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Minimum wage and other things we aren't entitled to
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:34 pm    Post subject: Minimum wage and other things we aren't entitled to Reply with quote

I had a discussion today about how I didn't like Wal-Mart. The dicussion spiraled into him saying I had a different social perspective. He said there is no reason to raise the minimum wage cause we aren't entitled to anything. He said that he pays too many taxes and that we shouldn't penalize the upper class for their success. He said that he doesn't want his taxes to go up because they are spent by the governement and he wants his money to to go the programs he likes (such as church and charity funds). He said that Wal-Mart had a great insurance policy and that I was misinformed about Wal-Mart (he works there as an engineer).

About minimum wage: He was saying that a person shouldn't be paid more than they are worth. If the job is only worth $5.15, then they should only get paid $5.15. If that isn't enough to put food on the table, then they should get a second job. I can understand that low paying positions should be entry positions. No one should have to feed a family on that wage.

Please help me to understand where the hell this guy is coming from. I cannot imagine thinking the way he does. I think that a human is entitled to a livable wage assuming they are working the best they can. I understand that businesses need to watch their bottom line but you would think that happier employees would work better. Oh wait, They do. It is an old article but it has some interesting points. Why does Wal-Mart do better on Wall Street?

Boy, there are a lot of points there. How about starting with minimum wage and going to why Wal-Mart is so popular.

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Last edited by Lasairfiona on Tue Aug 29, 2006 12:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Minimum wage and other things we aren't intitled to Reply with quote

Lasairfiona wrote:
I had a discussion today about how I didn't like Wal-Mart. The dicussion spiraled into him saying I had a different social perspective. He said there is no reason to raise the minimum wage cause we aren't entitled to anything. He said that he pays too many taxes and that we shouldn't penalize the upper class for their success. He said that he doesn't want his taxes to go up because they are spent by the governement and he wants his money to to go the programs he likes (such as church and charity funds). He said that Wal-Mart had a great insurance policy and that I was misinformed about Wal-Mart (he works there as an engineer).

About minimum wage: He was saying that a person shouldn't be paid more than they are worth. If the job is only worth $5.15, then they should only get paid $5.15. If that isn't enough to put food on the table, then they should get a second job. I can understand that low paying positions should be entry positions. No one should have to feed a family on that wage.

Please help me to understand where the hell this guy is coming from. I cannot imagine thinking the way he does. I think that a human is entitled to a livable wage assuming they are working the best they can. I understand that businesses need to watch their bottom line but you would think that happier employees would work better. Oh wait, They do. It is an old article but it has some interesting points. Why does Wal-Mart do better on Wall Street?

Boy, there are a lot of points there. How about starting with minimum wage and going to why Wal-Mart is so popular.


Simple. "You live in this country, you get to vote. you have to pay taxes. STFU!!!"
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andrew



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a line-by-line reply waiting, but I'd rather hear from you first on what specifically in the first paragraph you don't understand, as opposed to what you disagree with.
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

psst -- entitled Wink

I recall reading an article about another big-box retailer, I think it was Costco but I'm likely wrong, whose employees are happy, because they're paid a living wage and get decent benefits and etc. But the stockholders aren't happy, because they think the company's owner should be finding ways to maximize their profits, not to ensure that he keeps decent employees.

It would seem that Costco is more interested in its employees, and Wal-Mart is more interested in its stockholders.

An analogy to this would be the way one of my Sears managers behaved. the guy who ran the dept. when I started often did things that were more to an employee's benefit than to the company's. The company, of course, had dozens of restrictive and Cover-Our-Ass rules, and the district manager and store manager spent a considerable amount of time trying to catch him in a violation of one of these Byzantine paperwork concerns, and eventually did, and he was sacked. His replacement, of course, gave not one whiff of a damn about the employees (except for one that he hired, who was his buddy outside of work to begin with) and only did what was necessary to improve his own standing in the eyes of the managers over him.

Does the company care about its reputation or about its bottom line? Which is more important?


edit: heh, I didn't even look at the article Las linked in her post until just now.
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the by, I think the real problem here is that this person you spoke with is an engineer, and therefore likely highly-paid for his/her presumed skills and expertise and works 40 hours a week or so in a white-collar type position. So how does his experience as a Wal-Mart employee relate to that of the no-collar wage-slave subsisting on $5.15 an hour in a position that's probably classified as part-time to keep them from accessing those expensive-for-the-company benefits he's so proud of?
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andrew



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To get you started, you should read the following:

Laissez-faire

Individualism

Objectivism

By the end of that, you should have a better idea of the reasoning behind how and why people think that way, even if most of them articulate it a whole heck of a lot better than the dumbfuck mcgee in your anecdote did.
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Paulia



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yorick wrote:
Does the company care about its reputation or about its bottom line? Which is more important?


