PART VI: Libertarians, Minimum Wage, & Young Workers

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The latest losertarian mime on FOX is that we need to get rid of the minimum wage.  Why, John Stossel has asked, should young workers be paid the same as older, more experienced ones?  We know he doesn’t believe in a minimum wage.

Why should young workers be paid the same?  Just read his comments below, on interns, and you may be able to understand that youth is to be taken advantage of.  If the minimum wage is removed for the young, they will be paid so pathetically low, you will find very few of them working.  I wouldn’t – would you?

Just because a person is young is no indication that their worth is any less than someone who is older.  They are quite capable of working, most of the time.  When I was in business, I enjoyed employing younger workers.  They were fun.  Their lives were always full of drama, trauma, and upside down.  They also have friends who like to spend money.

Unfortunately, people like John Stossel live in the losertarian land of make-believe.

“…Only 2.5 percent of all hourly workers make $5.15 an hour (or less; some jobs are exempt from the law), says the Department of Labor. “Minimum wage workers tend to be young.”

Few of them stay at the minimum wage for long. As they acquire skills, their productivity rises and they command higher wages. According to a study done for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “minimum wages have virtually no effect on the careers of most workers.”

A small percentage of people do get stuck in minimum-wage jobs for a longer time. Since wages tend to rise with productivity, these are people whose productivity does not improve. A higher minimum wage will cost some of them their jobs. How does that help them?

Legal wage minimums kill all kinds of entry-level jobs, particularly those that would teach young people basic work habits and the benefits of effort. That’s why there are no kids cleaning your windows at gas stations or working as ushers at movie theaters. Those jobs are extinct now because they are worth less than the legislated minimum. Who is helped by that?

Let’s face it. The higher minimum wage is a feel-good law. A slight increase will pass because politicians and poverty activists will be able to say they have “done something” for the poor, while the victims of the policy go unnoticed. Those who can’t find jobs because they produce too little are not likely to blame the law or the politicians who tried to “help” them. Then the resulting unemployment will justify expansion of the welfare state….”

It is the libertarian losertarian hard line.  We’re hearing a lot of this on FOX now because Rupert Murdock is one great big libertarian.

Libertarianism

He doesn’t believe in paying college interns.

“…If so, President Obama’s Labor Department says that you’re an exploiter. The government says an internship is OK only if it meets six criteria, among them that the employer must get “no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities. In fact, the employer’s work “may be impeded.”

Impeded? No immediate advantage?

I’m in trouble, then. I have an intern at Fox Business News, and I’m getting immediate advantages from her work all the time. I’ve had interns my whole career and gotten lots of immediate advantage from them. Occasionally, I’ve been impeded — but the better interns did the research that made my work possible. I’d asked my TV bosses to pay for research help, but they said, “You think we’re made of money?”

So I asked colleges if students wanted internships. Many did, and from then on I got much of my best help from unpaid college students….”

How does this college kid pay for his/her time in New York?  Is FOX (which is not a floundering entity) assist these kids with their food, rent, or transportation?  I know The Pink Flamingo will not be popular for saying this, but there is something just plain tacky about this sort of exploitation.

Sure, it’s done every day, in hospitals with interns.  One of the girls who was in my youth group for years is going to start student teaching in January.  She doesn’t get paid for her work.

STUCK IN A MINIMUM WAGE JOB

Ever been stuck in one?  The Pink Flamingo has.

Once upon a time, when I was in my early 20s, I worked for a local department store.  I was paid a minimum wage.  When I was working there part time during Christmas break, no problem.  I did not mind what I was paid, one bit.  It was spending money.

When I began working at the same store, full time, it was a different story.  The only hope for a floor worker in this organization was to be put on commission.  All they paid was minimum wage, with no benefits – for the women.  I worked along side women who had been there since the store had opened, nearly ten years previous.  The only difference in the salary was the commission.

First, I was moved from the fashion department where I wanted to work, to housewares.  The adorable little buyer for the fashion department did not approve of the fact that I was not thin.  She only had thin women working in her department.  I was put in the back section with the other women who were over-weight. (Yea, if I’d known then what I know now, I would have taken the store apart).

The fashion departments were easy. Housewares was miserable.  There were boxes to lift, heavy merchandise to deal with, and the pay was the same – no difference.

There is this strange myth that working in a department store is slightly glamorous and a bit fun.  Nothing is farther from the truth.  That is, of course, unless one is a “buyer” or department head.  Where I worked, there was only one way a younger women reached that august position – yea, it was for services rendered – on one’s back.

I went on “commission”.  The department where I worked was miserable, ruled by a foul mouthed slut and a crude woman who would stab you in the back to steal a sale.  The only reason any of us put up with the situation was the fact that we had no department head.  We were  in charge.  We did what they wanted.

Then one day, they hired a young Pentecostal preacher to take charge of the department.  Because he was a man and had a “family” to support he was hired, no experience required, at nearly twice what we were making, commission on all department sales, and insurance.  He had a family to support.  I was single living with my parents.  One of the women who worked with me was a well-off widowed, who worked simply for the 20% discount.  She spent her entire paycheck buying clothes for her young grandchildren.  The troublesome woman in the department was married.  The young man needed the money, we did not.

