pay scale on the minimum wage.

Well, I have a daughter wor... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Well, I have a daughter working at minimum wage in a sub shop. Has been there throughout high school and almost two years of college. Sure, sometimes she has an easy shift. But often she doesn't. She has to have customer service (conversational) skills, a willingness to work with garbage, grease, food scraps, and the same "office politics" everyone else faces. She deserves every fucking cent of her measly $7.25, and so does, in my opinion, the guy who pushes a broom at Walmart. Do you think that broom-pushing is that guy's only duty?

Talk about out-of-touch elitists! Hoo boy.

And the thing about employe... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

And the thing about employers squeezing every freaking nickel's worth of productivity out of existing employees and only hiring enough to just barely get the work done happens at EVERY wage level, Jay Tea, not just at the low end. Does your company not do that? Mine does.

Bruce Henry,Everyt... (Below threshold)
Sky Captain:

Bruce Henry,

Everything Obama has done so far (that has not been an extension of Bush's policies) has shown an out-of-touch-with-the-real-world mentality that is dangerous for any free society. This is particularly true in both economic and free-speech issues.

You disagree? Fine. So us links where I am incorrect.

Man up, or STFU.

No, YOU Stfu, Cap'n.<... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

No, YOU Stfu, Cap'n.

See, I can write nonsensical playground bully words on the internet, too.

Bruce, the answer to your r... (Below threshold)

Bruce, the answer to your rant against Jay was contained in the rant...I'll highlight it for you:

"Full time, a minimum wage worker makes $15,080 per year (IF he can get 40 hours)."

"IF"...that's the key. The problem with Jay's proposal is that it is too damn logical, not that it wouldn't work.

"IF" they can get 40 hours, or ANY hours. But the reason there are "jobs Americans won't do" is that there are jobs employers will only pay LESS to have done...and so they hire illegal aliens to do them.

"IF" you can pull your head out of you ass for a few moments, you'll understand that the purpose of an "Entry-Level Job" is to ENTER THE WORKFORCE!!

Sorry, Bruce, but Obama's "... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

Sorry, Bruce, but Obama's "offhand remarks" about redistribution of wealth are what he believes, and they demonstrate either a dangerous ignorance, or a dangerous socialist tendency. Remember his remarks in the debate with Hillary about capital gains taxes. He didn't care if raising the taxes resulted in less revenue, he was for "fairness" - redistribution - cause those people realizing capital gains on their investments were taking those dollars right out of your daughter's hands, right?

Gotcha' JHaving work... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

Gotcha' J
Having worked in management and having employees, when I hear the liberal stupidity and ignorance concerning wages, I react. It's frustrating when the government that passes laws and imposes burdensome regulations when they have no idea what it takes to STAY in business let alone be profitable.

Bruce<a href="http... (Below threshold)
retired military:


Only 24% of teens, one in four, have jobs, compared to 42% as recently as the summer of 2001. The nearby chart chronicles the teen employment percentage over time, including the notable plunge in the last decade. So instead of learning valuable job skills—getting out of bed before noon, showing up on time, being courteous to customers, operating a cash register or fork lift—millions of kids will spend the summer playing computer games or hanging out. …
But Congress has also contributed by passing one of the most ill-timed minimum wage increases in history. One of the first acts of the gone-but-not-forgotten Nancy Pelosi ascendancy was to raise the minimum wage in stages to $7.25 an hour in 2009 from $5.15 in 2007. Even liberals ought to understand that raising the cost of hiring the young and unskilled while employers are slashing payrolls is loopy economics.
Or maybe not. The Center for American Progress, often called the think tank for the Obama White House, recently recommended another increase to $8.25 an hour. Though the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.1%, the thinkers assert that a rising wage would “stimulate economic growth to the tune of 50,000 new jobs.” So if the government orders employers to pay more to hire workers when they’re already not hiring, they’ll somehow hire more workers. By this logic, if we raised the minimum wage to $25 an hour we’d have full employment.

And remember Bruce. Every t... (Below threshold)
retired military:

And remember Bruce. Every time minimum wage goes up unions have it built into their contracts that they get paid X above minimum wage because skilled labor is more valuable than unskilled labor. So you arent just giving those highschool kids a raise but those $30 an hour floor sweepers at the UAW get a raise as well.

