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Crossposted from Antemedius

Jeannette Wicks-Lim completed her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005, and now specializes in labor economics with an emphasis on the low-wage labor market and has an overlapping interest in the political economy of race, and is now Assistant Research Professor at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). She is author of a paper produced at PERI entitled Creating Decent Jobs in the United States (.PDF), in which she concludes that "collective bargaining presents a powerful way to turn the tide on the declining workers’ pay and benefits we have seen for decades", finds that "a union worker has a 20 percent greater chance of having a decent job than a similar non-union worker", and shows that "that there is no strong evidence that higher unionization rates lead to higher unemployment rates".

Her dissertation: Mandated wage floors and the wage structure: Analyzing the ripple effects of minimum and prevailing wage laws (.PDF), is a study of the overall impact of mandated wage floors on wages.

In her dissertation Wicks-Lim provides empirical estimates of the extent to which mandated wage floors cause wage changes beyond those required by law, either through wage effects that ripple across the wage distribution or spillover to workers that are not covered by mandated wage floors.

When asked in an interview published at PERI "Though living wage laws may increase pay for some workers, by raising costs for employers might these laws have perverse effects on other workers? From a policy perspective, how do you reconcile the income benefits from living wages with their disemployment effects?", Wicks-Lim replied with:

I think it is important to first consider whether an employer will actually need to reduce his/her workforce. Whether an employer will actually need to reduce his/her workforce has a lot to do with whether the law increases the costs of doing business significantly or not. The increased costs to employers are typically quite small – on the order of two percent or less of their sales revenues. For employers in the restaurant and hotel industry who are more affected by these laws, increased costs are typically on the order of three to four percent of their sales revenue. So, the fact that most employers face modest cost increases raises the question of whether there are other ways that these costs may be offset—perhaps through increased productivity and lower turnover rates of their now better-paid employees, or perhaps through modest price increases or small reductions in their profit margins. In fact, past research has indicated that minimum wage laws, for example, have not had large disemployment effects, suggesting that employers may react differently to these types of laws from what standard economic theory predicts.

Even for those employers that face more substantial cost increases, it’s important to consider their possible range of responses and then evaluate whether there is still a way to avoid disemployment effects, and if not, see if there is a way to minimize them so that the income benefits more than offset those negative effects.

Here Jeannette talks with Real News Network's Paul Jay and makes a proposal to combine minimum wage and earned income tax credit policies to guarantee a decent living wage for all.

Real News Network - December 31, 2010
...transcript follows...


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, coming to you today from Amherst, Massachusetts. We're at the PERI institute. And we're likely to see more austerity measures rather than more stimulus, given the shape of the new House. Yet, based on American government estimates, 14 to 15 percent of the American population is living in poverty. Much of this has to do, some say, with the minimum wage. Joining us now to discuss how we might raise the minimum wage and what the consequences of that might be is Jeannette Wicks-Lim. You're an assistant research professor here. So what has your research shown you, first of all? What is the situation in terms of the numbers and what's happening in terms of people working on minimum wage?

JEANNETTE WICKS-LIM, POLITICAL ECONOMY RESEARCH INSTITUTE: What we did in this research, this new research, with my co-author Jeff Thompson, is we actually tried to think about a way to raise the minimum wage and a combination with the earned income tax policy, a way to raise them up to a decent living standard. So we're looking at two different policies.

JAY: Just break it down for a second. So over here is just a federally mandated higher minimum wage.

WICKS-LIM: Minimum wage. Right.

JAY: And over here, describe what this is over here.

WICKS-LIM: Right, the earned income tax credit. It's a federal program that subsidizes the working poor's income through the tax system. And so basically what it is, it takes a, you know, percentage of a worker's income and says, we're going to give you that amount. It's specifically--40 percent is the most generous benefit. Forty percent of a worker's income is given to them through the tax system.

JAY: And this is a program that's already in place.

WICKS-LIM: Yes. This is a huge economic policy that was put into effect, actually, during the Clinton administration to, you know, quote-unquote, "make work pay". The idea was to subsidize low-income households' incomes to raise them to a more decent living standard, because, you know, there's this assumption that their earnings by themselves are not going to--.

JAY: This is what some people have called workfare, is a way to get people off welfare and give some motivation to even take lower-paying jobs.

WICKS-LIM: Right. Exactly. So during the Clinton administration, you know, there's this huge welfare, you know, reform which basically, you know, wiped out the AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children], which was the traditional welfare, you know, program, and replaced it with a much more restrictive program, which is called TANF [Temporary Assistance to Needy Families]. And once that was done, you know, the Clinton administration proposed this, well, we're going to raise the minimum wage. So if you recall, in 1996, 1997, the minimum wage went up in two steps, and also did a huge expansion of the EITC program [earned income tax credit]. So the idea was, okay, we're going to raise the wage floor, we're going to raise the minimum rate that employers can legally pay their workers. But on top of that, we're going to subsidize the income of working poor households, because we're going to say, well, if you are working, we're going to give you an income subsidy. And that way, combining those two programs, that would get these households to a more decent living standard. So in the research paper that we just completed, what we do is we look at these two programs and assess: do they actually get families up to a decent living standard? And we already knew going into this project that they don't. And our idea was, well, let's take seriously the notion that work is supposed to pay, that it's supposed to support a decent living standard. What would that require, the policies? And could there be a reasonable proposal put on the table to actually do that? And so that is what we do.

JAY: Now, in your paper, there was a number--80 some-odd percent of people at minimum wage are not earning enough to actually pay for the necessities of life.

WICKS-LIM: Right. Right.

JAY: So that's people who are benefiting from the programs that exist. It's just not enough?

WICKS-LIM: We take a look at what's the current policy situation. So right now the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Right? Now, if a person is working 2080 hours a year, which is full time year round, they would make on order of about $15,000. So, you know, think about, okay, was that $15,000 going to support a decent living standard?

JAY: I think most people can get that $15,000 a year, especially if you've got kids, is not a decent living standard.

WICKS-LIM: Right. But, you know, there is some small portion of low-income working households that might be AFDC-supported based on the current policy rate, minimum wage rate, and a combination of the earned income tax credit. And what we find is about 12 percent of working households, low-income working households, would actually be able to support some notion of a decent living standard. So that's--you know, the flipside of that is is the vast majority of low-income working households, on the order of 90 percent, could not support a decent living standard, based on current policy.

JAY: So what's the proposal look like?

WICKS-LIM: So we first come up with what would be a reasonable--an ambitious but reasonable increase in the minimum wage, and we come up with a 70 percent minimum wage increase, which gets us from a $7.25 federal minimum wage currently, up to $12.30 across the states. You know, states vary in their minimum wage rates. Some are higher, some are lower. So it'll vary a bit, state to state. But generally speaking, for the vast majority of workers, you'd have the minimum wage floor rise from $7.25 to $12.30. And the other part of the proposal is to expand the EITC program, the federal EITC program. What we say is, well, we should increase the benefits on the order of 80 percent. Currently, the maximum benefit is about $5,000. So this'd raise that maximum benefit to about $9,000. And then we'd also expand out the income eligibility for the households.

JAY: So, roughly speaking, the people that were making in the area of $15,000 a year, what's an annual income at the end of this blended program?

WICKS-LIM: Their earnings would go up to about $26,000. And then on top of that, they would get--again, depending on the household, they would get on the order of $9,000 in earned income tax credit. So that would get them to something on the order of about, you know, $35,000 in income.

JAY: So this is a massive jump of income, relatively speaking: for people that have been earning $15,000, they get into the low $30,000's. So what's the economic consequences of this? Obviously the first question is: how do you pay for all this?

WICKS-LIM: Of course, the most popular argument against minimum wage is that if you raise minimum wage, employers' costs go up, they lay off their workers, or they cut back on their hours, and the workers you're trying to help end up getting hurt in the long run. So we took this argument seriously. And we have, at PERI and other places, have done a multitude of studies to see, well, when the minimum wage goes up, what actually happens? And what we often find is that when the minimum wage goes up, that the cost increase that businesses actually experience is relatively modest compared to their capacity to cover these costs. And we quantify this. So, for example, something like the city-wide minimum wage increase in Santa Fe that was being considered in the early 2000s, they considered a minimum wage hike on the order of 65 percent. Now, that actually translated to a cost increase for restaurants in that area, you know, the types of businesses that'd most affected by this increase, on the order of 3 to 4 percent of their sales revenue. So, you know, if you want to think about it in very practical terms, restaurants would basically have to raise their prices by 3 or 4 percent in order to fully cover the costs of this minimum wage increase. So as a restaurant patron, you'd be seeing something like a $20 meal go up to $20.60. So the cost that's associated with the minimum wage increase is very often modest compared to their--.

JAY: And then, in theory, there's a lot more people can now go to restaurants and buy food, 'cause they're not making $15,000, they're making $30,000.

WICKS-LIM: We don't take into account this idea that all of a sudden there's this income being generated in the economy that produces more demand. I think a more persuasive way to look at that argument is that the minimum wage and the earned income tax policy--credit program, both those policies combined can help start making an institutional framework for a more equal income distribution. And in that sense, if you have income distributed more equally, you'd have a much more robust economy, and the consumer demand would be much more stable. You know, it'd be very healthy; it'd be very robust.

JAY: I mean, if you're going to put stimulus dollars somewhere, why not--I guess the argument--put them here? They're going to get spent more quickly, is the theory, than on tax cuts or something.

WICKS-LIM: Right. Right.

