Minimum Wage: What Does It Try to Fix?

Minimum Wage: What Does It Try to Fix?
  • 5136
  • 277
  • 17

My Recent Posts

Whenever there is a labor oversupply, wages drop and business owners naturally make greater profits in the near term. This trend, of course, cannot continue indefinitely, since eventually the high numbers of low wage earners and unemployed begins to erode mass markets. At some point this hurts the general economy substantially while the rich become super-rich. The result is extreme wealth inequality and general public discontent.
We have knowledge of multiple events of this kind in world history that ultimately caused the collapse of the economy and/or popular revolution. It is clearly not a sustainable situation in any kind of long term scenario. This is not something any individuals or conspiracies necessarily have anything to do with. It is typically a blind result of individuals and multiple special interest groups acting according to their own short-term interests and/or needs. It is a social ill that is a spontaneous collective result of individual behaviors and special interests within a society, each acting blindly in their own apparent short term interests.
In recent history, some revolutionaries have attempted to solve this problem with Marxist ideas. However, we all know that Marxist ideas and the reality underlying the way markets naturally work on a social scale are incompatible. Some level of inequality is natural, since we all have different abilities and levels of motivation to make productive contributions to the economy. The natural level of inequality is that which corresponds most closely to these differences. Marxism attempts the impossible, which is to eliminate such natural inequality. The inevitable result is corruption and political power mongering to gain both political and economic advantage.
The extreme inequality that precipitated these Marxist revolutions, on the other hand, is equally unsustainable, since it results in the extreme general discontent that causes revolution in the first place. In the case of the city state Venice, extreme inequality caused the fall of the city from its former glorious economic status as a major economic hub and caused a global collapse of the world economy of that era, reaching its dismal peak around the year 1340. This evolved to its gruesome climax gradually across multiple generations as a result of major wealth holders slowly turning to the use of guilds and other means to limit who had access to economic privilege to preserve it for themselves and their descendants.
This continued until the high levels of inequality became unsustainable as the contribution of the general population lost any incentive to remain productive. The major banks became extremely speculative with their international loans that show highly inflated value on the books. The underlying financial realities were enormously less valuable, which translated to excessive leverage, draconian contractual conditionalities etc.
Sound familiar? The essence of what this points to is that when social organization, whether political or economic, reaches very large sizes, unregulated economic activity based on short-term profit motives among individuals and small, powerful special interests becomes self-destructive. This is not the fault of any particular individual or group of individuals.
No, this is instead the spontaneous result of ignorant, short-sighted chasing of self-interest operating collectively but blindly in large social structures of any kind. This reality is far from the idealistic situation proposed by Ayn Rand, for example, which has never seen any historical realization on a significant social scale or even the idealistic preconditions she postulated. I see her idealism as an almost equally impractical, mirrored, polar inversion of Marxist idealism, which makes some sense considering her reactionary Russian background.

If we look at the economic engine, perhaps we can view the solution as some kind of engineering problem metaphorically equivalent to a governor that limits rpm (revolutions per minute) so the engine can't blow itself up by increasing revolutions beyond what it can materially tolerate. It seems that we might need some kind of more or less fixed, automatic economic mechanism to prevent this kind of runaway socio-economic effect. But so far no one, or at least no one many people are listening to, has proposed a viable solution to this social reality. Some simplistic combination of capitalism and socialism is clearly not the answer, as European economies unquestionably demonstrate. Any takers?

Copyright October 2014 © Robert P. Wendell

Redistribution freely permitted contingent upon the unmodified inclusion of this copyright notice.