Once we realized we were doing his work, we quit doing it.  He lasted maybe three months, but the genie was out of the bottle.  Women in other departments who were minimum wage began to question why the men were being paid more.

I lasted there for maybe two years.  Not long after I left the manager and assistant manager were both fired. The company eventually was assimilated by a larger company, which was later assimilated by Dillards.

One of the very real problems with companies like that was the fact that they could not keep employees.  Who wanted to work at a minimum wage, doing a heck of a lot of work, knowing that there was a major gender bias?

Unfortunately, the same problems still exist in this world.  Just look at Wal-Mart, where men are still paid more than women, and given preferential treatment with promotions.

In John Stossel’s hit piece on the minimum wage, he mentions that just a small percentage of people make the minimum wage.  Evidently those are the scum of the earth, not worth more minimum wage – and not worth that. He cites stats that show how few people are actual minimum wage, but those stats are so misleading.

When The Pink Flamingo was working in my local church office, I was approached on a weekly basis by people who worked in minimum wage jobs.  I saw the problems of their lives (mostly of their own making).

I saw how a local employer of national note manipulated the people who worked at the “superstore” never giving them set hours so that they could have a second and third part time job.  Lincoln County has one of the lowest wage bases in New Mexico and the entire country. Jobs that would pay upward of $20 an hour are barely above minimum wage.  The average person who is employed here must work two and often three jobs.  A couple with children will often have six jobs between them, just to make ends meet.

MINIMUM WAGE CRUELTY

Conservative Economist Walter E. Williams (and I do want to know what he is giving Mrs. Williams this Christmas) did a column about what he called “minimum wage cruelty”.  He is looking at the story from one angle.  The Pink Flamingo looks at it from another.  It also explains my reasoning against the libertarian philosophy.

“…”Minimum Wage Cruelty” (4/14/10) was my column about the unemployment effects of Congress’ 2007 minimum wage increase on the canning industry in American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the far Pacific Ocean. The 2007 legislation mandated 50 cents annual increases in Samoan minimum wages until it reached the U.S. mainland’s hourly minimum of $7.25. In response, Chicken of the Sea International moved its operation from Samoa to a highly automated cannery plant in Lyons, Ga. That resulted in roughly 2,000 jobs lost in Samoa and a gain of 200 jobs in Georgia. Prior to minimum wage increases, Samoan wages were about $3.25 an hour. With the legislated increases, Samoa’s minimum wage is $5.25. So the question is: Which is preferable for the Samoan worker — being employed at $3.25 an hour or being unemployed at $5.25? Which buys more of life’s essentials?…”

Now The Pink Flamingo has a heck of a lot of respect for Dr. Williams, but he is just plain wrong here.  The people who live on American Samoan are AMERICAN CITIZENS.  They carry AMERICAN PASSPORTS.  Why the heck should they not be paid the same wages as those who live on the mainland?

Please, explain why they are less important than people who live on the mainland?

It’s an island.  Everything must be imported.  Ever been to the Islands?  Ever noticed the prices?  To expect people living in AMERICAN SAMOA to be paid less than their fellow Americans on the mainland and to pay more for goods is simply wrong.

LIBERTARIAN PARADISE

Libertarians make a huge show about calling out socialists.  The problem is that a real libertarian world would not be much different.

In a socialist society, the worker is alleged to be living in a “worker’s paradise”.  Socialism, itself, is little more than a form of dictatorship.  Those in charge use the system to keep themselves in wealth and power at the expense of the “worker’s paradise”.

In a true libertarian society where there are no rules, just survival of the fittest, there is little difference for the “worker”.  Those in charge, the titans of industry, grow rich and powerful while the regular man and woman grows poorer as they work ever longer and harder.

It’s like the Starkist plant.  Survival of the fittest allowed the corporation to move around so they can make more money.  There is nothing wrong with making money and watching the bottom line.  When, though, does it become immoral?

One of the reasons the US has been experiencing an onslaught of illegal immigration from Mexico is because of the multi-national factories that have grown up along the border.  The Maquiladoras were originally envisioned as a way to lift the impoverished people of Mexico up to a better standard of living.

From 2003:

“…The benefit of a tariff-free and more structured business environment is no longer incentive enough for US and multinational firms under pressure to cut costs. Many are downsizing their maquiladoras — as the foreign-owned factories are known. Others are moving to China. Although the $1.75 an hour that a low-end Mexican factory worker averages still lures companies, the 35 cents per hour a Chinese laborer earns is tough to resist.

In the past three years about 540 factories have left Mexico, taking with them more than a quarter million jobs, according to Mexico’s national statistics agency. Dave Lopez, operations chief at Aldila Inc., a San Diego-based maker of graphite golf club shafts that runs a factory in Tijuana, said his company has downsized in Mexico. “Golf is down, so we’re not hiring like we used to,” he said.