JAY: Well, how much does this cost? People are--in their heads, are just going to do the math that labor costs just went up maybe 70 percent.

WICKS-LIM: Exactly; that's wrong. First, labor costs are only one portion of business costs, right? So it's something on the order of, you know, 50 or 30 percent of business costs. So set that aside. So one--you know, it's only a portion of a business' costs goes to labor in total. Now, if you look at the percentage of workers within a business that would actually get a raise, there that portion would be--on the outside figure for restaurants, it'd be on the order of 50 percent of workers. So we say about 30 percent business costs go to labor costs. Fifty percent of their workforce is made up of workers who would be affected by a minimum-wage increase. So--and then the last component is that even those workers, the 50 percent of workers who are earning minimum wage or something around that--. There's a spectrum of wages, right? There are people who are earning the very bottom, the minimum wage, and then there is people who are earning near but above that. So [inaudible] don't get the full 70 percent minimum wage increase. So those three factors combined--.

JAY: 'Cause a lot of people might already be making $8 or $9 or $10, so the increase is not that much to get to the $12.35. Okay. Now, about--the tax credit part is going to come out of the government. So how much is that going to cost?

WICKS-LIM: Our total expansion cost would be about $51 billion. That's, you know, the total sum net of some other considerations. But in any case, the total cost increase would be $51 billion. Now, currently, the federal government spends about $51 billion in tax credits for the federal EITC program as it currently stands. So our expansion would basically double that. That would bring it up to about $51 billion. So, again, likely looked at with minimum wage. We want to say, well, is that reasonable? Is there some way that the US economy could absorb that kind of a cost increase? And so when we looked at the $51 billion price tag for the expansion of the EITC program, we looked [at] the federal budget, 'cause that's where the money is coming from. What's the capacity for the federal budget to pay for a $51 billion expansion? So when you look at $51 billion relative to the federal budget, you're looking at something on the order of 1.8 percent of the federal budget. So you're trying to figure out: can you shift around 1.8 percent of the federal budget to this program? So, yeah, of course this is something that's a matter of political priority. For example, one thing that we could do is we could take, you know, what is currently the annual increase in the military budget, take one year of that increase, and that would fully pay for the $51 billion in--that would--that would be the cost of the expansion of EITC. Another example is if we made a modest tax, income tax, we created a modest income tax for households making more than $100,000 a year, that would be able to pay for this EITC expansion. And when I say "modest", what I mean is, if we set a tax increase that was equal to their annual average growth, if we just took one year's worth of that money and we put it towards the EITC program--.

JAY: Yeah, and let's go through the entire budget. It's pretty small. It's a small amount of money. It's more about the question right now of the political climate is, you know, pay down the debt, reduce the deficit, and not one more penny. But it becomes a question of priority,--

WICKS-LIM: It's exactly a point of priority.

JAY: --whether getting people out of poverty matters, and number two, whether you actually have more purchasing power in the economy matters, or not. And clearly, if you're going to have to be spending stimulus money anyway, it would make sense to put it into people's hands that would spend it.

WICKS-LIM: You know, this isn't specifically about a stimulus package, but this is about policies.

JAY: But doesn't it amount [to] being that? I mean, doesn't it amount to that?

WICKS-LIM: It's--well, you could think of it two ways. You can either be shifting resources around in the budget or you could be, you know, spending more money, so adding more to the deficit. So, you know, you know, what we're proposing is different ways that the federal budget could shift money around or increase taxes by a very modest amount for very--you know, for high-income households, and that way pay for these programs, not that, you know, we have to create this new spending program, but in--actually change our priorities.

JAY: Have you done any work on what is the ripple effect in terms of wages? And is there any inflationary effect as a result of that?

WICKS-LIM: This is something I've looked at for a long time. And basically what the ripple effect amounts to for the minimum wage is that it's fairly limited. It does exist. When you raise the minimum wage, workers who earn above the minimum wage also get an increase. So--but still, you know, in all the cost estimates that we provide in the research, and, you know, when we tally up how it would affect businesses, we always take into account ripple-effect raises. If the minimum wage went up by 70 percent, we're talking about about 4 percent. Okay?

JAY: We're going to have a link to your paper underneath the video player. So if you click somewhere down here, you'll find the whole paper. And we're going to ask you--when people write in and start screaming, oh, she can't be right about this, you'll answer their questions.


JAY: Okay. So write in and scream, if you're inclined to, and Jeannette will respond to you. Thanks very much for joining us.


JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Originally posted to Edger on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:01 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Damn elitist ivory tower liberal socialists (175+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tookish, JekyllnHyde, Angie in WA State, nicolemm, BigOkie, mattman, karlpk, Coldblue Steele, Shockwave, hyperstation, eeff, LuLu, lzachary, SallyCat, TheMomCat, JohnInWestland, bronte17, conchita, cardinal, magnetics, Morague, KibbutzAmiad, Boston to Salem, sngmama, krankitup, TexDem, Bailey Savings and Loan, gerrilea, dwahzon, Chirons apprentice, Bluehawk, Sychotic1, lcrp, forrest, dkmich, zerelda, Deward Hastings, Gowrie Gal, Big Tex, joanneleon, maybeeso in michigan, historys mysteries, 3goldens, TexasTom, Sparkalepsy, Heiuan, pathman, Militarytracy, susanw, Brooke In Seattle, YucatanMan, reflectionsv37, eru, Annalize5, jimreyn, Burned, Ice Blue, wiscmass, Lisa Lockwood, Pluto, Brian B, terra, sgary, huttotex, Mother Mags, pico, esquimaux, buddabelly, blueoasis, NBBooks, triv33, global citizen, JVolvo, happy camper, Preston S, sceptical observer, Cato come back, a small quiet voice, doingbusinessas, Cassiodorus, Dreaming of Better Days, MadMs, zedaker, shaharazade, Eryk, bigchin, One Pissed Off Liberal, marykk, BeninSC, jessical, milkbone, CenterLeft, yoduuuh do or do not, FishOutofWater, Jimdotz, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, frisbee, aliasalias, puzzled, rainmanjr, millwood, Moderation, pioneer111, LWelsch, keikekaze, MKinTN, rogerdaddy, jack 1966, lineatus, jamess, happymisanthropy, Seamus D, Mike Taylor, statsone, ZhenRen, FudgeFighter, nippersdad, greengemini, banjolele, asym, allep10, mahakali overdrive, cassandraX, Alec82, Lost and Found, Garfnobl, BoxNDox, NY brit expat, Kristina40, Egalitare, JRandomPoster, farbuska, DaveinBremerton, science nerd, Oh Mary Oh, bluestatedem84, Colorado is the Shiznit, meralda, ban nock, croyal, vahana, Jose Bidenio, asterkitty, Situational Lefty, ThAnswr, SoCaliana, KelleyRN2, Billdbq, marleycat, worldlotus, whoknu, corvaire, peregrine kate, Book of Hearts, DRo, allergywoman, twinshappen, Pinto Pony, heyday, FireBird1, oblios arrow, dance you monster, The Lone Apple, Miep, J Brunner Fan, Joieau, swampyankee, Johnny the Conqueroo, MinistryOfLove, supercereal, BusyinCA, Master Man, Wendys Wink, absolute beginner, HiddenHistories


    Antemedius | Liberally Critical Thinking

    by Edger on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:00:56 AM PST

  •  Nice. Very nice. (16+ / 0-)

    A person can always dream, I suppose.  /cynicism.

    There're limits to turning the other cheek.It's one thing to forgive without anger and hate and another to walk up to someone and say "slap me!". BlueAardvark

    by Heiuan on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:11:42 AM PST

  •  Chinese-made scanners, at that (10+ / 0-)

    Guaranteed liveable wage = several of my coworkers will be replaced by bar code scanners and extra racks and fork lifts.

  •  In most modern nations (41+ / 0-)

    Full time employees (minimum wage) are not allowed to fall below the poverty line -- the way it does in the United States.


    But the wage increases are not put upon the businesses that employ such workers.

    Instead, wages are brought to middle class standards by the government, as a whole. Working class poverty is seen as a sign of a failed state.

  •  There is no quicker, or better, (35+ / 0-)

    way to "stimulate" the economy than to transfer money from the rich to the poor.  Do it with taxes, do it with "minimum wage", it doesn't matter how . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:17:32 AM PST

    •  Do it a way that helps those without jobs (7+ / 0-)

      and we'll talk.

      It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

      by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:19:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  15 million jobs should be at a higher (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        priority than a $10 min wage.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:20:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not so much. Jobs that don't pay the bills (10+ / 0-)

          aren't any big accomplishment.

          It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

          by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:26:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  12$ minimum was what she suggested (6+ / 0-)

          I'd think that in itself would create a lot of jobs.

          If everyone now working below that was raised to 12 spending would increase proportionality.

          "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

          by ban nock on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:49:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, Those people would spend the pay raise (4+ / 0-)

            right away, is my guess, so that money goes right into the economy. Right now there is a lot of pent up demand that cant be realized because of the lack of pay or lack of jobs.

            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:51:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. However, the whole model of requiring (6+ / 0-)

            that people find an keep a McJob in order to receive aid...doesn't work.

            It destroys Unions, people losing not only their pay but often their "welfare" benefits if they strike.  

            It forces Workers to accept horrific treatment, for fear of losing not only the meager wage provided by their employer but also the benfits provided to them by their nation.

            It is an out-patient update of the workhouses of old.

            It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

            by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:04:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That is not true. (0+ / 0-)

              You are missing the whole point.