Robert Wendell Added Oct 31, 2014 - 10:43pm
I don't either, Mario, but thank you very much for your appreciative comment. The closest I can get so far is outlined in my article Declaration of Economic Independence/Interdependence. It is more a brainstorming session than anything.
George N Romey Added Nov 1, 2014 - 7:48am
Its not to fix so much but to prevent. Prevent companies from the exploitation of workers that have a minimal skill base. 
Rex Added Nov 1, 2014 - 8:18am
Robert it is a nice review of income inequality.
But I believe it misses the point. The employees arguing for an increase in the minimum wage are for the most part adults who lacking education have chosen to stay in jobs that were typically starter jobs for teen agers and college bound students. At least they were when I was young (the 1970's, 80's  & 90's).
Over time these children have grown into adults and have not moved up from the starter job into a position that would earn a living wage.  In Texas there have been protests by various workers in the fast food companies agitating for increases in their wages.
Truthfully, if I could make $15 an hour slinging fast food plus overtime I could actually live on it- and avoid all the hassle and tension that is presently involved in my current analyst position. But I believe it would be stealing a job from a young person who needs experience in the job market to make the transition to a working adult.
If we paid the higher wage adults will fill all those jobs and there will be no starter jobs available to teach the young about showing up, working diligently and being paid for doing so.
Adults who have not chosen to get the education and the skills to earn enough to meet their needs are reaping the results of those shortsighted decisions. If that sounds harsh, I will explain how I came to that view.
I worked in a rubber gasket factory when I graduated high school. My day involved holding 2 pieces of rubber under a heat source to fuse them together to form a corner. The gaskets held school bus windows when completed. There were women working there, that had been at the job for 10,15 and all their working life! Most of them had not completed high school and was the only good paying job in the area.
I had applied for other jobs, but all of the employers to a man wanted college, not just high school. Fortunately for me I had a serious auto accident, while I was mending I decided to go to college. Most people do not need such a drastic push into doing something I should have done right out of high school.
My point is, working in a mind numbing job, and seeing women who had never aspired to anything better was always present in the back of my mind, whenever I was having a bad day at school. I would remember the heat, smell of burning rubber and the sandstone dust that coated all of us by the end of the day.
I am surprised that people have a job just want to hold up the employer for additional money that any teenager could do and did when I was young,  rather than aspire to something better.
When they were talking to the protesters all they wanted was extra money, not to become assistant manager, manager or perhaps own a franchise some day.
People need to decide to get education. Many of the jobs that used to require humans are now mechanized. The future of jobs means we all need to keep getting additional skills just to remain viable in the workforce. That does not have anything to with economic income disparity, but the reality of todays workforce.  
Fixing wage disparity strikes me as another form of hand out but instead of government being forced to contribute we are trying to force companies to do so.
Rex Added Nov 1, 2014 - 10:01am
Tony excellent points. No I do not have the insight from dealing with young workers. If they do not want those jobs that is awful because it teaches them how the world of work works, it also shows them how unfair work can be if you lack the skills that would get you more.
I am fully aware that some people do better in vocational training. In my article on the government handouts to the underemployed I did indeed complain about both the under employed and uneducated as well as those on welfare for taking what is not earned.
I did leave exactly as described, education was a choice because the damage done by the accident made me unfit for that dead end job. I did some work- study beginning in my 2nd year. I also had some funds from the accident as it was the other persons fault. Instead of squandering the $$ received I invested in my future by getting educated for better jobs.
I have always believed all of us should have at least some time in a dead end job so that when we get the opportunity to learn, whether in college, or in a vocational training program we remember what awaits us should we fail at that training. 
I am glad you are a good employer  that understands and appreciates his employees enough to give raises. Not every employer does that.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 1, 2014 - 11:46am
There are millions of college grads who are unemployed and living at home. We have an overabundance of educated unskilled unproductive members of our society. The two most secure sectors of the labor market are government jobs and skilled labor. Both pay well above average wages and provide enough income enough to raise a family. We often forget that the majority of millionaires in our country have a high school education or less. They worked their way up and now own small businesses that provide basic services like plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and construction/remodeling services. There is a family in my area that became millionaires in the Port-a-Potty business with the tagline "One mans crap is another mans gold". That pretty much sums it up for me, we have over glamorized the value of a formal education and demoralized the value of skilled labor. At the end of the day education is useless if you haven't been exposed to working in menial jobs or dead end jobs for the life lessons they provide.
We really do not need unions whose goal is to prevent or limit entry into the skilled trades and we don't need minimum wages because the lack of workers available to fill those positions is a big problem. Many young people have substance abuse or criminal histories that prevent them from getting a job so they join gangs who do provide an income and sense of community.
So while many college grads are stumbling around or camping out in the 99% rallies, I have one nephew that makes 70k a year doing specialized welding and another that creates small enterprise business that cater to niche markets and both are doing quite well. the first does not have a degree the second does, neither are working what many would consider glamorous jobs.
Dave Volek Added Nov 1, 2014 - 11:46am
Nice article Robert.
It is my understanding that Marx only postulated the eventual failure of the capitalist system (and used a lot of math to prove his point). He never really offered a replacement system of social organization. "Marxism" is a term given after his death to some form of socialism/communism to justify that system. If Mark were to define this term, I think he would only say,  "capitalism cannot work."
I believe most western governments are already managing their economies, through some combination of Keynesian economics or monetarism. Whether they are doing a good job or not is another question: case in point, the failure of the American banking system in 2008. 
You make a good point about people choosing to be in dead end jobs. However, we still need to provide opportunities for those people if they really want to move on. Someone working in 40-hours a week in a minimum wage job may not be able to find the means to retake high school courses.
Having said that, I think we could agree that many people in this working situation would not take advantage of such an opportunity. They will continue their lifestyle.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 1:24pm
Caberfeidh says:
"You cannot use Europe as an supporting strand to your argument. You could use the European Union perhaps...
"Other European countries, predominately Scandinavian, outside the EU are showing moderate growth. They have strong welfare states.
"I believe we should look beyond capitalism and socialism."
I said in my article in the next to last sentence:
"Some simplistic combination of capitalism and socialism is clearly not the answer, as European economies unquestionably demonstrate."
So, Caberfeidh, you disagree and then later reinforce with your own positions exactly what I said in the article. ?????
The most socialist among the European countries are doing little if any better than the U.S. That was the point. Where is the disagreement and why do think what you said later does anything less than confirm exactly what I said?
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 1:56pm
Nancy said, "Robert, it is a nice review of income inequality, but I believe it misses the point. The employees arguing for an increase in the minimum wage are for the most part adults who lacking education have chosen to stay in jobs that were typically starter jobs for teenagers and college bound students."
Nancy, in addition to teaching music and having a masters degree in it, I've done everything from bailing hay, shoveling coal, working on truck docks in Chicago loading and unloading long haul 40-ft. trailers, sailing as a merchant seaman, to teaching school, electronics engineering, managing software support, engineering sound, doing high end industrial sales of high technology, and recruiting contract engineers for the commercial avionics industry. So I've been in dead end jobs and the other extreme, now doing exactly what my heart loves to be doing, working part time for myself teaching voice (singing lessons) in my own home. I earn more per unit time spent working than anything I've ever done and love every minute of it.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the world likes to learn and grow or at least has had the opportunity to find out how much fun that can be. There is a good chance that this will always be the case, I suspect. In my view, we have to learn how to live with that reality as a society without marginalizing such people, but rather giving them an opportunity to contribute what they can without suffering for lack of opportunity to satisfy their basic needs.
Humble work deserves humble living conditions, but not abject poverty and the intense suffering that entails. I believe that there are solutions to this situation. Where there is political will there is a way to do it that allows everyone to have a better quality of life. Having huge parts of our world living in dire poverty often surrounded with environmental ugliness is a bummer for everyone. I've seen the extremely rich and extremely poor essentially living alongside each other in Latin America and that's not really that comfortable for anyone.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 2:35pm
Continued from my last post:
Years ago I read that we in the U.S. have a quality of life equivalent in former times to owning 12 slaves at our beck and call at every moment. This is liberating not only because it eliminates any perceived need, no matter how immoral, to own slaves, but because we are all liberated to use our time in ways we could not have afforded in earlier times. We are not responsible for that. We are the fortunate heirs of a broad social benefit that results from generations of dedicated scientists, engineers, and insightful people who brought our advances to commercial practical implementation.
So we currently have an inherited situation for which we are not personally responsible that allows us to maintain a pretty nice quality of life with much less effort. Since most of us are heirs to this fortunate legacy, we need to learn how to share it instead of using our educational, family, social, and environmental advantages to hog it all for ourselves and condemn the rest to suffer. This is not socialism. We can find ways that allow everyone to legitimately earn their share if they are physically able.
But that is not happening. Modern technology has enormously increased per capita productivity in the U.S. and Europe while during the same decades of this increase only the financial top has benefited. You do the simple math. This phenomenon is called economic extraction. An extractive economy is what we have right now.
The obvious symptom is record high income inequality that far outweighs the differences in our economic contributions. The richest get reach by draining the productivity of both the middle class and the poor while compensating poorly for that productivity. The economy as a whole has actually suffered lower performance overall as a consequence.
This is eventually a lose-lose rather than a win-win situation. Zero-sum game thinking doesn't belong in economics, since in large national contexts, economics is very far from being a zero-sum game. A national economy is not a small family with a fixed income, yet much of the current political rhetoric from the far right treats it as if it were.
That is a zero-sum game mindset and has no truth in it whatsoever. It makes sense only to the unthinking householder who thoughtlessly accepts as common sense the idea that national economies work the same way a fixed income family budget does. But you don't get water if you don't prime the pump.
Companies borrow to get started with the expectation that the temporary debt will prime the business pump and pay back the original investment many times over. Some of us want to hang onto the only water we have to prime the pump with. Just don't complain when we run out of water. The little people who think they have the most business sense are often the least knowledgeable when it comes to how things work on a national scale.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 2:45pm
Caberfeidh, where is your "No, Robert" coming from? I'm at a loss to understand how you think. I'm merely saying, as you have, that a mix of socialism and capitalism isn't the solution. Nowhere do I compare the U.S. and Europe other than in the context that Europe is generally more socialist than the U.S. and it hasn't worked all that well either.
My reply to you showed the stark contradictions of your own statements, yet you seem to persist in them. Whatever it is you're disagreeing with, it doesn't seem to be anything I've actually said, but only what you seem to think I've said. Please pardon me, but I think you're doing a much better job of arguing with yourself than with anything I've actually said.
George N Romey Added Nov 1, 2014 - 4:37pm
The free market assumes players are of equal footing.  We know that is not the case.  I'd think minimum wage should be set by the states given the vast differences in cost of living.  Also understand this, corporate America would not want a free market.  Most of these companies would perish without their multi million dollar influencing machines.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 5:59pm
Fine, Caberfeidh, but I neither mentioned or implied any of that, pro or con. If you're going to say "No, Robert", 'please reserve it for when you're saying something that disagrees with something I've actually said.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 6:02pm
Libertarian Lover said, "When government starts dictating the rules, entrepreneurs will disappear."
So why haven't they? Government has been dictating lots of rules for a long time, and some of them are nuts. The good ones are trying to counter the nutty ones partisan politics has created. The result is a sadly mixed bag of mixed up regulations.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 1, 2014 - 8:27pm
Government rules have become "the problem" much more frequently than they have helped so I'm inclined to believe we'd all be much better off if big government just removed 99% of their rules, punitive and incentive taxes, and bailouts.
In their attempts to proved a safety net for those who can't help themselves, they have created many groups of citizens who either refuse to work at all, or are only willing to work a little, because they stand to lose more by working than they have to gain by working.  All the freeloaders overload a system that should have more than enough money to support those who are truly in need.
In their attempt to raise money to help those who can't help themselves they are overtaxing those who work and driving many to leave and take their money with them, or find ever more creative ways to avoid taxation.  The more rich that take their money elsewhere, the fewer there are to tax and the more government wants to tax them, in a never ending cycle.
Government thinks they can help the poor by raising the min wage, and when they do millions of the poor lose jobs making products that can now be made for less in other countries.  
Government thinks they can help the poor with Obamacare, and millions of employees get their company provided insurance yanked, and told they have Obamacare instead.  Insurance has now been added to the long list of what everyone is entitled to for free, if they simply give up working, and ask for assistance.
Government is wrong so often, we'd be better off if they just quit trying to be our Nanny.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 10:04pm
Rusty, what you seem to perpetually fail to understand is that the screwed up regulations are a result of political fights between a powerful financial elite who implement anything but free market regulations, but regulations that give them the upper hand, and those who attempt to protect us from their complete control of everything the government ever does. Removing all regulations just leaves these people to do anything they please. They believe they have the modern and effectively equivalent version of the divine right of kings. They run our federal government and most state governments to the maximum degree their financial and political clout allows within the remaining skeletal structure of our constitutional republic.
Have you understood anything I've ever said to you and others here on WB about our extractive economy? Do the math yourself. If you bother to do even look at that simple task, then you can easily explain to yourself the only possible reason for the massive growth of productivity per capita and the either stagnant or decreasing wealth in the same time period of the vast majority of our citizens. The very top reap all the benefits from OUR increased productivity. That's called economic extraction, which is not earned wealth, but the result of massive politico-economic ripoff strategies.
They can't do without us, so they sucker many of the unwitting middle class victims of their economic extraction into supporting them as they pose as the "saviors of capitalism". They propose eliminating regulations that hamstring them in their strategy of perpetual economic extraction from the rest of us and get you to vote for their sold-out lackeys in congress.
They blind you to this by the clever misdirection of blaming it all on the "big goverment" they all but own and to which fact you're apparently blind, and the government programs necessitated by their economic extraction. They are the cause of our problems and you believe they are the solution. Good luck, but don't hold your breath. 
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 11:36pm
Thank you, Dave. I agree that what we call Marxism today was not promoted by Marx himself. He proposed no specific solution to his view of the problems of capitalism, many of which were right on the mark. Only in that sense, it's a teeny bit like the folks who think Jesus founded Christianity. The simple fact is he was a Jew to the end, a pre-Christian Jew at that.
Even the disciples and followers like Paul were initially only trying to reform Judaism. Paul gave up on that and began converting gentiles to his beliefs. That is the only reason Christianity survives to this day. Reforming Judaism to their belief in Jesus as the Messiah was doomed. (I hope some idiot who fails to fathom the parallel I'm making doesn't come to the insane conclusion that I'm comparing Marx to Jesus!)
I am anything but a Marxist according to the accepted usage these days. However, no one who takes an honest look at how capitalism has actually been working can sincerely say that Marxist was not right about a lot of its weaknesses. As I said clearly in the article and repeated in my previous commenting here, just slipping in pieces of socialism here and there is not a real solution. It's only a Bandaid that tries to patch up the dismal symptoms of a financial elite extracting wealth they didn't earn, but wealth they got through the politico-economic stealth their positions of power provide them (divine right of kings mindset).
Why do we think such a basic and historically so clearly evident human tendency has magically disappeared merely by virtue of the government our founders structured to help us fight it? Please note the wording "help us fight it". No governmental structure can help us fight any fight we don't choose to fight. We simply haven't fought it! Much worse, too many here are witlessly fighting for it.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 1, 2014 - 11:47pm
Thank you, George. I really like what you said here:
"Also understand this, corporate America would not want a free market.  Most of these companies would perish without their multi-million dollar influencing machines."
You're right on the mark! This is most especially true of the arms industry and our perpetual war footing. The same people profiting from war are in the same economic club as those who generate the need for war. The latter are the ones responsible for our lousy, largely invisible publicly, but quite real foreign policy that supports the much greater economic extraction from third world countries than anything we have here at home in the U.S.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 2, 2014 - 12:34am
Addendum: I'm an optimist, so I think capitalism as we know it will ultimately become an ancient relic in the distant future if our planet can survive it until then. That would fulfill Marx' prediction regarding the end of capitalism as an inevitable historical trend. I just don't think anything remotely like what we now call Marxism will or should ever replace it. What will replace it, if my optimism is to find its realization in some future, will foster much freer markets than any conservative currently imagines. It will be regulated, but much more wisely. The conflicts of interest we currently have will have ended constitutionally.
I envision, rather speculatively to be sure, that we will use digital media to make collective decisions with strong input from experts legally barred from conflicts of interest. I think the separation of business and government in terms of decision making is as important as the separation of church and state. Notice I did not say the separation of religion and state. but church and state (or temple or mosque, etc.), which translates to "any specific religion". I am against the intolerance of religion in government. I believe we should all tolerate everyone's religion in government as long as it has no control over government decisions. 
I don't believe the state should have any say in religion except to outlaw itself from mandating or recommending any particular religion. It should protect the freedom to practice our religion of choice or none at all. This does not mandate lack of religion by the state. It mandates respect for the religions of others or lack of it unless those religions act as enemies of the state. (Because there are many radical Muslims who are enemies of the state does NOT imply that Islam itself is an enemy of the state. Those who interpret the Koran as advocating what is currently called jihad quote out of context. They fail to recognize that jihad in the Koran refers strictly to holy war in defense against attack initiated by an enemy.)
Similarly, I don't believe the state should allow any business to control its decisions with money or by any other means. That does NOT imply that government can have no relationship with business. That would be impossibly absurd. The difference should be obvious. However, the state should protect the rights of business to exist in a climate of free competition in a free market environment (which does NOT translate to an unregulated environment any more than individual freedom translates to lawless individual behavior.)
The same goes for religion. Religion cannot be allowed to control the state and neither should business. Neither implies that business or religion are offside in government. Religious tolerance in government and religious prohibition in government are not synonymous. The government must contract with businesses and vice versa. We just have to ensure that we remove all conflicts of interest in making related decisions.
George N Romey Added Nov 2, 2014 - 7:32am
I'm not so optimistic that current corporate America will ever see the forest from the trees.  Look at Wal Mart, their sales are slowing because their customer base has gotten so poor they are shopping less and when they do shop they shop at dollar stores and thrift shops.  Management seems to be clueless to the idea that a society full of $9 an hour employees working 25 hours and unable to pick up a 2nd job because of the varying hours in the first job cannot consume and therefore buy but the barest of necessities.  And some consumers just think Wal Mart sucks.
George N Romey Added Nov 2, 2014 - 8:27am
No big fan of Obamacare but the push towards part time/temporary/contract work started well before Obamacare. 
Rusty Smith Added Nov 2, 2014 - 10:04am
Robert Wendell  I do understand human nature but I am also a realist and constantly see evidence that constant government meddling and regulation has in itself become more oppressive to a flourishing economy, than the evils you are so worried about.
We are so over regulated right now that millions of people choose to work far less than they could, because government rules make them well enough off without work that they no longer have the incentive to put out more effort. 
Millions of companies can't compete because of the huge regulatory burden we put on them, so we import lots of stuff we could make here, and people in this country don't have jobs as a result.
Millions of people retire in low or no tax states, to escape over taxation, even though they would like to stay where they are.  
Local merchants go broke as millions of Americans by good from other states via the internet in order to avoid local taxes.
And now we're seeing many of our ultra wealthy people and even major parts of companies fleeing the US because the taxes and regulations are so much more oppressive here.
When the medicine does more harm than the illness, I say it's time to stop taking it and look for a more effective one.
The solution is not likely to be adding yet another layer or two or three, more regulation, but starting over and rewriting everything.
That was what made the US great, (we started fresh without all the regulations and taxes that were choking other economies), and it's our own taxes and regulations that just might eventually be our own demise.  No great civilization lasts forever, and if we don't stop moving in this direction, we will just become known as a country that did very well in the beginning, but eventually self destructed.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 2, 2014 - 1:12pm
There is a big difference between Henry Fords choosing freely to increase wages when he had the profits to distribute thus and government arbitrarily forcing wage increases. Basically a great marketing and brand loyalty move. Those that are pushing for the min wage increase could give a rats patootie about the low level min wage worker that is just bovine scatulance. Its just more crony capitalism. The real target is providing the basis for wage hikes for union and government workers, that is who gets the biggest benefit when the  min wage is raised.
In small business, certainly mine and other examples from members here, wage increases just like Henry Fords occur frequently even at the bottom of the career scale, i.e. many fast food places are paying well above min wage because they cant find enough qualified employees. I have friends that work for Walmart and the part time positions are like that of the part time positions for many companies, entry level. They have excellent benefits and pension plans for employees above the entry level positions, most of them have more saved for retirement than I do, lol. I have other friends that are frustrated because they cant find qualified workers to fill entry level jobs. Why, because welfare programs compete for productive entry level and lower wage jobs. More government solutions beget more government solutions it is a never ending march towards socialism.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 2, 2014 - 1:12pm
Libertarian Lover says, "You can thank Barrycare for the 25 hour work week. Don't blame companies. Blame government."
Guess either you can't read or you refuse to accept simple facts. We live in a corporatoctracy. Big business IS the government, with only a few bills here and there that actually stick up for the rest of us. If it weren't for consumer protection laws, not only would we have people in streets with no job or ones that don't pay a living wage, you would be eating lead for breakfast, you'd have to pay for drinking water and clean air, the ozone hole would become the definition for the upper atmosphere, and we wouldn't be here.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 2, 2014 - 1:18pm
Rusty says, "I do understand human nature but I am also a realist and constantly see evidence that constant government meddling and regulation has in itself become more oppressive to a flourishing economy, than the evils you are so worried about."
Rusty, why don't you just disagree that the government is practically owned by big business and so is the tool and not the operator? That's what I've said and your replies completely ignore that. What you say makes no sense if you know that our government is practically run by big business and the entangled regulation stems from exactly that and the wimpy political resistance of the rest of us whom you call the left. I just call it self defense. If you don't believe that, why don't you just say so instead of beating around the bush with irrelevant replies?
Cliff M. Added Nov 2, 2014 - 3:05pm
I agree with everything except your idea that this situation is the blind result of individuals acting independently.The politics that has been purchased has been exclusively exploiting the situation.Doing hardly nothing on the fiscal side while using monetary policy as the only tool to stimulate economic growth has been done for a reason.How else can the people that caused the financial collapse be in a position to prosper while everyone else is ignored.Keeping the labor markets soft has enabled big business to collect record profits while paying little and many  no taxes while passing many expenses on to the average tax payer.Not dealing with the undocumented workers has been another huge problem which has destroyed the middle class wage base.Your premise that the situation is a collection of independent, individual effort reminds me of how the financial industry was not guilty of creating the last big disaster because no one individual was guilty.The problem is deep rooted in a politics of pay to play and cronyism.Letting the fox guard the hen house has left us with these results.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 2, 2014 - 3:57pm
Cliff says, "I agree with everything except your idea that this situation is the blind result of individuals acting independently.The politics that has been purchased has been exclusively exploiting the situation."
Cliff, please note that I said individuals and special interest groups. The latter includes whole industries as lobbied by their industry associations, etc. I'm not saying no one is getting together to do what they do, but they are all individually, or in the case of businesses, collectively, acting in what they THINK are their own interests.
However, business has been intrinsically short-sighted for a very long time. Their quarterly reports weigh far to much to shareholders and in the investment markets in general, such as pension funds, assuming some still exist (sad little chuckle). I'm saying simply that no single individual or entity is responsible for this. It is a reaction of short-sighted business goals and individuals acting in their own apparent short-term interest and a system that is structured to both support and even honor this. That is a huge problem that can never work in the long run.
George N Romey Added Nov 2, 2014 - 5:20pm
Sadly too many corporate leaders left to their own devices would not only ruin the average person but themselves in the long run.  Why, because they have become beholden to Wall Street, private equity, hedge funds and JVs that only care about today's profit.  If we had let Wall Street go down in flames in 2008/2009 their influence would be far less today.  Wall Street is the head of the snake.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 2, 2014 - 9:38pm