Businesses are in business to MAKE MONEY not provide jobs. If personnel costs go up in order to keep cost of product competitive the business looks at ways to cut costs. Cutting the number of workers is the first thing to go.

Bruce,STFU is an a... (Below threshold)
jim m:


STFU is an acronym not a word.

You can look at obama's comments about economics nd you will find pretty much the same thing. Dems in particular look at the economy as a static entity.

They look at taxes as not effecting behavior (with the sole exception of sin taxes which they claim that they are doing to discourage behavior, but then they are ultimately relying upon behavior not changing because their revenue estimates do not factor in reduced consumption).

They look at the economy as a zero sum game since they never consider the stimulatory effect of tax reductions. Despite the fact that tax cuts historically have lead to economic expansion and increased tax revenues they look at tax cuts as absolute cuts in revenue..

obama's comments to Joe the plumber and his comments about ATM's belie the fact that he does not understand how markets work or how this economy works. His views are uniformed at best. His thinking on the economy is magical. He thinks that he can just declare that it is better and it will be. He thinks that distribution of income will create economic success. He thinks that if somebody wins that their success is directly taken away from someone else.

Bruce<a href="http... (Below threshold)
retired military:



Based on their comprehensive reading of the evidence, Neumark and Wascher argue that minimum wages do not achieve the main goals set forth by their supporters. They reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers and tend to reduce their earnings; they are not an effective means of reducing poverty; and they appear to have adverse longer-term effects on wages and earnings, in part by reducing the acquisition of human capital. The authors argue that policymakers should instead look for other tools to raise the wages of low-skill workers and to provide poor families with an acceptable standard of living.

Yes, the purpose is to ente... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Yes, the purpose is to enter the work force, but work has worth. If a job needs to be done, it should be compensated at some minimum level. If there was no legal minimum, a lot of us would still be making a dollar a day. The disagreement is usually about what the minimum should be.

But what angers me about Jay Tea's article, and his comment # 6 above, is the condescension. He apparently has come a long way from his days of working for it, and that's great. But really, "pushing a broom at Wal-Mart ain't worth $7.25"??? As if that broom pusher didn't also have to be trained to stock shelves, take inventory, deal with customers, etc etc ad infinitum. What kind of elitist butthead is so arrogant and ignorant as to spout such let-'em-eat-cake nonsense?

No offense, Jay. Heh.

Wow, I type so slowly that ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Wow, I type so slowly that by the time I comment, several others have addressed me. Sorry.

So, minimum wage laws are stupid? Is that why we have the standard of living we have now as opposed to what we had before their advent?

Or is the minimum just too high? So should we reduce it to $1.25, as it was when I began working in 1969? That way, according to logic I'm seeing here, we'd have full employment?

So, minimum wage laws ar... (Below threshold)
jim m:

So, minimum wage laws are stupid? Is that why we have the standard of living we have now as opposed to what we had before their advent?

Um. NO. Minimum wage laws did not improve the standard of living one iota. What improves standard of living is a growing economy. As they say, "a rising tide lifts all boats." As the economy grows everyone becomes better off.

If it were the case that minimum wage laws raised he standard of living then the logical conclusion would be that raising that wage further would raise the standard of living further.

Please also explain how Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy have no minimum wage laws yet their standards of living have increased over the last century. Explain how Hong Kong has a high standard of living yet never had a minimum wage law until last year.

Sorry Bruce, but your ideology is not a substitute for understanding reality.

RM:"The authors ar... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:


"The authors argue that policy makers should instead look for other tools to raise the wages of low skilled workers..."

Like what?

"...and to provide poor families with an acceptable standard of living."

Like how? And what is an "acceptable" standard of living, according to conservatives, for poor families?

BH, let me just ask you a f... (Below threshold)

BH, let me just ask you a favor. Please review any of the major macroeconomics textbooks for the use of the verb "should." Then please examine the context for the use of this word. When you find an instance of a citation concerning the intersection and movements of supply and demand curves or marginal wage rate shifts and equilibriums that include the use of "should," please return and give us the info. I'm interested to see what you find.