              Imagine we require everybody to have a McJob, at sub-minimum wages...and subsidize them with benefits so that they can have a decent life.

              That results in (drum roll) Full Employment.

              This increases worker's leverage. Employers cannot dictate terms once we take away their back-up pool of unemployed would-be scabs.

              You cannot organize Crapola with 10% unemployment. The boss will fire your ass and hire someone else. But if unemployment is only 3%, we can get things done.

              Nothing good will happen for workers until we get unemployment down.
              The minimum wage does not help us do that, sorry.

        •  Spoken by Someone (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Edger, JesseCW

          who isn't working at a minimum wage job.  Very compassionate.  

          •  My thoughts exactly. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Don't make business pay more in wages. They might move the jobs away.

            Instead make their owners pay more in taxes. Then use the tax money to hire people. The money can also be used to pay subsidies to those who make low wages to get them above the poverty line.

            •  What a bullshit argument. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Edger, JesseCW

              Utter bullshit.

              Here in Australia we've got a minimum wage of about $15 an hour. And our economy is booming, with unemployment running about half of what it is there, and far less than half if you were to measure unemployment in the US in a manner similar to how it is measured here:

              Australia adopts the standard  international definition of unemployment: people are unemployed if they did not work for at least one (paid) hour in the previous week, were actively seeking work and were able to accept a job in the next week if it were available.

              And the tax rate here is pretty much the same as in the US.

              Oh, and we've got a functioning universal healthcare system that is every bit as good as that in the US.


              -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

              by EquationDoc on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 07:02:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Run the numbers. (0+ / 0-)

                The USA has a per capita GDP of $46,000.

                Australia is only $39,000.

                This means that despite more people working (you have lower unemployment) and a so-called high minimum wage, much less stuff gets produced.

                Australia does a more sensible job of dividing their pie -- universal healthcare is a great idea -- but their pie is smaller.

                Here in the USA, we need to:

                1. Get everybody working at whatever job, for whatever wage.
                1. Produce stuff (food, housing, healthcare, luxuries).
                1. Divide the stuff fairly using taxes and transfer payments.

                Any system that makes it illegal for high-school dropout to work is dumb. But if the minimum wage is above that that dropout can produce, you have outlawed him from the labor market.

                •  Anyone who thinks the minimum wage (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  "makes it illegal for high-school dropouts to work" is dumb.

                  You're talking to one right now.

                  One bright enough to understand that maximizing productivity is meaningless if we follow your path and return to Serfdom.

                  You're insisting that any peasant who fails to aquire the patronage of a lord be cast out to wither and die.

                  It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

                  by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 09:52:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Stop dancing around the issue. (0+ / 0-)

                    Bottom line: If you can only produce $5.00 in goods and services, and the minimum wage is $7.50, you cannot work. You will never have a job. You will never feel the pride of earning your own living, you will never be allowed to take responsibility for your own care and upkeep.

                    Even worse, you can never get on-the-job experience that might raise your productivity above $5.00. Never being able to climb out of the hole is real serfdom. Go to many cities and you will see generations of people stuck in that hole.

                    You will also never be able to form a Union. Wake up! People need to be on the job before they can unionize. Once you are on the job, you can get skills, make contact with other workers, and build leverage. Unions are started by employed people, not people on welfare.

                •  Your GDP numbers are a bit outdated... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  A lot has changed in the one-plus year since those numbers were computed. I'd put the economy here up against the economy there any day of the week. And given that about the only thing the US seems to be producing is bubbles, when you take those bubbles out it's not even close. Besides, those extra few thousand dollars per capita that are produced in the US go right down the health care drain. Thanks but no thanks.

                  That said, GDP doesn't seem to be much of a measure of anything these days. As we've seen, corporate profits are up--way up--so GDP is increasing, yet unemployment is still through the roof and still not coming down, and (real) wages are still stuck at 1970 levels. Good luck with that.

                  And good luck with that whole "dividing the stuff fairly using taxes and transfer payments" thing. Because the US is all about dividing things fairly using taxes and transfer payments. LOL


                  -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

                  by EquationDoc on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:15:09 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ... (0+ / 0-)

                    "Besides, those extra few thousand dollars per capita that are produced in the US go right down the health care drain."

                    On this we agree. If Australia is better, it is because they (sensibly) have universal healthcare. But it has nothing to do with their high minimum wage.

                    Universal Healthcare is such a good idea that Australia is OK despite high minimum wages, not because of them.

                    "And good luck with that whole "dividing the stuff fairly using taxes and transfer payments" thing. Because the US is all about dividing things fairly using taxes and transfer payments. LOL"

                    Well, that is why Progressives need to win elections. If you are saying, "Let's raise the MW because we don't have the political muscle to fix the tax system", I understand. That is a pragmatic point of view. Sometimes we need to settle for what is possible.

                    But if we are willing to look at the real problem, it is not that minimum wages are to low. It is that government benefits are too stingy and taxes on rich people are too low.

                    •  Do you know how that Australian... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      health care system is funded? It is funded by a payroll tax of 1.5%.

                      Do you know what 1.5% of the minimum wage here is? It's about 22 cents an hour. So someone working full time at minimum wage pays approximately $450 a year into that system.

                      And do you know why employers can pay employees $15 a hour? Because they get healthier, happier workers without having to pay for the health benefits.

                      I suppose you can pretend that minimum wage and that universal healthcare system are unrelated, but that ignores the basic reality that...they are intricately linked.

                      My employer paid approximately $7,000 or $8,000 a year for my health insurance benefits in the US, and I paid approximately $4,000. That's somewhere around $11,000 to $12,000 a year in lost wages and profits (and lost taxes).

                      And every dollar of that was counted in the computation of my share of our "gross domestic product."

                      I agree that taxes are too low on rich people, but you seem to be suggesting the rich support everyone else's government benefits (which would be expanded significantly). Maybe you think the rich are suddenly going to support several trillion dollars a year in health care for everyone else, but I assure you that doesn't quite land in the realm of possibilities.

                      A more realistic approach would be for everyone to support it. And at that point, all you are left with is the Australian model, because you can't raise tax revenue by taxing people making a few dollars an hour.


                      -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

                      by EquationDoc on Sat Jan 01, 2011 at 10:12:12 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Your numbers don't add up. (0+ / 0-)

                        Austraila spends $2211 per capita on healthcare. (converted to US$)

                        If this is funded by "funded by a payroll tax of 1.5%", that implies that the average wage Down Under is $147,000/year. That's $147k for every man, woman, and child. I don't friggin' believe it.

                        There must be some subsidy other than that payroll tax going into healthcare...probably a progressive income tax (which I favor) or a national sales tax (also a good idea).

                        "I agree that taxes are too low on rich people, but you seem to be suggesting the rich support everyone else's government benefits (which would be expanded significantly)."


                        "Maybe you think the rich are suddenly going to support several trillion dollars a year in health care for everyone else, but I assure you that doesn't quite land in the realm of possibilities."

                        The fight is long. Here in the US we had to get people to accept Medicare before they would accept Obama's health insurance reform. Before Medicare, there was Social Security. That was a big fight.

                        Before Social Security, there was Women's Sufferage, and before that we ended Slavery. At one time, everyone in America was ruled by a King!

                        Things take time. We need to keep our eyes on the prize and not quit.

                        •  Ugh... (0+ / 0-)

                          I edited out a sentence, which should have appeared in the context of the rich paying for the poor. People who make over a certain amount per year (approximately $50,00 a year for singles, and $100,000 a year for couples) and who do not opt out of the public system (by buying private cover) pay an additional 1%. This was one of the steps taken to deal with rising health care costs years back.

                          So yes, there is a subsidy...those making more subsidise to some extent those who make less. And those who opt out for private insurance still pay the 1.5% (they just don't pay the extra 1%). You were right to not friggin' believe it...I failed to give a complete picture!

                          Also, some of those annual per capita costs are out of pocket. Medicare, (the public system here, not to be confused with Medicare in the US) has a schedule of rates (called Medicare Benefits Schedule) that lists what Medicare pays for each and every possible charge, but doctors/hospitals don't necessarily charge those rates. It's common, for example, for an office visit to cost $70, and for Medicare to cover, say, $63. So some portion of those total per capita expenditures are not handled through Medicare funding does not cover all $2K of those per capita expenditures. I have not found exact numbers, but I get the sense from other data that Medicare accounts for about 2/3 of the spending here...the rest being through private insurance and out-of-pocket charges.

                          BTW, I'm an American, I moved here when my employer offered me an overseas posting. That also means I'm on a temporary work visa until I establish permanent residency, so I have private insurance rather than participate in Medicare. I have a "cadillac" type of plan with a non-profit insurer (HCF) covering my daughter and me, and it costs about $370 a month. Unlike in the US, my employer does not cover any part of it (though HCF has an agreement with my company that gives me a 12% discount). So I pay my entire private health insurance premium here, and it costs me alost the exact same amount as when I was paying about 30% of my health insurance premiums in the US.

                          Also, it's not only the wealthy here who have private insurance. Some minimum wage workers have private insurance. When you make $15 an hour, you can afford approximately $150 a month for private insurance (despite also still having to pay the 1.5% Medicare levy). Why would someone do that? Because it actually locks them into lower rates for life. So if you are young and making minimum wage, but one day expect to make much more, it can make fiscal sense to do so.