But, George, people who say they should have let them go under seem to have no memory of Bernanke, Paulson, et al having tried that with Lehman Brothers and the results were so scary they backed out of that approach. They made legal excuses for letting Lehman fail, but the real reasons were more about economic ideology than legality or practicality. Both Bernanke and Paulson were of the opinion they should let them fail, so they did. But the immediate severity of the consequences scared the toots out of them,
You and those who talk like this seem to have no idea at all how intimately tied together and highly leveraged the links among those banks in the international financial system are. Lehman Brothers precipitated a domino effect that continuing in that mode would have caused a depression that would have made the 1930s look comfortable by comparison. Things are many more times intimately tied together now than they were then. So your ideology sounds nice but makes no practical sense whatsoever. 
Robert Wendell Added Nov 2, 2014 - 11:07pm
There are those, of course, who deny that any such result would have occurred, but they're the same people who are always eager to deny the reality of what was actually going on and make up their own bubble of fiction that the suckers who listen to them seem to like living in. But it's not as if the truth were not a matter of public record for anyone who looks for information from sources other than their favorite generators of fiction.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 3, 2014 - 12:45am
Robert Wendell I agree, these days big business has much too much influence on politics, and lots of that is because GOVERNMENT plays such a big role in "picking" winners and losers that it really does pay for them to court politicians and in response politicians have learned how to buy their votes with favors.
That wasn't so true before taxes, fees, and regulations were invented that politicians could use to help people and businesses they liked and punish those they didn't like.  
If you're the politicians favorite little girl, perhaps because you helped finance their election campaign, (like unions often do), you can get a break on criminal investigations and even tax funded bailouts that cost millions.  If you're on the other end you can bet the existing regulations will be shoved up your rear, and you can look forward to endless audits.  Business opportunities are practically invented for companies they like, such as GM.
If politicians weren't empowered to make or break companies, the people who owned them wouldn't be enticed into wasting millions bribing those politicians, and just might have more to share with employees.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 3, 2014 - 10:01am
Many of you honestly sound like a bunch of disgruntled employees that at some point in your life feel you were mistreated by management. Grow up and realize that you got paid no matter what at a rate you agreed to work for and in exchange you did gain knowledge and a life experience good or bad. And if some of you are still working for those companies and you feel they mistreated you then obviously you like your job so much it is a reasonable trade off and not really mistreatment. Last I checked nobody is holding a gun to anyones head to make them work where they are unhappy unless you are stamping out license plates in a prison, lol.
You are where you are because of the life choices you made and what principles or values you are willing to stand by or compromise as you pursue your in your pursuit of happiness. You are also free to be small minded,  bitter and miserable the rest of your life if that is what makes you happy, and a lot of folks are happy being that way not my place to criticize them. I do not disagree that unethical practices exist but it has nothing to do with money or profits, it is a about the power and the ability to manipulate voters. So if you don't vote or you vote for more of this crap then YOU are the problem not big business.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 3, 2014 - 10:52am
Rusty, it's interesting how you turn it around to blame government and unions for what business has done. It is business that has corrupted government. Yes, in a democracy it is inevitable that some political influences will always try to balance that, but pretty unsuccessfully at this point, as I see it. In any case, democracy is inherently messy, meaning at least somewhat incoherent. Right now it's extremely so.
But big business has won. Small business is another matter. The vast majority of legitimate complaints about goofy regulations are coming from small businesses. The complaints from big business are largely motivated by the desire to exploit mercilessly to its heart's content.
Maybe you're not aware of the history of unions? Workers were being treated like wet, warmed over cow dung and some nasty folks like Hoffa and others took advantage of that to draw power to themselves. Their nasty, gangster character has not helped labor politically in the long run. Hoffa's underground connections came back to bite him, so he didn't end up so well and his and other unions have lost their "huevos" to a large extent.
I don't believe in monopolies on either side of the negotiating table. Hoffa's unions and the UAW have a history as monopolies in their respective industries. However, I believe everyone at the table should be able to negotiate. Businesses bargain collectively by the definition of what a business is and how its management is structured. 
If labor is prohibited from doing the same, the scales are radically tipped in favor of business and as both libertarians and other conservatives here have already expressed, businesses will do whatever helps their bottom line in the near term. That is not always good as some pie-in-the-sky conservative idealists seem to want to believe. There has to be some balancing mechanism at the negotiating table or one of the bargaining parties is going to get fleeced by the other. That is a simple, practical fact that even radical conservatives or anyone with any kind of negotiating experience should be able to understand.
So we need to work out some way for that to happen that disallows monopolies on both sides of the table and conflicts of interest in government oversight. If you think government oversight is intrinsically bad, as some statements here seem to indicate, then you're arguing for the business equivalent of eliminating law enforcement on the individual level and going back to the wild west with its lynch mobs for a "justice" system.
The vast majority of what is wrong with government is the direct result of the glaring conflicts of interest almost exclusively promoted by lobbies for big business. The insanely incoherent patchwork of regulatory red tape is a natural result of lame attempts at ad hoc self defense by those at the wrong end of the stick. That's a political response we should reasonably expect from those who would otherwise be at the complete mercy of those holding all the chips.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 3, 2014 - 11:05am
Darius, your idealism would be laudable if it didn't exclude the obvious possibility, no, currently reality of a completely screwed up system. That some are able to do well on the basis of your philosophy does not in establish in the least that many have not had or ever will have the slightest opportunity to let that philosophy work for them. There are always going to be some who do relatively low-level labor until and unless automation eliminates all need for that kind of labor.
That has already happened to some extent. It's a simple matter of the degree to which it has. Does that mean that we consign to economic hell those who have no ability or opportunity to do anything other than relatively low-skilled labor? What do you propose doing with them, or do you insist that everyone is or can be like you and others who live by your philosophy? I'm self-employed, by the way, and doing just fine with what I love to do. I just don't live in a myopic world that thinks the rest of the world is or can be like me if they just want to be.
I just heard about an indigenous woman in the Amazon jungle who ran screaming into the jungle when someone started up a jeep and the engine roared. She thought it was a large, vicious animal of some kind. She had never been exposed to anything in the modern world. It was if she had been transported in a time machine that took her thousands of years into the future all of a sudden.
Anthropologists who understood her language said she had previously thought that the whole universe was just an extension of the world she had always live in. Some of us in the modern world are essentially no different. We think the whole universe is just an extension of our little provincial, personal universe.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 3, 2014 - 2:55pm
Good points, Lutz. There have been places and times historically in which a 20-hour work week was the norm for labor. This was pre-industrial and the quality of life was primitive to be sure. However, the overall quality of life in human terms was pretty good. This was even true in Europe for a time. Take a look at this:
Robert Wendell Added Nov 3, 2014 - 3:14pm
The upshot is we have the technology to live a very pleasant quality of life on relatively little work time. We have let ourselves evolve in the direction of centralizing control of everything we need: food, energy, communications, clothing, housing, etc. Some of this, such as communications, has to be centralized because of its very nature. However, energy is everywhere locally. With best practices we can already sustainably grow superior, fresh food grown locally with little effort and virtually zero transportation and other distribution costs, like "middle men". We can generate all the energy we need locally. Some are already doing both of the latter.
If we were to go back to the local, decentralized economics that characterized village living in the past in all those areas of life that allow this, with modern technology wisely applied we could live a very high quality of life with very little work. Instead, our time is dedicated to making a few people very rich while we make peanuts for working our butts off. Simple!
Of course, this would take some major social restructuring, but that could happen in a couple of decades as it did when cars and electricity became available in the early 20th century. Some people just can't see the forest for the trees and don't look past their noses to even try. Those who will argue that the technologies I'm talking about don't exist in economically viable form just don't know what they're talking about.
That's because they never bothered to look past their own solidly entrenched world view and past experience to find out. Whoever you are, your past experience says little to nothing about the potential realities in the near future if we had the sense to make them real. Too many of us just unquestioningly buy what the paid mouthpieces of those who want to keep us where we are tell us.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 3, 2014 - 3:25pm
Robert Wendell I do have a pretty good understanding of union history, and believe they did make tremendous improvements in the past but these days I see lots of evidence that they do more harm than good.  Most of the past abuses they fought have become laws and these days they seem to spend most of their effort, and their members money, enriching themselves, and making sure outside entities can't compete.  
In many companies and cities they keep insisting on ever increasing wages and benefits, even when their members already have it so good compared to the competition, that their jobs have already become highly desirable prizes that only well connected people can land them.  
School unions guarantee employment so well that it takes years before they can fire a pedophile.  Stockton's union demanded and got pension increases that were so fantastic that they were actually more than the city could possibly afford, and their own members might soon find out the deals they made with politicians are worthless paper.  GM went broke before it's union finally agreed to stop demanding more and more in a market that simply couldn't afford what they were demanding.  Try telling those employees how great their union is!
Of course big companies complain less about the regulations, they have the money to influence politicians and they do get their way a lot. The little guy has no influence, so they get the shaft.  Look at how many regulations little companies have to comply with that practically demand a level of expertise that only a big company can afford to have a department with that expertise.  Little companies don't have HR, ESD, Environmental, and Safety departments, the owner has to stop doing their "Real Business", to do all that stuff.  
I've worked for big and small businesses, and suspect your career has been dominated by large business.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 3, 2014 - 3:45pm
The natural inequality that exists is "fair" because each can choose their own form of adaptation to build a life they value. I would never project my personal desires and beliefs on others, and to do so would certainly be intellectual snobbery. You need to get out more and talk with the common folks before you presume to know what they want or feel, you are obviously a smart guy, maybe too smart.
I have many employees and subcontractors that are happy and content with their current station in life. If a person is working in a position or job that does not suits your personal tastes or assumption then the real disconnect is your perspective not their station in life. To presume that low skilled or low wage jobs are evidence of an economic hell overlooks the obvious that for the moment maybe that is all they aspire to. "One mans crap is another mans gold." Some of the happiest and well rounded people I have known in my life are poor in terms of your economic measurables but in their minds living in an economic paradise. They are rich in family neighbors, friends, and community and their choice of occupation reflects what they value which may be quite different that your values.
mark henry smith Added Nov 3, 2014 - 4:15pm
One of the problems that I see in all of this is that ideologues tend to think that one system can fix all problems. The communists thought government could fix all problems. The capitalists thought markets could fix all problems. We have to be eclectic. All systems have areas that they perform poorly in. The capitalist system performs poorly in the service sector. The reason is that the pure profit motive creates all kinds of perverse incentives. The classic example is in health care where there is more incentive for a private enterprise to keep people sick than to make them well. Just look at all of the drugs being prescribed in the US. Just think of all of that crap going into the waste stream with all kinds of synergistic effects. This is madness. The government should run healthcare as a public service, to promote health and take out the profit motive. We do it for defense.
And the private sector is much better at making products. Governments are lousy at making products for consumers. They seem think to think that one good one should be good enough for everybody, but in products people have all kinds of personal preferences. In services, this isn't so. One good health service is enough. One good military is enough. One good educational system is enough.
Imposing a set minimum wage skews labor markets, that's been proven. Having government have too much of a role in the private markets creates huge disincentives for innovation, that's been proven. Having too much private influence in how government provides public services creates enormous problems with how those services are run, that's been proven. Give better services to the working poor and you'll make their lives a lot better than another dollar and hour.  
Darius Grimes Added Nov 3, 2014 - 4:37pm
Of course it could be that all this technology which as given us so much free time to imagine and speculate has merely made it possible to imagine all sorts of conspiracies and create mountains out of molehills.
George N Romey Added Nov 3, 2014 - 4:54pm
Those that say well a Big Mac will now cost $5 if we raise the minimum wage to $12.  Aren't you paying it in the form of higher taxes to cover things Section 8 rent assistance, food stamps, and other government assistance.  People need a certain minimum wage to live and either you are subsidizing Uncle Sam or McDonalds/Wal Mart.  McDonalds or Wal Mart would far prefer Uncle Sam to subsidize their workers.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 3, 2014 - 6:41pm
Darius, you seem to be living in an ivory tower. The workers you describe have nothing to do with a huge portion of people who do or would like to work in this country. Thank you for confirming the tight fence around your world view. You seem to be clueless regarding the plight of so many.
You not only fail to appreciate what its like down in the real trenches instead of your little fiefdom, but fail to recognize that your little world is nothing like what we're talking about. You're the one who needs to get out and walk around in the real world. Try living in an inner city ghetto with blacks and Hispanics. If you want to believe their condition is the fault of every individual living in such places, you're dreaming.
Regarding the  rest of us, the middle class folks, especially in the middle to lower end of the middle, most of us work too hard for too little. There's nothing natural about the current level of wealth inequality. We're at a historical extreme. That has always corresponded to low GDP, a decline in overall productivity. It is not only unnatural; it is unhealthy.
If you can read with any comprehension at all, you know that I talk about too much and too little inequality. There should be a reasonable correspondence between individual economic contributions and individual compensation. We're no where close to that right now. Your reply seems to indicate that you're deaf to everything we've said so far.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 3, 2014 - 7:00pm
Mark says, "The capitalist system performs poorly in the service sector. The reason is that the pure profit motive creates all kinds of perverse incentives. The classic example is in health care where there is more incentive for a private enterprise to keep people sick than to make them well. Just look at all of the drugs being prescribed in the US. Just think of all of that crap going into the waste stream with all kinds of synergistic effects. This is madness."
Yep. Some incentives are completely upside down. Your medical doctor has no incentive to contain costs, for example. In fact, he has lots of incentive to inflate your costs, since he makes money with ordering tests and farming you out to specialists, generating fear in you about prostate cancer so he can make money on something that makes you worse instead of better when there was nothing that would have been serious until after you're dead etc.
Some people are blind to obvious facts anyone can observe if they want to!
Robert Wendell Added Nov 3, 2014 - 10:20pm
Having said that, I don't fully agree with Mark that capitalism always performs poorly in the service sector. When the business is a service business and there is a lot of competition, the natural tendency is toward excellent service. The problem with medicine is a virtual monopoly by the AMA and pharmaceutical industry on how the system works. They both hate anything cheap and effective.
I don't know whether it's still true, but at one time in some states a physician could lose his/her license for recommending homeopathic doses of poison ivy (rhus toxicodendron) to reduce allergic reactions to it. It's an often very effective way to do that. To strip medical professionals of their license to practice for something like that is unconscionable, but it has happened. They will support anything to eliminate cheap, effective competition.
George N Romey Added Nov 4, 2014 - 8:47am
Our founding fathers worried about large institutions having complete control over citizens.  For them it was the monarchies not the large corporations.  By FDR's time the corporation had become the monarchy and thus laws such as overtime for over 40 hrs., no/heavy restrictions on child labor, minimum wage, etc.  Later OSHA to ensure a safe workplace.  Take away those protections and the corporations rule the day even more.  So if you want to strip away legislation and regulation how does Joe Six Pack compete with billion dollar interest.  Free marketing laze faire seems wonderful until you are the person dying from cancer at age 45 because of uncontrolled substances that were present in your workplace, or missing several fingers from unsafe equipment, or fired because you would not give into the boss's demand for sex to keep your job.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 4, 2014 - 10:55am
Are you planning to ADD an AD section, Nick?
Darius Grimes Added Nov 4, 2014 - 11:48am
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and that theory holds true in every industry whether product or service. Over regulation subsidy or taking control (e.g. The ACA) of industries does not protect them or control costs or make services more available or fair, or even make them more affordable it does exactly the opposite. Government services are some of the absolute worst and hardly accountable to anyone when they finally do get caught screwing over the very folks they propose to serve.  If I get a bad meal, service or products I can complain to management and they will likely comp, refund, and at least apologize for the experience. Government agencies are exempt from responsibility for false information, bad service, killing folks (VA care, agent orange, etc), poisoning people (superfund sites are mostly government waste sites not corporate) or having any responsibility for mistakes or even refunding your legal fees to defend yourself against their errors and omissions etc.
Hundreds of welfare recipients died in the flooding following Hurricane Katrina (the hurricane hit MS) not because transportation wasn't available, it was, or they wanted to stay behind to loot, that is projection, but because the levees broke 3 days before their welfare checks arrived and they had no money to get out of town. An ugly inconvenient truth that the press never reported because it would have been a smack in the face of the war on poverty and the trillions spent destroying the lives and hopes of millions.
Government dependence begets more government service. It is a never ending cycle of dependency mutually beneficial to the receivers and providers of the services at the expense of the producers who are forced to fund it.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 4, 2014 - 1:29pm
Darius, you do NOT need to preach to me about how goofy government can get. I used to sell high-end technical services to government and know personally how bad it can get. I've seen the most ridiculous things you could imagine. I've also been the direct victim of some of them! But what you are saying is not intrinsic to government.
It is intrinsic to the way our current government is functioning and what is appropriate as a function of government and what is not. It is also the way glaring conflicts of interest that should be constitutionally outlawed are currently embedded in our legislation. But to pretend that eliminating all regulation of business is a good thing is exactly equivalent to saying we don't need laws that protect society from criminal activity of any kind.
Gangs are organized crime of a sort. Some of them are very profitable businesses. Where do you draw the line? Some allegedly legitimate businesses, including some really big ones, are also organized crime of a sort, but are protected by current law. That's what naturally happens when businesses become financially powerful enough buy political power and dictate to government how to structure the laws that regulate them.
Humans are very often flawed in the ways they seek self interest. That manifests collectively in petty criminality, organized crime, and some supposedly legitimate businesses. Some such businesses are enormous and have way too much say in what our government does and doesn't do. We need to fix government; not eliminate it or make it impotent. That's what the Republican complaints about regulation are really about: making government impotent.
Anti-regulation rhetoric is a euphemism that seems justifiable because of the absurdly tangled nature of current regulation. But it's a euphemism for allowing business to indulge freely in both unethical and often downright criminal behavior that is legal because they made it so via their lackeys in government. After all, they provide us jobs and their lackeys pose as the saviors of capitalism. So why shouldn't we just trust them to live up to that wonderful ideal and refrain from anything that makes a lot of money at the expense of others and the society as a whole? That's the basic platform in a nutshell...and it's nuts!
Johnny Fever Added Nov 5, 2014 - 12:11pm
“But to pretend that eliminating all regulation of business is a good thing is exactly equivalent to saying we don't need laws that protect society from criminal activity of any kind.”
Sorry to interrupt but where did Darius propose eliminating all regulations?  Talk about a straw man argument.  There is a pendulum and based on the size of the Federal Register of regulations the pendulum has clearly swung way too far in the direction of more regulations.  For example, the regulations in Obamacare are already 8 times longer than the bible and counting.  Although I couldn’t find the source, I understand Dodd-Frank’s list of regulations is even longer.  
Robert Wendell Added Nov 5, 2014 - 2:38pm
First, Johnny, that reply was aimed to more people than just Darius...others here who seem to advocate the government getting completely out of the regulation business. Neither did I intend to imply that Darius said that we should eliminate all government regulation. I was just answering him and then added an aside that bad regulations don't mandate no regulations. So adding that doesn't amount to anything like a straw man argument unless you completely ignore everything else I said. It was intended as a "just in case you think that" kind of thing.
George N Romey Added Nov 5, 2014 - 5:17pm
Despite how conservatives mouth off about a work ethic, they really have little respect for the concept.  Admitting my age here, there was a time in this country when we respected a ditch digger because while his job was menial and unskilled he did work, and worked hard.  We believed that a ditch digger was still entitled to the basics in life.  Now we seem to think that certain kinds of workers are not worthy of the basics because we place so little value on what kind of work he or she does.  I see it much more of this on the GOP side (although don't get me wrong, I have no love of the dems either). 
There will always be people that make a living doing dirty, boring, often uninspiring jobs.  And we will always need those people.  Don't they deserve some minimal standard of living.  The next time you see a porter late at night cleaning a public space think about that.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 5, 2014 - 6:14pm
Charlie, are you advocating laissez-faire capitalism? How would you like a laissez-faire policy for individual behavior? Let's just let rapists take your mother, your wife, and your daughter, and maybe even you and do what they will with you. I've covered these points more than adequately in previous posts under this article.
Why am I having to repeat even a little of what I've already said? Can you read? Or do you? And if you can and do, then why don't you say something that shows how my arguments are flawed instead of merely repeating an opposite opinion? That's useless. There is no dialectic discussion in that, a discussion that sincerely looks for truth rather than merely repeating undefended assertions ad nauseum. What good is that? If you don't know, then why do you do it?
All of the above goes for a whole bunch of other people here, too!
Robert Wendell Added Nov 5, 2014 - 11:07pm
Interesting ideas, Billy. Don't think any of that is going to get through congress any time soon, though....LOL.
  (  :
Robert Wendell Added Nov 5, 2014 - 11:20pm
I suspect the right is going to spend the next two years making even greater asses of themselves, as difficult as that may seem, and so they'll get their come-uppance in 2016 once again. They may just go so far that even the brain dead in the voting population will finally discover them to be the asses they are. I just home somebody a lot more interesting to me than Hillary comes along, that's all. I don't like her at all.
I believe all the thoughtless voters who put these jerks in the majority are just bugged about their own personal piece of the economy, which despite the improvements at the top, in the GDP, etc. hasn't seen any of it. It's really stupid, since they put the very politicians who support the financial elitists who make that true into power now. They're clueless. The average American voter is absolutely clueless.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 6, 2014 - 10:07am
Robert Wendell I don't see how the right can get much of anything done over the next two years since almost everything they want is opposite to what Obama wants, and all Obama has to do to stop the right in their tracks is veto every bill they send him.
I presume they will try to cut government spending back to eliminate the deficit, and I'd be in favor of that.  If no one does we're going to go broke for real.  However I expect Obama will veto their efforts because he wants to continue spending like a schoolgirl with Daddy's credit card, until the day he's no longer in office.
I think the right would also like to secure the border and I'd be in favor of that.  However am sure Obama will veto every effort in that direction and probably even try to grant blanket amnesty of some sort to all the people he can.
I bet the right will also try to slow down Obamacare so that it's fiscal impact doesn't become so burdensome to our budget, but there again Obama has veto power so it won't happen.
I do hope the keystone Pipe-way is on their list too, but we all know he opposes that too.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 6, 2014 - 11:15am
Johnny you are right and I think Robert and I would agree that total deregulation is just as bad as over regulation.  I for one am very concerned with well-intentioned regulations that disrupt the natural inequality in favor of a misguided "utopian fairness." I believe that natural inequality provides the greatest degree of personal satisfaction and value in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some regulation is certainly required and our founders provided for that much to the disappointment of our libertarian friends. 
My understanding is that regulation by the federal government should be designed to protect the general welfare and remove barriers, not create new ones or limit opportunity and free trade to serve only the interests of a very few. I do not believe we have fully reached the latter but we are moving in that direction with "green energy" "Global Warming" and "health care". These are attempts to nationalize industries (socialize) and it is something that requires diligent attention and opposition by informed voters.
As for the elections it was definitely an anti Obama vote and not a pro republican vote. The house and Senate can defund the ACA or parts of it and the president can do nothing to stop it, the congress controls the purse strings. Unfortunately what we heard in the opening salvo is a POTUS that  is unwilling to compromise or negotiate and a COTUS that is all too willing to compromise and negotiate. We have stopped the liberal agenda but we have not plugged the leak in the damn that is bankrupting our country.
mark henry smith Added Nov 6, 2014 - 11:35am
I do believe that Marx was talking about capital accumulation when he talked about the great flaw of the capitalist system, that without some mechanism to constrain the magnetic lure of big capital to attract more and more of the pie, eventually all the great pools of capital in the world would be in a few hands. And our political system has given itself over to this model by allowing money to be the deciding factor in why people get elected, in why we fight wars, in why we do anything. The great bailout was an indication of just how skewed we've gotten. If bad actors can be allowed to implode a world economy and then be paid to end their scheme, the average man is screwed. The average man saw his wages stagnate, his property values decline, his savings shrink, his healthcare costs sky-rocket, his security rocked, and then he was presented with the bill to pay these people for their misdeeds. If a revolution is ever going to happen in this country, the cause is right there. And if democracy ever did exist in this country, and I have my doubts, more a representative aristocracy of landowners and industrialists, we are farther away from it than we've ever been. It's time to take it to the man. Put some of those rich bankers in jail, some hedge fund managers, some...  
Robert Wendell Added Nov 6, 2014 - 2:34pm
Rusty, let's get some facts straight. Some of the facts look worse than the are unless you look at the economic context in which they occurred. My comments under a couple of the following bullet points are in brackets and are independent of this citation. This is from 

