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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/17071/do-we-really-need-a-minimum-wage/

Do We Really Need a Minimum Wage?

May 24, 2011 by

In the 73 years since the passage of the FLSA, the federal minimum wage has been increased 28 times and decreased only once (in 1963). FULL ARTICLE by Charlie Virgo

{ 213 comments }

Barry Loberfeld May 24, 2011 at 8:45 am

“Do We Really Need a Minimum Wage?”

No.

Anthony May 24, 2011 at 8:58 am

I lived in Ottawa with my wife for a year in a nice two bedroom apartment in a beautiful section of town… although we were both students at the time and living off of savings (not student loans), I was curious how well we would do if we were working minimum wage.

I did the calculations, based on our actual expenses during that period, and it turns out that one person’s minimum wage salary (assuming 40 hours per week) would have been sufficient to:
1. pay for rent, heat, etc. (in a nice two bedroom apartment)
2. pay for more then enough healthy food for two people
3. pay for high speed internet
4. pay the regular upkeep on a car driven locally
5. Leave about $30 per week for discretionary spending

Of course we didn’t have any loan payments and we didn’t have any major expenses during that period, but the fact is that we were perfectly comfortable living off that amount of money per week…

Zedge May 24, 2011 at 9:48 am

Anthony, you left out allot of living expense factors; a plethora one might say. Go back to your perfect life were automobiles just magically appear in your garage and people are always healthy. Have a good look around your perfect little world where people never procreate so it’s always easy to feed just the two of you and there is no need for insurance cause nobody ever gets sick. Don’t ever dream of anything better than just getting by. Stay in you perfect little word with your 30 bucks a week slush fund. You could start savings account and maybe, someday you’ll get to enjoy your life and take a vacation somewhere nice. In your perfect world it would only take 2.6 years to save for a 5000 dollar vacation, won’t that be great? Provided that in your, perfect world the prices of every thing you will ever need stays exactly the same for ever. Oh what a wonderful world! of course you would have to deny yourself everything that is not necessary for sustaining life. Oh how fun! You say you were perfectly comfortable. Why did you not stay at the level of comfort. I take it you have moved on and live a little higher off the hog, so to speak. Most have to live from paycheck to paycheck forever, never feeling financial security throughout there entire lives. If one of their kids gets sick they have to dodge the land lord to pay the medical bills! That’s reality for millions so don’t reminisce about the hard times and try to tell us how comfy it was! Maybe you had wealthy parents that would jump in when things went wrong and you never really had the worries that the poor and middle class have. They struggle hard to make ends meet and they never do.

João May 24, 2011 at 10:01 am

“Provided that in your, perfect world the prices of every thing you will ever need stays exactly the same for ever. ”

It doesn’t take a perfect world for prices to stay afloat for a long time. All it takes is a government that doesn’t print money out of thin air, generating money inflation and, in the long run, price inflation.

Daniel May 24, 2011 at 10:03 am

You’re assuming his wage will never increase.

In fact, because the minimum wage raises the opportunity cost of hiring the most marginal producers in society, those most vulnerable are the one’s who pay the price since they’re the ones who aren’t even afforded an opportunity to even enter the workforce and get higher wages as they gain experience and become more productive.

Oh, I know, the solution is welfare, rent control, price controls and socialized medicine.

BioTube May 24, 2011 at 11:03 am

Why do you assume $5000 vacations are some sort of right?

David May 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm

No $5000 vacations for entry-level wage positions?!?! GASP!

I’ve lived the poor life. I was even homeless for a few months at one point, yet I never once thought of myself as entitled to the fruits of another man’s labor.

Marissa May 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm

$5,000 is a lot for a vacation.

El Tonno May 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm

“Go back to your perfect life”

WTF is this tearjerker crud and what does it have to with the minimum wage?

The underlying belief seems to be that economic benefits and a place in the land of plenty can accrue to everyone thanks to the power of the law. We shall abolish all jobs under the X remuneration level. Sorted. Where is my cigar?

Next week we will explain how universal employment is created thanks to the power of the uniform and the trunchon.

Anthony May 24, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Zedge,

I could easily have cut back significantly on expenses. I was paying $50 a month for internet, which I could have lived without. I could have cut at least $20 a week off of my food budget if I were willing to accept less variety (but still full nutrition). I could have taken a bus or rode my bike instead of using a car. I could have moved into a 1 bedroom apartment. And remember, I only calculated one person’s wages to pay for the living expenses of two people… if things got tough my wife might have had to work too.

You seem to think that “living pay check to paycheck” is something that happens independently of the money people spend or the lifestyle they choose to live. I had no debts because I worked all my life and I saved my money. I was able to stay with my parents while in school but I paid every cent of my tuition money myself.

“I take it you have moved on and live a little higher off the hog, so to speak”

Yes, I certainly have a much higher paying job now, but my standard of living has not significantly changed. My wife and I put more then 90% of each paycheck directly into savings and live off of the remaining 10%. We don’t have cable, we don’t go to restaurants, we chose a house close to work so we don’t have a commute, we buy inexpensive clothes and go on inexpensive vacations (you can go to Cuba for a week for $500 a head…). In another year or so we will buy a house outright (no mortgage) and continue saving for children etc.

“they struggle hard to make ends meet and they never do”

Sell you TV, cancel you cable, cook for yourself, buy thrift shop clothes and food on sale, cancel your vacation, buy used furniture, entertain yourself for free, and if you are STILL struggling I will have some sympathy.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 11:28 pm

@Anthony – I lived in a trailer park with a bunch of meth-heads for 11 years. Started raising our family there. Shopped at Goodwill. This year, as mentioned elsewhere on the page, I will likely clear $150,000. Know where I was last night? Goodwill. Wife found four jean skirts for our daughters … left the store spending less than $20. I’ve had 36 credit cards, I’ve had zero credit cards, I’ve been bankrupt, and I’ve been flush. There are no guarantees in life … you have to make it on your own. I just left working for a cable company and my cable bill went from $35/month to over $200/month. Hoping to have that back into sanity territory, soon. It’s all about personal financial discipline … we all focus too much on what we want and not enough on what we truly need.

Anthony May 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Agreed. When people who have far more then their parents and grandparents ever did are complaining about being poor it makes it hard to be sympathetic. There are genuinely poor people, even in North America, but none of them have cable TV.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Amen Zack! I agree with you wholeheatedly! Learning to live within ones means is a forgot behavior by 99% of Americans.

Tyler May 25, 2011 at 4:11 am

Anthony,”I was able to stay with my parents while in school…” Times is hard.

With that one statement, I no longer see you as the self-sufficient bargain hunter you want to believe you are. “I had it hard as a child if not for the food, shelter and clothing provided by my parents up to and including my early adulthood”? Pulled yourself up by the boot straps and let mommy wipe your ass? I bet they even made you pay for your own car insurance, didn’t they, big boy? What an inspiring rags to riches story, indeed. Boo fucking hoo.

Anthony May 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Tyler,

Although you are acting like a jerk I will address your comments anyway, for the sake of less stupid people who might read them.

I lived at home until I was 21 because I chose to go to a school that was close to home rather then attending school out of town. That was a deliberate choice that allowed me to graduate free from debt. Many of my classmates chose to rent a house or live in residence despite living in the same town as their parents because they wanted more freedom. They got it, along with $50000 in student loans. Perhaps you think that everyone should move out the moment they turn 16, regardless of the circumstances… Did you?

As for the rest, I never said times were hard. What did I say that you could possibly construe as looking for sympathy? I never said I was from a poor family, nor is that relevant to the point I was making, which was that if you are willing to spend within your means then minimum wage is enough to live on (in Canada, anyway). Do you disagree, and have a factual basis for doing so? Or were you just being an asshole for no reason?

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Why do you even waste your time with this fool. Anyone knows that a 21 year old can not produce enough income on his/her own to pay for School, insurance for a car, maintain a car, medical insurance and much much more. Thanks to Obama at least now they can remain on the parents insurance while they are in school. Previously they were denied that necessity and went to a free clinic or self medicated, hoping that nothing would happen to them.

Drigan May 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Thanks to previous government programs, school, insurance, cars, medical care and much more are so expensive that a 21 year old cannot produce enough income to buy them.

There, fixed your cause and effect. :)

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I would bet money that the minimum wage in Ottawa is much more than $7.15 an hour and has been for quite some time. It took nearly a decade to get a raise passed by glluttonus politicians while they themselves earned an additonal $38,000 in (average) salary increases during the same period.

Freedom Fighter May 24, 2011 at 9:01 am

Looking at CEO’s and the “performance” bonuses they get for screwing their own companies, looking at the “performance” bonuses government officials get for screwing us all, I think we need a maximum wage, LOL :-D

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I agree and it needs to start with our politicians, and while we are at lets make it mandatory for ALL people who work pay into social security, so we do not have millions of teachers, state and local government worker, fireman and policeman blamming the people on welfare and social security disability for its problems. Why are so many people allowed to be exempted while the rest of us including all people in the Military are forced to pay it? You want to balance social security, that would do it in a few years alone.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 9:46 am

“Each of these arguments may appear valid on the surface,”

LOL … to whom? You are too kind, sir …

One blatantly obvious bit of evidence that our minimum wage has consequences throughout the economy is the black market for cheap labor that it creates. By artificially putting a floor on American citizen wages, Mexican workers can seek jobs at $5.00/hour, make a huge increase in pay over where they are today, and put undo strain on higher-wage jobs (like construction) in our economy. This incentive is so great for many Mexicans that they risk everything to cross the border, bargaining with drug lords or “coyotes” for passage, shying from American law enforcement, and remaining largely cut off from family and friends (at first).

Even if the border were more secure, this incentive would still remain to citizens of our southern neighbors. Many of them would simply become more creative to find ways across the border to get to this country and find a below-minimum-wage job. Even skilled laborers, like carpenters and plumbers, who often earn more than the American minimum wage, have strong incentive to work here for considerably less than those jobs pay Americans. While lowering minimum wage would not axiomatically drop all wages, many union-inflated wages would have to adjust to a more natural rate of pay.

There is also risk in hiring an illegal immigrant: If the cost savings are not worth that risk, the incentives of hiring a non-American would disappear. This would, in turn, eliminate the unnatural wave of immigrants to this country. While I am very much in support of a stronger presence on the border to combat the current situation, it will not resolve the core issue until we fix the broken economics that cause it: The DEA and minimum wage.

Stefano May 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

Obviously this article was not about immigration, but I’ll take the bait.

The “black market” would disappear, but not necessarily the influx of labor. As long as there is a significant enough welfare state that makes it easy to live at a level far exceeding the minimum wage (see this article http://mises.org/daily/3822), then low paying jobs will always go to those who are ineligible for the excesses of government aid programs. Those would be non-citizens.

If you remove minimum wages, you would simply remove yet another government distortion in the market; not decentivize immigration.

J. Murray May 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

That and immigrant laborers tend to take positions that people in this country literally have no desire to take. How many of us are actively seeking work as field hands? Day laborers? Dishwashers? Just to have some immigrant come in and offer to take the job for less than minimum? I’ve never lost a job to a migrant, even when I was in high school in Texas of all places that these immigrant laborers are supposedly displacing, because I never had the desire to take positions that are actively taken by new migrants. I haven’t seen a huge line of all those poor, displaced citizens being kicked out of their hotel maid jobs by some guy from India.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 11:43 am

@J. Murray: “no desire to take” … wow, that’s loaded … where to begin? So, no, I’m not telling my son, “You know, Billy, you should go into picking lettuce.” But ask yourself why Americans do not want that job? A sense of entitlement? A broken wage structure? The government makes it where they do not have to? There is more to that story than just aiming higher than minimum wage. You do not have a right to “a job” much less “a job that is not beneath my honor.” I have baled hay. I have shoveled chicken manure. I wish every teenager in our country would have to do hard work and get dirty for a couple of years … it would do us good as a people. Of course, the time is coming when this may be necessary, anyway, if we keep up our suicidal economic tendencies.

I would say that as far as competing with “American jobs,” as it were, construction is the biggest area. I know many people in construction who have had a very difficult time finding work since the crash of 2008. In places where illegals are abundant, they are willing to take wages far less than experienced contractors. Although more unusual, I have even seen this in my home state of Missouri where contractors will underbid just to get business and then hire a handful of illegals to make sure they break even.

nate-m May 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm

The solution is really to just:

A) Make ‘illegals’ legal. Employers take advantage of the laws to create a virtual ‘slave class’ of workers in the USA. If you piss of your employer a single phone call to the authorities can make your life (and your friend’s and family’s) a living hell.

B) Get rid of the minimum wage laws so that American workers can compete effectively against ‘black market’ workers.

C) Encourage Mexico to liberalize their laws and economy (in the real sense of liberty, not the ‘Democratic’ liberal) and send more industry to Mexico so that Mexicans become wealthier and have less incentive to come to the USA and compete with domestic laborers.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

You can’t start with A. People ask me about immigration and building a fence or amnesty or whatever and I tell them it doesn’t make a wit of difference. None of those things solve the root problem of creating an underclass or a black market. I don’t care what happens to the people here. Really, I don’t. We could round them up in busses, we could make them citizens, we could give them each a Starbucks to run. Doesn’t matter. As long as we have a crazy-high minimum wage, a nonsensical drug enforcement policy, and posh welfare state, there will be a problem. Simply making them all legal would just shift the problem into excess welfare recipients under the current system. Dealing with the people here is actually the last thing that needs to be done – the other policies need to change, first.

nate-m May 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm

You can’t start with A.

Well I can’t actually implement any of them. it’s not up to me and it’s politically unpopular.

But my response did not reflect the order in which things need to be done. If it was up to me it would happen all at once. Then we would throw a party with cake and possibly unicorns.

People ask me about immigration and building a fence or amnesty or whatever and I tell them it doesn’t make a wit of difference.

Not amnesty. Just drop the whole illegal immigration thing altogether. I can understand filtering out for people with communicable diseases or violent criminal history, but besides that anybody should be allowed to go anywhere they please for whatever purpose and not be answerable to the state.

None of those things solve the root problem of creating an underclass or a black market.

It’ll solve the problem of the black market by turning it into the white market. It can’t be ‘black’ if the behavior is legal.

Simply making them all legal would just shift the problem into excess welfare recipients under the current system.

You didn’t mention this specific problem in your previous post so I didn’t mention the solution: Get rid of welfare too.

It’s simple. Not that it makes it easy. I find it sad that people mistake simple with easy. Simple stuff is often very hard. :)

It’s just like the good book says*; If you don’t work, you don’t get fed. (Unless your in serious immediate need or disabled or something)

*(2 Thessolonians chapter 3. Fantastic little chapter. A little bit abused in this context, but it is describes the thoughts of people that are leading by example.)

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm

@nate-m – Quite so, quite so. I don’t think immigration should be completely unrestricted unless our economies are knit together in a reasonable way. For example, I think unrestricted immigration between the US and Canada or the US and Australia would be workable. However, countries like China or Mexico only have incentive to get rid of their citizens (as they see it). But that’s another story …

RTB May 24, 2011 at 9:18 pm

nate-m

LMAO

If there are unicorns, please invite me. That’s not something I want to miss.

Drigan May 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

@RTB:
Who cares about the unicorns? I wanna see the other stuff!

The Anti-Gnostic May 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Very good post. That is exactly what teenagers should be providing in a healthy society: cheap labor. They learn work ethic, self-reliance, nuts-and-bolts of business enterprise, and how to interact with people from widely varying social classes. That is how businessmen and entrepeneurs were trained for centuries of human history.

I once met the last of a really old breed: an aerospace engineer who started out sweeping shop floors in 1940′s Britain.