                          Finally, like everywhere, most of the costs are incurred late in life. Someone in their 20's here pays roughly $1,000 to $2,000 a year in health care costs, whereas someone in their 70's pays more like $10,000 a year. However, the life expectancy here is about 3 years more than in the US, and those extra 3 years have a non-trivial impact on the health care costs, adding about $30,000 more per person to lifetime spending. Amortised over an 80 year lifetime, that works out to about $400 a year per that extra 3 years of life accounts for maybe 15% to 20% ($400 divided by $2,000) of the spending here.

                          But yeah, one thing is for damn sure: things take time and we have to keep our eyes on the prize and not quit.


                          -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

                          by EquationDoc on Sat Jan 01, 2011 at 07:03:03 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

        •  You do see what you're doing, don't you? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Edger, JesseCW

          By pitting the unemployed against those making too little to get by, you're letting the corporate string-pullers pull your puppet strings. As long as you resent and blame someone else at the bottom of the heap, they're off the hook.

          Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

          by anastasia p on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 02:21:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Immediate public works (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        would help, but any money in the hands of people who will immediately spend it creates jobs (even if only in "retail".  A trade policy that insured that our money stayed here instead of going "there" would help, too . . .

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:07:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's not at all my point. (4+ / 0-)

          We're going to have long-term unemployed.

          That's part of the nature of Capitalism.  Hell, we've got "target" U6 of 5% to keep consumer inflation down by keeping wages down.  That means we're always gonna have some folks out of work longer than UI benefits are going to last.

          Now, we have a choice.  We can take care of them, or we can use the modern workhouse model that says "No assistance for you unless you go to work for Burger King".

          As long as those most basic benefits are tied to enriching The Bosses, Bosses, who pay little in taxes, the gap will continue to widen.

          The EITC is, honestly, modern Feudalism.  The Peasant must provide the Nobles a duty of work in order to have the means (their own few acres then, their own few dollars from the King now) to feed themselves, or be turned out onto the road to starve and become prey for bandits.

          It's driven down wages, widened the wealth gap, disempowered Workers, and for the first time in our history has lead to the bottom 80% being cut out of productivity gains.

          Make the minimum wage 14 bucks an hour and end the EITC.

          It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

          by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:18:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  that can be accomplished either (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        through direct gov't job creation or through guaranteeing a living wage to all citizens and residents independently of working or not. Not that hard and transferring wealth and income from the extremely wealthy to the poor helps the economy in all sorts of ways.

        No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

        by NY brit expat on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 03:54:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. Quality public housing, public food (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Edger, NY brit expat

          programs (buying up surplus commodities like we used to would help support farmers who grow things other than corn), real public health services, and small cash stipends.

          Beyond that, you make sure no one loses money by working.

          It's not hard.  All of Western Europe gets it 80-90% right.

          It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

          by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 09:54:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, LuLu, Edger, EquationDoc, Egalitare

    I have looked at her research before, and I think that this is important work.  First, there are multiple studies that cast doubt on the predicted effect of the minimum wage increases.  This alone is an important insight with huge policy implications.  I will say that I think using restaurants as an example of how businesses absorb the costs is not necessarily very representative, because they a) can distribute the costs across multiple meals and customers and b) using restaurants ignores the problem of the wages of servers, who are paid in large part by customers.

    Beyond that I think that this is promising research and an excellent proposal.  And I have always said that, notwithstanding the effect of an increase in the minimum wage floor, this is ultimately a question of values, not just economic policy and microeconomic graphs.  Wicks-Lim has articulated an excellent proposal that balances the interests of workers and businesses quite nicely, in my opinion, by combining the EITC and a minimum wage increase to produce a living wage.  

    For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion."

    by Alec82 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:19:50 AM PST

    •  And... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      a lot of restaurants and restaurant workers participate in the shadow economy, at least to a larger extent than a lot of other businesses.


      -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

      by EquationDoc on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 07:04:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Facebook Page to join (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LuLu, Edger

    Single-payer was out at the start. The public option died. A Medicare buy-in died. The number of Americans who would be covered shrank.

    by fayeforcure on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:21:24 AM PST

  •  T&R-ed. If we could make this happen (11+ / 0-)

    we could really stimulate the economy. And take a significant swipe at ending poverty. And cut down on malnutrition. And...

    Religion: Treat it like your penis. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats. (-9.00,-8.41)

    by MinistryOfLove on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:24:05 AM PST

  •  Great diary (5+ / 0-)

    on an important subject.  Glad to know there is work being done on this. It is a national disgrace that this is allowed. One caveat however, the repubs are trying to ban unions with new right-to-work legislation. We need a dedicated effort against that.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:28:51 AM PST

  •  I think we have to take much more radical... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LuLu, Brooke In Seattle, rogerdaddy, Edger
    ...measues than that.  I think the gov't should print enough new money to cut a check for $100,000 to every person in the US

    Hyperinflation later?  I doubt it - we need to drascically increase the money supply for a decent jump-start. If we don't do something like that, we sink now.

    When you've truly lost everything, at least you become rich in loss.

    by dov12348 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:29:09 AM PST

    •  Gee. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LuLu, Edger, supercereal

      I don't belong to an organized party, I'm a democrat.

      by thestructureguy on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:37:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you want a Zimbabwe-style situation where 100k (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JohnInWestland, MGross

      is mainly toilet paper, sure.

      Here's to our last drink of fossil fuels - may we vow to get off of this sauce. Shoo away the swarms of commuter planes...and find that train ticket we lost.

      by terra on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:29:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're talking about... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...what we should or should not do given a normal economic situation.

        This is an emergency, so none of that applies.

        When you've truly lost everything, at least you become rich in loss.

        by dov12348 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:39:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just a question...and I don't mean to be rude... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but can you multiply?

          Printing and distributing $30 trillion dollars seems rational to you?


          -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

          by EquationDoc on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 07:09:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Rather (9+ / 0-)

        Rather than bailing out wall street over the subprime mortgage mess they created for themselves and everyone else, the administration and the fed could instead have paid off every mortgage in the country, subprime or not, for less money (only about 12 trillion) than the 18-20 trillion they gave wall street as a reward for pillaging the economy. This could even have been done with tax credits thus avoiding any outlay of money from the fed.

        It would have restored the value behind the CDO mortgage backed securities that wall street got themselves into so much trouble with, and thus saved wall street while tremendously boosting the consumer driven economy as the money would have gone directly to the mortgage holding banks while at the same time effectively doubling the amount of bailout money by lifting a enormous debt weight from all those homeowners who would then have had an equivalent amount of disposable funds to spend any way they chose.

        The US consumer economy would be rockin' by now - maybe even enough to pull the rest of the world out of the hole.


        Now, had this been done Obama and the Democrats would likely have lost all future donations from wall street and they'd be whining so loud we  couldn't hear ourselves think - those donations of course were more important to Obama than bailing out homeowners instead of the party's corporate owners.

        Candidate Barack Obama campaigned for the restoration of Glass-Steagall, and then put in place all the same people who'd destroyed it. He'd been made an insider. The day after a special election in Massachusetts to replace Senator Ted Kennedy, President Obama briefly pulled out his old rhetoric. Wall Street immediately shifted its "donations" from Democrats to Republicans, and that settled that. Obama pushed corporatized "health insurance reform," which distracted from his absolute subservience to Wall Street on matters financial. He drew on the "expertise" of those who'd created and collapsed these mega-corporations in building on President George W. Bush's accountability-free bailouts at public expense. It was the same pattern Obama followed in every department: Where he didn't leave Bush's people in charge he brought back Clinton's. Anything to be an insider.

        -- A Reminder: "Wall Street's Mercenaries Ride Donkeys"

        Antemedius | Liberally Critical Thinking

        by Edger on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:54:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  print money and hand it out to banks = no prob (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        print money and hand it out to peons = inflationOMG!

        given the current disinflation, we'd be able to absorb a fair amount of inflation before it started hurting the economy in any way.

        surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

        by wu ming on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 05:11:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That would be $31 trillion, wouldn't it? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Half the output of the entire world?

  •  Minimum wage in most EU countries hovers (13+ / 0-)

    around $12+/hr.

    Yes, we are insane to be paying people $7.25/hr.

    Either insane or greedy.

    •  And if we offered 6 weeks vacation and family (8+ / 0-)

      leave to mothers AND fathers, the UE rate would be a lot lower.

      Of course, the righties would argue the opposite.

      •  Don't they work fewer hours per wk (0+ / 0-)

        on average too?  That would decrease unemployment.  I am not talking about the 40 hour week either, I am talking about all of the salaried employees who work 50-60 hours a week.  If they tightened up the rules and then enforced them, people would work fewer hours and we would increase employment.

        Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

        by whoknu on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:56:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Britain pays for medical days, has more bank (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          holidays (days off) and more vacation than your typical American job.  Plus the Government covers medical and if you get unemployed you can go on the "dole."

          Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

          by Sychotic1 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 01:14:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Have to look at the overall package (10+ / 0-)

      Judging by prices in Italy, at least, the overall cost of goods is significantly higher than in the US -- in essence, one euro spends about the same as one US dollar.  That means that $12/hour will spend more like $9/hour would here.

      So on the surface, $12/hour doesn't seem quite as impressive as it otherwise might.

      But then we have to look at the rest of the picture:

      1.  That Italian (or anywhere in the EU) minimum wage earner doesn't need to worry about health care costs, since those are largely taken care of by the government.
      1.  That minimum wage earner also doesn't need to worry (as much) about putting money aside for potential unemployment, since the safety net is substantially better than in the US.
      1.  If that minimum wage earner lives and works in a city, he doesn't need the expense of a car, since mass transit is broadly accessible and much more is in walking distance than is typical in the US.