* The economy has added more jobs since Obama took office than it did in his predecessor’s entire eight years in office.

* Despite the improved economy, the number of people receiving food-stamp assistance has continued to grow, and now more people have been added to the food-stamp rolls under Obama than under any single previous president.
[The unemployment rate was already in rapid free fall when Obama took office, but had not fallen nearly as far as it was going to shortly after and way before Obama's policies could have had anything to do with it. Since it was not yet very low but falling fast makes the small decrease in the jobless rate (0.2%) after overcoming the drop over the cliff look like poor performance to context-free "facts".]

* Federal spending under Obama has grown faster than inflation, but far more slowly than it did under President Bush.

* Federal debt held by the public has grown by 90 percent since Obama took office.

[As high as this seems, but as the bullet point preceding the one above confirms, this is a lower INCREASE in spending. That is NOT the same as lower spending. This understanding resolves the apparent conflict (for some) between the last two bullet points. News Flash: You have to use your brain to understand facts objectively.) It is easy to use context-free information to twist facts. The fact is that ALLpresidents have increased spending in real terms over their predecessors. Obama has done that less than anyone since Eisenhower despite the situation and the bailouts he inherited from Bush.] I found confirmation for this at 

* Obama has ordered seven times more drone strikes than Bush in the covert conflicts in Pakistan and Yemen, according to independent estimates.

* Domestic oil production has soared; oil imports have dropped by one-third; new cars are getting 17 percent better mileage; and wind and solar power have increased 157 percent.
(End quote)

At the site from which this citation comes, each topic above is elaborated in much more detail. Both citations also include graphic representations of data. My experience with many of the more bull-headed conservatives so far, however, indicates that any facts that contradict their preferred world view is reflexively labeled "liberal" and dismissed out of hand. They somehow never get it that this tactic is bound make anyone who ever uses it "right" in their own minds.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 6, 2014 - 3:23pm
Mark several candidates won on Tuesday that were significantly outspent by their opponents so your generalization that money alone decides elections doesn't hold water. 
And if you want to start hauling folks off to jail you need to start with Barney Franks, Chris Dodd, President Clinton, and Andrew Cuomo who was head of HUD and shaking down banks to make loans to folks that could not repay them. Then there's the Homebuilders Association and Realtors Associations who supported teh AHA along with Acorn and other community organizer groups that facilitated lining up applicants and putting pressure on banks at the community level along with the execs at Freddie and Fanny who walked with Golden Parachute deals. There are a lot people ahead of the bankers that need to be at the front of the line. The government created the bubble with bad legislation and the banks were forced to make bad loans and the OBama administration is right back doing repeating the very same pattern we are again making loans to folks who will not be able to reply them under the Affordable Housing Act. 
Robert Wendell Added Nov 6, 2014 - 3:41pm
Darius, you sometimes make some good points, but you sure do suck up a lot of false "facts" from goofball sources.
mark henry smith Added Nov 6, 2014 - 3:58pm
Darius, point taken. I left out so many who are culpable, but the credit default swaps that were at the heart of the bubble were a ridiculously highly leveraged instrument developed by traders. The way mortgages were packaged to attract business for the default swaps amounts to fraud. No government entity involved at all. The point about money doesn't mean that money is the only reason why people get elected. Sometimes candidates can be so inept that no amount of spending can pancake away their flaws or completely tarnish their opponent. The point about money is how corruptive it is to the process in general. That rather than legislating, doing the jobs they were put in office to do, elected officials spend a lot of time pumping the hands of donors, looking for contributions. And rather than have debates of issues where candidates are forced to say something substantive, the public gets sound bites, attack ads. Don't you find it odd that this was the most expensive mid-term election ever and how many people got turned off? And how so many races were called as close that weren't close at all? But the minimum wage passed. (Head shaking in disgust.) 
Robert Wendell Added Nov 6, 2014 - 9:48pm
Our quality of life has declined because as a society we worship the means instead of the goal. Money is a major piece of the means, but it doesn't buy quality of life unless that is what we focus on using it for rather than acquiring it for its own sake. We the people have goofed up by thoughtlessly swallowing propaganda from the very forces that prey on this tendency to put the means first instead of the goal, the quality of our lives.
These elite know that most in any population tend to remain static in their world views, no matter in which society or what political structure. They use that to manipulate people by appealing to this tendency. They also know that by far the most people in any population don't form opinions by objective means. Instead, most merely shop for ideas that appeal to this tendency to remain static in their world views.
These views were more often than not accurate in the first place. They were just unconsciously instilled by their particular family, social, and physical circumstances and environment. These folks are bound by social convention in their particular cultural environment. They fear, usually reject, and often become very mean-spirited toward anything that fails to conform to those conventions.
Look at how kids in schools treat people who are very different, whether by race, ethnicity, or physical disability of some sort. It is a common social phenomenon for these people to be bullied and picked on in subtler ways. Even "nice" kids are often uncomfortable around them, and this takes its toll.
Do we really think becoming a "mature" adult just magically erases this tendency to fear and mistreat, even get mean with difference, with whatever fails to meet our idea of what is conventional and therefore socially accepted as "normal" and "correct"? I propose that it just takes less obvious forms, subtler kinds of expression. The elite know how to use this to play most of the population to their elitist little butts' benefit. They get their very victims, who have no clue that they are victims of this elitist manipulation, to unknowingly support them.
Both parties are guilty of working for these elitists because we the people, the voters and those who fail to vote, have allowed them to be. We are indeed forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. We should develop and support a third party that operates in our legitimate interests independently of this mess.
However, the two parties have enacted legislation that makes that next to impossible. The worst monopoly there could ever be is one that exists within the government itself and runs it with only enough attention to the will of the people to maintain electability while working covertly against the long term interests of the society as a whole. That's what we have.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 7, 2014 - 9:54am
Paola S. we've already tried letting poor people own houses, (remember Barney Frank and friends), and look how good that worked.  
Instead of becoming a path to home ownership it became a way to transfer billions in tax money from the taxpayers who earned it to the lucky winners selected by very arbitrary rules set up by our politicians.
Unfortunately for people like Obummer, most of the people who got to keep those highly discounted and supplemented home loans were not the truly poor because even after being given even more and more tax money in one failed bailout after another, most of the poor still lost their homes and ended up back in apartments or other subsidized housing they could afford.
The big winners were people like one where I work, whose income was $140,000 a year.  He got about an $18,000 grant to buy a house, (partially because he was a first time home buyer, and a killer loan that will be highly subsidized by taxpayers so he could have that great rate for 30 years, all so Obummer could keep the housing market going.
It was such a great deal that he moved our of their super luxury apartment in a ritzy neighborhood and bought a house that cost over $500,000.  Not bad for a yuppie who never saved dime, but drove the finest Mercedes and always ate at the finest restaurants.  
The stimulus plans designed to allow poor people go buy homes spent more tax money than anyone imagined, and completely missed it's target.
George N Romey Added Nov 7, 2014 - 10:39am
I believe that economic differences has become a huge wedge issue for the US as we move more and more towards the haves and have nots. The haves will likely be born into money and be spared from really seeing poverty (gated communities, private schools, exclusive clubs, private guards and the like).  Go to Brazil, those living in the luxury towers along the beach in Ipanema have no idea what life is like for those living in the favelas on top of the mountains.  There is no way out for those Favela dwellers so the cycle of poverty just repeats itself generation after generation.
The US was for awhile the sole exception. My mother was born to immigrant parents that spoke very little English.   They lived in an poor coal mining town. My grandfather died from coal dust well before I was born. But yet in the 1950s my mother was able to go to college and eventually received her PhD.  She broke away from the poverty she was born into.  Today her story would be far less likely. I hope Generation Y will bring about the kind of environment that nurtures such a story.  Its about giving a hand up not a hand out, which too many people in this country do not know the difference or confuse one with the other.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 7, 2014 - 2:40pm
George says, " Its about giving a hand up not a hand out, which too many people in this country do not know the difference or confuse one with the other."
Bravo, George! You just have to structure it right. Between those Tea Party idiots who yell, "Let them die" and the brain dead lefties who want to provide free housing in which ignorant inhabitants end up pooping on the floor, you can't get to "structuring it right". That's the political problem in a nutshell.
George N Romey Added Nov 7, 2014 - 2:46pm
You are so right Robert.  Say them hell with them you end up with more crime and the police being outnumbered by the thieves.  Just look at most South American countries.  Give them a continual handout they become codependent on the state. The sad situation is that more and more people are being pushed down into levels they depend upon the government to survive.  We forget most of the poor are the working poor.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 7, 2014 - 3:10pm
Paola, I think it's more overstating it than being naive. I've known some very fine rich people; people with their hearts in the right place, so to speak. There are legitimate ways to gain wealth that don't extract wealth unfairly from others. However, research has shown that even in games with play money, as the winners gain the upper hand, they tend to become less empathetic toward the losers, more heartless in their winning strategies. In a phrase, they become increasingly self-centered and predatory in their approach to the game.
One thing has been very clear to me in the last few elections since around 2000. The modern Republicans (as opposed to the days of Eisenhower, for example) are quite transparently mean-spirited both in their manner and in the sentiments they appeal to in their political base. That, in my opinion, is a reflection of the attitudes of the financial elite who they actually represent (not their political base). They simply can't seem to hide the fundamental attitude underlying their political aims. As an example, what kind of sociopath does it take to coin the phrase "bleeding hearts", as if that were some kind of awful weakness? Yet some here use that very phrase shamelessly as if using it were a badge of honor. It makes me want to puke!
Robert Wendell Added Nov 7, 2014 - 3:22pm
A clarification of my last post:
I said, "That, in my opinion, is a reflection of the attitudes of the financial elite who they actually represent (not their political base). They simply can't seem to hide the fundamental attitude underlying their political aims.
By the parenthetical remark "not their political base" I meant that Republicans don't really represent their political base. However, the opposit is true of their mean-spirited attitude. That attitude dehumanizes anyone not in their socio-economic class. It is not confined to the financial elite, but is a trait in their political base that does that to anyone different from themselves, whether by race, financial status, or anything that makes anyone just plain "not like us".
The elite exploit attitudes similar to their own sociopathic attitudes to manipulate their political base. If you're objective, you can see that written all over articles and comments from conservatives here in WB. They're complete suckers for it.
mark henry smith Added Nov 7, 2014 - 3:48pm
I agree Robert, and that in many periods of history groups of savages have attempted to convince decent people that the only hope for protecting themselves is savagery. We see it in video games, movies, shows, almost all of the modern, popular culture is an apology for selfish, narcissistic immersion, and the elimination of enemies. And anybody who doesn't subscribe to this way of thinking is labeled all kinds of derogatory things, from terrorist to dreamer. When did being a dreamer, having dreams of a less violent, more understanding world become a negative? I like the idea of a maximum wage to go along with a minimum wage. Maybe at fifty times the salary of the lowest paid employee in an organization. But, if that ever became law, the definition of employee would be changed to exclude everyone making below 100,000 K. Every law made now that works, that powerful interests don't like, gets redefined to make it unworkable. That's what's coming in the next two years. Not all out changes of the law, but a steady redefining.     
Robert Wendell Added Nov 7, 2014 - 5:41pm
Mark says, "Every law made now that works, that powerful interests don't like, gets redefined to make it unworkable. That's what's coming in the next two years. Not all out changes of the law, but a steady redefining."
Yes, and that's why we have the tangled mess of regulations that the very conservatives who vote these turkeys into office complain about. I summed the essence of all these problems up above in a previous comment:
"Between those Tea Party idiots who yell, "Let them die" and the brain dead lefties who want to provide free housing in which ignorant inhabitants end up pooping on the floor, you can't get to 'structuring it right'."
Exactly the same kind of political machinations are responsible for our entangled regulations. So some thoughtlessly say we should get rid of all them because government is bad. The people they vote for never really make the government smaller or reduce spending. Yet conservatives never complain about that, or have I been missing something?
Complaining about "big government" is really just a euphemism for deregulation. The politicians' corporate bosses just want more freedom to behave badly. Again, I never hear conservatives complain about spending unless it's a under a Democratic administration for something besides war. I guess that fits in nicely with mean-spirited fear of difference.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 11, 2014 - 11:38pm
In a sense, I'm an idealist, too, Paola. But there is one place I feel idealism doesn't belong and that's politics. The founders of our republic, the U.S., did not assume ideal human behavior. Quite the contrary, they structured things to countermand all the human weaknesses and consequent abuses of power they witnessed all around them.
Our founders had idealistic goals, such as everyone constitutionally held to be equal under the law. But they had very practical, down-to-earth ideas about how to grow toward those ideals and implement laws intended to guard against their violation. Have we ever actually reached those ideals? Of course not. But we have to have ideals to aim for, since lesser goals, such as "almost all equal" or "all almost equal" would be worthless.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 12, 2014 - 10:55am
Robert Wendell when I read your post about bleeding hearts I laughed, I'm one of the people who uses that phrase a lot and one of my own daughters that I love dearly is a bleeding heart.
She has been since she was in grade school.  When she was about in the second grade her teacher told the story about the ant and the grasshopper to the class and she was the ONLY person that stood up for the grasshopper, insisting that he couldn't be allowed to starve just because he hadn't done a thing to prepare for the winter.  I found out about it because she ended up crying in class, over everyone else's lack of concern. She remains that compassionate even today despite my strong conservative values.
So as I read you post it made me wonder what you associate with that term.
To me a bleeding heart is someone who can't turn their backs on someone who is in need, even if that person's quandary is of their own making.
I'm on the other end of the spectrum, and the more the person did to create the problem their going to suffer from as a result, the more strongly I oppose giving them relief especially if I think bailing them out will only inspire them to make more similar decisions by reinforcing their belief that they don't need to work because other people will always be there to help them out.
I may not think my daughter's attitude will make our country stronger, or reduce the number of people who would rather suck up social services than work, but I certainly don't think less of her as a person because she's a bleeding heart.  She thinks everyone should work but just can't say no when they ask for help, and I think the world would be a better place if everyone was like that.
Please share your view of this term and what it implies?
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2014 - 11:43am
Paola, I don't think your last post was aimed at me even though it immediately follows my last previous post and you didn't specify to whom you were addressing it. If you were replying to me, I don't know how you got those ideas about me from anything I said.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 12, 2014 - 11:56am
Robert interesting point labels mean different things to different people. A Bleeding Heart to me is someone that would give away everyones elses freedom and wealth because they are unable to deal with the natural hardship that exists. 
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2014 - 12:02pm
Rusty, that phrase makes light of compassion no matter how you construe it. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" was no more than a bad joke. I don't see any of that from the Tea Party faction now either. "Bleeding heart" simply means a strong sense of empathy and compassion for people caught in miserable circumstances in life. Even in those cases in which they have caused their own plight with drugs or alcohol, there is usually a strong set of environmental circumstances, most often including family history, that predisposed them to their miserable plight.
Those who have no compunction about harming others for their own perceived benefit perhaps don't deserve much compassion, but often even they were abused. The bottom line for me is that right now wealth inequality is extreme and still growing. That is sick. It is clearly unhealthy for any society, with plenty of historical evidence both in the U.S. and even in relatively ancient civilizations to back that up.
So we have people at the top taking advantage of people at the bottom to maintaing and even improve their own, already obscenely luxurious lifestyle. Why do I see "obscenely"? Because they're doing it by extracting wealth earned by others.
J.P. Morgan was essentially a robber baron. He once said that he owed the public nothing. How absurd! Teddy Roosevelt was right to fight that kind of garbage. He was a very moral man with a strong sense of justice. Do you think he was a "bleeding heart"? He was a Republican, but back then that term meant nothing like what it does today. Really too bad!
mark henry smith Added Nov 12, 2014 - 12:16pm
Hey Robert, I got into it with a bunch of people who want to close all mosques in the US because all Muslims are terrorists. I cited the Constitution. I raised all kinds of arguments about illegality, about stereotyping, about responsibility, and names were flung at me. It seems that some people don't consider argument to be anything except .... flinging. To try and claim that calling someone a bleeding heart is courteous is just disingenuous. It's like the guy who called me idiot in the best sense of the word. Is there a best sense? And then he said I had posted the stupidest things ever on the net. Wow, that's a claim to fame. Wait until he reads your posts. Your idiotic ideas are way more thought out than mine. Thanks.  
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2014 - 3:17pm
Yeah, Mark, people typically don't vet their information or even want to. They're deeply afraid they might be wrong. That's why they use such desperately fallacious ways of defending their positions. They just shop for ideas that appeal to their often messed up psychologies. The word conservative carries a strong connotation of wanting to maintain or go back to some idealized situation that usually never actually existed except in their own minds.
I once rented an apartment from an elderly couple The man was born in 1875! He grew up and was an adult before there were cars or electric utilities. Yet he watched a man walk on the moon. Think what enormous change that man saw in a single lifetime! Change has been accelerating all this time, too. It's moving faster than ever. Conservatism in such a fast-changing environment is a lost cause right out of the gate. Yet most people desperately fight to find stability on the surface of life where it cannot ever exist instead of looking more deeply for real stability.
Look how they just unquestioningly gobble up any kind of bunk some dough head decides to make up and write about someone they already want to dislike. They don't bother to check whether there is any basis for it. They don't even know enough about what has really been going on or reason well enough to notice grossly fallacious logic in order to judge the validity of all the bunk they buy. It doesn't matter to them as long as it appeals to them.
Usually that appeal is based on whatever justifies their unconscious fears of anything different from what they're used to. They never perceive it as fear, but anger is just sublimated fear. Even whatever it is they're use to is usually not the same as it used to be.
For example, I once got some filtered water at a store and a woman there had just finished filling her jug. We talked briefly and I said something about the local tap water she didn't like. She said she only used the filtered water because it made tea and coffee taste better. (Dang! I wonder why that didn't tell her anything.) She then adamantly stated that her grandmother drank tap water her whole life and was eighty something and in wonderful health.
I let it go with no comment, but I thought, "Lady, you're grandmother hasn't been drinking today's tap water all her life." She obviously had no idea how much water quality had dropped in the last couple of decades. Some of the thick-headed farmers around there were mad at the government for requiring them to spend money on purification systems for their wells. They wanted the "freedom" to poison themselves with the easily measured and very excessive amount of Roundup and other herbicides and insecticides in their well water.
These examples illustrate the self-blinding kind of conservative mindset that ignores reality. It insists against all evidence to the contrary on believing things are or should remain the way they always thought they had been.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 12, 2014 - 4:00pm
Robert those comparisons are not representative of conservative ideals or values, they are just folks wrapped up in their own lives and perspectives. One could the same of those decrying the unfairness of income disparity, you are chasing symptoms not solutions. To rule the lives of others because you believe you understand better or are smarter, coveting the success of others, confiscating the fruits of the middle class to create a wealthy dependent lower class of dedicated voters and general sense of helplessness or apathy are the tools of satan.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 12, 2014 - 6:05pm
Robert Wendell right now I see no entity steeling money from the public more than our own government.
They have been imposing taxes on those with money without any regard for how large the total is, to the point where many affluent folks have been forced to make drastic changes to avoid being taxed to death.  
Taxes are so high that many who could work more, like the elderly on social security,  chose not to because the taxes would take their per hour after tax pay into no where land.
The government has been printing money and loaning it to banks for almost nothing.  The old formula, interest on loans is about 2 points higher than interest the banks pay is no longer applicable.  People with money can't get interest they should be paid and the little they do is eaten up by inflation, and taxes.  The so called rich are losing about 3% of  their money a year do the government just as surely as if it was a tax.  Only the poor don't lose on this scheme, because they don't have money in the bank.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2014 - 6:54pm
Rusty, your points are so cherry picked, lopsided, and unsupported by anything except others who try to sell this kind of bunk that I give up.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2014 - 6:56pm
Brief addendum to my comment just above:
I've already addressed many of your points in my previous comments here as well as in some of my articles. You ignore them. Discussions in which you merely reply with an opposite viewpoint while failing to address the other's arguments or even show that you tried to understand them are useless.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 12, 2014 - 11:08pm
Robert Wendell I only mentioned a few example, so pick the weakest and show me where I'm wrong.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 12, 2014 - 11:54pm
Darius, if you'll read with any real breadth and depth of understanding what I've already said here in both my article and my replies to comments, nothing you just said stands. It seems that both you and Rusty fail to recognize that letting a labor oversupply drop wages so far that no one can live on them is an automatic condemnation of a whole society to economic hell in terms of how it will eventually have to function for the greater part of its population.
The financial elite temporarily profit from the unrealistically low cost of labor compared to what it is actually worth to them when labor costs are reasonable for the labor provided. They will eventually fall with the rest of society, though, but sometimes only after a few generations. The original perpetrators have historically usually gotten away with it, at least when viewed only on the surface. I've explained most of this right here on this page in greater detail. I'm repeating these points because so many reply with stuff that has already been dealt with and countered with well vetted facts and valid reasoning multiple times right here on this page.
Short-sighted self interest is ultimately self-destructive. It is what distorts free markets and creates the poverty that in turn creates demand for government help. This is the big picture. I keep getting replies that instead of dealing with the big picture, pick little pieces of the picture that superficially seem to support an opposing view. Instead of countering my arguments, they merely restate entrenched positions with narrowly focused arguments that display tunnel vision and that are often loaded with logical fallacies to boot. So please:
1) Read.
2) Attempt to actually understand what you've read.
3) Check your understanding with the author of the article or comments.
4) Correct any misunderstanding you may have of what the author intended to say.
5) Agree or disagree.
6) State specifically what there is in the arguments you disagree with.
7) Show what is factually wrong and/or show fallacious reasoning in those points you disagree with.
A dialectic discussion seeks the truth via discussion as just described. It honors strong, valid arguments when presented by someone with opposing views. It changes positions when valid facts and logic warrant it. Give me genuine facts and sound reasoning in support of an opposing view and I will change my mind.
I honor truth way above and beyond being right. I'm sincerely interested in knowing the truth much more than I am in defending my positions. But you have to give me good solid reasons before I change my mind. 
Why? Whether its your passionate conviction that you are right or your desperate need to hang onto your cherished world view, neither is a good solid reason for me to change my mind, of course. These are only explanations for why you want me to validate your views. 
Why should I surrender to anyone's mere will to convince me, or really to convince him- or herself, when my views have evolved on the basis of good solid reasoning and well vetted information, much of it direct and personal from wide ranging experience under equally widely varying circumstances? I've been doing this for a very long time. (I'm 70.) This is why I've changed my views many, many times over the years. Doing this for a long time with a sincere, honest desire for accurate understanding of reality inevitably converges on the truth given sufficient breadth and depth of inquiry and an open mind.
My views continually evolve, but the changes are now mostly greater nuance. They now evolve mostly by gaining greater detail and depth of insight. For this to work, you have to remain open and judge in terms of a very broad and comprehensively integrated understanding of many different areas of life instead of little pieces you manage to dig up that seem to support your entrenched positions from some narrow perspective. Tunnel vision has no place in this approach.
This has yielded results that have allowed me to understand and accurately predict many things that I could not have otherwise. This is how a genuine, productive, dialectic discussion should proceed. I can't get ever get conservatives to come anywhere within light years of actually doing this. The whole idea of thinking and interacting this way is apparently completely alien for them. They don't even know what you're talking about when you say what this paragraph just said.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 13, 2014 - 12:26am
Rusty, first, your arguments are too piecemeal and narrowly focused to make refuting them individually at all meaningful. I will instead point out the huge flaw they have in common. All your arguments fail to recognize that the government doesn't act in isolation, but represents corporate interests vastly disproportionately over the interests of the society as a whole and even the long term interests of the economy itself.
Government is not the source of the injustice, but only aids and abets corporate interests against the interests of society as a whole. Both parties are complicit in this, but the Republicans are the worst by far in supporting corporate interests against the overall interests of our society, its economy, and the health and well being of our citizenry.
This is not intrinsic to government, but to how it is structured and the legislation it enacts. There are huge, glaring conflicts of interest in our legislation that in my opinion should be constitutionally outlawed with strong amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Our democracy, or rather constitutional republic, is still sufficiently intact to allow some public will enter into the picture.
So we get ad hoc countermeasures built into little pieces of legislation here and there to shore up the ill effects of the heavy handed corporate interests. Such inadequate, piecemeal, bandaid protections of public interests used to get some bipartisan support due to politicians' interest in their own political survival as well as from a small minority of politicians who sincerely want to serve the public interest.
This clumsy back and forth between heavy handed corporate political influence and random, wimpy attempts to correct the resulting injustices has resulted in our current tangled mess of regulations. Obamacare itself is a result of this kind of messy political process. It was working fine in Massachusetts in the similar version enacted under Romney and that Obamacare attempted to model. The complexity of which Republicans complain is largely the handiwork of their own intense obstruction, but look what kind of spin they put on that and also with their media proxies like Faux Muse.
Rusty, you have at points agreed with me on some of these points in past posts. So where is this contradiction coming from? I suggest you quit blaming government for all the bad things the corporate interests promote and that you seem to be so ironically bent on supporting with your rhetoric in apparent contradiction to our previous points of agreement.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 13, 2014 - 8:31am
Robert Wendell you seemed to be disagreeing that government is the largest money steeling entity in the US and I continue to believe it is.
You might argue that they deserve all the money they collect and or legally steel, but instead you said my examples were just cherry picked which suggests I'm wrong and there are larger money steeling entities you know of out there.
If that's true, please point a few out as I did so I can compare them to what the government is doing.
The ones
Rusty Smith Added Nov 13, 2014 - 8:31am
Robert Wendell you seemed to be disagreeing that government is the largest money steeling entity in the US and I continue to believe it is.
You might argue that they deserve all the money they collect and or legally steel, but instead you said my examples were just cherry picked which suggests I'm wrong and there are larger money steeling entities you know of out there.
If that's true, please point a few out as I did so I can compare them to what the government is doing.
The ones
Rusty Smith Added Nov 13, 2014 - 8:56am
Robert Wendell the ones I mentioned are all personal examples that are eroding the future value of my and many of my friends personal retirement accounts.

