Archive for July, 2014

Minimum Wage

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

This was initially my comment on a friends post.  It also replies to someone else’s comment so bare with the tangents. The info graph showed three shopping carts and the supposed amount of food you could buy in certain years  1998, 2005, and 2013.  The infograph was greatly exaggerated one commentator likened the whole thing to the expansion of government. Which confused me.

Complete Comment (which I shortened for FB):

Even though I agree with the sentiment and idealism of the infograph, I think it’s a bit misleading.  For those of us who were living on our own and doing our own shopping, I think we can all agree that we’ve never been able to fill a car that full with only $20.   So that just starts off with a black eye.

Now, the idea and concept of a higher minimum wage… Well, that I’m totally behind.  The divide between those at the top and those at the bottom has been increasing at such a rate that it has caused an extreme definition in classes of people.  This is common when rule of thumb is the trickle-down economic structure.

I’m sure by now we’re all familiar with the concept of trickle-down economics.  And that is “the real problem” here.  It’s not big government.  But to address Michael’s points:

Q: “What happened to houses very wages after government took control to lower prices?
A: You are right. Due to house and senate conservatives pro-corporate policies and their tax exemptions/subsidies granted to the corporate entities, aimed at lowering the prices of products and services, were deferred to saving the corporations money.  These did not transfer into raising the wages of the lower 70% of employees or lowering the prices of products.   Trickle-down theory in action.

Q: “What happened to education prices vs wages when government made it cheap and affordable?
A: Still researching this one. From what I can tell, there were programs out there that could help.  I know that here in Florida we have a program that will retrain the unemployed in a tech field of their choice as long as the school offers that kind of degree.  Con: 24 students per semester.  Pro: Completely paid for, and at the end they have partner companies that have jobs open for those students.  Other than that, it seems the Federal Government turned education over to the states.  So that would have to be addressed locally.

Q: “What happened to healthcare when the government got involved?
A: Yes, what did happen?  Well, that’s a long story.  In short, you start with a system that’s slanted and concentric to a corrupt insurance industry, add in some bad legislation that furthers the habituation of said industry and viola, instant FUBAR. NOTE: The original ACA did not have a dependency on insurance companies. This was added in, uncompromisingly, by the heavily lobbied Republican representatives in both the house and the senate.  Who later campaigned on how horrible it was. Hence, writing in legislation with the known foothold that could bring about its (ACA) demise.  50+ attempts later, they still can’t defeat the law, even with that in there.  And we all suffer for their spitefulness.

Q: “Retirement?
A: Aside from government employees, they have set a standard of social security in place for those who haven’t set aside their own savings for their retirement.  That’s a longer debate than we have time for here, and the merits of people’s choice vs. people’s personal responsibility is an age old conversation.  If you’d like to continue that debate, I’d be more than happy to start a new thread.

Q: “Space exploration?
A: Interesting question given the fact that NASA is/was a governmental project and without the government’s involvement I think it’s safe to say, that it may have never happened.  Or at least not as quick as it did.

Q: “Defense?
A: Agreed. The government has had an unhealthy relationship with defense contractors and is spending a ridiculous amount of our annual budget on “defense” with little to no oversight.  The Military Industrial Complex is a powerful entity in and of itself.  I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

Q: “Food when theh pushed corn into out fuel?
A: Agreed (partially).  Government subsidies and tax shelters have bred a number of safe havens for large corporations to maneuver into the farming industry. Furthermore, those indomitable corporations have levied their lobbying power to put smaller farms under constraints and essentially control the market.  In conjunction with subsidiary corporations (sometimes parent companies) working to use these crops as additives in just about every process known, from plastics to cupcakes, they’ve created an environment of artificial dependency.  Again, caused by the very same “No to big government” legislators that cry wolf at social welfare programs and try really hard to stop the minimum wage increase.

Raising the minimum wage does not include increasing the size of an already over stretched government.  The two don’t even coincide.  The increase doesn’t attain an additional wing or branch for oversight, nor does it contain any text as to such.  It’s merely the changing of a number.   A number that would help the economy, not destroy it.  Will there be an adjusting period?  Yeah, I’m sure there will be.  But the fact is the people who will benefit from this are the same people that spend a larger portion of their paycheck directly back into the local economy.

You see, at that level, it’s not a trickle down economy, it’s a circular economy.  These people spend what they make, most can’t even afford to have a savings account.  They don’t do it because they’re horrible people just looking to work the system…  They do it because they need to be able to support themselves and their families and sometimes they can’t by working hard at a minimum wage job.   This isn’t a government hand out.  It’s paying an employee a LIVABLE wage.