      On the other hand, inner city housing can be outrageously expensive in major European cities.  And the suburbs that the working poor can afford are pretty dismal places -- at least judging from what I've seen in and around Rome.  What I've read leads me to believe that Rome isn't atypical by European standards.  

      The bottom line when it's all added together is that I would expect that a minimum wage earner in most of the EU zone would be substantially better off thn her counterpart in the US.  But it's not as simple as just comparing the wage rates.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:06:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Housing it outrageously expensive (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        historys mysteries

        in major US cities, too.

        New York and San Francisco beat Paris and London easily for " highest cost for 400 square feet in a rough part of town".

        Granted, here it'll come with a real fridge and a stove, there it won't.

        It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

        by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:21:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's the data (7+ / 0-)

          I wondered if it really was more expensive to rent here in SF than in London, where I know it's quite expensive; and you're right.

          That link at helps compare cost of living between any major cities.

          --Cheaper to buy in SF than London--not that that helps anyone at several multiples of minimum wage.

          Groceries are mostly cheaper in London, too (though an inexpensive meal out costs a lot more), so basically getting by in San Francisco (or New York or other spendy US cities) is more spendy even than in an expensive European city.

          •  And, as mentioned before... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sychotic1, zedaker, asym

            The poor person in Europe gets subsidized housing.

            Now, in most of Europe...that housing sucks.  Maybe not as bad as the worst projects of old here in the States...but pretty bad.

            Still, there's a 4 year waiting list for Section 8 here in Los Angeles county.  In every country in Western Europe, you can actually access subsidized housing.

            Honestly, that's probably what helps to keep their rents a little lower.  

            It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

            by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:08:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Fascinating website (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Thanks for the link!

            I decided to run Dallas, TX (where I live) against Rome, Italy (where an ex lives):

            Indexes Difference  
            Consumer Prices in Rome are 6.16% lower than in Dallas, TX
            Consumer Prices Including Rent in Rome are 20.31% higher than in Dallas, TX
            Rent Prices in Rome are 87.48% higher than in Dallas, TX
            Restaurant Prices in Rome are 78.12% higher than in Dallas, TX
            Groceries Prices in Rome are 4.23% lower than in Dallas, TX
            Local Purchasing Power in Rome is 44.47% lower than in Dallas, TX

            All of that seems about right -- grocery prices in Rome were pretty good, but everything else seems more expensive.  Especially housing costs.

            Of course, a comparison with a high housing cost US city (ie, SF or NYC) would look substantially different...

            Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

            by TexasTom on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 02:06:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  hence the reason so many people commute (0+ / 0-)

            for hours on end, just to be able to eke out a living working in the urban core, with all the attendant social, environmental, and economic costs.

            surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

            by wu ming on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 05:14:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  San Francisco is a silly choice for comparison... (0+ / 0-)

            with London. They differ by a factor of 10 in population and a factor of about 3 in area.


            -7.88 -8,77 Just a wine sipping, brie eating, $6 coffee drinking, Prius driving, over educated, liberal, white, activist, male New Englander for Barack Obama.

            by EquationDoc on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 07:16:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  North West Europe has higher standards than South (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sychotic1, Edger

        For those of you that want to compare Italy and Spain to the US, let me tell you that North West Europe has a much higher standard of living than the Southern part of Europe, kind of like the disparity between NE US and the South here in the US.

        Single-payer was out at the start. The public option died. A Medicare buy-in died. The number of Americans who would be covered shrank.

        by fayeforcure on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:36:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, compare it to Italy, like comparing the USA (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to Georgia or Alabama or Louisiana.

        How about we compare it to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium or France?

        •  What I've heard about... (0+ / 0-)

          ...the suburbs of Paris is every bit as depressing as what I saw in the suburbs of Rome.

          But, yeah, per capita income is substantially higher in Northern Europe than in Italy.

          Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

          by TexasTom on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 02:01:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  And besides, $9/hr > $7.25, no? But I realize (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that you are also acknowledging health care, social benefits, education and so forth.

  •  Personal experience: (25+ / 0-)

    Lost my job of 18 years two years ago. I made decent money.

    I have been working several months at a temporary job making $11.47 an hour. I can't pay my monthly bills and have not been able to put away money for my property taxes.

    So I can't imagine how people make ends meet when making minimum wage.

    "LuLu does not write diaries. There I finally admitted it."

    by LuLu on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 10:38:04 AM PST

  •  Living wage calculator (10+ / 0-)

    In my area, a couple with two kids needs to make $28/hr between them.

    •  Interesting link. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, Edger

      According to that chart, we barely make what it takes to get by.

      It's the policy stupid

      by Ga6thDem on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:06:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same here... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...and about $9/hour for a single adult.

      While I'm in a relatively low cost of living area, I have a hard time calling $9/hour -- even for a single person -- a living wage.  

      I can't comment on the cost of raising kids, but I'd say that calculator lowballs the amount of money needed for adults to get by.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:09:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It definitely does. It also does not have (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joanneleon, TexasTom, zedaker, Edger

        correct job types and hourly wages for my area (bumfuck West Virginia).

        They had architects listed. LMFAO! Yeah, buddy, you can't throw a rock around here without hitting an architect! There was a bunch of other stuff all in the 30 dollar an hour range. LOL again...damn, I guess I just don't know the right people.  Here I could have been making 30 dollars an hour right here in my little ol' county.


        Feingold needs a "I'm not primarying Obama, you dumb fucks!" t-shirt.

        by zett on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:45:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Of course, Republicans would say (7+ / 0-)

      "if you can't afford children, don't have them!"

      and then they would turn around and take our reproductive rights away anyway.

      Here's to our last drink of fossil fuels - may we vow to get off of this sauce. Shoo away the swarms of commuter planes...and find that train ticket we lost.

      by terra on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:30:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The minimum wage ought to be $20 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, Edger, Roger Fox

    Because it takes $40 an hour to keep out of poverty.

    Inflationary you say--

    We need some inflation 'round here!

    It helps the poor rise out of debt--even Reich says so

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:06:39 AM PST

  •  And YAY UMass-Amherst. It has one of the most (9+ / 0-)

    Progressive and Marxist Econ depts in the country.

    I took a macro-econ class from Richard D. Wolff

    His lectures made a lasting impression on me.  He delivered outstanding lectures.

    Here is Prof. Wolff lecturing about the recent economy in a short vid:

    It is just how I remember him.  The flailing arms, the truth to power polemics.

    Here is Prof. Wolff in the longer version.  This is really good.

    Sheila Bair, who heads the FDIC, was also a Prof there, at the Isenberg School of Management.  I missed her though, as I'm an old fart.

    I've been toying with the idea of going back to UMass for a PhD in Econ, if for no other reason than people might take my ramblings half seriously.  :P

    •  Wolff makes more sense in his sleep (6+ / 0-)

      than most mainstream economists make in their lives...

      All across Europe recently there have been wave after wave of co-ordinated general strikes and massive demonstrations showing a solidarity and a unity across unions representing different kinds of workers in different countries, different levels of skill, against austerity proposals by governments, that put to shame the levels of public street activism in the US and Canada.

      Fresh off a summer lecturing in Greece and France, economist, author, and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Richard D. Wolff, well-known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology and class analysis, Yale University Ph.D. in Economics, and Professor at The New School University in New York City, gives his analysis on the massive European mobilizations and strikes. He also compares the US movement to the European one, and find the European workers to be much more advanced in their struggle.

      This extraordinary unity is all built around a central demand which can be conveyed by their chief slogan: we are the working people who produce the profits, the goods, and the service of the capitalist economy; we are not going to pay for its crisis. And that's really the central demand, that if the banks and the corporations and the speculations produced a crisis that working people had no role in—and I want to remind viewers that in Europe they didn't even have the mortgage kind of crisis in European countries that we had here; it was a crisis of the banking sector, the financial, large corporations, and so on—the demand of the people is, we are not going to be made to pay. You're not going to solve this economic crisis by having the government borrow money, throw the money at the banks and the big corporations, bail them out, and then make the mass of people pay by cutting government payrolls, by cutting government services, all those things called austerity.

      Video interview here:
      People Power: European Activism & Constitutional Crises
      October 6, 2010

      Antemedius | Liberally Critical Thinking

      by Edger on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:26:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for providing this educational lecture (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Boston to Salem, Jose Bidenio

      for free to us.

      How much does it cost to hear him? In dollars per minute of class lecture at Amherst, if you were a student there?

      Empowering Young Inmates to Write New Chapters in Their Lives. Free Minds.

      by mimi on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 01:13:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please put up this lecture as a FP story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Boston to Salem

      It's excellent.

      Empowering Young Inmates to Write New Chapters in Their Lives. Free Minds.

      by mimi on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 02:01:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Brushed off the stimulative effect on Business (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mftalbot, Edger, Calamity Jean

    Inclusion of that would help a lot, since the profit of business is ultimately limited by the buying power of it's customer base, and the volocity of money, which down in the need zone is a the speed of eat and heat.

    To Goldman Sachs in according to their desires, From us in accordance with the IRS.

    by Bluehawk on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:11:27 AM PST

    •  Even Henry Ford knew that... (5+ / 0-)

      Ford knew his employees needed to be paid enough to be able to afford to buy the cars they produced, and doubled his employees wages, increasing his own profits as a direct result.