Over our history government has become larger, more expensive and more involved in our economy to the point where they don't just micro manage the economy, in many cases they pick the winners and losers.
The housing market fiasco illustrates that well, a massive transfer of wealth to people who didn't earn it, all so politicians could say they were making the dream of owning a house a reality for poor people who couldn't afford one.  What a massive disaster and failure.
Even bailing out the insurance entities was government cherry picking the winners and losers.  Investors who were unwise enough to have invested in those derivative home loans should have lost big time but government hadn't intervened.  Instead government made them into instant winners by making the insurance companies whole with tax money.  Instead people like me who knew they were bad investments and bought more sound investments that paid less, became losers twice, first when we got smaller returns, and second as taxpayers who had to make the people who made  poor investment choices winners after all.  Tell me what you think should have happened to insurance companies execs for spending all the premium money on wages and benefits, so almost none was actually available to pay off claims when disaster struck?
Their massive support of GM is another example, propping up a huge business with tax money so that it could continue to compete with companies like Ford, who actually deserved to stay in business and take over a slice of GM's customers, employees and factories, when they went out of business.  
Now we're seeing our bond markets basic stability destroyed as the courts allow cities like Stockton to seize bondholders interest and principal, instead of having to sell off assets and cut pensions back to something that resembles numbers the can afford to pay off in the future.  That's the third bailout for their pension system and it's no more sound than the second, so it's money down the drain but I gota give the government a big pat o the back for sticking to the rich bondholders who lent them money... right.   As a result insurance on bonds is almost disappearing, and most people who once loaned money to cities are becoming justifiably gun-shy now that they know the cities could seize their principal 20 years after they loan the city the money. 
I still say the largest thief is our own government.
Darius Grimes Added Nov 13, 2014 - 9:49am
In light of recent videos exposing the audacity of arrogance of the liberal elites in control of this country's education and media by the mastermind behind behind the ACA I would strongly agree with Robert.
Just because you don't literally hold a gun to someones head to get them to give up their earnings does not mean is not stealing. But when government lies and deceitful in order to con tax dollars and imposes stiff penalties or force against dissenters or those who fail to comply, it is no better than George Soros manipulation of the European Markets or Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. The outcome is the same, the damage to society is the same and we are all worse of for it, so much for fairness.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 17, 2014 - 7:38pm
So all taxes are stealing? Insurance premiums paid by those of us who never have auto accidents are stolen from us by those who do? What do you think diluting risk via insurance policies is all about?
Or do you think the government is not only sanctioning stealing but putting the gun to our head to AID those who have accidents in stealing from us because government legally obligates us to buy auto liability insurance? That's where your logic ends up if you apply it as a religious principle that we cannot ethically violate.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 17, 2014 - 8:08pm
Robert Wendell I see good reasons and uses for taxes all the time, but using them to make people who made unwise choices better off than the taxpayers who are supplying the money should be criminal.
The people who invested in bad loans to poor people should have lost the money they invested when the people didn't pay those loans back.  
If Barney and other clowns hadn't offered to back risky loans to poor people who couldn't afford them with tax money, the housing market wouldn't have crashed in the first place.  The insurance companies that guaranteed those loans might never had have been discovered to have been living off the premiums without keeping a sizable bank account "just in case", but then again it wouldn't have been needed.
To be fair under the old rules where lending institutions required huge down-payments and guarantees of income, a huge just in case bank account wasn't necessary because if things went wrong the lending institutions simply used the down-payment to offset losses if the people stopped being able to pay.
The insurance companies screw up was not ratcheting up the reserves when the rules changes, but then again why would they,  Barney and friends promised to bail them out if their plan didn't work, and that's exactly what they did, with our tax money.
Mike Haluska Added Nov 18, 2014 - 11:16am
Here's a good Litmus Test for the Min Wager's:  I will agree to a Min Wage at whatever level you wish, provided all healthy, able bodied welfare recipients work at some sort of public works job (trash removal, street cleaner, park maintenance, etc.).
Mike Haluska Added Nov 18, 2014 - 11:31am
There are only 3 ways for a nation to create wealth - make things, grow things, transport things.  Thanks to liberals since the 1960's our government declared an all-out war on manufacturing.  The resulting deterioration of our manufacturing sector (see Detroit) removed the only means the Average Joe can earn a decent living.  Costco, Walmart, Starbucks, Sears, Kinko's, etc. will NEVER be able to pay wages that manufacturers do.
All attempts at wealth redistribution (welfare, min wage, progressive income tax, etc) are doomed to fail because they contain the seeds of their own self-destruction.  Stop the pointless debates on Min Wage - focus on developing sectors that create wealth, not those that transfer wealth!
Robert Wendell Added Nov 18, 2014 - 11:55am
Rusty, you really give me the strong impression every time you comment that you don't realize these financial institutions run the show. Senator Dick Durbin said, "And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place." He was right. 
My article  Practical Reality Check II includes a citation from a Swiss study titled The Network of Global Corporate Control by Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston that illuminates this issue. The study required complex calculations that necessarily involve modern computer technology and sophisticated mathematical methodology to uncover complex networking topologies. This has enabled study of this kind of power structure in unprecedented detail.  Quoting from this study:
“In detail, nearly 4/10 of the control over the economic value of TNCs [transnational corporations] in the world is held, via a complicated web of ownership relations, by a group of 147 TNCs in the core, which has almost full control over itself. The top holders within the core can thus be thought of as an economic “super-entity” in the global network of corporations. A relevant additional fact at this point is that 3/4 of the core are financial intermediaries. Fig. 2 D shows a small subset of well-known financial players and their links, providing an idea of the level of entanglement of the entire core.” (From pg. 6, last paragraph. See pg. 4 of the document  for Fig. 2 D revealing well-known transnational banking and other financial interests. […] denotes the author’s insertion in this quote.)
In this study, the abstract states that previously “only small national samples were studied and there was no appropriate methodology to assess control globally. We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic “super-entity” that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers.”
Regarding concentration of control, page 6 of this document near the end of the second paragraph states, "This means that network control is much more unequally distributed than wealth. In particular, the top ranked actors hold a control ten times bigger than what could be expected based on their wealth."
I know most people don't follow links in comments or articles. Too bad! It's a compact way to offer a lot of information. Please note that among all transnational companies, the nexus of control lies with financial institutions. Here are the names of the companies at the nexus of power in the entire community of transnational corporations, bearing in mind that this is from the Orbis 2007 database, so a couple of these are now defunct:
Bank of America
Barclays PLC
Bear Sterns
Commerzbank AG
Credit Suisse
Deutschebank AG
Franklin Resources
Goldman Sachs
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Lehman Brothers
Morgan Stanley
Prudential Financial
State Street Corp.
T. Rowe Price
Also please note that considering the outlandish leverage and complexity of the instruments involved, with derivatives usually stacked through multiple institutions, there was no choice but to bail the culprits out. A huge domino effect vitally threatening the entire world economy was initiated when Lehman Brothers, for example, was allowed to fail based on ideological considerations that were the same as those expressed in some comments here. 
A strong indicator of the political power these institutions exercise is that only the institutions and not the individuals responsible for malfeasance received any punishment at all. The fines paid by their institutions were tiny compared to the damage caused while many individuals profited enormously.
mark henry smith Added Nov 18, 2014 - 12:15pm
One of the most dynamic economies the US ever had was after WWII and the top income tax rate was between 70-90%. If you talk to economists, they will tell you that there is no evidence that tax rates reduce the incentive to work and earn money and in our present system do you really think that if I can earn a hundred dollars an hour, but only keep fifty, I won't do it? And with all of the tax-breaks at their disposal, what wealthy person or business pays near the top? You can easily divert earned income into capital gains by taking stock options and pay 15%. The reason the wealthy balk at paying taxes isn't because it hurts the incentive to work, it's because they're greedy and don't feel bound to the social contract that we all pay to live in a civil society and the wealthy pay more because they have more to lose. That's the role of government, Rusty, or was supposed to be in a democracy, to maintain a civil society. In an age of large-scale industrial pollution, climate change, global investing, the instantaneous movement of capital around the globe, the ability of private investors holding huge amounts in mutual funds to manipulate markets and skim huge amounts of capital, that governments have been made partners in this scamming at the worst of it, and pawns in the least, the entire financial crisis being an example of both, how governments maintain civility is an open question.  
Robert Wendell Added Nov 18, 2014 - 12:31pm
Mike, your comments came in while I was writing my reply above to Rusty. My reply, however, makes strictly theoretical your comments about the irrelevance of those who transfer wealth, since it is precisely that segment of the transnational corporate world that is holding all the cards.
By the way, Mike, have you ever heard about capitalization of business startups? Who do you think does that? Banks are supposed to be all about temporary transfer of wealth in the form of loans. They get paid very well for that service, don't they? Of course, they have transferred an awful lot of wealth that has turned out not to be temporary at all, haven't they?
Worse, the wealth they transferred to themselves took much more wealth out of the economy than they got for their naughty behavior, as enormous as their take was. Only low level players received any punishment for this at all. Does that tell you anything at all, or do you just simplistically blame it all on Obama because it's the popular conservative thing to do?
Rusty Smith Added Nov 18, 2014 - 6:18pm
mark henry smith You said:
If you talk to economists, they will tell you that there is no evidence that tax rates reduce the incentive to work and earn money and in our present system do you really think that if I can earn a hundred dollars an hour, but only keep fifty, I won't do it?
I can dispute easily just by pointing out all the seniors who refuse to work beyond the point where they would be taxed on their social security if they made more.  I know many people who do just that every year.
If you were a senior who earned $30 and were told starting next week you will only get to keep $15 per hr, and you didn't really really need the money, you might decide to stay home too.
I grew up in a family that was in the 70% tax bracket and can tell you that my father frequently turned down opportunities to expand his business because the return he would have hoped to get wasn't worth the risk, since he'd only get to keep a little if he did well.  He would have thought it was worth it if he could get a better return IF the new business expansion plans turned a profit.  
It's not like wealthy people just have money rolling in, they almost always have to risk money they have to get those profits.  If things don't go well they get stuck with the losses.
Many wealthy people earn almost all their money in places like the stock market where they know failure is always an option.  When you raise taxes on them many do think what the hell, I already have enough to be quite comfortable, so why should I risk  what I have to get a tiny return IF I get lucky?
Every time that happens our economy suffers because companies need investors.  Want those filthy rich bastards to start investing in America, MAKE IT WORTH THE RISK!
Mike Haluska Added Nov 18, 2014 - 6:34pm
Wendell - I think we are talking across purposes.  My point was that maximizing wages is only possible when the labor is highly productive.  Paying somebody $25/hr to generate $15/hr in profit can't last, no matter what is "legislated". 
mark henry smith Added Nov 19, 2014 - 11:29am
Yes Rusty, the social security issue is one of those straight trades where it economically doesn't make sense. So, many seniors work under the table or work merely because they like being out, feeling vital. The rationale, as I understand it, was to move seniors out of the work force and open up jobs for younger workers. And at the bottom of the pay scale it's the same. If I can make a similar amount mooching, not working at a crappy job, why work? As an economist I think this fiddling with incentives to work is ignorant. Offer services. Let businesses decide who they want to hire and what they're willing to pay. One of the points I didn't explain about the high tax rate was the shared responsibility to help rebuild a world devastated by war. A responsibility to offer opportunity to all of those soldiers returning home. And one of the points I think is not pointed out in this argument about why investors should get to keep their money is how much they rely on the public sector to make that money. It's not as if wealthy investors are earning money in some self-contained bubble. They use public services at all points in their operations. Just the protection governments offer to the international banking system, keeping markets stable so they can keep their riches safe, is worth immeasurable sums.   
Rusty Smith Added Nov 19, 2014 - 12:58pm
mark henry smith  I'd argue that all the government protections offered by our government are still not worth half of any investors's profit but that's what they get.  I don't  see it as the cost rich people pay for those protections, but rather a government attempt to make the poor better off by taking money from the rich and using it to better their lives.  
I also must note that I often think the entitlements government has created tend to entrap the poor into an entitlement mentality and lifestyle rather than help them lift themselves out of poverty.
They are not just removing the incentive for rich people to invest in businesses that bring jobs back to America, their also removing the incentives for poor people to work hard to improve their own lives.
Being poor isn't fun, but thanks to never ending entitlements, it isn't so bad that no one would want to live that way if all they had to is work hard to do better.  There are generations of poor people who think that life is "comfortable enough" without working.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 19, 2014 - 4:47pm
Rusty said, "I can dispute easily [that taxing doesn't reduce incentives to earn] just by pointing out all the seniors who refuse to work beyond the point where they would be taxed on their social security if they made more.  I know many people who do just that every year."
(Bold brackets mine to clarify the reference)
You're right, of course, that is can reduce incentive to earn under certain circumstances. I'm old enough to know about your example first hand. Although it's beside the point, that only lasts a couple of years or so and then you can earn all you like after that and SS income is still not taxed.
Getting back on topic, however, a person earning $200K per year is not likely to reduce that income to the level necessary to avoid those taxes. If I understand Mark correctly, he's referring to studies showing in the aggregate that historically times of high tax did not in fact reduce the overall incentive to earn.
That kind of overall data says nothing about such narrow little pieces of the picture you're pointing out. They certainly don't indicate that in some situations some people will never find tax an incentive to earn no more than some specified amount. I don't think that is what Mark intended to say. So here's another example of pretending that a tiny little corner of reality that offers a counterexample pretends to undo historical facts representing a much bigger picture as if they were simply not facts. This kind of thing is what provided an incentive for the expression "can't see the forest for the trees".
Rusty Smith Added Nov 19, 2014 - 6:54pm
Robert Wendell I do see lots of my friends deciding not to work as much and not to risk the money they have in the bank, (money in the hand), because the gain if they do well is just not worth the risk.