By definition big companies are required to put the bottomline first and foremost.

Check out the movie "The Corporation" for more info.

I'm not condoning big corps' actions at all... just trying to be helpful

edit: because I'm stoopid
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paulia wrote:
Yorick wrote:
Does the company care about its reputation or about its bottom line? Which is more important?


By definition big companies are required to put the bottomline first and foremost.

Check out the movie "The Corporation" for more info.

I'm not condoning big corps' actions at all... just trying to be helpful

edit: because I'm stoopid

"required" doesn't seem accurate. There's no law that says they've got to make money, although it is the function of a corporation. "strongly encouraged," maybe.
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CopperTop



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wal-Mart pays an average wage of $7.50 an hour in an area where the average 1 bedroom apartment rents for $550 a month. So, the average Wal-Mart employee here earns $1300 a month, before taxes. Most apartment complexes want to see a pre-tax income of 3 times the rent. Oops, our average Wal-Mart employee can't afford an average 1 bedroom apartment.

Now, an entry level Costco employee is paid $12.00 per hour in this area. That works out to $2080 a month. Costco employee can afford the average 1 bedroom apartment.

Costco is closer in retail philosophy to Sam's Club than Wal-Mart - membership required, sales of large quantity foodstuffs, electronics, etc.

Also, Costco offers benefits to entry level employees - Wal-Mart does not, until the employee has risen above entry level.
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Flion



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like andrew's links. I was going to say that there's a bit of 'in a perfect world' in your friend's ideals. In a perfect world, everyone would be paid relative to their worth and the minimum wage paid would be enough to subsist on. In the real world, there is a great imbalance in both wages and costs. It is actually more balanced in developed countries but 'more balanced' is not the same as equitable.
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cletusowns



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

free market. Go work somewhere else or get education so you see a rise in pay.
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Dro



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My belief is that as long as the Fed manages interest rates and puts fighting inflation as a high priority (and thus reducing capital to increase job growth), we have an obligation to help the people that suffer for that policy. Those include the unemployed but want to be employed, and the poorly paid (paid poorly because the company could grab an unemployed person to replace them). We can pretend it is all up to individual initiative, but the system is set to have 5% unemployment and the resulting lack of employee traction for negotiating higher wages.
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trustedfaith



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh I'm probably going to open the can of worms here...

While granted, in general, we shouldn't be entitled to anything that we didn't earn for ourselves. However, I think on a basic human level we should be entitled to a decent/comfortable life. And what I mean by that is that no one should go hungry, without shelter, and without healthcare.

In an ideal world, everyone would have every opportunity to have the best schooling, the same chances at continuing education, a productive or thriving environment, and a fair/decent running start to make something of themselves.

But we don't live in an ideal world. And sometimes there's things beyond anyone's control that hinders us from being the most successful we can be.

Lasairfiona wrote:
About minimum wage: He was saying that a person shouldn't be paid more than they are worth. If the job is only worth $5.15, then they should only get paid $5.15. If that isn't enough to put food on the table, then they should get a second job.


What is a person worth if they're working for you full time? Are they worth at least, being over the poverty line? To be considered, at least, not poverty? Here's an interesting fact:

Quote:
Someone working full time at minimum wage earns $10,712 a year—that's $8,000 less than what the government defines as poverty.


Did you know that 30 million Americans currently work full-time and still live in poverty?

I think the problem is, people don't know how to define what a minimum wage job is, who holds these types of jobs, and why they hold the jobs. It's easy to look down your nose at people who didn't follow your recipe of success -- but not everyone had a fair start in life to have a chance at success. And the biggest problem with minimum wage life is that it's a vicious cycle that can kick you while you're down and keep you that way.

Here's some more information about minimum wage jobs:

Quote:
Who Are Workers in Low-Wage Jobs

Most workers in low wage jobs are adults. Teenagers comprise only seven percent of the low-wage workforce.

Nearly two-thirds of the low-wage workforce is white. Yet African Americans and Latinos are over-represented in this group relative to their participation in the overall workforce. In fact, the proportion of minority workers in 2001 earning a low wage is substantial: 31.2 percent of African Americans and 40.4 percent of Latinos in contrast to 20 percent of white workers.

Women make up 60 percent of the lower-paying workforce, even after a slight decline over the past two decades. Almost 30 percent of the female workforce is low-wage, in contrast to less than 20 percent of the male workforce. Of these women, three-fourths are white. Yet the proportion of minority women is significantly higher than white women: 35.8 percent and 46.6 of African American and Latino women in contrast to 26.2 percent of white women.