The European countries you ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

The European countries you mention, Jim, have strong unions and a floor is established by collective bargaining. Since conservatives have pretty much killed unions in this country we are stuck with only the government to guarantee the dignity and worth of the lowest-paid workers.

what is an "acceptable" ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

what is an "acceptable" standard of living

Good question. If you had told LBJ that in 40 years the poor in America would have a mobile phone, a car and 2 TV's he would have declared the 'War on Poverty" and his Great Society program an overwhelming success.

What the left needs to understand is that poverty is a relative state and that you cannot get rid of poverty. The only way to eliminate poverty is to eliminate all wealth. Historically, all attempts at that have resulted in everyone being "poor".

Boqueronman:Thanks... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:


Thanks for the pretentious assignment of homework, but no. Please try not to reveal yourself to be such an arrogant know-it-all gasbag in the future. It's embarrassing.

"We've tried the best ideas... (Below threshold)

"We've tried the best ideas the left has...."

Yeah, they were 'going to get it right this time'.

And just like the last tries at a socialist system, IT DOES NOT WORK.

Hell, why not just rape and plunder anyone making a million or more a year. Strip them bare. Give it all 'to the poor'. That will work. Only problem is, who you going to rape and pillage next year? Because 'the poor' will still be expecting their hand out.

Bruce, I'm at the Day Job, ... (Below threshold)

Bruce, I'm at the Day Job, so I only have time for two quick points.

1) Several years ago, I did some serious digging to find out just how many people actually make minimum wage for a full year. I failed, but a reader pointed me to the answer: 300,000. I'd have to go digging for more updated figures, but I doubt it's changed much.

B) Your "support a family" comment struck me. First up, how many minimum wage earners have a family to support? Second, what kind of person says "I can barely support myself, even with assistance; I think that's a grand time to start a family!"


So if the "poor in America"... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

So if the "poor in America" DIDN'T have those things, Jim, and were still living as they were in 1965, THEN would you want the government to help them, Jim? How much, and in what way?

Umm, Jay, when did I mentio... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Umm, Jay, when did I mention "supporting a family" on minimum wage in this thread? For that matter, when did anyone on this thread mention supporting a family?

Whoops... I misremembered. ... (Below threshold)

Whoops... I misremembered. It was 450,000. Out of the 135,000,000 workforce at the time, about one-third of one percent. And it was almost exactly four years ago.

Which is probably where I got the three from.


Since conservatives have... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Since conservatives have pretty much killed unions in this country we are stuck with only the government to guarantee the dignity and worth of the lowest-paid workers.

I disagree that conservatives have killed unions. Unions have killed themselves. They have destroyed the industries where they were strong by making the companies their workers worked for so uncompetitive that they failed. Unions are failing in the US because they are largely unnecessary. Federal labor law has established most of the significant gains that the unions made early on. Laws for workplace safety, reasonable breaks, etc have been passed. Unions today have become mostly parasitic entities sapping the wages of union workers and doing little to benefit them over what they previously had.

You are almost as clairvoya... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

You are almost as clairvoyant as Jim, Jay Tea, to be "struck" by a comment that no one has made.

Right, Jim, government has ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Right, Jim, government has made laws of many of the positions unions have taken over the years. And when unions have disappeared, and conservatives are still bitching about gubmint meddlin' in bidness, will those laws be safe? Here we have conservatives espousing dismantling or at least weakening the minimum wage - when unions are no more, will the other advances they achieved be in the crosshairs of conservatives?

So if the "poor in Ameri... (Below threshold)
jim m:

So if the "poor in America" DIDN'T have those things, Jim, and were still living as they were in 1965, THEN would you want the government to help them, Jim? How much, and in what way?

No I would not want the government to help them because government programs like Welfare have a habit of not helping people out of poverty but trapping them in it. The best thing the government can do is foster an environment where businesses can grow and hire more workers. Then if someone wants to improve their lot in life they can if they have the desire.

Merely having the government hand out success, like obama states that he wants to, does not make someone successful.

Bruce, I actually commend y... (Below threshold)

Bruce, I actually commend you for standing your ground...shaky though it be.

I do believe there should be a “Minimum Wage”…but it should be SO “minimum” that it is truly only for those entering the workforce, and even then maybe only temporary.