The idea that we must import hordes of desperately poor Third Worlders to do work (or not do work, as the case may be) we consider beneath our Brilliant Young People is the height of an effete, decadent society.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Indeed … where are the “boys from the mail room” anymore?

I love the original article. I despise minimum wage.

I will probably clear $150,000 in wages and commission this year. If so, it will be my personal best. “But the economy is bad!” “Oh, I can’t find a job that pays what I used to make!” “Oh, I don’t want to do this or that or the other!” Cry me a river, people. I’ve declared bankruptcy in my life. I lived in a trailer park for 11 years. I shoveled manure, once upon a time. I worked fast food. I spent recent years working 80-100 hour weeks. Life doesn’t owe you jack squat. If you want a better job, you better get the training, take the risk, get up early, and do the work.

The minute someone tells me some piece of honest work is beneath them, they have completely lost my respect. I did not get where I am picking and choosing what I would do along the way. I took risks, some paid off, some not. I took cuts in pay. I got set back around $40,000/year between 2006 and 2009. I was unemployed for 10 weeks. Life is hard. Like picking lettuce.

J. Murray May 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Uh, because I was offered more to do something indoors? I’m better educated than a third world migrant so I can take advantage of jobs that have a strong capital accumulation base to increase productivity, justifying a higher salary. No one has figured out how to use a machine to automate strawberry harvesting, machines typically crush the delicate fruit. This is why those jobs are so low paying, they’re reliant on manual labor and have little to no existing technological base to increase output per person. This is why few Americans do these jobs, our base culture allows most of us to learn how to utilize higher output machinery or technology and obtain higher salaries. This is why migrants from low-technology countries overwhelmingly take up manual labor positions. They aren’t taking anyone’s jobs. The job belongs to the one that provides the best value, and that’s not always the guy with the lowest price. You’re not going to find someone who can do what I do for $3/hour. Sure, you can advertise for that, but everyone that shows up will have no basic comprehension of what the jobs is, let alone perform it on any level of competency, and even if you do train that person to be as competent as I am, which would cost a fortune, they could take their skills elsewhere and earn what I’m earning, wiping out the entire point of trying to hire a $3/hour laborer.

If there is a large segment of migrants that can come in and undercut me and still do the same job and provide the same benefit for 1/3 of my salary, they’re welcome to compete against me for it. I damned well know they don’t exist. Those experienced contractors clearly weren’t able to justify the value of their final product compared to the cheaper alternative. If a team of day laborers can build a house for half the labor cost and do just as good a job of it, of course I’m going to take the cheaper alternative. Why should I pay someone else more just becuase of their national origin? Why pay more for the same thing? It’s incumbant upon them to justify to the market why their more expensive services are better. If I have $200,000 to build a house with, those experienced contractors have better come up with an explanation as to why I’m getting more out of that $200,000 hiring them than I am spending that same $200,000 on a master carpenter from Peru who does the job just as well for less. That’s just how an economy works, you, the provider of a product or service, are required to continually provide a better and better product or get left behind.

The Anti-Gnostic May 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Except, in a free market, the Peruvian carpenter would have to negotiate rights of passage for himself and/or his family from Peru to the suburban US. He also wouldn’t have a host of public access/civil rights laws and welfare services to socialize the costs of him being here. Again, there are some questions begging as to why he’s able to offer services at 1/3 the cost. Granted, he may really be that much more productive, or he may be taking advantage of some externalities that aren’t available to his competitors.

Your strawberry example is a good one, but it may also be that a country with a lower TFR and higher g would be better off trading with Mexico for labor-intensive strawberries rather than importing higher TFR/lower g Mexicans here. Either way, there is no way we can say current immigration trends are the free market at work.

Residential construction was mentioned above. Heavily immigrant workforce, and an industry that was a pure artificial creation of boom-time monetary policy.

Tyler May 25, 2011 at 4:26 am

Those poor construction workers that have to prove their worth?

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 4:37 am

Construction workers who have to pay taxes, pull permits, and follow the rules vs. those who do not …

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 11:34 am

@Stefano – Granted, but the main incentive is on both sides. Employers have incentive to hire sub-$7.00/hour labor and there are people willing to take those jobs. There are freeloaders everywhere, but most people are not risking their lives to get here just to leech. There are some, but the money to be had by actual working is far greater. Compare this to an American citizen in the “dead zone” where working actually nets them fewer welfare benefits. It is considerably more difficult for an illegal to get that same level of benefit, though they do partake of many public benefits and states like California are de facto don’t-ask-don’t-tell on citizenship status.

My point about minimum wage is that it creates a black market for labor because there is both supply and demand. Abolishing minimum wage would drastically reduce that demand.

Stefano May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Zak,

I agree with you that illegal immigration does provide lower paying labor for construction jobs, but this is a good thing for anyone who uses or buys those buildings.

Our only disagreement is that there wouldn’t actually be a large drop in the demand for lower than minimum wage jobs, because most of those are under-the-table, cash in hand, anyway. If Americans wanted them, they’d take them.

And this is beside the point, but if I need help with some manual task, I would intentionally seek out a Hispanic of questionable immigration status, law be damned. I have had enough experiences in this area to know that the actual value of their labor is significantly higher than the wage they will accept for it.

The Anti-Gnostic May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

“I have had enough experiences in this area to know that the actual value of their labor is significantly higher than the wage they will accept for it.”

Then the next question is what externality is enabling them to underbid the competition–an anchor baby that gets the family AFDC benefits? Tax avoidance? Minority lending programs? (I know, I know–get rid of AFDC, taxes and minority lending programs. But this just shows current immigration is not the result of a free market in labor).

There is one advantage to the availability of cheap, productive Hispanic labor: it exposes the premises of Title VII legislation as utterly false.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

@Stefano – I agree that if the ONLY reform was abolishing minimum wage that would not solve the illegal issue overnight. But the market fixes the rest of the problem you describe. You don’t want to pick lettuce and I’m guessing that’s because it pays poorly and you don’t like sweaty work. Okay, there’s no incentive. If the farmers can’t get lettuce pickers, they go out of biz. Lettuce prices go up. Those who remain get more $$$ to pay more $$$ to pickers and the jobs get filled. If there truly is no one to do a job, then maybe it shouldn’t be done? If that job has value, then the interventions of the government to prop up that value are harming the real value of the job. We act like we would all starve to death if illegals stopped picking our food; I promise this is not the case. Food is already getting very expensive thanks to “quantitative easing” and other idiocy by our benevolent and expert masters.

In summary, do not underestimate the unintended consequences of minimum wage. Illegal immigration is influenced by minimum wage, though we may disagree as to the extent.

David May 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Morgan Spurlock is the definition of statist. Anything he sees wrong with the world requires legislation to fix.

Bill Spickerman May 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Yes, we need a minimum wage and we also need to realize that a increase in the minimum wage is out-weighed by the fact that the same people who try to make the argument that raising the minum wage will hurt the economy, fail to realize that these raises are nothing compared to the cost of living raises and merit raises that they take for granted year after year. I say cut the cost of living raises out completely unless those cost of living increases will apply as well to the minimum wage. The idea that minimum wages apply to college students and others who are just temporary workers is not based in fact. How many are willing to work in a nursing home as a CNA for Minimum wage or close to it? I bet majority of people would rather NOT WORK than take on a job like that, and there are thousands of jobs like in in the United States that are filled by those that are willing and able to do the work. Unnecessary merit raises and cost of living raises contribute to the ever so prevalent mentality in America that confuses WANTS and NEEDS to the point that the average middle class family believes that both parents MUST work full time jobs just to survive.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm

@Bill: What should the minimum wage be if we should have it? Is it too high now, too low, or is there some formula you would offer to set it each year or for each region? Just curious …

Bill Spickerman May 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm

The minimum wage is too low now, and does not provide survival needs even with two working in the same household. The raises should be tied into the cost of living index just like it is for the rest of the work force.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm

How about we pay everyone $250,000/year, then?

Gil May 24, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Surely there are immigrants who would be CEOs for $250,000.

IAmAnon May 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Of course minimum wage is not needed, however, I would hate to see corporations run rampant without it! As it stands, big business does whatever it can to skimp on fair labor practices (e.g. cutting work hours in the week before an employee becomes eligible for benefits). While it is very easy to say no one is forced to work for any one company, in actuality it is a very ignorant position considering failure to do so may mean there is no food on the table or roof over one’s head. Quit your job today and see how easy it is to find another position! Home Depot and Target have waiting lists of graduate educated individuals looking for work.

Bill Spickerman May 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Exactly and what will these graduates do for Home Depot and Target? And what will be their starting wage? There are too many spoiled people who have been being overpaid on top of amassing huge piles of debt so that they can buy iPhones, HD TVs, PS-3s and IPads and make believe that all Americans are middle class or higher.

Anthony May 24, 2011 at 11:20 pm

“Quit your job today and see how easy it is to find another position”

The major reason it is hard for many to find jobs is BECAUSE of minimum wage, mandatory benefits, etc. Also, if big corporations will “run rampant” without a minimum wage why do the vast majority of jobs pay more then minimum wage today?

Gil May 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm

The whole complaint here about the minimum wage is there’s jobs that pay very little and can’t be legally advertised or filled. If “the vast majority of jobs pay more than the minimum wage” then there’d be no problem.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 11:39 pm

@Gil – Hence why I brought up the illegal immigration issue. A large black market in labor shows that something is awry with “legal” labor. There are jobs “Americans won’t do,” and yet we have ~10% unemployment? There’s a glitch in the system. To statists, the answer is “more system.” To lovers of freedom, we prefer less government.

Anthony May 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Gil,

Look up the statistics. There is no “if”.

“Of the 76.5 million people paid by the hour in the United States in 2006, 2.2% make minimum wage or less” http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2006.htm

The issue is that there is 10% unemployment. The people who already have jobs would not be much effected by removing the minimum wage, but the 10% who don’t have jobs would at least have a chance to work. That is the whole point.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

@Anthony – In fairness, I’m betting there are more than 2.2% paid minimum wage today than there were in 2006 … but even if that number is 5%, it doesn’t change the argument …

J_man86 May 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm

A decent article, but you fail to point out a major problem with minimum wage and how it relates to unemployment and the value of money. When you have a minimum wage, it lowers the value of money (fiat or not). Here’s an example. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that only 3 people exist: Bob, Steve, and Tim. Bob, who happens to own land with lots of natural resources, is the only employer. All three men can live self sufficiently. The problem is that Steve and Tim don’t have any wood to make furniture out of and Bob is too busy make any. So they have to sit and eat on the ground. Bob decides to employ some help to make furniture. Bob can afford to pay $8 an hour labor total. Assuming a a minimum wage of $8, Bob can only afford to hire one worker. Bob hires Tim to make tables. Tim is able to purchase back half(2) the tables he made for Bob(4) with his salary. Tim and Bob are both proud owners of two tables. Good for them. The problem is that neither of them have chairs for their tables. Now let’s assume no minimum wage law. Bob pays $4 an hour to Tim to make tables and $4 an hour to Steve to make chairs. Steve makes four chairs in the time it takes Tim to make one table. Bob now has 4 tables and 16 chairs, while Steve and Tim each have their $4 an hour salary. Steve and Tim each purchase one table and four chairs with their salaries. Bob now has two complete sets and Tim and Steve each have one. We can see that the same amount of money that was in the economy under the MWL now represents twice the amount of goods. In other words, if one dollar could buy you an apple before, it can now buy you two apples. Bob has twice as much furniture as before, Steve has a complete furniture set he did not have before, and Tim now has a table with four chairs instead of two tables. As we can see everyone is much better off than they were before. If we multiply this example out across an entire country, you can imagine the implications of a minimum wage law on the value of money.

Bill Spickerman May 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Your example does not relate to the real world. In a free society Bob, Tim and Steve can work where ever they want and they are entitled to cultivate their own resources, grow their own crops, and dry out their own wood to make their own tables and chairs. Even Boy Scouts are skilled at making Tables, chairs, and much more with available natural resources.

Rob May 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm

The author seems to have conflated two ideas here, and mixed together their arguments:
1. there should be no minimum wage and
2. the government shouldn’t be responsible for providing assistance to the poor.

I have some sympathy for the first argument, it’s an inflexible approach that concentrates the burden on a particular subset of employers and distorts the labor market in the ways the author describes.

But that doesn’t mean that we should throw out the idea that the government should be conduit for assistance to for poor. I take issue with comments like this in particular:

“Spurlock and his fiancée are able to furnish their entire apartment through a local church’s donation center. They received dishes and kitchenware, a table and chair and even a couch, all for free. Other organizations, like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, also provide basic living materials at significantly reduced prices, because voluntary donations are the primary source of their merchandise.

The idea, however, that government can manipulate the economy for some without consequences for others is fallacious.”

That’s a fine anecdote, but where is the real evidence that voluntary charitable organizations can and will provide sufficient aid for those who need it? And if we accept (as the author does) that “basic services should be provided to those in need”, then what better organization to administer it on our behalf that our collective and universal government, who at least will do so without reference to religion or anything other than need? (In theory).

Also, thinking that the government is the best positioned organization to facilitate providing such assistance isn’t the same as thinking it’s without consequences, it’s simply a cost we choose to bear because of our common belief that “basic services should be provided to those in need”.

A minimum wage might be problematic for practical and efficiency reasons, but going from there to the idea that the poor can get by on their own is a leap of logic not backed up by any evidence.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I doubt you find much sympathy for #2 on these forums. The reason the author uses that particular anecdote is because it is in the article promoting a raise in minimum wage … it’s simply irony that it could be seen as supporting either cause.

The problem with the government supporting welfare in any form is that the government has proven throughout human history as incapable of doing so (1) efficiently, (2) effectively, (3) without corruption, (4) without expanding beyond all rationality. At the point where people agree to help someone downtrodden (church, charity), such support is volunteer. At the point where support is coerced (taxes, penalties) from one person just to give to another, it becomes immoral, no matter how honorable the cause may have been before that.

My church regularly feeds homeless folks in our area. We do so without regard to the recipient’s religion and we don’t even ask them attend our church. We simply offer assistance, serve them a meal, tell them who we are, and leave. If they come to our church at some later date, we are happy to see their gratitude and desire to find out more about us. Most charitable organizations work this way and most of them would do considerably more if government was less of an inhibitor.

Bill Spickerman May 24, 2011 at 8:28 pm

And you church receives government subsidies in the form of exemptions from property taxes, sales and other taxes, as well as (starting with the Bush Administration) limited availability of public monies to funds these kinds of projects with very little oversight. Not to mention exemptions from complying with federal regulations that would normally apply to other public entities.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 9:00 pm

@Bill – If you wish to end the 501c3 exemptions for not-for-profit businesses, by all means, let’s end them. Our church has never, nor would ever, take public monies – and I certainly don’t support “public money” being used in such a way. (Of course, I don’t support the notion of “public money,” so it’s somewhat academic, anyway.)

That said, we also provide, free to the state and community, courses in anger management, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, parenting, and others. Two neighboring county court systems offer some of their minor offenders an opportunity to partake in our “Life in Focus” program rather than serve time in jail. The court charges a fee to hand out the sentence (the irony of which is always makes me smile), but the people who take our classes do not have to pay a cent. They present our certificate of completion to their parole officer and they have stayed out of jail, not cost the taxpayers room and board, and most are not repeat offenders (last count was 85%). And what state program is so effective and cheap? What workers for the state would help people because they believe it is the right thing to do (the US government pays an average of 40% more than the private sector)?

I pay 10% of my income to my church voluntarily to support these programs. The government by force takes 30-40% of my income to spend on 700 global military bases, tattoo removal, keeping marijuana illegal, and paying poor women to make babies with dishonorable men. You think the people of Joplin, Missouri, are waiting for FEMA? I lived there for 2 years, and I can tell you that by the time the Feds get there, the hard work will all be done and the people will be getting on with their lives.