The sudden decline in maquiladora jobs is altering the lives of such people as Jesus Ruiz and his family, who migrated here six years ago from Mexcaltitan, a tiny island off Mexico’s Pacific coast. There were no jobs back home and the Ruiz family thirsted for the steady work offered in Tijuana, where foreign-owned factories arrived in droves thanks to the 1994 NAFTA pact, which dismantled business barriers among the United States, Canada, and Mexico….”

From 2003:  It is all about the bottom line and making money – the good old-fashioned libertarian style – no rules, just right.

“…“Apparently, the cost factors in China are low enough so that increased transportation is not a knockout feature,” he said. “It is not negligible either, so one emphasis here is to emphasize not just the cost of transporting goods back to the United States, but the effects of being in closer contact with U.S. centers of production.”

This proximity factor is most important for heavy goods production and the rapid operating system known as just-in-time production. Automotive parts manufacturers, for example, remain strong in Juarez and other parts of Mexico because of the ease of transporting products to the U.S. market. But many other industries are vulnerable to competition.

Workers in Mexico’s maquiladoras earn around two dollars an hour on average, while workers in China earn less than a dollar an hour. This is a great concern for Mario Mora, director of the Juarez Maquiladora Association, who says that the loss of tens of thousands of factory jobs in Juarez is distressing, especially when you take into consideration that each job in an assembly plant generates two or three jobs in the community outside….”

No roles – just libertarian money-making ethics (or lack there of)

“…There is an untold story behind the illegal immigration story. The first question to ask is why did these immigrants come to the United States? They came to seek jobs. Then what happened to the free trade that was supposed to provide the jobs in Mexico?

The massive migration of workers demonstrates that free trade has failed. The United States has moved more than 4,000 factories to Mexico to save the Mexican economy since 1956, including more than 2,000 that were moved since the NAFTA trade agreement was passed in 1993. Obviously, the exporting of these factories to Mexico did not work, and after getting NAFTA passed, President Bill Clinton had to rush billions of dollars to Mexico to save the peso.

In the end, an impoverished, destitute working class was created in Mexico and a working poor class was created in the United States. NAFTA proved to be a Trojan horse, Illegal immigration speeds up the race to the bottom for workers and workers’ dignity is crushed in both countires – while the globalist free-traders call for more of the same….”

Libertarians losertarians live in this fool’s paradise.  I believe people like John Stossel honestly think a libertarian world free of rules and regulations would be good for everyone.  The problem is human nature.

People are greedy.  Industry is the same way.  If the minimum wage were eliminated here in the US, and all regulations for safety and a clean environment were eliminated, the US would quickly be reduced to the status of a third world nation – or at least the average working stiff would be.

Ever read the works of Upton Sinclair?

“…Upton Sinclair, Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968), was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author who wrote over 90 books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the 20th century, acquiring particular fame for his 1906 muckraking novel The Jungle. It exposed conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. Time magazine called him “a man with every gift except humor and silence.”..”…In The Jungle (1906), Sinclair gave a scathing indictment of unregulated capitalism as exemplified in the meatpacking industry. His descriptions of both the unsanitary conditions and the inhumane conditions experienced by the workers shocked and galvanized readers. Sinclair had intended it as an attack upon capitalist enterprise, but readers reacted viscerally. Domestic and foreign purchases of American meat fell by half. Sinclair lamented: “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” The novel was so influential that it spurred government regulation of the industry, as well as the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act…”

In a perfect world libertarian ideas of capitalism should prevail.  Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world where the average person is motivated by fear and greed.  It is all about making money, making a profit, no matter who you hurt.

I believe in making a profit, but I also believe that we are our brother’s keeper.  I believe in the basic values taught by the Judeo-Christian ethos.  You cannot have these and have a libertarian world.  They are incompatible.

Libertarians are foolishly naive.  There is no actual reality in the world they wish to build.  It is all about pipe dreams and theory, and no wisdom.

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5 thoughts on “PART VI: Libertarians, Minimum Wage, & Young Workers

  1. by itself a single bacterium is not usually powerful, dangerous, or life threatening. But when given the conditions to endlessly multiple that one germ has the ability to spread like wildfire.

    One single germ can conquer an entire nation!

    Now multiply that single bacterium by 10,000 and disperse it among the populace. That is what has happened. The spores were cast out. The ideas of Libertarianism have germinated. Anti-Republican PROPAGANDA has taken root (again) and the only viable solution seems to be the disease itself.

    That single bacterium, that seemingly harmless little germ is now a PANDEMIC of PaulBotulism.

  2. I enjoyed reading about your experiences working in a department store. You should write about that. It could become a new best seller.

  3. The most fun was the time there was a rumor that Elvis was looking at lakefront property – and had been seen locally. One of the women who worked in our department nearly lost her mind. She went running out to her car, chasing down the rumors. The manager thought it was so funny, he did not even criticize her. It was one of the few times I ever saw him laugh.

    SJR

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