One of the main reasons for the incredibly high un-employment rate among 18-22 year olds is that if an employer is going to have to pay $7.50 an hour (or higher) for a worker, they might as well pay a bit more and hire and OLDER worker…someone who might stick around. The 18-22 year olds are looking for Summer jobs or “spending money” jobs…and something far LESS than $7.50 would work for them.

And frankly, the marketplace will quickly determine a fair wage for an area. If my job pays LESS than the guy’s across the street, then HE is going to get the better workers…and I’ll to have to offer more if I need better workers. See how it works?

No Bruce the many gains tha... (Below threshold)
jim m:

No Bruce the many gains that are owed to unions in terms of fair employment practices will not go away because the public wants them. You are mistaking the tool that produced the change (the union movement of the mid 20th century) with the actual change.

Unions were originally the outward expression of the public will. The fact that unions are waning is testimony to the fact hat the purpose they fill today is no longer in the public's interest.

This is another example of how the left wants everything to be static. Public institutions should never change with the times according to that thinking. Unions have not changed with the times and the public does not want them. It isn't that the barrier to unionization is that much higher than it used to be. People aren't voting to unionize. Why else would the unions demand to do away with a secret ballot so they can intimidate people into voting for the union?

You are confusing the unions with the gains made by them 50+ years ago.

Oh yes, Justrand, I know ho... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Oh yes, Justrand, I know how it works. When I was in the restaurant business I hired folks at more than the minimum wage, because, in the RDU, NC area, I had to.

Again, it's the condescension, the sneering at minimum wage workers, that bothered me in this thread. I have no problem with theorizing that maybe minimum wage laws aren't as effective as they are supposed to be. But if you work a minimum wage job, I can assure you you damn sure feel like it's "worth" $7.25.

Some things are laws because they are the right thing to do. If I spend an hour of my time at a sorry, smelly, crappy minimum wage job, I deserve $7.25. Most people feel the same way.

Jim at # 37:I usua... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Jim at # 37:

I usually don't say this to one of your comments, but - wait for it - you have a good point there.

But apparently they're still needed in Germany. Without a legally mandated minimum wage, those unions need to stay strong, otherwise their members will be hurt.

Bruce : "...saying somethin... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Bruce : "...saying something like "A rising tide raises all boats" ... sentiments that most Democrats hold dear ..."

Too funny, because that's the exact opposite of the truth.
Most of the Dem pols around here, if given a choice of (1) doing something that helped everyone but the rich got helped too or (2) doing something that didn't help anyone but it took from the rich, would choose (2) every time. Jealousy, envy, spite and class warfare trump almost anything with the Dems.

Walter : "Remember his remarks in the debate with Hillary about capital gains taxes. He didn't care if raising the taxes resulted in less revenue, he was for "fairness" - redistribution - cause those people realizing capital gains on their investments were taking those dollars right out of your daughter's hands, right?"

That's exactly what I'm talking about. His unguarded statements he let slip out reveal his socialism.

Thank you Bruce. I appreci... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Thank you Bruce. I appreciate that.

But I'm not so sure about Germany. In the case of the automakers they are burdened by heavy costs from their union contracts so they are building plants in the US in non-union states to try to maintain their competitiveness.

Also, in Germany unions get a seat on the Board of Directors. Unions there are far more powerful than they are here, but they also don't have the connection to organized crime and are perhaps a little less corrupt.

Yeah, $14,020 a year. Minu... (Below threshold)

Yeah, $14,020 a year. Minus about $2K in taxes for a single person. That'll pay the bills. Toiling for 40 hours and getting a check for $260 minus withholding, and no benefits. You would not even get Earned Income Tax Credit if you were single.

The truth is that wages have been just about flat for thirty years now, while productivity and profits are up well more than triple the amount of wages.




In the absence of any responsibility by corporate managers, the only thing that can prevent the destruction of the middle class are tax and labor policies that encourage living wages, and the minimum wage.

Numbnuts who want lower wages don't understand that higher wages fuel demand, which leads to more growth.

If you think it will be a better USA when 90% of the population are barely subsisting on low wages, why wait? You can move to Peru or India right now.