      Ford announced his $5-per-day program on January 5, 1914. The revolutionary program called for a raise in minimum daily pay from $2.34 to $5 for qualifying workers. It also set a new, reduced workweek, although the details vary in different accounts. Ford and Crowther in 1922 described it as six 8-hour days, giving a 48-hour week,[24] while in 1926 they described it as five 8-hour days, giving a 40-hour week.[25] (Apparently the program started with Saturdays as workdays and sometime later it was changed to a day off.) Ford says that with this voluntary change, labor turnover in his plants went from huge to so small that he stopped bothering to measure it.[26]

      When Ford started the 40-hour work week and a minimum wage, he was criticized by other industrialists and by Wall Street. He proved, however, that paying people more would enable Ford workers to afford the cars they were producing and be good for the economy. Ford explained the change in part of the "Wages" chapter of My Life and Work.[27] He labeled the increased compensation as profit-sharing rather than wages.

      Antemedius | Liberally Critical Thinking

      by Edger on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:30:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't raise the minimum wage. (0+ / 0-)

    Let the market set the wage. Let wages go down to $1.00/hr, if they must.

    There are some workers (sad to say) are only worth that much.

    The right way to help the poor is by progressive taxation combined with heavy spending on benefits like healthcare, foodstamps, housing subsidies, etc.

    There are some people who want to work, but they have no education and no skills! Anyone who pays them $8.00/hr will go bankrupt. The only way to let these people get a chance at a job is to pay them less -- but subsidize their food, rent, and healthcare on the back-end.

    •  Yeah, abolish the minimum wage! (7+ / 0-)

      I'm sure Canada will REALLY appreciate all the undocumented Americans slipping across the Northern border just to earn enough money to live the most meager existence off of.

      Here's to our last drink of fossil fuels - may we vow to get off of this sauce. Shoo away the swarms of commuter planes...and find that train ticket we lost.

      by terra on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:23:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  *Sigh* (13+ / 0-)


      Let's keep people poor, and then use them as nothing but a conduit to channel welfare to corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonalds in a way that makes us feel good.

      So, Wal-Mart pays 50 cents an hour, and gets a healthy well-fed indentured servant who has to have a job to get benefits under "Welfare to Work".

      The State pays all the labor costs, the transnational corporation reaps all the profit.

      It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

      by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:25:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read my post again. (0+ / 0-)

        Notice the words "progressive taxation".

        This means that Wal-Mart shareholders and executives make huge profits, yes. But they will face huge tax hikes to pay for the government benefits their low-paid workers will qualify for.

        The important thing is to get everybody to work. Once everybody -- even the least-productive workers are "making the pie", we can slice it fairly on the back-end through the tax/benefit system.

        The problem now is that if you have $6.00 skills, you have NO JOB when the minimum wage is $8.00/hour. You eat pie...but you do not help make the pie.

        I say, let the man get paid $6.00 and we can give him the other $2.00 (or more) in benefits. But please, let him work!

        •  That doesn't change the equation. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          First - if you have 6.00 skills, and that really is the best you can do....perhaps you need to be on the dole.

          Because if that's really all you've got, you're suffering from substantial disabilities.

          What's more...if that really is all you've got.  You can work.  For yourself.  You're free to sit down and paint a picture or or weave a basket or even go out and sell pencils.

          There is no reason, other than Calvinist Perversity, to insist that those who do not work should fucking starve.

          It is cruel, it is inhumane, and it is wrong.  

          Every human being, including the willfully lazy deserves food, shelter, basic medical care, educational oportunity, and the protection of the law.  

          Demanding that someone of severely limited ability accept degrading and demeaning work will only drive down the cost of labor, devaluing both it and the people who do it.

          A single person who makes 14,000 a year in the US consumes the product of 62 hours a year of actual human labor.  That's what it takes to provide their housing, clothing, electronic toys, magazines, ect (minus their own aditional unpaid labor caring for themselves).  To grow the crops and harvest them, to mine the ores, to assemble trinkets in factories.


          And it is rapidly declining as effeciency increases.

          That's not economic policy - that's ritual.

          You don't need to be a US citizen to buy stock in a publicly traded company.  The notion of "just tax the share holders" is laughable.

          Beyond the citizenship issue...they only pay taxes if they sell.  

          It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

          by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 01:36:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nobody gets to sit on their ass. (0+ / 0-)

            Nobody. Not allowed.

            You gotta work. If your skills are poor, we will teach you. If you can't earn enough, we will give you enough to live and provide for your family.

            But you must work.

            You mention "degrading and demeaning work". There is no such thing. You need to understand that.

            •  You need to stop trying to foist your religion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              on others, and you need to drop the notion that there's anything noble about consigning people to serfdom in order to maximize profit.

              I don't know if you noticed or not, but our economic problems have nothing to do with a lack of labor, and haven't for well over a hundred years.

              It doesn't matter how many children are left behind in the race to the top.

              by JesseCW on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 09:46:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Bingo. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Edger, JesseCW

        "It's hell to pay when the fiddler stops." ~Leonard Cohen

        by Annalize5 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 02:42:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The best way to break your businesses back (6+ / 0-)

      is to lobby to make sure no one can afford your products.

      Antemedius | Liberally Critical Thinking

      by Edger on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:32:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree -- except for the $1/hr part. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JohnInWestland, Sychotic1, Pinecone

      I make minimum wage and I'm on Section 8 and I get food stamps.  My children were on Medicaid -- the youngest one still is.

      Some of us have done the math -- compared circumstances.  I live better than some people who have more money than I do.  Double the money would have kicked my children off Medicaid -- lowered my food stamps -- raised my rent -- etc.

      I can't drive.  With medicaid comes free transportation to doctor's visits -- which for where I live -- often means having to go out of town.

      And -- yes -- people -- my income is well below the poverty level for a family of 3 -- but I have more than 1 computer (a new one thanks to tax credits -- an older one I got for $50 when a business upgraded and a really old one that was a gift) and an internet connection.  Those social programs work -- they allow us to have a little more than just a roof over our heads and food (no apologies to people who think anything more than a roof and food is unnecessary).

      Of course -- when HCR kicks in -- that might make the proposal in the diary more viable -- but then again -- for people who would kicked off Medicaid, lose food stamps, get higher rent and such -- I don't know.

      I think somebody with the will and the patience to do it should do some detailed number crunching on this to see how various options would play out.

      •  We can't do it yet. (0+ / 0-)

        My idea only works with progressive taxation -- the Real Thing, not what we have now.

      •  That's true, you do live better. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        What state are you in, btw, if you dont mind saying?

        Here in Manhattan, the rents are too high for most middle class, low to middling, and high end poor (the end where you dont get as many benefits as you do)... these folks cant afford to live here.

        I used to wonder how there could be so many "poor" people who could live here, and really werent all that deprived, and then I realized that they had free daycare, section 8, food stamps, medicaid, wic, free meals at school for the kids, free or very low cost tuition. and other special programs on offer to them. There are even hospitals and clinics where undocumented parents, whose kids are on medicaid, get doctor visits for $20 after they prove their salary is low enough to qualify.

        It's a pretty fucked up situation for those who are just above that line and upwards a few rungs. This is why there is resentment that is bred rather easily. The folks who are too "well off" (lol) to qualify for all the benefits are more likely to rub elbows with the poor than the rich. They dont really feel they are in competition with those so far above them, but those on a lower scale who actually get more... it stokes bitterness.

        Cant blame them, really. The situation is fucked up.

        Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

        by NYCee on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 07:26:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm in Texas. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYCee, Edger

          And you're right -- it is f'd up when somebody with $1 less than you can get assistance worth hundreds of dollars/month and you have to try to do all those things on your own with that $1.

          The result is that you get a lot of relatively poor people voting against social programs because of the hostility.  I have been the recipient of slurs about living off their tax dollars from people with incomes so low that they probably don't actually pay any income tax.

          As somebody said earlier -- our tax policy would probably need to changed to do anything at all -- but I've always thought assistance should be gradually lowered up to the point where somebody can maintain the same standard of living without assistance instead of having an arbitrary stopping point that creates further economic injustice and hostility.

          The situation as it is also does create an incentive to deliberately stay where you are rather than take a job paying a little more.

          I'm not suggesting there are a lot of people doing it -- but I do know of long term unemployed people who are turning down jobs or not applying for them because the jobs don't pay them enough for them to maintain the standard they were accustomed to.  My daughter was a manager at a company and got laid off due to downsizing and she passed up several jobs she could have had -- took extended unemployment waiting for something paying better to come along.  That bothered me -- but I understood.  Thankfully -- she did find something with pay/benefits close to what she had before shortly after going on extended unemployment.  My daughter isn't the only one I know of that did or is currently doing that. (I hate giving that fuel to Republicans -- knowing their answer would be "kick them off" -- but it is something we need to be aware of.)  

          In my case -- I'm disabled but don't want to go on disability.  I've had two strokes (an undiscovered leak at 30 and 12 years later a ruptured brain aneurysm) -- so -- I'm limited in what I can do and the number of hours I can do anything.  But if I go on disability -- when retirement age comes around I'll have reduced benefits and have to pay more for Medicare supplement insurance.  So -- I'm trying to hang in there until I'm 67.  I've got 17 years to go -- LOL.

          •  Thanks for the solid response. (0+ / 0-)

            Our discussion has helped bring some stuff into alignment for me. If you can read this lengthy post, fine. If not, it's okay; it helped clarify some things for me, so it's all for the good. (I think this is a diary!)