Anthony May 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Bill,

An exemption is not a subsidy. If I refrain from breaking into your house and stealing your stuff am I subsidizing you?

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Let me explain it so even you can understand it. If I do not have to pay property and sales tax and other taxes, that is a loss of income for the state as well as Local governments that provide the roads, the water and sewage, that sanitation services and so much more that I enjoy the use of, not to mention contributions to the publica schools, the fire department and the police department. I also save money by not having to comply with federal laws, for example. I can buy vans to transport people who can walk, but I do not have to comply with the ADA Law becasue I am exempt (supposedly) under the Separation Of Government and Church. You can give it any name that you want, the bottom line is that income in being lost when taxes are not required to paid by faith based entities which results in billions of lost dollars that could have been used to maintain and upgrade infrastructure that is maintained by government.

Drigan May 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

First, the government has no income, merely money that it confiscated from its victims . . . er citizens. It produces very little that people are willing to pay to have. (When was the last time you saw someone voluntarily give extra money to the government for extra services?) The government can order people to obey it, and (if a group of government enforcers obey the government) it can jail or kill disobedient subjects.

Anthony’s point was that the government is taking money without earning it. This is known as ‘charity’ when done voluntarily; ‘theft’ otherwise. If the government *doesn’t* steal this money, that is *not* a subsidy.

Can you imagine how much harm it would do to the poor if charities were taxed? Assuming a 20% tax rate (and it’s higher than that!) they would have less than 80% what they have already. (People wouldn’t give as much because they would know that it wasn’t as efficient, and the charities do have fixed costs which aren’t going to decrease just because the government is stealing some of their money.) Churches are vastly more efficient at giving needy people things than the government is, so most of that 20% would truly be lost to the poor.

Peace,
Drigan

Inquisitor May 27, 2011 at 8:40 am

“Let me explain it so even you can understand it. ”

Irony.

BTW: the government is due no income, so nothing is “lost” by anyone but the mob… err, government.

The Anti-Gnostic May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

“And if we accept (as the author does) that ‘basic services should be provided to those in need’”

I don’t accept this. Why should I accept this?

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm

@The Anti-Gnostic: I agree with you. Provided by whom? By what definition of basic services? It’s too open-ended. The road to Hell is paved with those exact good intentions.

Crazyworld May 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Amen. And of course, how do we define what constitutes “in need”?

Charlie Virgo May 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm

You’re right anti-gnostic, I used the wrong wording there. My intent was to bring up whether assistance should be left to the govt or to the market. Nobody has a right to assistance from others, and in that sense nobody is obligated (or “should”) to help them. I do believe we have a responsibility to help, however, and in that sense we “should”. That it was ambiguous is entirely my fault, but it appears we agree on the point.

OlderThanDirt May 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Charlie Virgo is…who? Charlie writes a ferocious attack on the minimum wage. I suppose he’s entitled to his ignorant ideas. But I think those of us asked to read this filth by as reputable a publication as the Christian Science Monitor deserve to know who is actually paying Charlie to disseminate his community-destroying drivel. So who is paying you, Charlie? I don’t mean some anonymous “institute” named after a dead Nazi. I mean who is donating the funds to this so-called institute. Will you level with us, Charlie? Who is actually paying the bills (and is so desperate to beat down his own employees by cutting their pay to less than $7 per hour)? Tell us one little bit of truth, Charlie, in the middle of all of your other lies. C’mon, Charlie. Who’s your paymaster?

The Anti-Gnostic May 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Mises was an Ashkenazi Jew, not a Nazi Jew, you nitwit.

Anthony May 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm

OlderThanDirt

You are being arrogant and abusive and you are not worth the time it would take to respond to you. Speak with respect and maybe someone might consent to help you relieve your ignorance and find a more fruitful target for your hatred.

Vanmind May 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Obvious government plant is obvious.

Walt D. May 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Burger King provides a good example of the unintended consequences of minimum wage laws, labor laws and Obamacare. Now you can either order online or use touch screens to place your order. Same at Ralphs – you can scan your own grocery items. Saves paying an extra checkout clerk (at union wages).
Sooner or later it becomes more cost effective and less of a hassle to replace the human task with a machine. You also get a more reliable product.

Shay May 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Exactly; they made it illegal to profitably hire the checkout people. Since there are no minimum wage laws for paying machines to do the same job, this made it profitable to develop and build such machines. Now that the development costs have been paid, there’s no going back; even if minimum wage laws disappeared, the checkout machines are here to stay.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Then again what’s the cost of hiring checkout chimps? ATMs did people but I’d rather use an ATM anyway not to mention running costs of ATM when no one is around is negligible so a teller would presumably be paid by transaction and would get next to nothing on some days.

son_of_liberty May 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm

OlderThanDirt, you should probably just drop anymore pretense and change your name to GovernmentTroll. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to ignore the entire article and spew out last night’s Rachel Maddow episode, though.

Jeff2136 May 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Maybe we should do away with child labor laws to. I’m sure some families would pull their kids out of the 5th and 6th grade so they could flip burgers and help the family finances.
It might be different if we had some type of universal health coverage (like the rest of the developed countries in the world) or some sick leave. But our poor and/or middle class must be seen as second class citizens and not as worthy as those in other countries. So lowering their pay will probably help remind them.
We were the last developed country to give up slavery but we have been working our way back to those glorious days and reducing the minimum wage will speed our descent.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Gosh, Jeff … we are all such jerks. The benevolent curators of our universal health care could never enslave us …

Jeff2136 May 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm

It wasn’t the government that enslaved us last time. It was the greed of people that wanted cheap labor and didn’t care how they got it. It was the government that forced a stop to slavery.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm

@Jeff – take a look at the 20th century. Governments enslaved German Jews, Russian farmers, Chinese farmers, the entire countries of Cuba, North Korea, and Cambodia, not to mention half the continent of Africa. Millions were killed due to failed central planning in Ukraine and other Soviet holdings simply from starvation because they were not even worth being maintained as slaves!!! Of course these same countries tout “universal health care” which basically means aborting any baby that didn’t get conceived by a central planning authority.

Anthony May 24, 2011 at 11:36 pm

“It was the government that forced a stop to slavery.”

What about the government laws making it illegal to help a runaway slave? Slavery was supported every inch of the way by government laws and government subsidies.

Vanmind May 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

No, what ended slavery in the world (for the most part) was the gradual awakening to economic reasoning which made clear how paying for someone’s labor raised one’s profit higher than owning a slave to do similar work. Lincoln, though, saw a political opportunity and went ahead with plans to murder thousands upon thousands to force certain states to continue paying tribute to DC — all while lying about how he was “freeing the slaves.”

To this day, people make the mistake of calling that scumbag a hero.

Gil May 24, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Indeed the poor need their children working to help out the household and not be locked away for 15 yeras. Then again considering how many unemployed highly-educated people are out there, schooling isn’t doing much good for lots of people.

RATM May 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Lol. Kids wouldn’t have to work to provide for a living if there were a truly free market. Not to mention they wouldn’t be wanted. Teens are hardly wanted. But yes let’s just cure government intervention with more intervention. Someone hasnt read their mises. I’m looking at you, Jeff the troll!

Jeff2136 May 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm

So much hatred for the government on this blog.
Their is no such thing as a free market in the world except in third world countries. And if their were, how long would it take for them to become monopolies without government regulation?

nate-m May 24, 2011 at 7:58 pm

And if their were, how long would it take for them to become monopolies without government regulation?

Given the history of the long and colourful history of business monopolies.. I estimate that business monopolies in a free market would take slightly longer to form then the sun to finish burning most of it’s fuel and expand into a red giant and consume earth.

Show me a monopoly and I’ll show you how it formed using government intervention in the market.

nate-m May 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Oh and if third world nations had a free market then they wouldn’t remain third world nations for very long.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm

@Jeff – lol … you should do some more reading around here. I am sure you consider yourself open minded, well educated, and generally correct about political things. Just to understand your opponents and a bit more of the world, perhaps you should challenge yourself with reading through the arguments behind 8-10 articles on this site. The people here are not corporate CEO’s looking to exploit children and buy private jets … we are just freedom-loving citizens who think there is a better way than the endless growth of the state.

Walt D. May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm

If you hate monopolies you must hate government. If you want to see why monopolies are evil you need look no further than any government program.

Vanmind May 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Third World countries have free markets? That’s a new one. Who told you that lie?

Jeff2136 May 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I realize that this is a Mises blog…but just prior to the Great Depression out country was very Free Market oriented. Monopolies were rampant.
And Somalia has the most Free Market economy of any country. Absolutely no government regulations. But the only business doing well there is piracy.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

@Jeff – Really? Do you think for one minute that if you set up an iPad store and turned a profit in Somalia that the government or some other band of armed thugs would not simply take it from you? Property rights are the foundation of a free market and last I checked, Somalia was not big on those.

Jeff2136 May 24, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Zaq…you are probably right about Somalia. So maybe someone could give me a better example of a working free market that is current flourishing.
The U.S had a semi-free market economy under Warren G. Harding. Harding eliminated regulations on business and the effect was monopolies. Harding died in 1923 and Calvin Coolidge continued Harding’s policies of minimal government intervention in the economy and in business.
Industry, railroads and coal mines did well, but workers could not buy goods as fast as the industry produced them because their wages were low. Their was a huge inequity in wealth and it all came crashing down in 1929.
Really, its hard to get people to agree with the purpose of government. I’m glad their are blogs like this because this country needs to figure out what it wants and needs from a government. In 1861 we stopped talking and started fighting about the purpose of government. We don’t want to go there again.

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm

@Jeff – I think your view of the 1920′s is fairly one-sided. There was a depression prior to Harding and his slashing of the government by 50% brought us out of it in under 2 years. That is not to say everything was “fair,” but in the 1920′s, average Americans bought refrigerators, air conditioners, radios, and automobiles that they did not have before. Organized labor actually fought for the working man in those days. The “huge inequity in wealth” is just statistical manipulation to support a view – those same statistics show that the lowest income Americans increased their real worth by huge margins in the same period.

People need to quit worrying about how rich people get rich. It doesn’t matter. They will always find ways to get rich, whether they have it stolen from citizens and given to the nobility as tribute or whether they find a way to “game” the free market, some people are just good at making money. Is it “fair”? Maybe not, but what is moral about taking the money away from them just because they have it??? If a baseball player makes millions of dollars, what business is that of yours? If you could hit 70 home runs in a year without steroids, you would be trying to make those millions for yourself! Sports salaries have risen and risen and eventually, they will decline and something else will pay stupid amounts of money. Some day there will be virtual actors that don’t need make-up and pampering and then they will not command millions of dollars.

Isn’t it better to try to make as much as you can for yourself by your own ingenuity and labor than to ride on the backs of those who do? And if you cannot, or if you stumble along the way, who’s business is it to dust you off to try again? And if someone offers you charity, should it then be mandated that all of us be charitable, according to our ability and according to others’ needs? (Yeah, that’s Marx.) Or if it was a Christian charity, should it be mandated that we all be Christians? And if there is violence between types of Christians, should it be mandated that we all be Catholics? Certainly, if we were all Evangelical Christians, we would all be of the highest moral character, hard working, right thinking, charitable, and decent folks. No? Where is the line, then? And why is it where you say it is?

Tyranny is born of “good ideas” which run amok. Hitler was not popular because he wanted to kill all the Jews – Hitler was popular because he promised a car to every German and prosperity unparalleled in history and he said that science was on his side … after all, the scientists of the day studied genetics and anthropology more than any previous society on earth! Certainly such illustrious experts could choose from the peoples of the world the true master race …

zaq.hack May 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm

@Jeff – nevermind all that. It was said better here:

http://www.working-minds.com/money.htm

Carl May 25, 2011 at 8:40 am

:Sigh:, US Public Schools have done such a good job of perpetuating this belief that Coolidge was small government and a supporter of the free-markets.

Of course, actual history shows that he was FDR-lite, and FDR applauded many of the things he did. He was a big government, market-interventionalist, through and through.

The Anti-Gnostic May 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Somalia is doing fine, and a damn sight better than government-ruled Haiti, Zimbabwe, Liberia, et al. Your religious differences with the tribal codes and customs of Somalia are irrelevant.

If all government employees in, say, Switzerland, were to disappear tomorrow, do you really think it would turn into Somalia?

nate-m May 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Somalia is what happens when you take a socialist government, put it in charge of a country, and let it get it’s way:

Utter meltdown of economy and decades of warfare.

Vanmind May 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Yes, I forgot about Somalia. Significant increases in the people’s living standards there since government became no government (e.g. the best cell phone coverage in Africa). Too bad spooks (Mossad, CIA, etc.) are running murder campaigns over there and smear campaigns over here.

Oh, and pirates? Try letting ships arm themselves instead of — you guessed it — having governments claim the “exclusive martial right” to patrol the seas.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 12:04 am

Jeff, I think the main thing you’re missing is similar to my initial problem when I started my conversion to the austrian school of economics/libertarianism. I would venture a guess that you lean to the “center left,” as did I when I started college. The main concept you have to grasp before you can really delve into this stuff is that liberal leaning people and liberty-favoring individuals often have similar SOCIAL goals, it is only our means that differ greatly. It is not that libertarians think that all workers should be paid one penny per hour, no matter the job. It is simply that we understand the concept of scarcity, competition, and incentives. It is my belief that the removal of minimum wage laws will allow more workers to be employed than are currently and will allow each worker to negotiate for his or her own wage respectively. In addition to this policy, I believe that it is crucial to restore a gold standard to our money system and end our fiat nightmare. These two steps will ensure that American workers will first be able to find jobs, and second protect their savings and purchasing power forever from the insidious and dark tax of inflation. Remember, inflation affects lower and middle class workers much more so than the upper class and the creator of inflation (The Federal Reserve) is the primary instigator in the massive wealth gap in America. As I said, if we destroy the minimum wage and back the dollar with gold, we can ensure our middle class is able to restore itself and we can begin the process of building our savings levels, and eventually our standards of living, back up to where they were before the Federal Reserve hijacked our nation.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 8:28 am

Son_of_liberty, I do lean slightly left when it comes social policy. (I leaned right during my first years of college) I believe that this or any government’s primary role should be the safety and health of its citizens. In my left leaning mind public schools and the safety net of a minimum wage has kept us from becoming another Bangladesh.
Obviously half of the people in this world are of below average intelligence but many are good people with a strong work ethic. It should be the government’s role to make sure these people and their children don’t fall through the cracks and end up begging in the streets. Public schools and a minimum wage are the least we can do for them. This is supposed to be “the land of opportunity”.
That being said, I agree with returning to the gold standard, eliminating all laws that pertain to vices, reigning in our military’s role overseas and forbidding our politicians and judges from accepting bribes (i.e. money from special interest). I would also add that income tax should be abolished and the government funded through sales taxes only. So it appears I have a slight Liberian lean also.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

I meant Libertarian not Liberian.

RTB May 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I like Liberian. It’s mysterious and enigmatic.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 8:58 am

Jeff, I believe you are mistakenly conflating public schooling and minimum wages with some form of a “safety net.” I believe that every American should have the opportunity to find suitable education and jobs, just as you do. However, I do not believe that public schooling or minimum wages attain this goal. In fact, I believe they exacerbate the problem.