Men have increased their share of the low-wage workforce reaching close to one-fifth of male workers.

When it comes to education, it is not surprising that the low-wage workforce has less formal education than workers in more highly paid occupations. But contrary to the common belief that most low-wage workers lack a high school education, 40 percent have a high school diploma, 38 percent have at least some postsecondary education, and five percent have a college degree. The low-wage labor force overall is better educated today than it was a generation ago. This mirrors the increase in education in the general labor force.


Myths & Facts

Quote:
MYTH: Low-Wage jobs are the ones you see in your neighborhood McDonald’s.

FACT: Fast food jobs constitute less than 5% of all low-end jobs. Low-wage, low-reward jobs are all around us and include: security guards, nurse’s aides and home health-care aides, child-care workers and educational assistants, maids and porters, call-center workers, bank tellers, data-entry keyers, cooks, food preparation workers, waiters and waitresses, cashiers and pharmacy assistants, hair dressers and manicurists, parking-lot attendants, hotel receptionists and clerks, ambulance drivers, poultry, fish and meat processors, sewing-machine operators, laundry and dry-cleaning operators, and agricultural workers.

MYTH: Low-wage jobs are unskilled.

FACT: As important as these jobs are, most of us do not even notice them. When we do so, it is almost always in a negative light. In the public view, low-wage jobs tend to be lumped together and referred to as “hamburger flipper,” insinuating both a lack of real skill and social value. Policy analysts and public officials refer to “low--wage, low-skilled” jobs as if the two terms were inseparable. This mistakenly assumes that if a job pays poorly, it must be because it does not call for many skills. In fact, these jobs require knowledge, patience, care and communication. Most of them require constant interaction with people, whether they are a patient in a health-care setting, a child in a day-care center, a guest in a hotel, a tenant in a commercial office building, or a customer in a department store.

MYTH: Most low-wage workers are teenagers, illegal immigrants or high school dropouts.

FACT: America’s low-wage workers are mostly (nearly two-thirds) white, female, high school educated and have family responsibilities. Teenagers comprise only 7% of the low-wage workforce. Minorities and women are disproportionately found in low-wage jobs and occupy the lower rungs of the ladder within this workforce.

MYTH: Enduring the harshness of low-wage jobs is only temporary; since they are merely a stepping-stone to better paying jobs.

FACT: Mobility will not bring significant advancement to most low-wage workers. Even after a 25 year period, half of those in the lowest 20 percent of wage earners had not moved above that group and of those that moved half had only moved to the next highest wage group, still below the median wage. Low-wage jobs, historically have had few career ladders. Today, they offer even fewer.

MYTH: Reskilling will solve the problem

FACT: Of course, better education and fluency in new technologies are essential to improve job options of this and the next generation of workers. Yet, these labor intensive industries will continue to demand large numbers of workers regardless of individual mobility, and these are the growing sectors of our economy. In the next ten years, the low end of the job market will account for more than 30% of the American workforce. Employers will hire nearly twice as many food-service workers as software engineers, hire as many cashiers as they do computer-support specialists and hire more than twice the number of customer-service representatives as they do computer systems analysts. The reskilling approach will do little to improve the lives of most workers in these low-wage jobs, jobs that will continue to grow as a proportion of our economy. What these workers need is to be adequately rewarded for the skills they already possess.

MYTH: Globalization stops us from doing anything about the problem.

FACT: As profound as the impact of global trade has been on our economy, it does not preclude improving the wages and working conditions for lower-wage workers. Only a small portion of low-wage jobs are actually in industries such as manufacturing that compete globally. Most lower-wage jobs are and will continue to be in the non-tradable service and retail sectors. Checking out groceries, waiting on tables, servicing office equipment, caring for children, tending the sick and cleaning up for the rest of us must take place in a specific location where the child, patient or customer is present.

Other industrialized countries competing in the same global markets as the United States have made political and business choices to ensure that all workers can rely on a safety net. As a result, workers in similar jobs in other industrialized countries have fared far better than American workers. Low-income Americans have living standards that are 13% below that of low-income Germans, 17% below low-income Belgians and 24% below the average income of the bottom 20% of Swedes. This is despite the fact that the median American enjoys a standard of living far above the median German, Belgian or Swede.

MYTH: Low-wage jobs are merely the result of an efficient market and we as a society have little control over this problem.