There's a certain type of obsequious cubicle factotum who can't wait to put on the kneepads for his masters. I chalk this post up to that phenomenon.

Awesomely put, Chico.... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Awesomely put, Chico.

Les, I wasn't talking about... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Les, I wasn't talking about politicians but about rank-and-file Democrats.

To paraphrase a commenter at Oliver Willis's blog this morning, in America we have a choce these days between a party that's 90% corporate whores (the Democrats) and 99% corporate whores (the Republicans). It don't look good for the middle class.

Chico, I repeat: as of 2007... (Below threshold)

Chico, I repeat: as of 2007, one one-third of one percent of the work force actually earned minimum wage for an entire year. So your argument is based on assumptions that don't apply to 99.7% of the work force.

You sure you wanna hang your entire argument on that point?


"Les, I wasn't talking abou... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Les, I wasn't talking about politicians but about rank-and-file Democrats."

I kind of figured you were. But having thought about it some more, I don't think that's correct either. I have a lot of Dem/union rank-and-file friends who really would cut off their nose to spite their face. As long as we stick it to 'those Rich FatCats', they're happy.

Sick, spiteful class warfare- I think its more prevalent than you think.

"Numbnuts who want lower wa... (Below threshold)

"Numbnuts who want lower wages don't understand that higher wages fuel demand, which leads to more growth."


Go talk to all those kids who used to get 'summer jobs'. They'll be easy to find since they won't be working.

You sure you wanna hang ... (Below threshold)

You sure you wanna hang your entire argument on that point?

What, like you're hanging your argument on the point that lowering the minimum wage will solve unemployment?

Or is this another bullshit argument you're making? . . Let me check the first letter of each paragraph . . .

Cut the sophistry. You made an argument that lower wages are good for the economy, I made the counterargument that wages in general had not kept up with productivity as they had during the post-WWII boom, and were too low to sustain demand.

I can't find the reference, but I once read a quote to the effect that "American business had this wonderful engine of domestic demand, fueling growth with a prosperous middle class enjoying rising living standards, and they killed it like the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, by suppressing wage growth."

But I suppose you could not say "American" business anymore, it's all transnational capital that doesn't give a damn about the USA or its standard of living.

the only thing that can ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

the only thing that can prevent the destruction of the middle class are tax and labor policies that encourage living wages, and the minimum wage.

If you think that the minimum wage is the definition of "Middle Class" you are delusional. The fact that any job pays more than the minimum wage is evidence that the market for labor works. The minimum wage and the habit of union contracts to eliminate merit pay are destructive to the value of labor. These policies take the position that an individual's labor is worthless and that only the law is able to get them paid.

Numbnuts who want lower wages don't understand that higher wages fuel demand, which leads to more growth.

You are mistaken that anyone is advocating for lower wages. What we are advocating for is wages that are justified by the value of the labor produced. Minimum wage laws have the function of eliminating the number of possible low wage jobs. These jobs are typically filled by teenagers and other people just entering the job market. They represent a tiny fraction of all jobs. To argue that minimum wages jobs are all that stand between the millions of middle class workers and poverty is beyond ridiculous.

If you think it will be a better USA when 90% of the population are barely subsisting on low wages, why wait?

Again, you are supposing that the only thing that determines wages is federal law. In the real world where the rest of us live the market actually provides wages hat are far in excess of the minimum. Removing the minimum wage is not going to result in our wage scales declining. To assert that it will is nothing more than fear mongering and not at all based on any factual evidence.

If no minimum wage laws meant that people would slide into poverty I will ask you to answer the same question I asked Bruce above:

Please also explain how Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy have no minimum wage laws yet their standards of living have increased over the last century. Explain how Hong Kong has a high standard of living yet never had a minimum wage law until last year.

Your ignorant assertions are denied by the manifest reality all over the globe.

Bruce I am sorry that you found his post to have any merit. It doesn't even meet the quality of your worst post on this thread and lessens the honor of your earlier compliment significantly.

What, like you're hangin... (Below threshold)
jim m:

What, like you're hanging your argument on the point that lowering the minimum wage will solve unemployment?

Straw man alert! Chica, the argument is not that getting rid of the minimum wage will solve unemployment. The argument is that raising it will make unemployment worse. If you can't understand the difference I'm not sure anyone can help you.