            Along the lines of what we've been discussing, your home state comes to mind in that I recall reading, when Bush first got "elected," how Texas teachers were often forced to border hop to get affordable medical care in Mexico. Apparently, their unions were so toothless they couldnt get healthcare, or not adequate healthcare.

            Again, I would imagine those teachers would be resentful, looking at medicaid recipients get what they need at home, whereas they had to jump thru hoops only to become the professional "poor," who now have to jump the border to get a tooth fixed, a pain diagnosed and a prescription to make it go away. Lawdy!

            Has that gotten any better?

            Taking it bigger picture...

            Liberals/Progressives tend to skate around the problems we addressed, some arent even aware of them (the well off ones, mostly, I'd guess) but it is a big fact of life in the USA and it is a big problem.

            I dont know if you caught the diary by Twigg, just up yesterday, but his diary, in a way, aims at these issues without directly stating them - the problem of the just barely poor or middle earners getting the shaft.

            If you didnt see the diary, here it is: It's Time for a Reality Check

            Thing is, the Democrats (not really progressive anymore, but still holding onto a progressive base... that is determined to tag along with them to the gates of hell...) and progressives in general, and whatever coalition they have of others who feel the same on BASIC issues, dont address these issues effectively. They are mostly way off the mark - issues like those hammered home in Twiggs' diary, those he says we should focus on and fight for much more effectively: "jobs, schools, healthcare, pensions" (his list).

            It occurs to me that progressives fail to help right this corrupt, misguided ship because they too often buy into fighting for the snippets on offer, the ones the media and both parties frame as THE issues, which only become THE issues because those are the ones they decide will be addressed. Once you buy into their sell, making the fight about the branches and twigs (Ironic this point was made by "Twigg" the diarist, lol) rather than the roots, you lose.

            e.g., Folks get all knicker twisted over the SCOTUS Citizens United decision, which gives much more leeway to corporations to freely fork cash into campaigns. Er, excuse me, but my knickers were twisted long before the CU decision because, well, in case folks havent noticed, our electoral system has been corrupted by money, has become a huge big dollar circus, has been fraught with manipulation by the powerful establishment for a long, long time. This is just another crappy floor added to an already "condemned" building. Another rotten branch on the rotten tree.

            Another e.g. - During the healthcare fight, we got syphoned off into fighting for the public option, rather than single payer. And we didnt even get that! Nor did we get lower drug prices via reimportation.

            Examples abound. Like raising the minimum wage a few cents while the rest of the inequity rages around us.

            What it bring me to is thinking that a different and more effective strategy (which necessitates different tactics) is a very simply rallying cry and point of focus: ALL or NOTHING.

            That as the line in the sand. That as the only acceptable goal. It is a more effective strategy not only because it bargains at the highest and toughest point, but because it aims for something much better. It aims for what works! It aims for the cure, not the painkiller, which, as we said, doesnt even get to a large portion of the "body" - the populace. it cuts thru the bullshit and blocks off those endless rides we are taken on, down noneffective tributaries, and goes, instead, to the source of what ails us. I'm thinking, what could be more lovely and powerful, in all its gleaming simplicity, than that?

            I really think "all or nothing" is the only way for progressives to unhook ourselves from this insane, counterproductive donkey ride. When they say: "Public Option (which, in the end, they dont really mean), we say NO!!! Single Payer! Etc. All those folks who fought for public option (including me) should have joined with all those folks fighting for single payer... and if that happens, then certainly, all the progressives who wouldnt even draw the line at the PO would find themselves in a very pared down club... peel some of them away and we might have a coalition of the significant... to make the powers that be feel the heat. And from that we could grow.

            I dont know where you stand re being fed up with the Democrats, Obama, et al... I have to say, I have reached my limit and am voting Green at this point (did so in Nov). I also think if disaffected progressive Dems were to vocally and en masse switch from blue to Greens, that would be an effective way to raise our profile and voice, our power in making the party stop taking us for granted so easily and cavalierly. The elites, esp thru their media cohorts, always scoff at progressives with the well worn "Where else will they go?" line. As long as we prove them right, we have no right to bitch about it.

            I mention, in closing, something interesting that caught my eye along the lines we're discussing - pieces by Glenn Greenwald (link) and Matt Taibbi... that take aim at the problem of Democratic Triangulation, now with Obama in charge. A stellar nugget in there is the part about extending the safety net for the poor while letting the rich get whatever they want (... and the middle class gets shafted). The whole party is in their grip, the progressives caucus's weak protestations to the side, as they are just that... a sideshow. In the end they yield nothing... or they yield to the establishment powers, so their yield is nothing...  

            Here's from Taibbi's infamous Rolling Stone piece: Obama's Big Sellout I had to search a bit to find it in its entirety. Rolling Stone has disappeared all but a summary.

            The "money quote":

            Taken together, the rash of appointments with ties to Bob Rubin may well represent the most sweeping influence by a single Wall Street insider in the history of government. “Rather than having a team of rivals, they’ve got a team of Rubins,” says Steven Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. “You see that in policy choices that have resuscitated — but not reformed — Wall Street.”

            While Rubin’s allies and acolytes got all the important jobs in the Obama administration, the academics and progressives got banished to semi-meaningless, even comical roles. [... ]

            The significance of all of these appointments isn’t that the Wall Street types are now in a position to provide direct favors to their former employers. It’s that, with one or two exceptions, they collectively offer a microcosm of what the Democratic Party has come to stand for in the 21st century. Virtually all of the Rubinites brought in to manage the economy under Obama share the same fundamental political philosophy carefully articulated for years by the Hamilton Project: Expand the safety net to protect the poor, but let Wall Street do whatever it wants. “Bob Rubin, these guys, they’re classic limousine liberals,” says David Sirota, a former Democratic strategist. “These are basically people who have made shitloads of money in the speculative economy, but they want to call themselves good Democrats because they’re willing to give a little more to the poor. That’s the model for this Democratic Party: Let the rich do their thing, but give a fraction more to everyone else.”

            Isnt that exactly what we've been talking about?

            Anyway, hope this was of interest or value to you... Been nice exchanging views.

            Happy 2011 to you and yours.

            Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

            by NYCee on Sat Jan 01, 2011 at 09:06:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sidenote: (0+ / 0-)

              Just to highlight how ridiculous discussions around issues can be, I find it "funny" as hell to hear pols, et al, talk about how undocumented workers are such hardworking folks who are struggling at low paid jobs just to get by, to help their families, etc, which is to their credit, and then, in the next breath, go on to say how we should go after the real culprits, the employers who hire them!

              How to square that circle? How on god's green earth are they to be commendable "hardworking" folks if no one gives them a job?! It is so counterintuitive, it almost makes my head explode! (Of course, they arent serious, so I keep my head from exploding... not worth the trouble.)

              Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

              by NYCee on Sat Jan 01, 2011 at 09:08:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I guess we're in different "camps." :-) (0+ / 0-)

              I'm personally more communist than anything else.  I don't believe anybody actually deserves more than anybody else regardless of what they do or don't do.  I believe that most people do the best they have with the hand they've been dealt. However -- I know that I'm in a minority -- that few people share my ideology.  So -- I don't fight for any particular thing -- just constantly for something better than whatever came before it.  So -- while my personal desires are communist -- my politics are "pragmatic."

              My personality is a lot like Obama's -- he's doing the job much the same way I would if I was president.  So -- I love him!  I think Democrats have been doing a really good job for the last two years -- period.

              I don't want single payer -- not now.  There are too many people out there who want to impose "good health" on me.  With all the concerns about money -- that makes it very easy for somebody to put rules in place intended to save money and rescue my children and me from my "stupidity."  Look at mammograms and how the recommendation just changed.  I didn't start mammograms at what was then the recommended time even though I was on Medicaid at that time and wouldn't have had to pay for it.  I didn't want to -- I believed the potential risk outweighed the potential benefit.  I can easily imagine that under single payer I would have been penalized for that -- but look what happened -- the recommendation changed.  So -- I would have been forced to either comply or be penalized for something that turned out to be rather arbitrary.

              I'm alive because I didn't follow doctor's orders on something else.  I won't give the details because there are people here that I know of who are literally fighting for their lives who have the same or similar conditions that I was diagnosed with.  I don't want to cause them pain and doubt about their choices.  The treatment for that condition killed my mother.  The protocol has changed -- but it's still rather "ignorant" to my mind and I'm in much better shape than people who do follow doctor's orders.  It may come back to haunt me -- but as I said -- if I had been on that treatment with an undiscovered brain aneurysm -- when that thing ruptured -- I would have probably died within a few hours.  I don't want single payer because I'm afraid of that choice being taken away from me.

              Later on -- after we've become more accustomed to "socialized medicine" and there's less incentive to try to contain costs by way of imposing rules about compliance with consensus health practices -- then I will happily support single payer.  However -- if somebody has a different way of accomplishing universal health access that doesn't have negative consequences -- then I'd support that as well.

              Now here's the thing that some people who disagree with me don't get -- there's probably no convincing me that my concerns aren't important and valid.  Nothing but changed circumstances -- a climate less concerned about costs and less likely to try to include health rules will change my mind on that.  I can't be shouted into agreement -- I can't be shamed into it.  As I see it -- single payer isn't the only way to accomplish my goal -- universal access regardless of ability to pay.  So -- for people for whom single payer is the goal -- I guess we part company at that point.

              And that's the source of much of our disagreements -- not so much disagreeing on the intent -- but disagreeing with the means and strategies for achieving them.

              So -- what to do?

              Thank you for the exchange -- and happy new year to you and yours as well.