The main problem with education discussions is that many people believe without a public system of education, all schooling would cease to exist and we would fall into total chaos. This is wrong. Think about it this way–if all public schools shut their doors tomorrow, would you still have a desire to educate your children? Or yourself? Absolutely! In this scenario, entreprenuers would come in and build schools and curriculums to your exact specifications beacuse they HAVE to please their customers (students). This is not because they are necessarily benevolent or altruistic people, although they certainly may be. It’s because education is a product that people demand for themselves or for their children and therefore contains a potential for a profit to be made. Now we would have a system where schools would all be forced to compete for students and would therefore work around the clock to improve quality, lower costs, and retain customers. We would also be able to finance this higher quality education entirely with the return of the tax dollars which were previously stolen from us to pay for state sponsored education. Compare this to our current system of public education, where your property taxes are forcibly taken from you and handed over to a board of bureaucrats who get to feed on your money whether or not you want to support their form of education. If you believe in a free market for cars, happy meals and video games, try and extend that very sound logic and reason to education. Competition and choice should be the staples of any education policy, not teacher’s unions and school board elections.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

Poor people have to make sacrifices just to keep food on the table. A century ago these desperate and destitute people would place their children in the employment of mining, textile and agriculture thereby dooming them to a cycle of ignorance. The health and education of children should be a birth right for any society.
Their is enough financial room in our country for enterprising people to make monetary gains without forcing poor and middle-class families to make agonizing decisions between food, medication or education. Even primitive societies had some type of safety net in place for its children, sick and/or injured.
I hate to keep harping on this but our safety net is a shell of the European or Canadian model. In the world rankings of “quality of life” measurements our ranking is never near the top. And isn’t this what life is all about? Almost all countries have a wealthy class but only the great ones keep all of their citizens healthy and educated.
Here again we come to the question of the role of government. Is the only role to keep the foreign armies from storming our beaches?

augusto May 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

[i]Is the only role to keep the foreign armies from storming our beaches?[/i]

If there is one thing history proves, is that governments have a very poor track record of preventing foreign invasions.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 11:05 am

Augusto, I agree. But we spend more for defense than all other nations on earth combined. And that is the only thing that I expect out of or military. I don’t want our troops invading and occupying foreign countries.
I might even consider going back to organized and regulated militias.

Drigan May 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Jeff, even defense could theoretically be provided by the private market. There are articles on here that talk about multiple insurance companies with private armies. Since armies are nearly always expensive to use, these armies wouldn’t be employed by a profit seeking company except in the most dire circumstances.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 11:01 am

People make sacrifices all the time. I’ve made those choices, myself. I wasn’t exactly happy to live in a trailer and raise my kids near a bunch of meth-heads, but why is it anyone else’s responsibility to change that situation? Strangely, humanity survived for thousands of years before the New Deal and Social Security. There were even old people around. Weird.

The flaw in your logic is that if it were possible to legislate prosperity, it would be illegal to be poor. Decades after we started waging “war on poverty,” we still have homeless people living under overpasses, in boxes in the city, and other horrible conditions. We try to educate our kids, but have drop outs, pregnant teens, and an awful standard for graduates. And after how many trillions and trillions of dollars?

And you are well-intentioned: The problem must be that there is not enough money or that we do not have the right leaders or that Republocrats are in the way, or whatever. But when was the last time you asked, “Wait, should we even be doing this at all? Could all that money and labor have been put to better use?”

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 11:41 am

I’m really not referring to you or me. I’m talking about people that don’t have the mental resources to handle anything beyond menial jobs. Again, only half of the population has an above average IQ. That means that over 150 million people have to rely on labor that doesn’t require much grey matter.
We will always have poor and lower middle class. I don’t expect government to fix that. But keeping our poor fed and healthy is in our best interest. (Remember the French Revolution).
We need to fix our public schools. No Child Left Behind was a joke because it allowed individual states to set their own qualifications. So guess which direction the qualifications went in order to keep the Federal money flowing. I expect some students to drop out and some teenagers to become pregnant. It has always happened and maybe it is inevitable. But the opportunity should be there no matter what their parent’s financial situation is.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Referring to “not you or me” but “people” and arguing for altruistic goals is fine. We are rational creatures capable of this thought experiment, yes?

But the reality is that the government takes everything and in every real sense can make nothing. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a Harvard degree? Well, yeah, sure. What’s the best way to get there? In the early 1900′s, we thought public education was the answer. Clearly it is not.

If someone has autism or otherwise truly cannot support themselves in a clearly demonstrable way, then that is one thing. However, history shows us that any program designed to help the needy ends up “helping” all kinds of dubious people and causes. Government simply cannot be trusted with these things. From the time of Rome to the present day, it has been tried and tried and tried and always ends the same way: Largesse, choking bureaucracy, and ultimately, the death of the nation. How do we decide what causes are worthy enough for “public funds?” What is a moral amount to force your citizens to contribute? If 9% is moral, isn’t 18% twice as moral if it is all going to “a good cause?”

And how many of us believe that our money is going to a good cause, today? The military could easily be 1/5th of the current size. Public education is a rotten apple beyond repair – why not phase it out to charter schools or voucher programs? We spend billions every year on “oversight” of financial markets and various industries … and yet those industries still manage to spill oil in the gulf and crash property values.

The government cannot prevent harm from befalling you, whether it be from foreign terrorists, Mexican drug lords, or F5 tornadoes, and yet, every year we send them trillions of dollars to try …

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 11:19 am

Jeff, you are either not reading what I am saying or you’re simply choosing to ignore all of it. I’m not arguing that we should make the poor and middle class even worse off. I’m stating that government policies are the primary driving force behind the destruction of the poor and middle class. Minimum wage policies which are higher than the market clearing wage for certain jobs will GUARANTEE unemployment. This is not a political idea, it’s simple mathematics. Public schooling GUARANTEES a lack of choice, which means that instead of being able to choose the best education for ourselves or our children, we are forced into state sponsored garbage that is blatantly false and crumbling beneath our feet. I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t aid those in society who have fallen on tough times. I’m stating that the aid needs to come from individuals and private organizations. To understand why, you first have to grasp where exactly government funds originate from. Government can only generate revenue in three ways: 1) Taxation, which is a nice euphemism for forcibly stealing someone else’s property on threat of imprisonment and increased confiscation, 2) borrowing, which increases demand for loanable funds and therefore artificially increases interest rates, and 3) inflation, which is a dark, hidden tax that disproportionately affects the lower and middle class. Every one of these ways is theft in one way or another, whether it is direct (taxation) or indirect (inflation, borrowing). Just as it is immoral and wrong for you to walk into your neighbor’s house and take his big screen TV because it is your belief that you need it more than he does, it is also wrong for you to sanction the government to do your dirty work for you. If the mob came to your house with a gun to your head and demands your money, does it change how wrong that was if they use a small portion of that to build a playground afterwards? NO. These ideas of morality and ethics don’t simply go away because someone is wearing a badge with different numbers and letters on them.

However, when aid comes from individuals and private organizations, it does so willingly, more efficiently, and with far less corruption. I am all for helping out those in need and do so on a regular basis. However, when you force others to support your idea of a worthy cause through stealing their money, you become an aggressor against innocent individuals and are guilty of theft. It also negates the entire idea of charity.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Son_of_Liberty… Please don’t think that I’m ignoring your views. Its just that some of them are confusing to me.
I don’t understand how public schools take away the option of attending private schools. Their is no law that I know of that says you can’t send your kids to a private school. Public schools increase the options and provide a means for the working poor to educate its children.
As for taxation, some form of taxation is used in every country. I’m not a big fan of income tax because it presumes that people will report all income and has inequity has been built into the system by special interest. I’m not for borrowing or printing more money. Some sort of sales tax seems to be the most equitable way of paying for government services.
Charities do well when the economy is strong. But in a weak economy donations fall off when they are most needed. The poor in Bangladesh depend on charity to stay alive. We should be better than that.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I forgot to address your view of the min. wage. McDonalds and Walmart aren’t going to increase there labor force if they have the option of paying people less. Both have saturated the market with stores in this country and are now focusing on expanding overseas.
That is not to say they wouldn’t jump at the idea however. Stockholders would love to have the extra profits but the poor would just become more destitute. Both companies and thousands of more just like them are still making huge profits.
As sad as it may seem, some of those people working these jobs are trying to support families with those wages. They are our working poor and their are millions of them. I would be glad to hear your solutions to dealing with them. I hope your answer won’t be the Salvation Army because their resources are already stretched.

CT May 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Jeff,

By subsidizing public schools, private schools are unable to compete for lower and middle class clients. Think about it. How can private enterprise compete with a service being offered for “$0″. The argument is that w/o gov’t involvement, private schools would quickly mushroom for low income individuals and would be able to offer services which are more effecient and cheaper than public schools can currently offer.

The fact that taxation is used in every country is not an argument for taxation. Taxation must be able to stand on its own merits.

The poor in Bangladesh depend on charity to stay alive because they are poor and have limited resources. In rich countries, there is no reason to believe that charities would not be able to take adequate care of the poor. As for the economy being weaker, “Austrians” believe the cycle is caused by fractional reserve banking. No FRC (or much less FRC), no weak economy, no sudden drop in charity.

CT May 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Jeff,

MacDonald’s and Walmart love minimum wage legislation. It kills their competition and allows them to monopolize the labour market. Take a look a who always opposes minimum wage increases versus who is always for them. You’ll find that large corporations are for and small companies are opposed.

CT May 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm

And lastly Jeff, the poor are being screwed because of the constant increase in the money supply. Unless you think everyone gets a prorata share of new money when it is conjured out of thin air, it is quite obvious that some people benefit for inflation of the money supply and some people lose. The poor are paying a tax to the rich and well connected when the money supply is inflated. They would be much better off with a stable wage (albeit a low one) with continuously falling prices – as was often seen in the 19th century.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I’m new to this blog so why isn’t their a reply button for all post? I would like to offer a rebuttal but maybe this is done on purpose.

J. Murray May 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm

It’s done because replies indent from the previous post. If there wasn’t a physical limit as to who to reply to, we’d be replying in columns one character wide. Imagine trying to read this if you had to read it top to bottom in one, continuous line.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Public schools take away the option of attending private schools because the system of funding a public school means that you must pay for this education, whether or not you intend to send your child to that school. For instance, let’s just examine a simple scenario with this one: you pay $4,000 per year in property taxes which are used by your local school district to fund public schooling. The local private school, however, charges $5,000 tuition per year. If you would like to send your child to private school in this scenario, you have to first pay your $4,000 in property taxes (or otherwise go to jail), and THEN pay the $5,000 tuition for private school on top of that. Overall, you’re spending $9,000 per year on education. Now imagine a scenario where we get rid of public schooling and only private education is available. The tax money which previously was used for public education will no longer be taken from you. To keep things simple, let’s just say private education still costs $5,000 per year (in reality, competition among schools for students would drive this cost down even lower, but let’s just keep it easy). Now you’re looking at a scenario where you can send your child to private school for $5,000 per year instead of $9,000 in the previous scenario. In addition to this, entrepreneurs will see a profit motive in educating children from lower socioeconomic areas and will be able to build more efficient schools that don’t continually fail these kids and perpetuate a vicious cycle of poverty. These schools would be able to service the poorer children with higher quality, lower costs and much more aligned incentives than any public school system currently employed in America.

So you were right when you said that there are no laws restricting anyone from sending their kids to whatever private school they’d like (for the most part). But if you make it economically prohibitive to do so, as they have done with the status quo, then you don’t need a law to back it up–people simply won’t have the money to seek alternative sources of education.

As for taxation, you are correct, every nation in the world has some form of it. That doesn’t make it any less criminal, though. Lots of atrocities could be explained away by “everyone else does it too.”

The solution for our working poor is to make training and education available to them so they can acquire skills desired by employers. This brings my argument full circle, because if we begin to provide real opportunities for poorer Americans to educate and train themselves, which a full scale privatized education system would accomplish, then, and ONLY then, will they have marketable talents which are valued by potential employers. Continuing down this rabbit hole of domestic and corporate welfare programs combined with our completely failed system of public education fatally harms the lower and middle class, especially in an increasingly global economy. Just as I believe in competition among companies for customers, I believe in competition among people for desired jobs. American exceptionalism be damned, work for what you want.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm

But I’m also not sure why we can’t reply to everyone’s posts, it makes it kind of confusing to follow the thread of the conversation. For some reason it won’t let me click reply to yours right now.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Yes….I understand the concept of paying taxes for something you may never use. I haven’t flown but a few times since 911 but I like the idea of planes not colliding in mid air because someone is watching a radar screen. It increases my quality of life not having to worry about such things.
Some people shouldn’t be parents (probably a third) and requiring them to pay tuition would give them a valid excuse for not sending their children to school. You might argue that they should have this option but I would have to rebut that children don’t have choices. I like the idea of requiring children to attend school. Society sometimes has to protect children from bad parents.
As for taxation….in thousands of years humans have not found a way around it. I’m self employed and I hate writing that check every year.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Jeff, I certainly agree with you that we should have radars and make sure that planes don’t crash into each other. Without a governmental force behind this, private airlines would step in to fill the void. Why? Once again, not because they are necessarily benelovent or caring people, although they certainly may be. It’s because they’ve invested a ton of money into their airlines and do not want to see their expensive machines and their customer base blow up in the sky. It’s just like why your local sandwich shop doesn’t poison your food. We don’t need laws against putting cyanide in reubens, because if you ever heard of or saw that happening you would NEVER go to that restaurant. It’s called economic self-interest and it’s very different than selfishness. With self-interest, people pursue their own goals without affecting other individuals’ pursuit of their respective goals. Even though we may not all be forced together into one collective action, by pursuing our goals in a manner which doesn’t aggress against others, we all improve our standards of living.

I don’t believe there are many parents who don’t want to educate their children. And while there may be a few extreme cases of this, you can’t change EVERYTHING for EVERYONE else to account for a miniscule fraction on the extreme end of the spectrum. You can’t outlaw steak because a baby can’t eat it.

As for taxes, it’s theft, plain and simple, but you’re right…”In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” I’m really glad that you’re open-minded enough to even have this discussion, most people just call us poor-people-eating-pigs and run away.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm

son_of_liberty Ma’y 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm wrote:
“The solution for our working poor ‘is to make training and education available to them so they can acquire skills desired by employers. ”

There are many private organizations that do this already. Have you ever heard of Goodwill Industries? They have education and training programs that prepare people for all kinds of jobs in the work force, and there are hundreds of others that do the same, not to mention the many State and Federal welfare to work programs.

son_of_liberty Ma’y 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm wrote:…. “which a full scale privatized education system would accomplish, then, and ONLY then, will they have marketable talents which are valued by potential employers.”

One of the problems with “private education” is that they are PRIVATE and can choose to accept or not to accept students based on their own criteria. So if a child has shown behavior or emotional problems in the classroom, they do not have to take them; or ifr a child can not pass their entrance exam, they can not be forced to take that child. It is because of this that private schools for the most part have such a good track record. Let them take students based on the same district lines as public schools have to and you will see the same problems in the private school system as the public school system. Why is it that the schools in the poorest neighborhoods have the least qualified teachers assigned to teach the students and the richest neighborhood schools have the best qualified to teach their students. It has to do with the improper distribution of public funds and resources. If the public resources were distributed evenly you would see much more progress in the schools in the poor neighborhoods.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 8:17 pm

@Bill – That is simply myth; it has nothing to do with resources. Even if you paid a fortune, many good teachers don’t want to teach there because it is dangerous. The public schools are no longer able to maintain discipline. If it was that simple, then “bussing” students to wealthy districts would have been an overwhelming success. Clearly, it was not.

I recommend the movie “Waiting for Superman.”

RTB May 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Mr. Spickerman

“It has to do with the improper distribution of public funds and resources.”

Really? An individuals property is public funds? Since when?

And I contend that the lowest of private schools would be astronomically better than any public one.