Bruce, I'm more interested ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Bruce, I'm more interested in your reaction to Obama's "He didn't care if raising the taxes resulted in less revenue, he was for "fairness" - redistribution .."
I've seen the video of him saying that. It wasn't a slip of the tongue or taken out of context. He really would keep high cap gains taxes for the 'rich', even if it brought in less money - all for a spiteful get-even-ism.

You're ok with that kind of thinking? Doesn't that kind of idea seem un-American?

Dear Obama, Reid, Schumer, ... (Below threshold)

Dear Obama, Reid, Schumer, et.al.-If all the corporations, oil companies, the millionaires and billionaires and us "rich people" like me, making $250,000 before taxes (I would also give you my corporate jet which I don't have), just gave you all their money instead of you "nickel and diming" us to death- would you then leave us alone?

Please also explai... (Below threshold)
Please also explain how Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy have no minimum wage laws yet their standards of living have increased over the last century. Explain how Hong Kong has a high standard of living yet never had a minimum wage law until last year.

You are holding up Euro social democratic countries as your model? Fine, get rid of the minimum wage, give half of the corporate board seats to unions, require collective bargaining and have government-funded health care and post-secondary education for all.

As for Hong Kong, you go live there - it's not that great if you're not rich.

You are holding up... (Below threshold)
You are holding up Euro social democratic countries as your model? Fine, get rid of the minimum wage, give half of the corporate board seats to unions, require collective bargaining and have government-funded health care and post-secondary education for all.

I thought Europe was held by liberals as the model for all societies?

Nice one, Jay - they still ... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Nice one, Jay - they still don't get it.

Jim M # 49:Sorry y... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Jim M # 49:

Sorry you feel that way. Looks like to me "chica" is kicking your ass all over the internet, as evidenced by his comment # 53.

Aaaand another comment worthy of Emeritus status from Mr Gravitas Addison. He should stick to calling people "Obammunists" and other clever sobriquets.

I haven't seen the video yo... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I haven't seen the video you keep referencing, Les. Show your work.

Sorry guys. I mentioned ha... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Sorry guys. I mentioned hat unions sit on corporate boards in Europe before. I also mentioned that European manufacturers are setting up in the US in right to work states to avoid US unions.

I also notice that Chica avoids mentioning Hong Kong. And both of you neglect that union jobs make only a fraction of all jobs. In Germany and Italy they are around 30%, 25% in Switzerland and in your favor 85-90% for Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

In Hong Kong they are somewhere around 10% and considered to be rather weak.

So percentage of jobs with Trade Unions seems to not be a driver of prosperity either.

So much for my ass being kicked. Why don't you go find some actual data connecting the percentage of union jobs to improvement of standard of living. I said that unions have made important contributions to workplace conditions but they do not contribute to the improvement of standard of living for society as a whole.

Yes, Chica, but Hong Kong s... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Yes, Chica, but Hong Kong still has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Nowhere is that great when you are poor. Poverty sucks is no argument.

Bruce, I still have to ask ... (Below threshold)

Bruce, I still have to ask one question: who are you to determine what a job is worth, over the opinions of the employer and employee? Are you saying that you would consider any job worth $7.25 an hour? Especially if that was coming out of your pocket?

At what point would you say, "screw hiring someone, I'll do it myself?"


Nitpicky, Jay Tea. And when... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Nitpicky, Jay Tea. And when are you going to tell us who claimed the minimum wage argument here was about supporting a family? It warn't me.

When I operated a Quizno's franchise, the money WAS coming out of my pocket. If I wanted my sandwiches made correctly and properly portioned, my customers smiled at, my money counted properly, and sanitation standards met, I was glad to pay a bit more than minimum. If I had an employee who wouldn't do those things, I dismissed him and got me another one. I know what these guys have to do for minimum wage (or a little more). It's worth it. I know because I've been right there alongside 'em. Recently. At least, more recently than you have, apparently.

And I thought you were at the Day Job. Better watch that productivity, there, bub - you'll be out on your ass.

Bruce,Are you tell... (Below threshold)
jim m:


Are you telling me that as a businessman you had other incentives to pay your employees better than the minimum wage? Doesn't that undercut your argument that without the minimum wage employers would not pay that wage and that wages would go down?