FACT: Low-wage workers face a world in which they have little power to change their conditions—a result of our creation, not natural law. Over the past quarter century, a variety of political, economic and corporate decisions undercut the bargaining power of the average worker, but especially those in the lower strata of the workforce. Those decisions included the push to increase global trade and open global markets, the increase of immigrant workers into the United States, government efforts to deregulate industries that had been highly unionized, Federal Reserve policies that concentrated on reducing the threats of inflation, and a corporate ideological shift that eliminated the postwar social contract with workers and emphasized a principle of maximizing shareholder value. These decisions contributed to the deterioration in low-wage conditions and a worsening of disparities in income and wealth.

During this same period, the most vulnerable workers were deprived of many of the institutions, laws and political allies that generally helped to counterbalance these forces. In 1950, the number of workers who were fired, harassed, or threatened for trying to organize a union was in the hundreds each year. By 1990, that number exceeded 20,000. Private sector unionization rates plummeted from 25% of the workforce in 1979 to 11% today. The value of the minimum wage fell 30% during the 1980s. Despite legislative increases in 1990 and 1991 and again in 1996 and 1997, the value of the minimum wage in 1999 was still 21% less than in 1979.


Source: http://www.lowwagework.org/
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can spell. Really! Confused

Yeah, and what trustedfaith posted. Not only do I disagree, I truely don't understand where he gets his ideas. The implication he gave was that low paid employees don't work hard enough. The idea that one should work more than 50 hours a week to put food on the table is ridiculous. Single parents should be entitled to spending time with their kids. Not to mention the health care problem. I have a suspicion that the minimum wage issue wouldn't be quite as touchy if health care was affordable and/or more socialized.

And a completely free market doesn't work either. The inequalities between countries would negatively impact people in a completely free market. Let's say that a country can make a product much cheaper than the US can. In a free market, that product is bought more. Unfortunately, the people making the cheaper product live in terrible conditions. Should we condone something like this just because it is a cheap product? A completely free market says yes. Free market is a wonderful thing since it does rectify its own problems most of the time but a few, well placed regulations make the quality of products and living better all around.

Or I could let Wikipedia say it.

Wikipedia wrote:
Further, Whitman argues (explicitly against Hayek) that "a free market situation is probably also doomed to failure if there exist control persons who are not subject to external disciplines imposed by various forces over and above competition." The lack of these disciplines, says Whitman, lead to "1. Very exorbitant levels of executive compensation… 2. Poorly financed businesses with strong prospects for money defaults on credit instruments… 3. Speculative bubbles… 4. Tendency for industry competition to evolve into monopolies and oligopolies… 5. Corruption." For all of these he provides recent examples from the U.S. economy, which he considers to be in some respects under-regulated...

Cletus: we need no-college degree required workers too. We can't all get a college education and demand six figures. We have to have people on the bottom too. We just shouldn't let those people on the bottom starve. The US is a big and prosperous country. We are first world in everything but birth rate. We need to start acting like it.

Oh, and I vaguely remember someone posting the numbers on a Flat Tax. Did anyone know any numbers about a Sales Tax?

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andrew



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Single parents should be entitled to spending time with their kids. Not to mention the health care problem.


See, here's where it's a matter of simple disagreement. I (and many other classical liberals) don't believe the government should mandate your right to reproduce, to have a family life, to have access to health care, etc., especially not at the expense of people whose business it is none of. I don't want the government to dictate which way my money goes, period, even if it means I need to pay privatized fees for all things that would ordinarily be taken care of by taxes: public transport & road maintenance, education, health care, social security, etc. Many classical liberals believe privatization would lead to improvement in all these areas (under the theory that competition is healthy for business).

You've read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, so you've seen an example of what an extremist Libertarian society looks like.

Quote:
And a completely free market doesn't work either. The inequalities between countries would negatively impact people in a completely free market. Let's say that a country can make a product much cheaper than the US can. In a free market, that product is bought more.


No, that's not how economics works: the cost of production (if it translates to cost to customer) is not the sole determining factor in whether a product is purchased more readily. In many cases, it's not even the principle factor.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the people making the cheaper product live in terrible conditions.


Here's another area where we simply disagree: how is this our problem? In attempting to form an ideal national government, international humanitarian issues come second to our own needs, insofar as legislation is concerned.

Quote:
Should we condone something like this just because it is a cheap product? A completely free market says yes.


Again, you're misunderstanding the concept of free market; it's not simply "the cheapest (to produce) product wins."

Quote:
a few, well placed regulations make the quality of products and living better all around.


The vast majority of people (myself excluded) would agree with this, but the problem then becomes: how many and which regulations? Herein lies the entirety of the economic axis of political belief: how much do you think a country's economic system should be regulated, and how?

The dude in your example clearly feels we have too many regulations; most liberals feel we either have enough or (more likely) need more.
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