I know, that the biggest argument I hear is, “Well, those people need to better themselves by getting an education and working harder.”  And in some cases that’s true.  But in others, it’s not that simple.  Not everyone has an aptitude for higher learning.  Some of these people work VERY hard and find themselves with little opportunity.  Not everyone can be a general in the army, just as not everyone can be the CEO of a company.  Real life doesn’t work that way. People are going to be held down by those at the top, it is the very core nature of business.  And with the reality being that more of the CEO’s are hording the money on the top of the mountain, you’re seeing a lot less of that money “trickle down” to the working force below.

Setting a livable wage isn’t robbing the rich to give to the poor, and it’s not an attempt at communism or leveling the wages so that the CEO gets paid the same as (or only slightly more) than the field hand.  No.  It’s re-evaluating the livelihood of the people at the bottom, who do our dirty work.  No one should be unable to survive while holding down a 40 hour work week.  Or be forced to go on welfare just to make ends meet.  There’s still plenty of money for the CEO or the board of directors out there.  Unless of course, the entire system is meant to perpetuate the divide in the classes?  Then by all means, continue.

The next biggest argument is, “If we raise the minimum wage, that’s going to raise the price of everything and companies will be forced to lay off people.”  This is the only legitimate argument.  However, with proper attention to inflation and some alterations to a few trade agreements, this too can be averted.  It’s a matter of the market controlling prices through competition and limiting jobs going overseas for cheap labor.  For simplicity’s sake it works like this: Pay them more, they will spend more.  They buy more products, you’ll have to make more products.  Making more products means you’ll have to hire more people.  And the circle continues.

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

The court ruled that most companies don’t have to pay for parts of health coverage, particularly contraception, for their employees, based solely on the owners religious beliefs.

I’m really torn on this one.

On the one hand, I firmly believe that we have the freedom of religion and the freedom to practice that religion in whatever “non-harmful” way we see fit.  I put myself in the owner’s shoes. 

1.       The company is mine, I should be allowed to run it in a manner that coincides with my personal beliefs. 

2.      I do not force my employees share that view, but I do expect them to respect those views while under my employ.

3.      No employee is forced to stay under my employ.

4.      I’m not infringing upon anyone else’s right to a particular part of healthcare, I’m simply not providing it at my expense.  They can freely acquire said item(s) at any time, and at their own cost via their OWN personal responsibility.

Those are really the only arguments I could find that were pro-freedom of religion.

On the other hand.
While I whole-heartedly agree that you should have the right to practice your religion in any way you see fit, I also believe that once you enter the realm of business and become an incorporated entity as a means of making money, you have new obligations to adhere to.

1.     While the company is in-fact yours, you still have to function under a new set of guidelines built around businesses and the ability to operate the business within the different legal rules.  This is part of “the cost of doing business”.

2.     Though you have strong religious convictions, your business does NOT have the right to discriminate on the basis of your prejudices/morality.

3.     As another cost of doing business, your incorporated entity has certain rules of operation that must be adhered to. Most of these rules are federally or state enacted such as; minimum wage, overtime pay, safe work environment, and others.  Recently those rules now includes healthcare benefits.  As part of healthcare, I DO NOT BELIEVE that a BUSINESS should be allowed to dictate what benefits can be offered based on that incorporated businesses owner’s beliefs.  THAT IS THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS.  If you would like to be a business owner and enjoy the riches of owning your own business, then you must make concessions on how you are going to get there. But, if you feel that it is simply too hard for you to treat the individuals that work for you in a fair unbiased manner, than perhaps you should seek another means of wealth that will relieve you of such mental torture.

So that’s where I sit.  The freedom of religious expression weighs heavily over what I believe is right (that your religious convictions shouldn’t supersede the welfare of those around you).  While I detest religion in most of its forms, I honestly believe that you should have the right to practice whatever religion you choose.  However, if your religious views cause hardship upon others, than we have a problem.

So I guess what I need to understand, is how much of a hardship does this ruling place on those who are affected by it?  How much is - Personal Responsibility vs. Access vs. Cost vs. Corporate Responsibility vs Religious Freedom vs. the Right to Healthcare?  Which brings us back to…? Do we even have a right to healthcare?  And of course, Is this ruling “harmful” to those who are affected by it?

Keep in mind… All this is, as I’ve written it, very ambiguous, which is exactly how it should be judged.
However, add in the fact that this ruling affects ONE particular sex, and the issue becomes quite clear that it is bias.  Now, combine it with the fact that the party that is the reason for the case in the first place (Hobby Lobby), that cited religious reasons as to why it couldn’t give its employees access to birth control as part of its healthcare benefits…  ALSO invested a lot of money into the very companies that produce those (contraception and abortion) drugs.  Sigh…      Typical religious Hypocrites. 

All in all, we really have the final say through our buying power. Sadly getting Americans to care about anything other than the next Super Bowl, is a complete waste of time.