              (And no worries about length.  I'm sure I'm the queen of long comments.)

    •  There's a business around here that's got (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      several workers who are mentally disabled.  Most of their work is not that demanding.  These workers show up for work on time every day and stay busy until quitting time.  They're always got a cheerful with the customers, too.  They make shopping there a joy.   Anyone with a work ethic like that is worth at least $8.00 an hour.  

      It's the hs grads with the snide mouths and the pissy, prima donna attitudes who aren't worth a buck an hour.

      Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

      by Ice Blue on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 01:55:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  and no one in Congress gives a damn. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Debs2, Edger

    Where are the Democrats?

    oh... wait...

    they're making the rich richer...

    go figure...

    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:19:23 AM PST

  •  I think some of the costs of living for these fol (4+ / 0-)

    is being shifted onto normal giving people.. I have increased my giving by about 300 percent since last year. I hope everyone is helping these folks out with some extra money, food, helping people pay rent etc..  I bought a woman I only know from Face book and knew here like 15 years ago.. who is an uninsured diabetic 12 months of health insurance blue cross and blue shield gift cards. But I am worried that this economy is going to keep demanding more and I do not have much more to keep giving. I will but its hard.  Our government needs to know people are in desparate shape out here and its citizens are stepping up but you need to meet us at least half way so we can afford to live too.. As of now and I am 45 I have 1) for my retirement saved.. not good. But how can you say no to people who need my help now.. its imposable. People need jobs that have insurance and now jobs are all under the minimum hours that it takes to get insurance.. so people are hurting..

    My Country Tis of Thee sweet land of Secrecy of thee I sing

    by hangingchad on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:23:49 AM PST

    •  There are insurance "gift cards"?? (5+ / 0-)

      Oh.  My.  God.  There are.

      I hadn't known that.  That says--so much.

      •  They used to not. but they know who is paying the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Edger, asym

        the bills now. Us. We have to help everyone that cannot help themselves. But its hard when you need stuff too. I would give my testicles for a giant infrastructure program or a huge increase in a new branch of military like call it the infrastructure corp and employ people and let them m get va benefits..

        My Country Tis of Thee sweet land of Secrecy of thee I sing

        by hangingchad on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:28:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Giving is good but not if it hurts. (0+ / 0-)

      I have never agreed with the "give till it hurts" crap.  Give, yes, but don't go into money needed for your well being.  You are just as important as those people in need, who have other sources of help (I know they're underfunded but they still help), or should be getting mental care.  The latter is also society's problem and it's not on you to make-up for society's unconcerned negligence.
      Take care of that retirement.

      "Put on your high-heeled sneakers/it's Party time" - Steely Dan.

      by rainmanjr on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:59:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the evil USSR (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, jessical, Edger

    excessive dissent could get you killed.  We don't have that here, and probably won't anytime soon, but we are approaching a state where losing your job consigns you to an identical fate via starvation--hardly a preferable alternative.

    Certainly, food stamps, unemployment checks, and Social Security have kept the nation above water, but really how much longer are they going to last?  Obama and the Republicans already have their knives out for Social Security, and who knows what they'll abolish next?

    We didn't win the Cold War. We lost it to the same corporate oligarchs that Russia did.

    by verdastelo on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:41:22 AM PST

  •  I think there (5+ / 0-)

    should also be a maximum wage limit. My husband and I have often argued about this. He says if you just raise the minimum wage the owners of the place simply adjust to make the same amount of profit. The new minimum then becomes as hard to live on as the old. A living wage depends on how much the basics like housing food etc costs. The calculations of measuring poverty is painful to read. Weeding through census data hurt my head but this pdf seemed to sum up what we are seeing happen. The top needs to come down as well. I realize that's just not going to happen 'as we don't disparage wealth creation in this country'. We seem to be fine with poverty creation. After all we need to keep those too big's profitable and labor is a profit loss.  

    Some highlights, for 2008-09

    In the 2009 ACS, 14.3 percent of
    the U.S. population had income
    below their respective poverty
    thresholds. The number of
    people in poverty increased to
    42.9 million.
    • Thirty-one states saw increases
    in both the number and percentage
    of people in poverty
    between the 2008 and the 2009
    • No state had a statistically
    signifi cant decline in either the
    number in poverty or the poverty

  •  Jeannette Wicks-Lim (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, Edger

    I'll never forget that name.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 11:44:39 AM PST

  •  thanks, edger! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Annalize5, Edger

    you've made some significant contributions to the rec list this past week!  wishing you peace in the new year.

    "To suppress the truth in the name of national security is the surest way to undermine what we claim to be preserving..." I.F. Stone

    by conchita on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:10:39 PM PST

  •  Disemployment? How about demand creation? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Edger, BoxNDox, RMForbes

    Working people with money spend money, which creates demand, which increases sales revenues, which grows businesses.  If minimum wage laws actually have a disemployment effect (which I frankly doubt) then one would also have to consider the employment effect of increased demand.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

    by DaveinBremerton on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 12:50:25 PM PST

  •  The thing that pisses me off the most (8+ / 0-)

    is when big businesses start crying about a minimum wage increase.

    The federal government (meaning all of us) have to subsidize THEIR employees so they can afford the necessities of life, and they are crying about their costs.

    They should be on their knees thanking us for subsidizing their workers.

    Not to mention the fact that sales go up when people have enough money to buy things.

  •  Imagine NYC or Jersey working at Wal-Mart. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, rolet, joanneleon, Edger
    We have people doing it.

    Three families to the 2bdrm apt ????

    Career criminals + Angry White Males + Log Cabin Rethugs + Personality Disorder delusionals + Paid bloggers =EQ= The GOPer Base

    by vets74 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 01:13:38 PM PST

  •  Somebody remind me, what was the purpose of (3+ / 0-)

    a minimum wage in the first place? Could it have been so the general public wouldn’t have to bear the socio-economic burden of CHEAP-ASS EMPLOYERS WHO WON’T PAY THEIR PEOPLE ENOUGH TO SURVIVE?
    A minimum wage that doesn't remove that burden isn’t serving its original purpose IMHO.

    •  Minimum wages used to work well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yoduuuh do or do not

      ...when productivity was lower and we needed everyone working to maintain our standard of living. We could not just fire people because we actually needed their labor. So we paid the minimum wage.

      Today, productivity is high. We have more stuff than we need. We get along fine without those 10% (or 20%, depending on who you ask) of us who are unemployed.

      What was once a lie is becoming true: People are choosing not to hire. People are choosing to do without, rather than pay minimum wage.

      I now shine my own shoes, cook most of my own meals, iron my own shirts, and do my own yardwork. I own rental property -- jobs that I used to hire people for, I now do myself.

      I don't want to pay $7.25/hour. I cannot afford $7.25/hour. So I do things myself, or do without.

  •  Not surprised and not surprised at how full the (0+ / 0-)

    Walmart parking lot is near my house. Everything is more expensive except for us. Everything that has helped people get ahead has been demonized by evil rich people and their conservative minions.

    People voted to be more free to be poor. Rich people voted for themselves.....R's win and won again.

  •  This~! People are supposed to get excited here~! (4+ / 0-)

    "Pop open some bubbly!"

    I'm serious. They really do want to keep the wage slave as far down as they can. It's terrifying, because they are dead serious.

    From Market Watch
    Diary of a Recession Baby

    Dec. 28, 2010, 12:01 a.m. EST
    Minimum wage set to rise in seven states

    But pay-increase outlook for other workers is not bright

       WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — This New Year hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers have a good reason to pop open some bubbly, or at least sip some tasty winter brew.

    The minimum wage is ticking higher in seven states, affecting about 647,000 workers, according to the National Employment Law Project, a New York-based advocacy group.

    The minimum wage is rising between nine and 12 cents in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state.

    The increases are automatic adjustments for inflation, according to NELP. Following the gains, 17 states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per hour. Workers are entitled to the higher of either the state or federal minimum wage.

    While the states’ increases aren’t huge, they are likely to be welcome. Increasing these low-paid workers’ compensation will improve morale and productivity, according to NELP.

    "In addition to helping working families in the states make ends meet, raising wages for the lowest-paid workers will help sustain consumer spending and spur economic recovery," said Christine Owens, NELP’s executive director, in a statement.

    "Minimum wage increases go directly to workers who spend them immediately — because they have to — on basic necessities like food, gas, rent, and clothing."

    The minimum wage is rising 10 cents to $7.35 in Arizona, 12 cents to $7.36 in Colorado, 10 cents to $7.35 in Montana, 10 cents to $7.40 in Ohio, 10 cents to $8.50 in Oregon, nine cents to $8.15 in Vermont, and 12 cents to $8.67 in Washington state.


    The federal minimum wage rose to $7.25 per hour in July 2009, up from $6.55 in July 2008, and $5.85 in July 2007.

    In 1980, the prevailing federal minimum wage was $3.10 — a level that would have the same buying power as $8.23 this year, according to the Labor Department’s CPI inflation calculator.

    "It's hell to pay when the fiddler stops." ~Leonard Cohen

    by Annalize5 on Fri Dec 31, 2010 at 02:09:17 PM PST

  •  Try being on disability you make less than min (6+ / 0-)


    •  And more money to people that work (0+ / 0-)

      means your disability money is worth even less.

      Our government should not be encouraging consumption.  Everybody should get a guaranteed income, and further people should certainly not be encouraged to have children with government money.

      If you don't want to work and produce and thereby consume more, this is actually a net plus for a society that consumes too much and is living unsustainably.

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