Vanmind May 26, 2011 at 9:02 pm

“Is the only role to keep the foreign armies from storming our beaches?”

Not even that much.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 12:07 am

Oh and also, if we back the dollar with gold, we can also end our wars, drug enforcement, and overblown police state. But that’s another discussion.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 12:16 am

Things get worse. We change the laws. We enact new ones. The government grows. Things still get worse. We get more laws. We get more changes. The government grows. The war on poverty grows. The war on drugs grows. The war on terror grows. We are not winning any of them. We spend more money. We get newer laws. We get more programs. Things get worse. Another election. More regulation. More laws. New lawyers, new corruptions. Things get worse. We elect Democrats. Same old same old. We elect Republicans. More laws, fewer freedoms. Democrats promise change. We elect them. Same old same old. Government gets bigger. We get farther in debt. Unemployment keeps going up. Things get worse.

At what point does repeating the same action and expecting a different result become insane? At what point do we start saying, “You know, this whole making the government bigger and bigger thing … maybe we should try going the other way for awhile?”

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 7:14 am

If it were not for government we would still be using our windshield wipers to be able to see when driving in the city (those of us that were still alive), enjoying the benefits of lead in the paint on our houses, asbestos on our roofs and in our auto brake pads, and still getting 12 miles to a gallon of “leaded” gas. With all the tornadoes and flooding going on in the US this year, imagine that there were no government aid for people who did not buy insurance and businesses that have been devastated buy them. Who did we blame for the worst oil leak in history, the FREE Enterprise System?

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 8:28 am

If it were not for government, millions of German Jews would have lived. About 40 million Chinese would not have starved. Millions of people in the former Soviet Bloc would have lived. Government gave us the atomic bomb, the Patriot Act, and the Iraq war. Government makes it illegal to copy your own DVD’s, buy incandescent lightbulbs based on loud-mouthed pseudo-science, and for me to put an American flag and flagpole in my own yard.

To think that oil industry is a “free enterprise” is the height of economic ignorance. It is a pseudo-monopoly enforced by “oversight” and “standards” that blatantly failed in the Gulf. It takes years of applying for permits, teams of lawyers and lobbyists, and this country has not even built an oil refinery in the past 30 years the process is so corrupt and expensive. Was the 2008 financial crisis created by the bankers? Or was it created by those who took bribes from bankers? Where were our benevolent and wise government overseers to “keep us safe” from that disaster? Who proposed that we “bail them out” with trillions of tax dollars we cannot afford to spend?

For every so-called “atrocity” of the free market, I can name a dozen committed by government. Widely publicized “failures” of the free market, if examined, overwhelmingly have the hand of government in them. GM has taken money from the taxpayers for decades – their company became morbidly obese, but Uncle Sam was there to support them in the 1970′s and 1980′s. They still choose the path of corporate welfare and gluttony, but we are told “it is for our own good” that the taxpayers foot the bill to keep them in business. The worst problems of this sort always arise from a collusion between government and corporate greed: Enron, Worldcom, mutual fund scandals, after-hours trading, etc., etc., etc.

The difference is that I maintain the same skepticism consistently. I am willing to view government with a skeptical eye as well as corporations. I am never more wary than when someone comes to me claiming to do something “for my own good,” whether that is my employer, someone selling me something, or someone wanting my vote. Whenever you gather a great deal of power in one place (and make no mistake, gathering money is gathering power), you will naturally attract those who would love to abuse that same power. Even if the power is begun by altruism (Christianity), over decades, the influence corrupts those who wield that power over others (The Inquisition). Power is best left in the hands of the individual, and though there is “no such thing as a free market,” that ideal is still more fair and more free to everyone who participates in it than any other.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 8:36 am

Actually Bill, one of the main reasons asbestos was so popular was that the government had outlawed many other forms of very healthy, natural insulation because the lobbies for asbestos were very strong. Research hempcrete if you don’t believe me. And the entire oil industry is subsidized by our tax dollars and protected by our soldiers, which leads to the illusion of relatively cheaper gas than a free market would dictate. The true price of gas in America is well over 20 dollars a gallon when you account for our wars to protect oil fields and our subsidies sent out to Exxon, BP, and others. If we were to remove this guaranteed support of oil companies and force them to honestly compete with REAL renewable resources, renewable resources would become a hell of a lot more competitive than they are currently. This is the only way to truly invest in renewable energy, but for as long as people think the government is the solution to the problems they create, BP and Exxon will be laughing all the way to the bank.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

@son_of_liberty: Actually, gas is still the cheapest/densest energy. It’s easy to transport, it’s easy to make, and it’s abundantly available. I agree that we are subsidizing that industry, both directly and indirectly, but … we also tax the holy hell out of them, we regulate them like few other businesses, and put barrier up to enter not only the energy market, but the oil and gas markets, too. Every petty bureaucrat thinks they know more about gasoline chemistry than BP, and so we have dozens of different gas mixes across the country with their own protected additives (like ethanol). I firmly believe we would still be heavily dependent on oil and gas in a more free market … but it is unlikely we will ever see such a marketplace.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

I agree with you that even in a free market oil would be cheapest. However, my argument was focusing on the margin. It is my contention that if we close the cost gap between oil and gas and other renewable sources of energy, which a free market would accomplish, then consumers would have a more realistic choice between sources of energy. Also, if consumers would choose to utilize more renewable sources of energy in this scenario, the additional cost of doing so would be offset by the destruction of oil subsidies. We would no longer have additional taxes taken out of our paychecks to pay Exxon and BP, so we would have more money to play around with if we so choose. This policy would also help end our relationships with petrodictatorships around the world.

nate-m May 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm

One of the bad things is that the ‘oil crisis’ is purely political. Prices are not rising or falling based on availability of oil… it’s availability of oil relative to different political regimes.

So for for every 100% increase in oil usage we roughly figure out how to locate and extract 200% of the oil. It should be cheaper now then it ever was in the past. But governments see oil as a big source of political power and revenue so their greed and nearsightedness is causing the international crises. At current usage and current known supplies are are looking at at least another 200 years of cheap oil.

Eventually oil will run out. But long before that time we will have cheap technology to take advantage of the biggest source of nuclear energy in the solar system… the Sun… and even if oil is cheap it may still fall by the wayside.

Although by all accounts nuclear reactors should of made fossil fuel obsolete 30 years ago. But that is not allowed to happen either.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm

If you have visited other countries you would know that we have had the cheapest oil prices in the world for decades. It is about time that we started paying the kind of prices that all the other countries have always paid, and learn to buy cars and trucks based on NEEDS rather than WANTS. It is sickining to hear people complain about the cost of gasoline, while they are driving big TRUCKS and SUVs back and forth to work at their desk jobs. When I grew up trucks were purchased because they were needed, usually commercial use, which is why license plates in most states read PRIVATE. Simple changes in driving habits and lifestyles can make up for the rising cost of gas.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm

@nate-m – That assumes that “oil came from dinosaurs,” which may not be the case. The Russians are pretty convinced that oil is created by the earth’s mantle in a process they have replicated in the lab. Certainly, we have replicated a process of turning old plant and animal matter into oil, also, but “running out of oil” may also be a myth. There are two problems with an effectively unlimited oil source: (1) It would crash prices currently inflated based on the theory that there is a finite amount and oil producers just can’t have that in a trillion-dollar-industry, (2) The impact to the environment becomes unlimited, also. With regard to #2, if oil is finite, then within the boundaries of the closed system, it is reasonable that the earth can re-assimilate the carbon back via oceans and plant life. If oil is infinite, we might be able to put more carbon into the atmosphere than the biosphere can cleanse.

Off topic, but oil is a pretty crazy complex business. I’ve done a lot of research on a wide variety oil-related issues over the years. I would say that while it is “messy” from a lot of perspectives, truly, it is the best source of portable energy we have found to date. Any technology can come along and change that, of course, but that has eluded us for over 200 years.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Nate, I agree, but one of the things I consistently struggle with as a libertarian is how we can avoid major oil spills in the future with more of a free market approach than we currently employ. Can you explain that to me?

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm

You can’t. Mistakes get made. But we have all these rules and regulators who are presently supposed to be keeping this sort of thing from happening … and how come they get no blame and BP gets 100% of it? How many billions of dollars in auditor salaries, lobbyists, bribes, and all the rest of that inky black ecosystem could have been used to better ends? So we blame BP because it’s easy. Instead of dismantling the corrupt regulation regime, we pass more unenforceable, inefficient rules. We give the state more power over them.

Also, in a truly free market, BP would likely have gone out of business. Instead, it leans on the crutch of government subsidy and limps away with a flesh wound. The poorly managed resources of a dead BP could have/should have been picked up by competitors willing and able to do it right.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 8:36 am Wrote:

” Actually “ill, one of the main reasons asbestos was so popular was that the government had outlawed many other forms of very healthy, natural insulation because the lobbies for asbestos were very strong. ‘

So did the government know that Asbestos was a health hazard and still let it be used in so many different areas of our lives anyway?
So were the car companies planning to build engines that curbed ther massive release of pollution into the air, or was it the EPA that required them to make those changes?
How about the producers of leaded paint? Would they have completely changed there paint formulas on their own had the government not stepped in and outlawed lead use in paints in 1973?

I could go on for days giving you examples of how the FREE enterprise system only works like it should in a text book. Greed and Profit outweigh morality when it comes to the show down.

on_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 8:36 am Wrote:
” And the entire oil industry is subsidized by our tax dollars and protected by our soldiers, which leads to the illusion of relatively cheaper gas than a free market would dictate. The true price of gas in America is well over 20 dollars a gallon when you account for our wars to protect oil fields and our subsidies sent out to Exxon, BP, and others. If we were to remove this guaranteed support of oil companies and force them to honestly compete with REAL renewable resources, renewable resources would become a hell of a lot more competitive than they are currently.”

I do not disagree with you except that I do not look at the subsidy of the Military protecting critical American resources the same as you. We pay for that through taxes just like we do for police and firefighter support with our local taxes, something that many on this blog seem to take for granted.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm

“So did the government know that Asbestos was a health hazard and still let it be used in so many different areas of our lives anyway?”

Um, yes. I don’t quite understand how many examples we need to prove that government is not your friend, it is the world’s largest criminal organization. How about the Atomic Bomb? Or the Tuskegee Experiments? Or our concentration camps for Japanese-Americans? Or the Patriot Act? Or Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib? Or the fact that over half of our prisoners in jail are there for non-violent drug offenses? How about the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision? How about the September 11th false flag terror attacks? The Federal Reserve’s very existence? Segregation? Slavery? Jesus Christ do you need anymore?

These aren’t just minor administrative errors. It’s a well-established pattern of behavior dating back centuries. People always whine and complain about government not working. It is working EXACTLY how it was planned to work. The entire plan is the problem.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm

“I do not disagree with you except that I do not look at the subsidy of the Military protecting critical American resources the same as you. We pay for that through taxes just like we do for police and firefighter support with our local taxes, something that many on this blog seem to take for granted.”

No one takes taxation for granted here. Taxation is theft. It doesn’t matter what you intend to use it for after, because the initial act of theft was wrong. And what exactly do you deem “critical American resources?” Iraqi and Libyan oil? Afghani poppy fields?

I want to help you understand my side of this issue but you honestly don’t seem to have any interest whatsoever in actually reading through my arguments. You say you’re against the status quo, yet support it in every single part of this discussion. Theft is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you are wearing an ID badge that says IRS on it. Killing is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you are wearing army camo or a shiny police badge. These very simple concepts of morality and ethics don’t magically disappear because the aggressor has a different arbitrary title than another person.

Shay May 25, 2011 at 9:07 am

With all the tornadoes and flooding going on in the US this year, imagine that there were no government aid for people who did not buy insurance and businesses that have been devastated buy them.

OK. I’m imagining the lack of government aid, and I see the people coming to their senses and moving to a less disaster-prone place.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

LOL – this here is fertile ground; few places like it on the whole of the earth. I am pretty sure people will live here unless it somehow becomes a nuclear wasteland.

As to FEMA, whatever. People can buy insurance (and do). People can buy emergency packs for food and water (and do). People can pitch-in and help after the fact (and do). What was the government’s role in Katrina? Give people a pre-paid credit card with which they could buy a flat screen TV or booze.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Shay May 25, 2011 at 9:07 am Wrote:

“OK. I’m imagining the lack of government aid, and I see the people coming to their senses and moving to a less disaster-prone place.”
Comment: Geez Shay, with the the rate of tornadoes doubling from last year as well as the number of other catastrophes in the US alone, there are not too many safe places left.

Drigan May 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I don’t know about you, but once studies showed that lead paint caused problems, I wouldn’t buy it. If you wanted to buy it for some specialty project, that’s fine, but in a free market, you’d have trouble finding it.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm

So in the free market how would the word get out to all the people,would the companies that sell it do the right “Moral” thing and recall all their toxic paint and give all people a rebate? LOL! Again, you are looking at the way it Should work, the text book “model”…that only works in academia, and not the REAL world of GREED and PROFIT that I use build my piles taller than yours.

nate-m May 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Your not being very reasonable with your comments and it’s obvious you have never worked in any significant industries before. Otherwise the questions to your answers are so blatantly obvious you would be embarrassed to even ask.

The requirements that companies hold each other to are much more stringent and better enforced then the regulations that the governments put in place.

This is so much so that government institutions like the FDA are used by industries to make their sub-standard products seem to be on par with actual high quality food. They use the veneer of regulations and labels, bought and paid for by these companies, to make their products seem safe and trustworthy when they really are inferior and overpriced.

Some of these labels are very familiar:
“Grade A meat”
“Whole Grain”
“Organic Food”
“Free Range Chicken”
etc etc.

These are all labels that were bought and paid for by companies that were being out competed by smaller companies producing higher quality food. The industries were having image and credidability problems and by having the FDA provide certifications they were able to use these government endorsements and certifications to make it impossible for companies to advertise.

It’s one thing when your a small store competing against Krogers or Walmart and your advertising that you have Free Range Organic Chicken…. if all of a sudden Kroger started advertising the same thing then people would call bullshit. But if the FDA certifies Kroger’s food as Free Range Organic Low Fat Whole Grain Chicken then it’s obvious it’s healthy!!

Low fat foods are not low fat. Fat Free foods in the supermarket are not fat free. There exists real low fat and fat free foods… but because of the government certifications it’s very difficult to convince people that low fat isn’t really low fat.

Same thing goes with drugs. Same thing with food production inspectors, etc etc etc.

.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Bill, private watchdog groups would get the word out. These already exist and more would exist if less of our capital was tied up in government. And there is a pretty huge difference between greed and profit. You seem to view these terms as synonymous, which is strange. Plus, as has already been pointed out numerous times in this discussion, a free market limits the individual to exercise influence only over HIS or HER property, not anyone else’s. I am fully against aggression from one individual against another. But if it comes to my neighbor being a greedy bastard with his own money and property, why is it my right to force my worldview on him? You’re free to donate your hard earned money to whatever worthy cause you desire, as am I. When you force others to do the same thing, YOU become the aggressor and YOU become the criminal. Are stealing and theft ever justifiable? Wouldn’t that make YOU the greedy one in this scenario?

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 8:25 am

Zaq I’m a little confused, are you arguing with me or agreeing? Because I completely agree with everything you said. I think the main disconnect in this entire public v. private argument is that people think that the government simply has money, that it has always had money and that we needn’t worry about where that money came from. For instance, I bet the majority of Americans would agree with the idea that our government should “invest in sources of renewable energy for our future.” However, if you rephrased that more accurately and asked people if they believe that other individuals wearing government badges should be able to forcibly confiscate their money on threat of imprisonment and other punishment and then hand it over to BP without any strings attached, I bet a lot of people would rethink it. Or how about BP themselves just coming into your house with a gun to your head and demanding your weekly paycheck? Ethics and reason don’t magically change because someone is using a middle man with a government ID badge.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 8:31 am

I think it’s a misplaced reply. ;-) Sorry.