Even Obama has criticized the "rich" for taking so much of their wealth out of the economy.  It's no longer a just a corner of reality, huge portions of our affluent citizens are not investing, their holding their breath and waiting.  
Every day I hear criticisms aimed at all the companies who have taken portions of their businesses out of the country to escape high taxation in this country and its not just the taxes that go with them, it's  often jobs too.
The economy isn't in the crapper because all the rich people are paying taxes and keeping their money invested in domestic companies.  Obviously the number who are not participating is enough to keep the country floundering, not just a few oddballs.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 20, 2014 - 12:43am
Mike says, "I think we are talking across purposes.  My point was that maximizing wages is only possible when the labor is highly productive.  Paying somebody $25/hr to generate $15/hr in profit can't last, no matter what is 'legislated'."
Of course, but if that were were really the case overall, we would not have the extreme income inequality we have now. Somebody's profiting on the underpaid. Please keep the big picture in mind instead of always cutting out little, seemingly logical pieces from it.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 20, 2014 - 12:57am
Rusty says, "Obviously the number who are not participating is enough to keep the country floundering, not just a few oddballs."
Answering this within the context of your whole comment, Rusty, there are plenty of countries who can gain financially by competing with our tax structure by lowering theirs. Most of the corporations profiting from that operate in the U.S. We have to make it so that revenues garnered from operating in the U.S. are taxed in the U.S.
That this currently is NOT the case only demonstrates the political power of those who depend on a huge portion of total revenues in the U.S., take full advantage of U.S. infrastructure and markets while paying zero corporate tax to the U.S. government. Many of them are the major banks in the list of 20 from the Swiss study I cited above.
While those individuals who profit enormously from these shenanigans have become super-rich, there are nasty consequence the whole economy and eventually the rich or their heirs. The undermining of the consumer markets by the kind of economic extraction that profits by underpaying for services near the bottom end (and/or crashing the whole economy because they were unable to manage their own naughty games well) has created desperation in the lower ranks that allows those at the top to extract even more labor for less. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this is not sustainable economically.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 20, 2014 - 10:24am
Robert Wendell I agree, the increasing trend of our rich taking their money and business, and the taxes they should be paying out of the country is a real problem and not economically sustainable but the big question is what do you do about it.
Up to now we've made up for the revenue we lost from those who left by increasing the tax burden on those who remained.  That's  increased the incentives for leaving by making the rewards for leaving even greater.
Up to now we've tried to close the "loop holes", but there seems to be a never ending supply.  Anyone who looks at the numbers would conclude that method has not been successful, if anything it's now causing the entire loss of parts of our economy that can't compete if they stay.  We were trying to stop them from sheltering so much of their business from our taxes, and we ended up chasing them away so now we get NO taxes from them.
Long ago we stopped getting revenue from our shipping industry after we created an environment where it was so much cheaper for shipping companies to register in foreign countries like Liberia than the US, that practically all the big ones did.   A few years ago GE was paying almost no American taxes because they had off-shored so much of their business. 
When are we going to realize that we're going to get more taxes by lowering the tax and regulatory requirements so that they become competitive with the rest of the world, so that companies have no incentive to take their business out of the country?  We seem to have proved we can't regulate them into staying here.
The stick isn't working, it's time to try a carrot again.  The US can't be phosphorous like it once was if most of what remains are poor people.  I want the US to do well, someone has to pay my social security and as it looks now we might be trying to squeeze blood out of a stone.
mark henry smith Added Nov 20, 2014 - 10:58am
Rusty, I was talking with a woman from The World Economic Council, and she pointed out something about money supply. That governments really don't have the ability to limit money supply, control the value of their currency anymore, since all kinds of electronic transactions, all kinds of deals, all kinds of new types of transaction devices are being developed in the private sector. The European common currency is an outgrowth of this reality. To create some kind of buffer against constant fluctuations in individual countries in currencies that can be more easily manipulated. And until we have an even playing field with all of the players using the same rules, we will always have this problem of businesses and individuals going to where the rules are the most lax. But that doesn't mean we should just get rid of all the rules. The fact that Liberia barely cares what you dump in the ocean, what the sea-worthiness of your vessel, just wants the fees, isn't a model we should follow. And just as some countries don't care where money comes from, isn't something we should want. Over time, slowly, standards of behavior rise as the costs of not regulating become more apparent, and as pressure from countries being ripped off gets nasty. And Robert, I was referring to that study that showed no significant decline in business activity in times of high taxes.   
Robert Wendell Added Nov 20, 2014 - 1:36pm
Rusty says, "When are we going to realize that we're going to get more taxes by lowering the tax and regulatory requirements so that they become competitive with the rest of the world, so that companies have no incentive to take their business out of the country?  We seem to have proved we can't regulate them into staying here."
Glad you agree on the basic issue, but I have to wonder about what you say above. There are countries who can outbid us on taxes no matter how low we go. The point is we can't compete without trashing the whole kit and kaboodle. We need to tax revenues that are generated in the U.S. There is no other viable solution. These corporations need our markets, but don't want to pay the rent for our public infrastructure, etc. That's pretty simple, isn't it?
The reason they don't have to is that on the whole our government works for them instead of us. It's not that government is bad per se. It's that it is no longer structured to serve us. That's where we should be focusing our attention instead of bandaid fixes like lowering our taxes to make corporations happy to move their HQ offices back.
That's not going to happen if even we try it. We have to be politically realistic. Our big problem is that although in my opinion we still have enough democracy left to vote these problems away, voters as a whole are too absolutely clueless to do that. Worse, Faux Muse, Rash Limbo, et al are doing a wonderful job of keeping it that way. They are the propaganda mouthpiece of corporate U.S.A.
Janie Smith Added Nov 20, 2014 - 5:23pm
I just love the way everyone against the increase in the minimum wage uses the argument that minimum wage jobs are for know fast food places did not exist back in 1939 when the minimum wage was first enacted...minimum wage was not created for children's jobs, it was created as a "liveable wage" for unskilled laborers and in order for it to have continued to be liveable it would have had to keep up with the cost of living, but it hasn't. 
Rusty Smith Added Nov 21, 2014 - 7:49pm
Robert Wendell I agree that when it comes to super labor intensive products, US companies just don't stand a chance on the competitive market, but there is a full range of companies from those that can't compete fiscally, to those who can.
I'd argue that if we help American companies become more profitable, more things will be economical to do here, more jobs will stay here and all those that stay instead of leaving, will pay taxes.
I include leaving the min wage where it is as a way to keep more jobs here.  Whenever employer costs go up, the products become more expensive, and once it passes the price the market will bear, the employer stops making those parts or offering those services.
I'm sure min wage employees would like to be paid more, but probably not appreciate an increase if it was followed by a layoff notice.  
Robert Wendell Added Nov 21, 2014 - 9:28pm
Rusty, it should be clear that our international trade agreements have created a need for OUR labor to compete with labor that used to get a dollar a day or some similar, extremely low amount. This is not just for low skilled labor either. Look at the competition with U.S. infotech labor we're getting from India, Sri Lanka, and other Asian countries with people for whom half our pay levels would be a relative fortune.
That's what protectionist legislation such as tariffs, etc. were designed to deal with. But this has been given a bad name. Well, it forces us to either pull the rest of the world up or ourselves down. We're doing some of both. To pretend we can confine this issue to our own country alone and ignore the bigger, worldwide picture is naive.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 21, 2014 - 11:49pm
Rusty, it strikes me as another example of neo-conservative self-contradiction that they typically complain a lot about the foreign competition for their jobs when it hits their own pay grade, such as people in IT, but swing to the other side completely when it involves unskilled labor. You can't have it both ways.
I notice that this kind of mindset never makes the kinds of big picture connections that an integrated view demands. Instead, it just picks what it wants to believe, finds little pieces of the picture that support that, and then dogmatically repeats them ad nauseum as total proof of its righteous perspective.
This mindset also simply makes stuff up, or copies fake pundits who make it up. I just talked with a guy who works as an official for his district's voting. He says he kept getting stupid remarks in the form of questions like "how many dead people voted today"? He usually just says, "None, sir."
In North Carolina I know last time I looked that 14 people reported their votes for Hagan getting switched by the machine to Tillis before their very eyes. One had to call over a helper and vote four more times before it quit switching the vote to Tillis. This actually hit the papers. How do I know my vote didn't get switched? I don't. How many more didn't notice?
But isn't it odd that no one talks about the hacking of Diebolt voting machines and the Karl Rove instigated voting machine fraud in Ohio 2004 or the stealing from Ron Paul in the New Hampshire primary:
So why in Sam's Hill are Republican's worried about voter fraud when they should be worried about vote fraud that flips close elections? Hmmmm...?
Robert Wendell Added Nov 22, 2014 - 12:01am
More testimony (Florida Republican speaker of the house from 2000-2002 Tom Feeney hiring infotech to flip an election):
Robert Wendell Added Nov 22, 2014 - 12:10am
So the answer to the question regarding why Republicans generate rumors about dead people voting and other kinds of individual voter fraud to justify voter ID laws while saying nothing about how voting machine fraud flips entire elections should be obvious. Spoonamore, who spoke as a security expert for major banking institutions, says that when there is a large discrepancy between exit polls and the actual reported results, you can be sure of fraud. Bear in mind that a banking security expert is also an expert on the strong component of statistical procedures in troubleshooting security problems.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 22, 2014 - 9:38am
Robert Wendell Voter fraud is a topic that really upsets me, at least partially because where I live in S. Cal Illgeals vote ALL THE TIME and no one cares.
I once had doubts but several have proved it to me, and many of them vote via absentee ballots.  Years ago I and a friend said we didn't believe it, so we were asked to make up a name, and we did, and the next voting cycle the person handed us voting materials they got in the mail, with that name.
It's so bad some friends and I organized a public meeting and had a high ranking voting official attend to help.  He told all of us that if an illegal is in line to vote right in front of you and claims to live at your house and you say he doesn't, he gets to vote, his vote counts, and sometime later that year someone from the voting office will visit our house to determine if he really lives there.  If he doesn't they will remove him from the voter list, but he could be doing the same thing in 5 other places and they wouldn't know.
Voter fraud prosecution for illegals voting is non-existent in this part of the country, so you tell me......  If no one cares, is it really lllegal?
Robert Wendell Added Nov 22, 2014 - 9:50am
If that's really going on as you say, it's bad, but how does that compare to flipping an entire election with voting machine fraud? It takes massive voter fraud involving tons of people to compare with flipping an entire election.
Rusty Smith Added Nov 22, 2014 - 8:06pm
Robert Wendell I don't like any of the computerized voting systems I've seen but I would probably be ok with one if each voter got a  voting stub showing their votes and a unique number they could use to confirm their votes were counted correctly in the election later on via the internet, along with an anonymous list showing how everyone else at their polling place voted.
Computers do everything fast, and that's good when they save manpower and time, but bad because it's so easy for them to commit massive voter fraud without leaving a trace.
Robert Wendell Added Nov 22, 2014 - 8:59pm
Yep! That's it in a nutshell, Rusty.
Robert Wendell Added May 9, 2015 - 12:24am
Take a look at this at the following link:
"Think Progress reported in February that, among seven states that drug test applicants before they were eligible to receive subsidies through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, 'all except one have a [positive drug test result] rate below 1 percent. Meanwhile, [states have] collectively spent nearly $1 million on the effort, and millions more may have to be spent in coming years.' Think Progress points out that the average positive drug test rate among the general population is 9.3 percent." (My bolding added]
This clearly indicates that those applying for this kind of aid have a positive drug test rate about one tenth of that in the general population. There are many other negative correlations that go with drug use, so these facts strongly contradict what most conservatives believe as opposed to the actual lifestyles of these folks. So conservatives take little pieces of anecdotal evidence that they either personally witnessed or someone they know complained about and draw great big, broad conclusions on that basis because it fits what they already want to believe.
This justifies all their petty fears and prejudices, so they naturally just eat it all up. The arrogant, elitist and self-designated rulers of our economy (i.e., not government) feel entitled by their elevated economic and consequent political power to exploit the emotional tendencies of these gullible, hungry consumers of their propaganda to misdirect their attention to the poor and way from themselves as the folks doing major economic damage to the rest of us. The result is a huge opportunity cost to the rest of the economy for the benefit of a few. Opportunity costs never show up in anyone's ledger, so the conservative psychology overlooks them completely.
Never mind whether the anecdotes conservatives glean from others are even true. I can't help noticing that the conservative psychology hardly ever looks at the big picture. Those suffering from this malady don't do very well at all at integrating large amounts of information without glaring internal contradictions or noticing whether or not their sources do either. It shows up here in almost every comment they make.
Robert Wendell Added May 23, 2015 - 11:48pm
Key excerpts from:
Testimony of Billionaire, Nick Hanauer
Subcommittee on Economic Policy
Senate Committee on Banking, House, and Urban Affairs
June 5, 2013
"Anyone who's ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a capitalist's course of last resort, something we do if and only if increasing customer demand requires it. Further, that the goal of every business, profit, is largely a measure of our relative ability to NOT create jobs compared to our competitors. In this sense, calling ourselves job creators isn't just inaccurate, it's disingenuous.
That’s why our current policies are so upside down."
Hanauer had already said earlier in the same transcript:
"...the real job creators in America are middle-class consumers. The more money they have, and the more they can buy, the more people like me have to hire to meet demand."
Elsewhere in the same testimony Hanauer also states:
"...the fast increasing inequality in our society is killing our economy. When most of the money in the economy ends up in just a few hands, it strangles consumption and creates a death spiral of falling demand."
And again:
"Since 1980 the share of income for the richest 1% of Americans has tripled while our effective tax rates have [been cut] by approximately 50%.
"If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs."
[Spelling, emphasis, and grammatical corrections of transcript added. RPW]
These are very clear, rational arguments from a billionaire insider who knows both sides of the story. The opposing arguments we get from conservatives make no sense at all in light of the facts. They are completely nonsensical when it comes to how things actually work in the real world as opposed to an agenda-driven ideology that is actually nothing more than a devious propaganda strategy designed to sucker dummies who vote.
Cliff M. Added May 24, 2015 - 9:10pm
Robert,I could not agree with this comment and article more.The decline of the middle class wage is the major factor holding back this economy from real growth. Unless this issue is seriously addressed things will not improve.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2015 - 9:42pm
Yep! Thank you, Cliff, for another refreshing voice of sanity here on WB. The arguments Hanauer provides are common knowledge among the elite, but very few, other than Hanauer and Buffett, have the guts to buck their peer group and spill the beans. More to the point, the arguments Hanauer makes are based on solid evidence as well as common sense. The right these days lets all commons sense and solid facts of history drown in the noise of talking heads bought and paid for by the more secretive financial peers of Hanauer and Buffett.
Cliff M. Added May 24, 2015 - 9:57pm
Robert,It seems like the lemmings of the right have closed ranks and have foolishly decided to follow the lead of the select few at the expense of the majority. Hopefully they will see the light before it is too late.
Cliff M. Added May 24, 2015 - 10:10pm
It is kind of funny and sad at the same time that the politics has decided that throwing a few crumbs to the masses at this stage will address the economic disaster in progress.To little too late will have only minimal results.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2015 - 10:15pm
Some of our knowledge is clear, certain, and reliable, like where home is, for example (for most of us). Some of what we call knowledge is just our best assessment until it gets replaced with a better one upon receiving either more or more accurate information. Some of what we think is knowledge is actually no more than viewpoints acquired from others who sell their ideas to us by appealing to our sense of self worth and emotional needs. Whether they believe it themselves is another matter.
The humility that recognizes that of which we are ignorant is admirable. While there is nothing arrogant about having confidence in what clear, reliable knowledge we have managed to acquire, arrogant ignorance that masquerades as certain knowledge merely because it supports our personal sense of worth and emotional needs is abominable and guarantees false views! Knowing the difference between justifiable confidence and arrogant ignorance requires the personal, inner depth called wisdom!
Cliff M. Added May 24, 2015 - 10:47pm
Money can be evil .Abuse of  power can be devastating.We currently have money in politics abusing power to benefit a select few. They have done a good job with the propaganda and smokescreen to disguise the travesty of a sham now in effect.
Robert Wendell Added May 24, 2015 - 11:19pm
Money is morally neutral, as is power also. Nevertheless, they both turn up the heat to reveal the flaws in their handlers.
Darius Grimes Added May 25, 2015 - 10:12am
In my observations, the only time the minimum wage argument is being paraded around is when unions want to increase the drain on the taxpayer and employers but have no basis. We have been at 0% productivity growth for several years now; the economy is creeping along just barely keeping its head out of recession. And job growth is stagnant with the lowest rate of worker participation since the two wage family started.
So let's pull out the big soap box and talk about how unfair it is that people in entry-level and low-wage jobs are not earning a living wage. The people promoting increases, many by their admission, could care less about low-level wage earners; they are merely trying to trigger cascading pay raises where there is no economic justification.
I wish folks would stop and think before buying into foolish talking points like a living wage or income disparity. What we need is to make America more like the countries where we have been moving tens and hundreds of millions of workers out of poverty and into the middle-class since the 90's. An economically friendly pro-growth, pro-investment, business climate. Very few if any have ever gotten wealthy while working for others. We have so many advantages in this country it is shameful to see how little confidence some have in America's ability to succeed. If we keep focusing on symptoms and ignoring the disease, we will continue to see unnecessary hardship.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 3:28pm
          At some point this hurts the general economy substantially while the rich become super-rich. The result is extreme wealth inequality and general public discontent.
     I''ll disagree with you on this limited basis; that it is not necessarily desirable for society to transfer wealth from skilled workers to low skilled, low wage earners. Between 2008-2012 that countries that instituted redistributive policies measured by the GINI index showed a strong correlation with lower GDP growth than did countries that had higher GINI coefficients, or that did not redistribute, and had less economic equality.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 3:35pm
The statistical analysis was per capita national income(IV) v. GINI coefficient(DV).
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 3:46pm
The statistical analysis shows a highly significant statistical relationship between economic recovery after the 2007 recession and the GINI coefficient. Nations that redistributed more recovered less effectively.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 4:30pm
1. So you think we have recovered? The question is all about who has recovered. Sure, Wall Street has recovered. What portion of the population even invests in Wall Street? It's very low.
2. Redistribution and paying a living wage for full time work are not the same. Redistribution and ceasing to underpay workers for value delivered because labor oversupply lets you get away with it are NOT the SAME!
You have provided no information from that study that shows when the redistribution began. Were they already redistributing before the recession? How badly hurt were the various countries in the study before the recession? There is a lot of missing but essential information here. So far you have provided insufficient evidence. What Hanauer says makes total sense from both a historical point of view and what we know about economic function. 
You have not directly addressed the logic of Hanauer's statements. You have not addressed the obvious fact that if trickle down economics worked, we would be flooded with job opportunities, since taxes on the financial top have been cut in half while their income has tripled. You have not addressed that what he says is common knowledge among many of his peers, but they don't admit it because it's a very nice game for them. You do not address the clear logic that extreme inequality bleeds out the middle class from both ends, pulling some up with their ability to hire cheap labor and others down because they are the cheap labor.
You have not addressed the unarguable fact that the economic elite need the middle class market in the longer run, and so are shooting themselves in the foot with an unsustainable game plan. The problem is it doesn't usually come home to roost in their own generation, but in the next few. This pattern is repeated multiple times in widely different cultures in different eras.
Cliff M. Added May 25, 2015 - 4:45pm
Barath,Is a lower quality of life for a vast majority acceptable?A race to the bottom. Current circumstances already have created turmoil and it will only get worse.
Cliff M. Added May 25, 2015 - 4:47pm
Thank you Robert for your previous comment.Spot on!
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 4:56pm
I'm sorry, let me clarify that that was pretax and post-tax Gini coefficient spreads.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 4:59pm
I'm sorry, let me clarify that that was pretax and post-tax Gini coefficient spreads.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 5:08pm
I simply contend as a matter of rational logic that as a practical matter we know empirically and historically that redistribution does not allow for economic growth;it causes economic stagnation, and that what people need is economic growth. What the 2008 Gini Spread indicates is that economies that had lower spreads, or transfers from government to lower income earners in the form of taxation, recovered more poorly.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 5:16pm
Sorry, again countries that had higher Gini spreads prior to recovery, or that redistributed more, had weaker recoveries. What people need is a growing economy, not weak or stagnant economic growth.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 5:34pm
Whom do you believe can advocate for my position, and for my values better than I. " If not me whom? If not now, when?"
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 5:45pm
"When people don't believe in God, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything" 
That's how socialist thinking was born, and with it and all forms of Marxist-socialist false idealism.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 5:50pm
       One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we've developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.
Malcolm Muggeridge

Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 6:13pm
So, Barath, where is this off-topic stuff coming from? You seem to be making an implied association of minimum wage with redistribution, then with socialism in turn, then with Marxist atheism. So I'm wondering whether this means that in your mind minimum wage laws imply that its promoters are atheists.
Do you associate minimum wage law with redistribution through taxation? They're certainly not at all the same, nor do they work the same way economically. Just as I suspected, the economies that had the highest GINI index before the recession had the slowest recoveries per your comment above. That means their high wealth inequality represents a lack of economic resilience that inhibited their ability to recover. Look how slowly we've been recovering and still are and we're at historical highs in wealth inequality. Your study seems to support a thesis diametrically opposed to yours.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 7:18pm
    First, the statistic that I referred to was the spread of pre- tax- transfer GINI ceofficient and post tax-transfer GINI coefficient which is a measure of post tax redistribution; and the data showed, the larger the spread the weaker the economic recovery.
     Quite obviously, in regard to the other matter I suggest " the alligators" come out when I comment because of religious and ideological prejudices and anger over their cherished superiority.
     Intellectuals are often so because they hope to accumulate some authority, wealth or prestige to themselves, as they readily admit, but once they have been awarded that position of prestige by the system they then fail be intellectuals in the normal mode since they no longer can be the impartial critic of what is swept under the rug.
     Thus who can speak for my values better than I. " If not me then whom?If not now when ?"
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 8:11pm
Robert, you don't presume to speak for me or my interests; so then don't try to tell me what I should think or believe or how or what I should express.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 8:38pm
I'm not sure what you or others think "intellectuals" are. Are they a class, like the financial elite? That latter are easily defined by their accumulated assets and incomes. Defining intellectuals is not so simple, so it's not very surprising that there are a lot of variations in how people both define and view them.
There are intellectuals who stick loyally to the current cultural, academic, and/or scientific paradigm and ignore other very important functionality in the human brain such as the depth of direct insight we call wisdom, for example. Some don't even believe the latter exists other than as a well functioning intellect. But we all know that geniuses can be depraved criminals, mentally ill in less harmful ways, or outliers in the opposite direction of the extreme mental health we associate with wisdom.
So I avoid this problem merely by speaking of a well functioning intellect. I also believe real intelligence is more than intellect, but the combination of intellect and wisdom. It seems clear to me that we should expect a normal distribution of wealth in large populations, since the myriad factors in involved in acquiring wealth, including motivation and life orientation in general, should all shake out statistically to a normal distribution of their result. This, of course, assumes that there is no socially structure underclass that the rest of society limits with its a priori assumptions about its members.
You never responded, unless I've forgotten, to this graphically displayed information:
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 8:54pm
  Redistribution and paying a living wage for full time work are not the same. Redistribution and ceasing to underpay workers 
1. How do you conclude that wages for unskilled workers are too low. It seems to me that's a purely normative statement.
2. We are a free enterprise, incentive driven economy. People have incentive to work hard to get promotions, and improve their skills, for example through further education or training, so that they can receive higher wages.
3. Raising minimum wages above what would be "minimum" would result in increased unemployment.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 9:15pm
By intellectual I mean people who believe in primacy of intelligence, thought, and free expression. In the academic community all points should have a place for expression, and each view deserves consideration.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 9:24pm
Please note in the graphic at the link in my previous comment how little percentage difference there is in the top level of income compared to the huge difference at the low extreme. Everyone in the bottom 70% loses as the top incomes increase. Of course, just under 70 percentile, the difference is small and increases very slowly as we approach the bottom, then tanks abruptly at the bottom extreme. The left extreme differences are enormous. No one has to suffer economically for the bottom to be relieved of suffering. This is not about economic redistribution, but about an inclusive versus an extractive economy. 
I'm not using the word "extractive" in the sense of resource extraction. Here, the term refers to economies that are politically extractive. This means that some portions of a population use great economic power and the resulting political power to extract wealth they have not earned from those who have earned it.
Current conservatism ignores that such a possibility exists in the U.S. except as tax on the rich to support lazy freeloaders. Although there is always and inevitably some fraud in any social safety nets, we need them. But the economic extraction of unearned wealth from the working poor by a wealthy elite absolutely dwarfs that! But we never hear conservatives talk about that. Quite the contrary, they focus on convincing clueless grass roots voters and prejudiced small business owners with inflated egos to support politicians whose purpose in life is to continue fleecing them for their wealthy donors.
So the bottom line is simple. If you have any common sense at all, you already know how "logic" can work upside down and how irrational people can get when money is involved, even among those who claim to be friends. There definitely is wealth redistribution going on in the U.S. It is wealth extracted from the defenseless poor by the powerful wealthy. Knowing what you do about human nature, what else would you expect? It's obvious even from a mere common sense perspective.
This naturally creates grass roots political pressure to take care of the victims at the bottom of this pecking order. Yet the wealthy still succeed in getting some of the victims and the clueless portions of the middle class to support their scam with their votes. Recent history proves beyond any shadow of a doubt for any objective observer that the trickle down theory of economics doesn't work, but is a scam promoted by the wealthy that is unsustainable in the long run and ultimately profits no one. only damages the quality of life for an entire population, including the wealthy as Hanauer states.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 9:24pm
See the article by Kevin A. Hassett, National Review. June edition.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 10:11pm
Barath, my answers to your three points are as under:
1. How do you conclude that wages for unskilled workers are too low. It seems to me that's a purely normative statement.
If a person is working full time, s/he should be able to earn enough to live a simple, subsistence level life.

2. We are a free enterprise, incentive driven economy. People have incentive to work hard to get promotions, and improve their skills, for example through further education or training, so that they can receive higher wages.
How does that take into account that those who have no negotiating leverage are forced to work for those who hold all the cards and insist on paying absurdly low wages? If it were truly "free enterprise", then the workers would have some negotiating leverage. I don't have to buy something someone wants to charge me too much for unless I have to have it and they have a monopoly on it. If I'm a worker with no negotiating leverage, I will likely have to pay too much in labor for too little in compensation. Where is the "free enterprise" in that? This is not rocket science for anyone who doesn't have a preordained agenda they're unwilling to relinquish.
3. Raising minimum wages above what would be "minimum" would result in increased unemployment.

The studies that compare labor markets experiencing a minimum-wage increase with a carefully chosen comparison labor market tend to find that minimum-wage increases have little or no effect on employment.
The studies that do not match labor markets experiencing a minimum-wage increase with a comparison labor market tend to find that minimum-wage increases reduce employment.

A better understanding of which approach is more rigorous is required to make reliable inferences about the effects of the minimum wage. This paper argues that:

Labor market policy analysts strongly prefer studies that match “treatment” with “comparison” cases in a defensible way over studies that simply include controls and fixed effects in a regression model.
The studies using the most rigorous research designs generally find that minimum-wage increases have little or no effect on employment.
Application of these findings to any particular minimum-wage proposal requires careful consideration of whether the proposal is similar to other minimum-wage policies that have been studied. If a proposal occurs under dramatically different circumstances, the empirical literature on the minimum wage should be invoked with caution.

