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Minimum Wager

FYI: this is a post I originally made on Theology Web. You can see the thread here.

Okay, going through the last couple years have changed my perspective.

I’m still very much for a minimum wage – it’s a necessary bulwark against unscrupulous employers. That said, ‘minimum’ doesn’t mean ‘bare minimum’ and it doesn’t mean ‘let’s stick it to employers’ either.

It should allow a person to live independently without assistance above CoI but at or below median (depending on what the area labor market looks like) w/i three months of full time employment (or immediately in the case of temporary employment). It should not be set at the Federal level – although the mandate must be Federal.

Yes, that’s a complex way to do it – it’s also a dang site fairer than ‘one size fits all’.

The truth is, most ‘minimum wage’ or ‘low skill’ employers are on welfare – the state picks up where the employer is leaving off. Walmart does better than minimum – but many of its employees are on public assistance – so who is really paying these people? If not for public assistance and/or family the service sector (stores, restaurants etc) wouldn’t be able to get enough employees to carry on business – they simply could not afford the jobs. There would be a massive, unsustainable push for increases in welfare benefits across the board – because no one can work their backsides off daily and face living in a cardboard box. Trust me, I know.

And let’s explode the ‘entry level’ myth – you’ve all spoken to cashiers who have 20 years or more with Walmart on the floor. They don’t become supervisors or managers – they do get better pay and benefits – and they never have a ‘sit down’ job. But they DO work for a living – and shouldn’t be begrudged that living because they aren’t something else. No, they shouldn’t make what a CEO makes – their contribution doesn’t justify that (arguably, neither does the CEO’s) – but they should make enough to live on and to better themselves somewhat.

“The worker is worthy of his hire.” – for all its attempts to go self serve, Walmart still hires cashiers for a reason – they will LOSE money if they don’t. That ‘low skill’ job is an asset – one that helps keep customers and money flowing through the doors. Walmart doesn’t compensate accordingly – and it’s better than a lot of other companies out there. But an asset they are – and will be for the foreseeable future (some of us prefer a friendly cashier to a really stupid computer – the card’s in the reader, you dumb thing!¬†) – and they deserve to be paid decently. As Christians, we should strive to treat people fairly.

I’m not a fan of the $15 minimum – short term, it’ll do more harm than good to those that can least afford it. Long term, depending on the economy, it could be okay or very bad. Frankly, if they are gonna do it, now, while you’ve got a pro-economy president, is the time. Not sure that we should – set figures are inherently unfair. CoI varies too widely – in some areas it wouldn’t be enough; in others it’s an unnecessary burden on employers.

Whatever – I don’t know if I’ve got a good enough answer. I DO know it’s NOT okay to malign people that work hard to serve you – even if their servicet does have fries with it.



What Would a Better World Look Like?

This world, .not the world to come when Jesus returns and not some fantasy utopia. We often speak of making the world a better place but rarely seriously consider what it would actually be if we did make it better.

Is big better better than little better? I contend that they are the same. Big better is just a whole lot of little betters gathered under whatever tent. This is what fatalists fail to comprehend. Not being able to completely solve the worlds troubles doesn’t negate the tiny bit of improvement that one does achieve. Yes. it is a drop in the ocean BUT the ocean is made of drops. They all count.

We live in our predecessors better world and we will leave our better world to our sucessors. Maybe ours will be a big better maybe only a little better. We only fail if it is no better. We should be ashamed to leave it worse.

Poverty in the USA

Yesterday, without a trace of irony, a friend asked me about alleviating poverty. We used to be of the same socio-economic class but I am poor now. I don’t think she realised that .

But it’s the question itself I want to address. Do we need to alleviate poverty in the US ? Well, no. We have already done that. There are no poor starving in the .streets. The hungry and homeless we do have are mostly the mentally ill who have trouble accessing assistance for a variety of reasons.

Oh , yeah , we certainly do have poor people. I am not arguing otherwise. But our poor have cell phones . I am writing on an Android smart phone that I bought a couple months ago for $35.00, as an investment toward getting a better job.

Compared to a third world poor person, I am rich. I have the option to apply for government assistance, some of which I can reasonably expect to receive. I see college kids on food stamps where I work daily. That’s in and of itself a topic for discussion for another day. The point is that we in the US HAVE alleviated poverty. What we haven’t done is cure poverty.

I am a Christian – and I am not ashamed of that fact nor will I be – and I fully believe what Jesus taught. According to Him, we will always have poor to help, which makes sense in a fallen world. Sin is at the root of a lot of poverty.

Some idiot out there is shouting at his/her phone that I should not blame the victim. I fully agree. Now stop yelling, people are watching you and thinking you’re crazy.

Some people do cause their own problems – it’s foolish and counterproductive to deny that reality. Some people cause problems for others. Systemic issues cause problems for still more. Thing is I that if we don’t understand the actual causes and complexity we can’t fix it .

Which brings me back to the topic. My answer to my friend was that poverty has been alleviated – throwing money at the symptoms does alleviate them. What it doesn’t do and can’t is cure the actual causes of poverty. The causes are multi-level and complex. Those are two things government handles very poorly. Government is really good at creating complexity, usually needlessly, but it truly stinks at navigating the complex.
It is for this reason that all of the various governmental programs aimed at fighting poverty do so by the same tried and true – and failed – methods . They alleviate the symptoms but do not cure the disease. Money, job training, more money, new programs, more money, new studies. more money …. You get the picture.

In a roundabout, piecemeal way various aspects are addressed but no systemic, methodical and comprehensive program exists. Even in an ideal world where departments don’t fight over turf and funds, this approach has no hope of ever working.

Just because we can never fully care the disease of poverty doesn’t mean we can’t make a much bigger dent. But to do that we have to address the problem as it really is and face the reality that government can’t do the job for us.

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