By your own testimony minimum wage laws are not that necessary. You pay as much as you can afford to get the results you need. If you can't get the results you find someone else or eventually get into another line of business.

Bruce, thanks for the conce... (Below threshold)

Bruce, thanks for the concern, but as soon as I clock out, I'm on two weeks' vacation. Boss KNOWS he ain't getting much out of me today.

And thank you for your own example. You didn't pay minimum wage; you paid above it to get and keep good help. That just reinforces my point -- there are damned few people who actually make and live on minimum wage for a full year. So arguments about how it has to be a "living wage" are fairly weak.

The main effect of minimum wage laws is to drive up the costs of almost everything. Business labor costs go up, they either cut back on payroll or jack up their prices (whichever they can) or both. One thing they almost NEVER do is "suck it up" and bear the increased costs.

And at the bottom of the wage scale, there are fewer jobs where the most needy can get a foot in the door and start up the ladder to self-sufficiency. Because, to a lot of employers, the jobs aren't worth to them what the government says they are.


Oh, and Bruce? I think I to... (Below threshold)

Oh, and Bruce? I think I took your "Full time, a minimum wage worker makes $15,080 per year (IF he can get 40 hours). Cutting the rate would mean that same poor schnook would make $13,520." and blended it with some comments on that previous article I linked to. My point still stands, but now it's kinda just floating around unattached to anything in particular...


I must not be expressing my... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I must not be expressing myself very well. I never meant to say that the market didn't sometimes dictate that employers must pay more than minimum. But it's usually, in my experience, a localized thing.

When I was working for a regional pizza chain, we felt we had to pay MORE than the minimum wage in Raleigh and Durham, (and were still, in the 1990s, often shorthanded) but our employees in Wilson, Goldsboro, and Dunn, NC were glad to get the minimum, so that's what they got. I'm pretty sure the greedy bastard I worked for would have paid less if he could have got away with it.

The minimum wage is the law because having a minimum is the right thing to do. We can argue, as we are doing here, whether it is too high or too low, but I'll bet most Americans agree there should be one.

And to answer your question, Jay, I don't know of any job currently being done for minimum wage, if done properly, that's NOT worth $7.25 in terms of human dignity. To illustrate that, visit the South and go to a Hardee's for breakfast and a Chick-fil-A for lunch. Employees at both restaurants make the same (minimum) wage, but Chick-fil-A employees are happy and productive and the food is consistently great. At Hardee's, a bunch of sad sacks man the store, and the food is hit or miss. It's leadership and management that make the difference. If the Hardee's employees seem to be not "worth" $7.25, it ain't their fault. They could be.

"I haven't seen the video y... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"I haven't seen the video you keep referencing, Les. Show your work."

Sure you have. Don't act coy, face it head on and tell us what you think of our President's view.
If you want a refresher, Google it, lazybones.

I don't think employers pay... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I don't think employers pay "as much as they can afford to get the results they need," Jim. I think most pay as little as they can get away with to get the results they need.

Shorter Les Nessman: "The v... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Shorter Les Nessman: "The video doesn't say what I claimed it says."

Either that, or, "I don't know how to do links."

Geez, Bruce too scared to a... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Geez, Bruce too scared to answer? Too afraid to acknowledge that aspect of our President's mindset?

Whatever. Very weak.

You made an assertion, Les.... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

You made an assertion, Les. I say you misinterpreted whatever it was you heard on the (imaginary?) video that you claim reveals Obama to be a socialist dupe. I say no such video exists.

Put up or shut up, Les.

Here ya go Bruce Henry, too... (Below threshold)

Here ya go Bruce Henry, took me all of two minutes.


Ummm, despite the title of ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Ummm, despite the title of the youtube video, the video doesn't seem to me to be of Obama "admitting" anything. He seems to be referring to the grossly unfair fact that billionaire hedge fund managers pay the tax on their compensation as "capital gains," not income as the rest of us do. And he says he wants to "look at" the capital gains rate in that context. For purposes of fairness. That seems reasonable to me.

In other words, the video doesn't say what Les (and Walter) claim it says. As I figured it wouldn't. Because, as I've said, conservatives have a habit of twisting truth to fit their paranoid narrative when it comes to the Kenyan Usurper.