Anthony May 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Jeff2136

To bring the focus back onto minimum wage…

You said minimum wage is “the least we can do” to help the poor. The problem is that MINIMUM WAGE DOES NOT HELP THE POOR!!! Minumum wage HURTS the poor, hurts employers, hurts consumers, and helps nobody.

Employers do not hire people that they will have to pay more then the job is worth. When the minimum wage goes up they will hire fewer people because there are fewer jobs worth paying the new minimum wage for. When this happens it cause three things:

1. Employers are forced to reduce the quality of the service they provide, since there will be fewer people working. This is why you don’t see full serve gas stations or elevator attendants anymore; its too expensive to pay someone $6 to run an elevator.

2. People with lower skill levels will be “priced out of the market” as they are unable to be productive enough for anyone to be willing to pay them the new minimum wage. This is why young people, less educated people, etc. have much higher unemployment rates then other groups.

3. Society loses as instead of a person working and making $5 an hour you now have that same person not working and collecting welfare.

And before you say “at least it helps those who still have jobs” or something to that effect, let me add that it doesn’t even do that. Only a little over 2% of the population get minimum wage, and they would mostly have made that much anyway, since they are evidently capable of performing enough work to earn their wages. For people getting more then the minimum the effect on their wages is non-existent.

Please let me know what you think… it is nice to communicate with someone who is not spewing abuse for a change. Welcome to the forums.

J. Murray May 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

To put it bluntly, if the a person can’t generate a revenue or other benefit in excess of the minimum wage, I’ll simply not hire that person at all. If you up the minimum wage, I’ll go through and see who isn’t providing a benefit of at least that wage and fire them. That’s how reality works. The increase in minimum won’t help anyone, it’ll just put them out of work.

Anthony May 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

And if you didn’t fire those who were costing you more money then you paid them you would go out of business before long, putting ALL your employees out of work.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Unless you are GM.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Again, you are forgetting that majority of the wage increases consist of unnecessary cost of living increases and merit increases for the employees that make up the bulk of their salary budgets. You want to penalize the people who make $7:15 and hour while you have no problem giving anual salary increases to the people who really do not NEED more money because they fill overpaid positions to begin with.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Bill, totally not your call to decide who needs what. Most definitely not your place to make that decision and then enforce it with the police and state and federal governments. The system is flawed and the wealth gap is growing for all of the many reasons this article and this entire discussion has laid out. If you want to understand our point of view, actually read our arguments and stop throwing out blatant straw-men positions like, “You want to kill the poor and make the rich richer.” Everything we’ve discussed so far is concerning the struggle to achieve the exact OPPOSITE of that.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm

And totally not your call to group all people who qualify for welfare or who perform the millions of jobs that you and others are not willing to perform for $7.15 an hour, into a basket with those who people in positions of power enable to receive fraudulent claims for such funds. If you do away with wellfare then our country would turn into a 3rd world nation with beggars on the streets and rampant diseases in the air for you to breathe. I have been in several countries and have seen it first hand.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm

“And totally not your call to group all people who qualify for welfare or who perform the millions of jobs that you and others are not willing to perform for $7.15 an hour”

I have a college degree in business management and engineering. Why exactly should I work for $7.15 an hour? But I would really like to thank you for taking the time to ignore every single argument on here and history in general while making your way to your point that the government provides the best way to prosperity instead of a system where every individual is allowed to provide his or her goods and services in free, mutual exchange for money and other goods and services. Such ideas, like freedom, liberty, and self-ownership clearly do not resonate with you. You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am entitled to tell you that your arguments are disjointed and illogical. Once again, take the time to READ our arguments before saying you disagree with them.

By the way, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is actually the definition of insanity. Seriously, look it up in your dictionary. So maybe another decade of the decay and crumbling of the poor and middle class under corrupt domestic and corporate welfare systems will convince you that there are other paths we can take. But nah, probably not. After all, Democrat A just promised you the land of milk and honey, while Republican B just promised you the same (so long as you are a white, Christian male). Never question the status quo, only criticize those who have woken up from this nightmare.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm

” I have a college degree in business management and engineering. Why exactly should I work for $7.15 an hour? But I would really like to thank you for taking the time to ignore every single argument on here and history in general while making your way to your point that the government provides the best way to prosperity instead of a system where every individual is allowed to provide his or her goods and services in free, mutual exchange for money and other goods and services. Such ideas, like freedom, liberty, and self-ownership clearly do not resonate with you. You are entitled to your opinion, just as I am entitled to tell you that your arguments are disjointed and illogical. Once again, take the time to READ our arguments before saying you disagree with them. ”

In your free enterprise system with no minimum, who will step up to perform the millions of jobs that you feel you are too over qualified to perform? Will a lack of able and will people cause the pay for these jobs to reach higher levels than now required by the minum wage law? Or will these goods and services just cease to exist and lead to further outsourcing to 3rd world countries and those countries where all people don’t have to make believe they are like rich upper middle class ,

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm Wrote:
By the way, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is actually the definition of insanity. Seriously, look it up in your dictionary. So maybe another decade of the decay and crumbling of the poor and middle class under corrupt domestic and corporate welfare systems will convince you that there are other paths we can take. But nah, probably not. After all, Democrat A just promised you the land of milk and honey, while Republican B just promised you the same (so long as you are a white, Christian male). Never question the status quo, only criticize those who have woken up from this nightmare.”
Comment: I certainly do not believe in status quo, and I do believe we need to cut spending and programs that are not essential in order to do just that. I do not agree with all of the things that this administration has done or attempted to do. But by the same token, it seems that this administration has been under a microscope while others have been looked at through a pair of reversed binoculars. We have more emphasis on alternative fuels and fuel efficient transportation than we have ever had in modern history just to cite one of many positive things, but you as a Libertarian would always focus on the negative when it comes to views that you would consider against your inflexible, uncompromisible Libertarian standards.

BTW, out of our 43 presidents, how many were Libertarians?

Gil May 26, 2011 at 12:36 am

I’m sure many Libertarians would argue the college graduates ought to find themselves with a job for $7.15 or less because their tertiary skills have no real world use. In a free market, it would be take the job or be a beggar. After all, $7.15 per hour is better than $0.

zaq.hack May 26, 2011 at 1:17 am

BTW, out of our 43 presidents, how many were Libertarians?

Libertarian party or libertarian philosophy? Of the latter, several, to various degrees. I would love to see someone “reluctant” running for office or drafted for office, like George Washington. Ron Paul is the guy as far as “Big L” Libertarians go, but he’s … ummm … I just can’t see it. I fear him becoming the right-wing Jimmy Carter: Over smart, under effective. Everyone that looks at the office today is a raging ego-maniac that just wants to rig the system for themselves (this dates back to Bush 41). No one wants to actually fix it. Well, maybe Palin wants to fix it, but I’m pretty sure she’s not capable of it.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 11:49 am

“In your free enterprise system with no minimum, who will step up to perform the millions of jobs that you feel you are too over qualified to perform?”

Ok, let’s take a step back first and look at how real wages rise in a free market. So I live in a town, let’s just call it Maybury, where there are a lot of people who are willing to work. One of those people, Joe, starts a restaurant called Joe’s Burger Shack and offers to pay 2 dollars an hour to his employees. Individuals in Maybury VOLUNTARILY come into the restaurant, apply for work, and are accepted. But the demand for burgers in Maybury is very huge, and Nate, another resident in Maybury, notices the long lines outside of Joe’s every night. So Nate decides to open up his own place, called Nate’s Burger Hut. The problem is all of the workers with experience in this industry currently work for Joe and they won’t leave his employ for nothing. So Nate begins offering 3 dollars an hour for his workers. Joe has two choices: he can maintain his 2 dollars an hour salary for his employees, or he can up it to match or beat Nate’s 3 dollar offer. If he maintains his 2 dollars an hour salary, all of his employees will leave his restaurant and work for Nate. This will bring about huge costs for Joe, because he now has no chefs, servers, or any other workers to actually operate his establishment. He will now have to search for new employees, and unless he ups his offered salary rate to atleast equal Nate’s, he will not be able to bring the kind of talent into his establishment that Nate can. This process is repeated and repeated until worker’s wages reach what we call a market clearing rate; that is to say, there will not be a surplus of workers who want to work, and there will not be a shortage of workers who want to work.

This is a crucial point in the free market argument that people forget a lot: if businesses were able to open up shop without artifical barriers to entry and without debilitating taxes and payroll requirements, there would be such a competition for labor that wages would rise naturally as businesses must compete against other businesses for workers. It’s not as if a CEO operates every part of his company; to remain viable, he has to attract talented employees to innovate and maintain. Just as competition among businesses lower prices across the board, they also raise wage rates for their employees. When you combine this with a return to the gold standard, even those workers who earn relatively lower wages would be better off because a gold standard would guarantee continually lower and lower prices in EVERYTHING over time. Remember, the important part here is not nominal wage rates, it’s overall purchasing power.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

And zaq, please tell me you were including Palin on your list of ego-maniacs who have no desire to actually improve the government. She’s the embodiment of everything wrong with not only government, but people in general.

zaq.hack May 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm

@son_of_liberty – Wow, that’s harsh. I think Palin has the desire to make the government smaller (not to the extent of Ron Paul), but I don’t think has the ability. She is the kind of person I would probably like to play cards with and have a BBQ, but that isn’t what I look for in a President. I do think that she at least has a set of core beliefs that “government is bad,” but I doubt she has thought it through to the extent you or I have.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Zaq, maybe I do let a little personal issues come into play with Palin, but I despise people who are for “smaller government” on certain issues but massive, leviathan states in others. It gives libertarians a bad name. Her stance on publicly imposed religion, never-ending wars, and self-ownership is disgusting to me. Her personality is acid wrapped with sugar. Her clear apathy for the office she was elected to in Alaska is pretty telling of her devotion to her constituents. And her open detest for science harkens to the Bush restrictions on stem-cell research. Overall, I just really, REALLY hate her. She’ll never be even close to the candidate that Ron Paul is, but at the end of the day, at least she’s not Hermain Caine.

zaq.hack May 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm

@son_of_liberty – I understand, but I don’t hate anybody. In the grand scheme of things, you can’t say we would be worse off with Palin in the office than we would Barack. Heck, you can probably make a pretty strong case she’d have been better than Bush 43. You can’t say she’s any dumber than the last two, really. I look at Barack’s gaffe with the queen, yesterday, and I am just soooo embarrassed. I half suspect he does this crap on purpose, but who knows. When the top candidates are all morons, what do we expect? Is the election cycle really so different from American Idol, at this point?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter – she would never, ever be elected. McCain’s people threw her under the bus to the “my daddy was a Republican, too” crowd and her very way of life makes anyone left of center break out in a rash. Faith? She eats moose? She loves her husband? OMG!?!

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Oh trust me, I didn’t mean to imply that Barack or Bush were intelligent men. In my personal rankings, I place Bush as the worst president ever, followed by Barack, with FDR coming in a close third. But simply because we have dealt with moronic globalists for decades doesn’t mean we should elect another one.But I don’t hate her for having faith. Although I am an atheist, I think one of the most important staples in a free society is freedom of religion. I hate her for trying to impose her religion on others through government. As you know, these are two very different things.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I’m here to hear the views of people that have a view point different than mine. Religion and politics are philosophical discussion. Not a science with black and white answers. But I pride myself on being open-minded and their are some views posted here that sound well thought out. We are all here to learn and abusive behavior doesn’t allow for that.
I believe your statistics but I’m not sure of which side of the debate this supports. I believe the reason that most employers pay higher than minimum wage is that they realize that they can not keep an employee at such a low wage. So if we are talking about less than 2% of employees I am guessing that these are the newest employees that are being trained. It also makes the debate moot. Turnover is extremely high and if they can’t master the fryer within a week or so they won’t be kept.
If McDonalds and Walmart were floundering because of labor cost I might consider this to be an idea that should be considered. But it seems that our labor problems are more acute at jobs that can be farmed out overseas and these are usually production jobs that pay better wages.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm

And Jeff, I sincerely appreciate your open mind in these discussions. I am sure that I will never be able to convince you to completely adopt my positions on these issues, but it is really, really encouraging to see someone at least question the status quo enough to seek out other opinions. It’s even more encouraging to be reminded of the fact that no matter how far apart our means may be, our ends, such as employment opportunities for everyone, a strong middle class and an end to the horrific wealth gap seem to be very aligned. If you are looking for a stronger argument than I can present, I would definitely recommend reading Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block. Even if you don’t agree with him on all his arguments (hell, even I questioned his chapter on counterfeiting), it’ll force you to examine a lot of new perspectives and it’ll help you make a lot of connections that you didn’t previously. Also, Freakonomics is a very entertaining, engaging book that helped me understand incentives more than any other economics textbook ever could.

Jeff2136 May 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Yesterday someone one this blog suggested and highlighted a link that brought up “Defending the Undefendable” and I did a quick look and figured I would come back when I had time. Freakonomics is new to me and i will try to check it out also.
I was directed to this blog by an article in the Science Christian Monitor (I believe that is what I was reading) on the minimum wage and I expected to find a Right Wing blog. I was very wrong.

Anthony May 25, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Jeff,

You addressed my afterthought (the 2% getting minimum wage) but you didn’t seem to have noticed the bulk of my post. My point was that minimum wage benefits nobody… and it especially harms the poor. I mention those points again here:

1. Employers are forced to reduce the quality of the service they provide, since there will be fewer people working. This is why you don’t see full serve gas stations or elevator attendants anymore; its too expensive to pay someone $6 to run an elevator.

2. People with lower skill levels will be “priced out of the market” as they are unable to be productive enough for anyone to be willing to pay them the new minimum wage. This is why young people, less educated people, etc. have much higher unemployment rates then other groups.

3. Society loses as instead of a person working and making $5 an hour you now have that same person not working and collecting welfare.

I guess I am just not sure exactly who you think minimum wages are helping.

Jeff2136 May 26, 2011 at 6:03 am

Ok….let me try to address those.
1. Automation has really eliminated the need for jobs like an elevator attendant and people no longer feel the need to check their oil when ever they refuel. I doubt if those jobs would come back at any wage.
2. If you can’t operate the fryer or read an order you probably qualify for some type of disability. Also my answer in #1 might apply here also. And young people and less educated people will always have higher unemployment rates no matter what the pay.
3. Unfortunately, if you qualify for welfare, it pays better than minimum wage. Driving minimum wage down will only make that problem worse.

Who is being helped by a minimum wage? the employee obviously, but maybe us also. If it pays better to draw welfare than minimum wage then it will most definitely hurt us.

J. Murray May 26, 2011 at 8:12 am

1. Automation wasn’t the driving factor for elimination of many positions. Elevator attendants existed long after the automated elevator became the norm. Their job was to push the button and make small talk. This was popular for lower-scale apartment complexes and less wealthy office buildings because it created an appearance of prosperity. They couldn’t afford to have doormen and other such luxuries when minimum wage started to make them too expensive.

Minimum wage was the major driving force behind these behaviors. People didn’t just start not wanting to check oil and decide to fill up their own tank, wash their own windshields, and check their own tire pressure, minimum wage elminiated those jobs first, leaving people to do it themselves. There’s been a long enough period in our society where entire generations have no idea what a gas station attendant is that we don’t think about it. The exception is Oregon, where there’s a reversal of the problem. State law there requires stations to have attendants because it’s illegal to fill your own tank, and their gas tends to be a bit more expensive because of it.