Oh, and the video was from the campaign. Is the capital gains rate 28% yet?

BruceWho makes min... (Below threshold)
retired military:


Who makes minimum wage?>

Kids still going to high school at their first job. If someoen is making minimum wage after working at the same place for about 3 months than IMO they are probably not working to get a raise. They are putting in their time. I have worked minimum wage jobs before and I have always gotten a raise before 3 months were up due to my busting my ass.

I have been working for a paycheck since I was 13.

As for Chico's statement. IF they are paying anything in as far as taxes they will get it all back at the end of the year if they have any dependants.

If they are by themselves they will pay a total of about $450 in taxes for the year on $14k in income.

If they re married they wont pay a dime and will get money back via tax credits.

Also Bruce you fail to mention things like Kerry and Edward setting up their own little companies which helps them get out of paying taxes (the title of the IRS exclusion escapes me now) or how about Kerry's yacht or that other Senator's plane which taxes seem to be not paid on.

How about we get all the folks who owe taxes to the govt to pay them first before we discuss tax hikes.

BTW did you know that if you took EVERY PENNY FROM EVERYONE WHO MAKE 250K or more for this year you still wouldnt cover 75% of OBAMA's DEFICIT FOR THIS YEAR ALONE.

We dont have a problem with too little taxation. We have a problem with TOO MUCH SPENDING. BTW my son states that ever since they raised the minimum wage law he hasnt see a full 40 hour week at his work. He used too all the time prior to the mimimum wage raise going into effect.

"In other words, the video ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"In other words, the video doesn't say what Les (and Walter) claim it says. "

No, actually it does. He admits that, regardless if it actually brought in LESS money, he would be for raising the tax out "fairness". Just like I said; they'd rather 'stick it to the Rich Bastards' even if it hurts everyone. Childish spite.

And now Bruce has devolved into lying about my comments.

Big surprise.

Bruce is the poor mans idio... (Below threshold)

Bruce is the poor mans idiot!

No, actually, Les, Obama, l... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

No, actually, Les, Obama, like politicians do in debates, took the question Charlie Gibbs asked and used it as an opportunity to say what HE wanted to say. You, as I figured you had, misinterpreted what Obama said to confirm your paranoid fears of Teh Soshulizm!!!

Obama's answer is much closer to my interpretation than yours. You asked what I had to say about it, and despite your inability to produce the evidence (thank you Chip) I answered you. I can't help it if what you think constitutes evidence of a Socialist mindset...ummm, doesn't. I just thank God you're not on a jury charged with deciding MY fate

Oh, and one more thing, Les - look up the definition of "devolve." Snicker.

And 914, with that kind of clever, insightful commenting, you'll achieve Emeritus status here soon, like Mr Addison, who's almost as smart as you!

Jim M, by any measure - med... (Below threshold)

Jim M, by any measure - median income, median standard of living, Hong Kong ain't that great. Anyways, they have a minimum wage now, why is that? There must have been a problem, right?

I notice your silence on my comment on your holding up the Eurosocialist countries, especially the Scandinavian welfare states, as models.

Bruce, I ignore those who have nothing to say but personal attacks. Not worth the time.

I remember the first time t... (Below threshold)

I remember the first time the minimum wage was going up while my son was working at a fast food place. He was very excited. I told him not to expect much on his pay check. He thought I was out of my mind. Sure enough, when his first check after the wage hike came it wasn't as large as he expected. His hours were cut and his with-holdings were higher. I asked him about the price of everything else he used to buy, if he had noticed a difference, he certainly did, everything was raised not just his income, as was fuel for his truck. He was incensed, he hates when minimum wage goes up now, and he is firmly in the "Conservative" corner. Thank you Economics 101.

Here, Bruce, you obtuse ...... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

Here, Bruce, you obtuse ....[sorry I'm late]
GIBSON: All right. You have, however, said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, "I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton," which was 28 percent. It's now 15 percent. That's almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent.

But actually, Bill Clinton, in 1997, signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.

So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

Here's the link:
Obama then goes on to rail against hedge fund managers and the money they make. Nothing but class warfare and vindictiveness.






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