2. Try researching history. Youth unemployment has not always been a problem. The last time unemployment among the 16-24 crowd was this high was durring the Depression. There is also a correlation between unemployment among younger individuals and the minimum wage. When the minimum wage was doubled in 1950, the unemployment rate of the younger workers shot up to 9%. The rate was quadrupled by 1966 and unemployment rates hit 11%. By 1980, the rates were rapdily doubled again (under the assumption that a large increase in minimum wage would improve the economy and improve wages) and unemployment spiked to 14%. The rate was finally held constant from 1994-2006. It creeped back down to the 1950 level by 2000, but the DotCom bubble brought it back up before starting to creep down again until 2006, when the new minimum wage law was passed that drove it up from $5.15 to $7.25 when youth unemployment 11% to 19%, the highest on record. Yes, part of it is the lousy economy, but this is the largest disconnect between the unemployment at large and the youth unemployment rate on record. If the minimum wage holds at its current level for a long period of time, you’ll notice that gap starting to close.

Youth unemployment follows a pattern around the minimum wage. When the minimum wage is increased, the youth unemployment rate follows suit. If the minimum wage is held constant for a period of time, the unemployment rate declines as inflation reduces the real cost, then pops right back up again when Congress decides to update the minimum wage to take into account the inflation, then the unemployment rate jumps right back up again.

3. Minimum wage for a single earner is currently 38% above the poverty line. A single earner, the vast majority of all the low wage earners, has a poverty line at $10,890, but if they held down a minimum wage job, their earnings would be $15,080. Additionally, most benefits are not receivable without meeting certain conditions, mainly being employed. Out of work individuals are not eligible for certain benefits for more than 2 years at a time and no more than 5 years in their entire lifetime. Other benefits are severely curttailed or outright eliminated if the individual is not actively employed. A complete elimination of minimum wage and having someone working at $3/hour and collecting benefits would dramatically increase that individual’s quality of life under the current welfare system as not only are they earning an additional $6k, they’re now getting a wider variety of benefits that they’d otherwise be unable to receive because they were not working at all.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 11:19 am

Yeah both those books are very entertaining and informative and hopefully if you take the time to read them they will peak your interest in the whole subject of Austrian Economics. Another great read is End the Fed by Ron Paul. It’s simple enough to understand as an entry-level book for this kind of subject matter and will help you make the connections between our fiat currency and other atrocities like the war machine, nation building and our domestic programs.

Haha, I appreciate you noticing the difference between “Right Wing” people and Libertarians/Minarchists. It’s pretty frustrating to hear someone group me in with neocons.

Vanmind May 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Such laws help the bureaucrats who pretend to have legitimate jobs.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

“Drigan May 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm
First, the government has no income, merely money that it confiscated from its victims . . . er citizens. It produces very little that people are willing to pay to have. (When was the last time you saw someone voluntarily give extra money to the government for extra services?) The government can order people to obey it, and (if a group of government enforcers obey the government) it can jail or kill disobedient subjects.”

I guess in Drigan’s fantasy world, he builds his own water and sewage system, takes he own trash to a SAFE dump point, provides is own 911 services, fire support service, police service, and in his spare time he builds his own roads, bridges, and highways to travel on. Drigan is one busy person.

son_of_liberty May 25, 2011 at 5:04 pm

“I guess in Drigan’s fantasy world, he builds his own water and sewage system, takes he own trash to a SAFE dump point, provides is own 911 services, fire support service, police service, and in his spare time he builds his own roads, bridges, and highways to travel on. Drigan is one busy person.”

You missed the entire point of this article. It’s not that private individuals and organizations perform these functions. It’s that private individuals and organizations can BETTER perform theses functions at lower costs and higher quality without resorting to theft and coercion to achieve their means. Since the government has usurped the infrastructure industry, they have made it ILLEGAL for private individuals to work on infrastructure. So no, he’s not saying that he does all these things. He’s saying that private individuals SHOULD be left to perform these functions. Keep beating down that straw man, though.

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I think that you are missing the point as well. It is not organizations that do these things, it is PEOPLE. Whether private or government there are PEOPLE that are Greedy and self centered in every country of the world, especially the usa WITH the highest incarceration per capita rate in the world, and they will find ways to skim extra money if they want to. I doubt seriously that all of the white collar thieves in jail were government workers,.

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm

@Bill – So we can outlaw greed, right? That will fix the problem.

The basic premise you are missing from many of the people posting here is that the most egregious offenses of greed often involve collusion between government and industry. Big Oil. Big Pharma. GM. Financial bailouts. Etc., etc. The best way to obtain and maintain a monopoly is to outlaw your competition. This is the de facto method around the world today by creating regulatory regimes new competitors cannot navigate.

Government never apologizes for its wrongs, never has a product recall, and absolutely, positively cannot go out of business. It can’t be sued, it ignores all kinds of statutory limits, and creates rules convenient for it along the way. Companies do not have the power to incarcerate you; government has a monopoly on force. There are many outlets for recourse to correct a bad company: Media outlets, boycotts, competition, and even civil lawsuits. What company is not scared of a “class action” lawsuit in the news?

But being a bureaucrat is never having to say you are sorry. Even Oliver North was able to get another great job … in government. Seriously … what does it take?

Our founders wanted to limit the power of government because they new it tended toward unlimited power. Reagan said it best: “The government powerful enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take away everything you have.” Okay, maybe James Madison said it best:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Our auxiliary precautions are failing …

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm

So are you saying that it was the government’s fault that Bill Gates developed an operating system called Windows, that can not be sold by the person that bought it, or discounted by its sellers, that for the most part must be purchased to be able to operate millions of software programs that will not run without it? Was it the Free enterprise system that took him to court years ago?

should we not have copyright laws, or require doctors to have medical licenses? Should driver’s be required to be licensed?

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Now you are getting into things I think government should do … partly. Windows is no monopoly: I run Linux on most of my computers, though I have a tablet running Windows 7 that I love. Even aside from that, what give us the right to have something for free (Windows) that we did nothing to produce? The programmers, project managers, and others who worked to produce this product – they should not get compensation? It’s easy to look at Bill Gates and say, “He’s too rich,” but he employed thousands and thousands of people. His company unquestionably advanced our technology and continues to increase our productivity with new releases of Microsoft Office. Microsoft officially engaged in one anti-competitive practice which I despised: Long-term contracts which obliged PC makers to bundle their operating system with every unit even if the buyer did not want Windows. However, as more stable competition became available, more PC makers refused to renew those contracts.

One last item of note: You mention copyright. Copyright protects Microsoft. I believe in copyright, but a lot of other people here do not. I agree that our current copyright laws are ridiculous, but doing away with IP is not how to fix it. Given that only Microsoft can make Windows via copyright, they have a monopoly on a product called Windows which uses the code their programmers generate. Is it fair to break the monopoly by denying them copyright?

As far as doctors’ licenses or drivers’ licenses go, why could this not be a private accreditation system like colleges have? You get a degree for passing and a degree is a degree, right? You would rather have a doctor that went to Johns Hopkins than a nearby community college, perhaps, but why is the state’s seal of approval of any greater value than a private system? If I want to be certified as a network engineer, I go out and get a Cisco certification (I’m working on a CCNP, actually) … I don’t have to apply to the Bureau of Router Geeks and Packet Heads and wait 9 months for my approval. If I get a CCNP, people in the industry know what it means and understand the standard. If I want to go into project management, I get a PNP. The state is not the only entity capable of granting certification – but it maintains that it does this “for our own good,” of course. As if people would willingly go to a doctor with no accreditation or would not check out a specialist with good references (we do this, anyway).

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 10:30 pm

(sorry for double post … editor went weird on me)

Now you are getting into things I don’t mind government doing as much.

Microsoft is no monopoly: I run Linux on most of my computers, though I have a tablet running Windows 7 that I love. There are lots of Mac folks out there. There are lots of screens running Android and webOS, these days, and there will be even more in the days ahead. Microsoft has always faced competition.

Even aside from that, what gives us the right to have something for free (Windows) that we did nothing to produce? The programmers, project managers, and others who worked to produce this product – they should not get compensation? It’s easy to look at Bill Gates and say, “He’s too rich,” but he employed thousands and thousands of people. His company unquestionably advanced our technology and continues to increase our productivity with new releases of Microsoft Office.

Microsoft officially engaged in one anti-competitive practice which I despised: Long-term contracts which obliged PC makers to bundle their operating system with every unit even if the buyer did not want Windows. However, as more stable competition became available, more PC makers refused to renew those contracts.

Also, you mention copyright. Copyright protects Microsoft. I believe in copyright, but a lot of other people here do not. I agree that our current copyright laws are ridiculous, but doing away with IP is not how to fix it. Given that only Microsoft can make Windows via copyright, they have a monopoly on a product called Windows which uses the code their programmers generate. Is it fair to break the monopoly by denying them copyright?

As far as doctors’ licenses or drivers’ licenses go, I “don’t mind” the state doing this, but it is not the only way to do it. Why could this not be a private accreditation system like colleges have? You get an MD degree and a degree is a degree, right? You would rather have a doctor that went to Johns Hopkins than a nearby community college, perhaps, but why is the state’s seal of approval of any greater value than a private system? If I want to be certified as a network engineer, I go out and get a Cisco certification (I’m working on a CCNP, actually) … I don’t have to apply to the Bureau of Router Geeks and Packet Heads and wait 9 months for my approval. If I get a CCNP, people in the industry know what it means and understand the standard. If I want to go into project management, I get a PMP. The state is not the only entity capable of granting certification – but it maintains that it does this “for our own good,” of course. As if people would willingly go to a doctor with no accreditation or would not check out a specialist with good references (we do this, anyway).

But I find these to be less onerous things than outright redistribution or “legislating prosperity” by declaring arbitrary “standards” like minimum wage. Often, these policies hurt the people they are touted to help, and we’ve shown how this is true of minimum wage. The best economies happen under the least intrusive governments. You may not like the policies of Harding or Coolidge, but the lowest classes of Americans prospered greatly in the 1920′s. Did the rich get richer? Yep. If that’s the price of everyone’s quality of life going up, I’m all for it. Jealousy is a sin anyway, right? :-)

Drigan May 26, 2011 at 9:48 am

I want to help you, but I can’t tell if you’re really trying to understand what we’re discussing, or if you’re merely trying to troll.

You don’t seem to understand “division of labor”. By paying for someone else to do a job for me, I am indeed providing it for myself. I may not know how to dig a well and pump water into my house on my own, but if I pay someone else to do that for me, I have achieved the same goal. This miracle is achieved through specialization. This allows a person to become an expert at one thing and earn everything else they need to survive by doing that one thing for other people.

As it turns out, this division of labor occurs in the real world, as does charity, benevolence, and self-interest. These are all we need to have a functioning society; I’m not convinced that we *need* government, even in a society as large as the U.S. (I’m a minarchist, not an AnCap . . . though I reserve the right to change if we ever reach minarchy.)

Until government got involved, education and healthcare was truly provided for free or minimal costs by churches and charitable organizations. Granted, healthcare is more advanced now than it was then, but it’s unknowable whether it would be more or less advanced if government hadn’t intervened and created the AMA monopoly.

Peace,
Drigan

Bill Spickerman May 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Zackhack…..

thanks for your your very insightful reponse, and I agree with most of what you say. My problem with Microsoft, is the fact that when we buy the operating software, we are not actually buying it, we are renting it. Even if you were to try an sell an old original copy of Windows Millennium it would be illegal, as would Windows 98. Try to list these on ebay and watch your listing be canceled. So the only thing you can do with it, is to throw it into the trash, as it is not yours. Imagine if we did this with automobiles or better yet, like a cell phone that will not work with anyt other service than the one it was purchased so it is thrown away and we buy a new one again. How about the Allegera that I take and all of its generics no longer being covered by insurance because it is now OTC, yet costs nearly 18 dollars for a 30 day supply, but the little strips that my wife uses to check her blood sugar have never gone OTC and have always required a prescription. Are all these examples the government’s fault too, and not about the FREE enterprise system making money off the sick, the elderly and disabled?

zaq.hack May 25, 2011 at 11:24 pm

We can play the blame game eternally as have many before and will many after us.

Let’s face it: Microsoft’s dominance in the 1990′s is a thing of the past. As more and more people migrate their web use to tiny phone screens, tablets and other devices, Microsoft has started to realize they dropped the ball. They dropped the ball on the web, at first, and I vividly remember the chaos that was the first release of Internet Explorer. Yuck. In 2011, though, it is possible to live in a Microsoft-free world if you so choose and you are not sacrificing much to do so. I find Ubuntu a VERY usable and mature operating system at this stage … and it is free. Does it do everything? Well, no, but neither does Windows.

As far as healthcare goes, it is not remotely close to a free market and I think we both know that. There are multiple levels of government ensured monopoly (FDA), ridiculous patent procedures (companies patent molecules well before they can research their use; some have patented parts of the human genome), and on and on. You have some companies that are ensured eternal profit due to Obamacare and others that will be forced out of business – and we are told these are the “right” decisions by “expert panels” who can choose “for our own good.” Translation: We set up a group of lobbyists to collaborate on most of the verbiage in the bill and companies with louder messages got more.

Again, I’m not saying the free market is flawless – but I prefer most of its flaws to the flaws of an over-reaching government. Where you see “standards” and “regulation” and “oversight,” I see the companies that are making it harder for others to compete with them (their lobbyists often write the standards). Where you see “minimum wage,” I see “less opportunity for entry-level jobs” which ultimately leads to a slightly smaller economy overall. Where you see drug companies taking advantage of the dying and elderly, I see politicians forcing those same people’s grandchildren into a Ponzi-scheme which will never be able to afford their needs when their time comes. Our health care costs were promised to decrease in this new world of mandated health insurance, and yet they are going up, anyway. It is easy to say the companies are greedy – but the same companies that supported it (such as Mayo Clinic) are now saying they cannot afford to comply with it.

The economy is an infinitely complex machine. The government never apologizes for its unintended consequences. They cloak themselves in the flag and altruism, but all the while they are picking our pockets. At least with greedy old Microsoft, I know where they stand: Bill Gates is trying to make a buck. So is Barack Obama and pretty much every other politician down from him – but they try to make it seem like they are doing it “for our own good.” At least if I don’t like Bill Gates, I can opt out of the Microsoft world … I can’t opt out of my taxes, public education, social security, or any of these other so-called “benefits.”

If my community governments would take care of local fire and police and schools (as they should), and the feds took care of our borders and a few other sundries, I’d be a happy camper. If I didn’t like the services my current community provides and I had the freedom to choose another community in which to live, that would make this a great and prosperous land with enormous freedom. Would there still be oil spills? Yeah. Would there still be giant mega-corporations? Yeah, probably. But a free press and unrestricted Internet would be the best hedge against those that crossed ethical boundaries.

Drigan May 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

Even if the local government *didn’t* provide fire coverage, your home insurance company would require a much higher price to insure the property. This would cause people to *want* to pay for firefighters, provided the firefighters didn’t charge much more than the insurance premium, which would result in freelance firefighting jobs popping up in the private sector.

I’m less certain how police and courts would work, but apparently they *did* work in the West before government got there.

Peace,
Drigan

Anthony May 26, 2011 at 10:35 am

“Are all these examples the government’s fault too”

What a great question, Bill. As surprising as it might be to you the answer is a resounding “yes”, those things ARE the government’s fault.

As for your problem with copyright giving corporations control over private property of individuals (being unable to sell a copy of Windows, etc.) this problem is created by the GOVERNMENT writing and enforcing copyright laws. Absent government copyright laws you would NOT be prohibited from using your software in what ever way you choose (unless of course you signed a contract stating otherwise).

As for you medications, without government enforced monopolies on the right to make certain drugs ALL medication would be much cheaper. Without the government enforced monopoly given to the AMA all medical care would be much cheaper as people would be free to choose what sort of medical professional to see and artificial restrictions on the number of doctors would be reduced.

Search “intellectual property” here to read more details. There is no “free enterprise system” in the US, as 10′s of thousands of pages of regulations in every conceivable field will show you. Medicine especially is not “free” in any way.

Bill Spickerman May 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

So it is because of the government, that I have to pay $17.00 a month for my Allegra since the government decided it would have to go OTC and my insurance will no longer pay for it? And similarily the government has ruled that the little strips that are used for checking glucose levels shan NEVER be OTC? So it is not a decision that is made by the drug companies, it is a decision made for them by our government? Please help me understand your logic.

zaq.hack May 26, 2011 at 11:05 am

@Bill – These companies are trying to make as much money as they can according to the “rules of the game” or the “facts of life” or whatever euphemism you want to use. I experienced this very thing with Claritin with my second daughter who has bad allergies. Claritin used to be covered by my insurance and only available with prescription. However, after much FDA approval, the company producing it was able to sell it off the shelf. This then cost us money out of pocket and we had to adjust our budget. If that was the only drug we needed, perhaps I could drop my insurance or change my plan to save that money to spend on the item I needed. However, this is not possible because the market is not actually free: I am locked into the health care of my employer. Side note: For many years, I had a health savings account, and it was awesome. It allowed much greater control over my own health care choices, but now that plan is “illegal” under the current Obamacare nonsense. In that situation, I had the freedom to change where I spent my health care dollars. Now I have to fork out-of-pocket and take the company’s insurance, which annoys me. Once you have a taste of some real freedom in your health care, you begin to see how the money is all tied together and the deck is stacked against the individual. The latest reshuffle is also stacked heavily against small businesses who have to pay more per employee. Unless they are in Nevada (Harry Reid exception) or in Nancy Pelosi’s district or hire union employees (weird – sounds like it was politically stacking the deck, too).

Bill Spickerman May 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Have you checked on the profit margin of these companies? So many I hear from on tghis forum want to get back to basics, like it was in the old days. I assume they were talking about the 19th Century. And of course then Doctor’s provided their services for free in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath, that is a joke today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath

zaq.hack May 26, 2011 at 6:02 pm

@Bill – Now you are just trolling. :-)

You think welfare is a new idea? More modern than freedom of speech or freedom of religion or property rates? It so isn’t. The Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans … it is nearly as old of an idea as monarchy. The king would appoint “wise men” or councils to handle particular problems of state. These men would have a writ from the king and use that to amass their own little power niche in the system. They were never elected, they were seldom as wise as the job required, and they were prone to corruption. So, somehow, you feel this has stopped just because we elect the people who appoint the wise men, now?

jim May 26, 2011 at 4:09 am

It is certainly a well thought out position you present however it all falls completely apart when you add in the one over riding factor that you left out. People are greedy. When these people are aligned in a company they will make any and every decision to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. Sorry, but it bes that way all the time.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 7:55 am

But the main point here is that no one forces you to purchase Microsoft. I hate Microsoft. I hate the fact that they have invited the NSA to do joint programming with them ever since Windows 98. I hate their operating system more than anything else. So what do I do? I DON’T BUY MICROSOFT. This is the beauty of the free market. If everyone had a problem with Microsoft and stopped using their products, Microsoft would go out of business. If individuals like Microsoft, however, and believe their pros outweigh their cons, then individuals should be left to use Microsoft. Simply because you or I may hate Microsoft doesn’t give us the right to use government forces to outlaw Microsoft. That’s called fascism.

Anthony May 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

“people are greedy”

That is exactly why we need to reduce the number of people who are allowed to use FORCE to compel other people. In a free market it does not matter how greedy someone is, the only way for them to make money is to provide a service that people genuinely want and are willing to pay for.

With a strong government people can also make money by convincing politicians and bureaucrats to pass laws in their favor. If I don’t like Microsoft I can get a free alternative or buy a Mac… if I don’t like my internet company I am unable to choose an alternative because the GOVERNMENT imposed a monopoly on internet providers in my area.

The evils of “capitalism” that people always fear are almost exclusively cause by government interference in the market.

Bill Spickerman May 26, 2011 at 10:54 am

and similary if GM was to make automobiles that would not work unless OEM parts were purchased and installed, or a vehicle that would only operate in the zones that they decide like the cell phone rip off industry does that would be okay?

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 11:13 am

Bill, if GM decides to make cars that suddenly stopped working if you enter certain zones, why the hell would anyone buy a GM car? This is the part you are missing on this entire debate: we are discussing VOLUNTARY exchange. Now bringing GM into the discussion muddles things because of their ridiculous financial backing from the government, so let’s just make it generic and simple. Car company A decides that they will build their cars to only allow OEM parts to work. And they also design cars that only work in California, New Mexico, and Arizona. Car company B decides they will build their cars so all parts will work when repairing them. They also decide that their cars will function in all states, not simply California, New Mexico, and Arizona. As a consumer, why would I ever purchase a car from Company A? I would give my business to Company B, and so would all other rational consumers. Therefore, Company A would go out of business. What do you think is more effective in forcing Company A to behave in an intelligent and ethical manner–a law passed which can be easily circumnavigated by a skilled team of attorneys, or GOING OUT OF BUSINESS?

Bill Spickerman May 26, 2011 at 5:50 pm

And in your “Laissez Faire” unregulated FREE Enterprise, what would prevent ALL car makes from forming a bond, a brotherhood that all cars made by all producers would have the OEM parts only modification, that would help ALL car makes to increase their profits and monopolize the parts market? Opps! sounds like we need some type of government control….err…well…just this one is all we need…LOL!

Vanmind May 26, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Perhaps all the evidence that cartels are unsustainable without a government to pass laws/regulations which force others to comply with the cartel’s wishes?

Anthony May 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Bill,

If every single existing car maker were to band together and do that what exactly would stop a new company from entering the market and putting all the other out of business.

Monopolies ONLY form when the government prevents the entry of new firms into the market. Otherwise as soon as someone starts making monopoly profits someone else will open a competing business. Government creates monopolies, it doesn’t prevent them.

zaq.hack May 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

@Jim – Where did I leave that out? I said that Bill Gates was greedy. We are all motivated by our own needs and wants. I want more money, too. So do you, I’m guessing. Greed is why socialism and communism don’t work: I want more stuff than my neighbor. Not only that, but I want to be free to buy different stuff with my money. Maybe I want a big computer screen and my neighbor wants a big TV. Maybe he wants a big SUV, but I’m content with my Saturn. Maybe I want four cars (I have teenagers), but my neighbor is okay with one. When the government comes to “equalize” all of the differences among us, because that is the only “fair” thing to do, they rub against this human nature.

If you live in China and you want more than one child, tough luck. What is a more basic human desire than choosing the size of your family??!? What could be more personal? Is it greed to have more than one child? Central planners never take into account human motivations. Whether it is labeled greed or something less offensive, it is not the government’s job to tell us what is “too much money” or that we need to “give back to the community” or any other redistributive theft of our earnings.

As I said above, I’m okay with local governments raising a police force, a fire department (started as free enterprise, by the way), schools or whatever. Centralizing that control over every community in a nation of over 300 million is simply not working. Those powers, especially over welfare programs, need to be given back to the states and the communities where they can be more effectively managed. When I hear a Presidential candidate talk about how the US Federal Government is going to be putting 100,000 cops on the street to help with crime, a chill runs up my spine! What will my municipality have to do to get that money? How much more of my freedom is eroded to that faceless central planner timezones away?

At least with greed, you know where people stand: They act in their own self-interest. If they are charitable under such a system, then charity has honor and dignity, again. If the state mandates charity, it has honor for none of us.

CH May 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

A lot of good comments on here…and some not so good. One statement or perspective that i did not see mentioned was that a minimum wage creates a fixed cost center on the manufacture & sale of goods. Each time the minimum wage is increased, the cost of goods increases proportionately as manufacturers and retailers are not going to absorb this cost. It may even be argued that the wealth gap in the U.S. is partially due to the introduction of a minimum wage for even though the wages increase the cost of goods also goes up thereby offsetting the purchasing gains created by the higher wages while those who do not absorb the costs but rather pass them on continue to make their money and the poor are left in a no-win situation.

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Ah, the wonders of the “unintended” consequences of legislation. I think a primary point missed here was Drigan’s illumination of the origins of minimum wage. The first minimum wage was passed to restrict all women from being able to work by setting the minimum wage above $70 an hour for women. This idea has not changed in the century since it was first introduced. If you create a society where lower class individuals cannot find work and you supplement that by creating a welfare state, you force individuals into a dependency on the government. Never bite the hand that feeds you, right?

Bill Spickerman May 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm

son_of_liberty May 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm Wrote:

I don’t quite understand how many examples we need to prove that government is not your friend, it is the world’s largest criminal organization. How about the Atomic Bomb? ”

Comment: How about it. Many people argue that it actually saved more lives than it took, and that hundreds of thousands of Americans and its Allies would have been killed had it not been dropped on its two targets bringing Japan to end their ridiculous war. They were the ones that attacked us a Pearl Harbor, did you forget that? How would you have handled it differently? How about the JFK decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis, considered one of the best decisions made in history by a President?

Bill Spickerman May 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm

@Sons of Liberty”

“Or our concentration camps for Japanese-Americans?” Or the Patriot Act?’

Comment: At the time it seemed that best way to protect the mainland fr’om attack from within, which is the objective of the Patriot act. Tell us how it should have been handled in both situations that would have guaranteed a positive outcome?
and Again:

“How about the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision?”

comment: Again this is what the Majority wanted at the time. Remember you wanted States to have the power to make their own decisions, right? Unmolested by the BAD Federal Government. Let’s face it, Under a Majority rule concept, Segregation surly would still be the law of the land, but it was the people (Black People) that decided enough was enough, and the government decided that it was time to follow the founding documents, rather than ignoring them for an entire RACE of human beings.

Again just like any organization, the government is made up of people, you seem to believe it is the entity itself that is bad, instead of realizing that BAD people can exist in any organization, Business, the Church, the Boy Scouts, Non profit and for profit organizations and thousands of other examples.

Finally, there are 195 countries in the world. Can you name even one that has this system that you can cite that provides the working model that you base your philosophy on??? Seems to me that you have no basis.

Anthony May 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm

“BAD people can exist in any organization”

Yeah, but we don’t let boy scouts force people to give them money at gun point and then use that money to build cages to put people in who disagree with them… but that is exactly what the government does.

When you give people power over you and the incentive to abuse it what do you expect to happen?

I don’t believe that ANYONE has the right to initiate aggression against innocent people… you disagree. Do you really think you are sanding on the moral high ground?

Bill Spickerman May 27, 2011 at 8:47 am

@ zack.hack.

“As I said above, I’m okay with local governments raising a police force, a fire department (started as free enterprise, by the way), schools or whatever. Centralizing that control over every community in a nation of over 300 million is simply not working. Those powers, especially over welfare programs, need to be given back to the states and the communities where they can be more effectively managed. ”

Comments: I don’t think that the federal government is proving centralized control over every community in the nation as you imply. Let’s talk about schools. In 2002 I believe, President Bush came out with a program called: “No child left behind”..as you know. One of the main tenants of the effort, required certain teachers to meet new “highly qualified” standards in order to teach in certain critical areas i.e. Math and Language Arts (middle school-High school). You see, there are numerous studies that show that the highly qualified teachers are the leading factor in a students success in meeting academic goals. Achieving this standard was basically simple. There were two roads to take. One way was to take the applicable Praxis Exam for the dicipline and achieve a passing score (required scores are different for every state as they are determined by each state department of Education, not the federal government for example a passing score in Georgia is higher than Mississippi for the exact same test), the other method was to enroll in advanced college classes that could be taken during the summer months or at night to meet that highly qualified status. The bottom line is that each state rejected this new standard, and “watered down” the highly qualified requirement by mandated that a “teachers tenure and experience” could satisify the “highly qualified” reqirement in the federal mandate. Now do you understand the real reason why “No Child Left Behind” was not as effective as it should have been.

Spin it any way you want. I have researched this, and I was an educator myself for a short time, I know how it was supposed to work and what really caused its failure.

On the welfare program: The states have always had the powers of implementing the basic welfare programs, they fail to properly supervise the people in the very positions of approving welfare support and allow fraud, waste, and abuse as a result of it. IF the program were properly managed, to include public housing programs, huge savings could be seen, but each state does not do there job of policing their own, and blame the feds for their own problems.

Bill Spickerman May 27, 2011 at 9:05 am

Inquisitor May 27, 2011 at 8:40 am
“Let me explain it so even you can understand it. ”

Irony.

BTW: the government is due no income, so nothing is “lost” by anyone but the mob… err, government.

Comment: You had better check the Constitution. The right to tax is there. Taxes are the INCOME that I speak of and they are authorized in the Constitution that you say you want us to follow.

El Tonno May 28, 2011 at 6:28 am

How about 1$ per year, then?

Kugs June 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I watched this program about the 30 days of living on minimum wage. The two people living together in the cheap apartment would have been able to make it fairly easy if during the month they didn’t need so much medical care. It was less a commentary on wages in America and more a commentary on what happens when you keep getting $500-1000 medical bills. That is what kept causing them to be behind. I did see them at one point going to a free clinic for treatment, and not having time to go there. There may have been other free (or very low cost) clinics available that the extra bus fare would have been a lot less costly than an ER visit. Also, some of the ailments they were having would by most people have been handled themselves with over the counter medicines.

I also recall the show people saying they had to pay for each bus ride rather than get a pass, which would have been a lot cheaper and they would have had more trips available during the month. They claimed to not have money to start with, but I recall them being able to start off somewhat in debt from some savings. The other 30 days shows I have seen were better done and made more sense.

Jeff2136 June 3, 2011 at 9:47 pm

You could probably survive if two people were to pool their resources while making minimum wage. And if this country had an European style mass transit and healthcare system the quality of life for minimum wage earners might not be so bad. But our priorities are such that the profit of insurance companies trumps the quality of life issues for our poor and middle class. These shortcomings will continue to keep the USA at the bottom of the quality of life rankings among developed countries.

Bill Spickerman June 4, 2011 at 8:38 am

I agree with you completely Jeff. We have put our capitalistic WANTS above our actual NEEDS so that we actually believe WANTS are as important as those NEEDS. It becomes an addiction to accumulate massive amounts of money to obtain massive amounts of the newest, the biggest, the best we can possibly have in order for us to feel worthwhile. It is not just the Insurances Companies, it is the mentality of the people who own them, the people who manage them, and nearly all people who participate in the FREE enterprise system. We have redefined “happiness” to justify our unrealistic objectives and goals. It is not the system that is Broke, it is the people who make up that system.

ken mills July 19, 2011 at 4:42 am

Do we really need a minimum wage structure?
Yes, definately, if it wasn’t for the minimum wage policy, here in England, employers would take full advantage of the fact.
After all, it is human nature, in business, to try to employ people who will work for “peanuts”. in order to maximise profits.
This is why most major British companies source their products in places such as China, where the workers are actually working for well below the minimum wage.
The minimum wage policy, at least reduces the amount of people in poverty.

Colin Phillips July 19, 2011 at 5:24 am

ken mills,

You don’t see that even using your own tortured logic, you managed to disprove your claim? The minimum wage policy in England only reduces the number of people living in poverty in China, by making it more profitable to manufacture products in China than in England. It prices people in England out of the market, meaning that they are permanently stuck in poverty.

Which you would know, if you had actually read the article you commented on.

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