See these:
(This is a study strongly controlled for labor market equivalence using adjacent counties across state boundaries with high minimum wage in one and low in the other. State by state evidence gives the lie to that notion that raising minimum wage increases unemployment. It only increases the circulation of money. )
And finally this from
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 10:12pm
Barath, if that kind of literature is all you read, there is no way you're ever going to know what's really going on in the world.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 10:15pm
I cited data. You cited conservative opinion. You may think my data is progressive opinion. It may be, but there is nothing about opinions that excludes them from also being facts. Unsupported opinion or opinion supported by bogus studies are worse than worthless. They are disinformation. Read the stuff at my links. They show which studies were scientifically rigorous. Don't be a sucker for disinformation.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 10:20pm
Barath, you need to provide a link to articles you cite. There is no way the information you provided is sufficient to fine the article.
"Kevin A. Hassett, National Review. June" 
That doesn't even state the year, not to mention the article's title.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 10:28pm
Oops! ...find the article...
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 10:31pm
Darius, where do you dig up your alleged "facts"? You hit us with so much concentrated disinformation I can't figure out where to start.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 10:31pm
1. I only agree with conservative opinion when it agrees with me.
2. Normative means it's what you want to be true or what your values say it should be and so an opinion is not accepted as fact simply because you say "that's how it ought to be"
3. The study shows a Strong statistically significant relationship between redistribution through taxation and lower per capita income during the recovery.
4. You want me to accept your studies and ideological beliefs in preference to mine and not the ones I choose. 
    I have a strong preference for valuing wealth creation and I don't believe in too much redistribution of wealth. There are no new ideas coming from the left, but the baked again ideas of New Dealers. Ted Kennedy supported raising the minimum wage so many times it is hard to count, as if that were the answer to every problem.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 11:03pm
You're apparently impervious to facts derived from rigorous research. Facts are not a matter of personal taste as you imply. I don't give a flying fig whether my views are correct if you can show me some solid evidence that shows them to be incorrect. I will change my mind in a millisecond if you can actually do more than pick bogus sources that support what you already want to believe.
You can't create wealth without a market to which you can sell goods and services. If everyone traded the same level of value with everyone else, everyone would have the same amount of wealth. That is, of course, a ridiculously artificial situation that never has and never will exist. So if you wish to become wealthy, that is, have much more than most, you have to do one of two things:
1. You have to sell to a lot of people.
2. You have to sell a few very expensive things to a few people who have made a lot of money one of these two ways.
Ultimately, therefore, you have to sell to a lot of people or to some chain of people that eventually ends with someone who sold a lot of things to a lot of people. In other words, you can't do without a lot of people buying a lot of goods and services. This is not rocket science, so you need to go back to the drawing board and rethink your whole world view.
Crony capitalism artificially distorts wealth distribution toward an extreme and unnatural inequality. Marxism PRETENDS to distort wealth distribution toward an extreme and unnatural equality. They're both a social disease. You're just supporting a disease that is the opposite of the Marxist disease. Something that is the opposite of something bad doesn't make it good. Crony capitalism is just the opposite kind of disease.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 11:04pm
Here, I'll post a Ted Kennedy video, not just about this article, but about what Senator Kennedy called "The March to Progress".
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 11:17pm
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 11:30pm
So to continue, Barath, there is a certain level of inequality that is natural and matches the normal, unequal distribution of that combination of ability and motivation required to earn legitimate wealth. If you distort this natural inequality toward either extreme, you are not rewarding people according to their combined ability and motivation to earn wealth.
This is the operative definition of economic injustice. If the people at the top of the wealth pyramid have all the power and they are allowed to operate unchecked, the natural human tendency is to extract unearned wealth from those who earned it and are powerless to do anything about it. That's it. If you can't see that, "there are none so blind as those who will not see."
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 11:42pm
So what is your Teddy Kennedy link supposed to prove? What kind of evidence is that for your position on this issue?...that he gets angry about Republican refusal to merely adjust the minimum wage for inflation after ten years of no change? That's the weakest damn argument for your position I could ever imagine.
Robert Wendell Added May 25, 2015 - 11:45pm
Barath, you just obfuscate. You don't address my arguments head on and attempt to find flaws in them. You simply skate sideways with irrelevant stupidity that you love to make fun of just because someone who disagrees with you gets hot under the collar. Is that how you construct and pretend to validate your world view? If it is, that's pretty darn pitiful!
Barath Nagarajan Added May 25, 2015 - 11:47pm
So Meritocracy? Why did Derek Jeter make 25$million a year while my local physician makes only 1.5$million? It's a free market system. Is that a natural inequality based on merit? Certainly not. My father is a PhD in physics, but didn't make anywhere near 1million dollars a year, and his second level manager had a bachelors degree. It's part of our traditional Capitalist society; not all inequality even that based on merit has a government remedy. The Government should not enter into markets and fix prices or wages when it is not required, the basic minimum wage being the exception. There is no real freedom without economic freedom as a precondition. Statist solutions that increase government intervention in the economy for so called "economic justice" are based on egalitarian principles that don't recognize free markets and the necessary value of incentives.
Darius Grimes Added May 26, 2015 - 10:48am
Barath, you make a very good argument and I understand your reference. Regardless of Roberts constant challenge one only has to look in their own community to see that robbing Peter to pay Paul leads to business failures and government failures. We have fantastic opportunities in the
We have amazing opportunity in the US but it's only there for those willing to take the risk to achieve their ideas and dreams. It is a never-ending story of failures and successes and most successful (not necessarily wealthy) learn by failing first. The economy in spite of its current overregulation and tightening of investment for small business still rewards those who adapt and evolve. As a Christian, I do not believe that man was the result of evolution alone but I do know that "Divine Intervention" into markets by governments has always favored the wealthy and not the individual. Take what is currently going on with the taxi drivers and Uber, or the hospitality trade and AIR B&B. Now the unions are screaming at governments to restrict entrepreneurs who are making a good living by adapting, evolving, and competing. My nephew started working for a guy who had an AIR B&B service in Manhattan. He learned how to set up and run the business while making a small wage and now he has his own apartments and is doing very well for himself and expanding.
Robert, you can't be serious, "What portion of the population even invests in Wall Street? It's very low." While the percentage has dropped due to uncertainty, 54% of the population currently invests in the stock markets, hardly a low portion. And if you consider those with savings or CD's then the number of actual investors is probably closer to 60-75%.
What portion of the population even invests in Wall Street? It's very low.
Robert Wendell Added May 26, 2015 - 12:10pm
Barath, you say, "The Government should not enter into markets and fix prices or wages when it is not required, the basic minimum wage being the exception."
So what are we debating here? You seem to have just agreed that it's OK for the government to set a basic minimum wage.
Robert Wendell Added May 26, 2015 - 12:21pm
Darius, you forgot to include how much. If I have mutual funds, then I'm likely invested in some stock. Half of the population is not much when you factor in how much and who. Half the population makes under $52,000 a year. That half doesn't own very much if any stock.
So the stock market doesn't significantly affect anyone making less than $50,000 a year. What kind of impact do you think that has on people making the minimum wage? Get real, man! Statistics mean nothing unless you have a good head for interpreting them and putting them in some kind of meaningful context. I'm reminded of Romney's talk about $250,000 a year as middle class income.
Darius Grimes Added May 26, 2015 - 1:04pm
Yes, 70-80% of the earnings from wall street go to the top 5% but that is because it is the most lucrative investment at this time. We have a PACE program starting up in Florida so homeowners can add energy and mitigation improvements through a special assessment and pay it back on their property tax bills, This program will create billion in construction, materials, and even local tax revenues. While these programs are run by governmental administrative agencies they are privately funded through bonds. One provider already has 2 billion in private funding because the interest rates are 5-6% which is about 4-6 times the current muni-bond yield. Money moves where it can grow and provide an above average ROI or is unrestricted by regulations. As I stated before there is a bounty of opportunity out there, but you have to be willing to learn everything you can from your employer(s) business and why it succeeds or fails, be able to adapt and apply that knowledge and then evolve with constant changing markets. Working for someone is an opportunity to gain knowledge about how to succeed from people that are succeeding and improve your personal value and skill sets. When you stop learning, applying knowledge, and adapting to market conditions. You eat what you gather..
I was responding to your statement that only a small portion invest in Wall Street. And don;t make assumptions based on income level. I worked in what most would consider disadvantaged neighborhoods and was generally paid in cash and checks for remodeling jobs ranging from $1000 to $25000. Most people would drive by these homes and think the owners were poor and living on public assistance, but they lived on cash and yes, investments in the stock market and had no mortgage or debt. Homes were passed down through the family.
Having been poor several times and even homeless after a brutal divorce, it is amazing how fast you can build cash by living below your means and banking 25-50% of what you make even at a mid to low income wage.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 2:50pm
Robert, I have little time for this Tom foolery. I didn't say I was against a minimum wage. I argued against raising the minimum wage. The minimum wage as the term suggests should be a"minimum". Nevertheless, I am against the transfer of wealth to unskilled workers from those who would instead use that wealth for investment and creation of new jobs.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 3:03pm
I am also generally concerned with the liberal populist attitudes that fight so hard for rights of the poor members of the proletariat, but care little for the basic rights and liberties of those they declare affluent. Not only is there lack of a motivation to defend basic rights, but a Strong disdain for the rights of anyone they conclude to affluent
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 3:09pm
Basic economic liberty includes the rights to develop one's own capabilities to the full degree, and to be rewarded for one's labor. Economic liberty is a precondition to other forms of freedom.
Robert Wendell Added May 26, 2015 - 6:03pm
Darius, breaking your prose into coherent units called paragraphs would greatly ease the burden of read it.
Robert Wendell Added May 26, 2015 - 8:37pm
er, reading it.
Robert Wendell Added May 26, 2015 - 8:42pm
Well, I pity so much the poor rich folks, Barath, who you say are not getting their fair shake, despite their incomes having tripled since 1980 while their tax has been cut in half. (Please forgive my crocodile tears.) If you believe in a minimum wage, you seem to know how how minimal. Is that just your best "normative" guess? If you're OK with some "basic" minimum, why do laugh at Kennedy's anger at the Republican refusal to merely adjust the minimum wage for inflation after ten years of no change? Do you favor lowering the effective "basic" minimum once you've established it? If so, why?
Do you deny that many at the very top of the wealth pyramid are siphoning off unearned money from those who actually earned it? No reasonable interpretation of the available data even comes close to supporting you if you do. Are you really unaware that this is vastly greater than the tax redistribution through entitlement programs that you complain about?
Why don't you read my post added May 25, 2015 - 11:30pm and pick it to pieces bit by bit, if you can. Show me where the reasoning goes wrong and why. If you can't do that, what's the other option? Do you think merely repeating your opinions as you have been has any value in terms of convincing anyone of anything? Give me a legitimate reason to believe you're right other than that you think you are.
But first, please show me very specifically what is wrong with my comment cited at the top of the previous paragraph. It synthesizes this whole argument. Since each point is therefore a key to understanding my position, show me where the facts I allege and/or the chain of logic go wrong.
Responding to your question about "meritocracy", I don't intend to imply anywhere how to measure merit. The only merit (but only if you insist on calling it that) that I can accept is the combination of ability and motivation to earn wealth by legitimate means in negotiated trading of goods and services.
Do you deny that a large and prosperous middle class is essential to a healthy economy? Supply and demand are not God. When there is oversupply in the labor market, employers can take advantage of individual workers' desperation for survival by paying them less than their labor is normally worth. That can be, and often is, less than is sufficient for basic essentials, like rent, food, clothes, and transportation, even for a single person working full time.
The feedback loop under this condition that destroys the middle class market for the rich is very slow acting. It can take decades to have any significant impact on the most extremely wealthy. They don't see it and they don't really care. Many obviously care about immediate wealth and the power it buys much more than about the future of the planet after they're gone.
When I say markets are not God, I mean they are not magically perfect. They operate effectively when they're free to act in ways that are morally constrained in terms of long term benefit in exactly the same way we are free to act in morally constrained ways in an ideal society. Morality is just practicality with expanded vision, including future consequences. However, markets are intrinsically short sighted. That's why we need markets constrained by wisdom and long term vision.
Part of that, even in the short term, means people get to negotiate. This means no one, including labor, should be forced to buy or sell at prices they would reject if there were sufficient competition. Most conservative economic arguments tacitly assume that markets work as if competition were always perfect. Free, unregulated markets, if we ignore blatantly illegal operations, do adjust very flexibly assuming a reasonably high level of competition.
But the ideal conditions economic theory often assumes as a starting point are just that. They are a starting point. There are many practical considerations that impact the classical economic theory of supply and demand, since many markets do not offer perfect competition or anything remotely like it.
For example, there is nothing self-adjusting in a labor market when labor has no negotiating leverage and the employer holds all the cards. If you live in a company town, this is especially true. I don't believe in industry wide labor unions because that constitutes a monopoly on the side of labor that is also bad economically.
I believe in protecting the collective right of the employees within the same company to negotiate with the management of that company and a right to mediation if either party believes the demands of the other are a matter of survival. Companies have intrinsically concentrated negotiating power. Without any organization at all, labor is def
Robert Wendell Added May 26, 2015 - 8:43pm
defenseless. No one in their right mind wants to enter negotiations under this last condition.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 9:59pm
Robert, your replies are long winded and only your opinions. The truth is there are a lot of organized groups that support low wage workers including people like you and Senator Kennedy, the Unions, the populist Democrats, economists in the liberal school of John Kenneth Galbraith, etc. -they have too much leverage in my opinion. 
   The fact that you believe that I'm trying to convince you of anything is silly. You presented your opinion and I disagreed. You failed to counter any of my central character contentions or even to deal with them. Speech to rebut speech.
    There was actually a minimum wage hike in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 10:11pm
Hassett, Kevin A. (06/01/2015) "Equality vs. Recovery" National Review. 
retrieved from (05/25/2015)
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 10:16pm
By way of general observation, not necessarily a criticism about you,Margaret Thatcher once said, " If you can't explain it simply, you probably don't understand it.'
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 10:23pm
Hassett, Kevin A. (06/01/2015) "Equality vs. Recovery" National Review. pg.10
retrieved from (05/25/2015)
Darius Grimes Added May 26, 2015 - 10:23pm
Sorry about that Robert, editor went wacky when I posted that last one it was jumbled together.
I too have no pity for the rich. The rich can and will take care of themselves, they are inconsequential to today's problems. They make money in all economies and if you try to stop them they just move the money out or expatriate, aka Zuckerman and thousands of other Americans every year. Hong Kongs top marginal rate is only 15%.
What do you mean their incomes having tripled since 1980 while their tax has been cut in half  they got a 50% tax cut, where????? The top Marginal rate under Reagan was reduced to 28% and today it's 39%. When Regan cut the rates he also phased out a lot of standard deductions, tax credits, and loopholes. The 70% rate only affected about 50% of AGI since your income was bracketed and you paid a lesser amount on the first $2300, $4400, etc. 
The top Marginal rate under Reagan was reduced to 28% and today it's 39%. When Regan cut the rates he also phased out a lot of standard deductions, tax credits, and loopholes. The 70% rate only affected about 50% of AGI fo the very wealthy since income was taxed incrementally; for instance you paid a lesser amount on the first $2300, $4400, etc. The Effective Tax Rate (ETR) was nowhere near 70% it was around 22.3%. The current tax rate exposes 90% of your total income to the 39% rate or about a 35% ETR. The claim of a 50% tax rate is more propaganda by intellectual elites like Michael Moore a loud and obnoxious village idiot. Numbers don't lie, right? Look it up, today the wealthiest Americans continue to pay an increasingly larger portion of total tax revenues and an increasing amount in the bottom 50% either pay no federal tax or receive a tax credit.
Walmart is the largest employer so they are being targeted by unions and the federal and state governments are the largest union employer.
Do the math who stands to gain the most from a substantial increase in the minimum wage? It's really very simple, they want your permission to raid the taxpayer revenues increasing union dues because Hillary and Democrats need that money to win elections.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 10:37pm
Robert, you seem to think you know everything there is to know about everything and that you have arrived at the correct conclusions for everyone and cannot tolerate any opposing view. I'm glad that is not true.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 11:10pm
  Origin of " If not me whom? If not now when?


 John Fitzgerald Kennedy quotes  

Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 11:17pm
Let me ask you then Robert, other than racial segregation, is there anything you or the popular populist Democrats support that George Wallace wouldn't have supported in 1968?
Barath Nagarajan Added May 26, 2015 - 11:28pm
Let me qualify my previous question by asking you regarding in particular the secular liberal Democrats?
Robert Wendell Added May 27, 2015 - 12:12am
Barath, I'm not aware of anything much at all beyond opinions from you, as you yourself have stated. Your citations do not provide any solid evidence of the positions they take. They are citations that merely espouse your positions or provide research (rarely) that is flawed. One example is in the comparisons that pretend to show that increasing the minimum wage reduces job opportunities.
I countered with a citation that showed that only the poorly controlled studies reach this conclusion. It showed that the more rigorous, well controlled studies showed no significant effect on employment levels from minimum wage increases. In fact, the studies showed the increases injected significant economic stimulation with greater circulation of money, resulting in substantial economic growth.
You have not addressed the statements and simple logic of the comment I asked you to respond to. Why? It eliminates your need to talk of verbosity on my part. It is a clear and succinct summary of my bottom line views. Would responding challenge your perspective too much for your taste?
Responding sincerely and intelligently would require careful thought and force review you might find uncomfortable and, God forbid, might indicate a possible need for a revision of your positions. I've told you that I will change my mind in an instant given a truly convincing argument that I should do so, as I have many times in the past. That is in stark contrast to your statement about me, namely that I think I " know everything there is to know about everything and that [I] have arrived at the correct conclusions for everyone and cannot tolerate any opposing view."
I've spent a large portion of my 71 years learning about how the world works. I've traveled extensively not as a tourist, but taking deliberate pleasure in drinking in the local cultures to which I've been exposed. I speak two languages with native fluency and two more well enough to survive without English. 
My current views are a result of a deep and abiding interest in how things actually work, guided by a habitual use of critical thought I acquired from reading scientific research. This started at an early age (seventh grade), at which time I scored post-graduate level in reading comprehension.
This approach has changed my political views profoundly a number of times. The biggest changes naturally happened earlier in this journey of perpetual discovery in which I'm still fully embarked. Over time, my previous understandings have asymptotically approached my current view. This decrease in the rate of change is not a result of becoming mentally stiff with age. I'm as mentally nimble and flexible as ever if not more so. It is simply a result of the increasing accuracy toward which any objective means of acquiring understanding naturally tends.
I observe that most just flounder around in a shopping mall of conflicting ideas. They window shop and then decide what to buy. But they decide on the flimsy basis of personal taste, what appeals to their sense of self worth and whatever other emotional needs they have. Self-justification and fear are the main tools and the strongest that professional propagandists use to manipulate opinion for those who shop this way for their beliefs. Logical violations don't matter in this context, since that has nothing to do with how such folks shop in the first place. Many simply shop for whatever justifies the beliefs their family and social environments seemed to require of them, such as their religion, for example.
To develop my current understanding, I've taken an intensely research-oriented approach augmented by personal experience and the mental clarity and insight acquired from 45 years of practicing daily an ancient form of deep meditation. So I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me if I don't just buy whatever opposing opinions others have without some very strong reasons to do so...stronger than all the accumulated evidence and personal, practical experience I've been fortunate to acquire.
I'm very familiar with your essential perspective. It is pretty much a carbon copy of the opinions I've found in the ruling oligarchies in the third world countries I've lived in. It is a very class-oriented and ultimately destructive perspective, both socially and economically. I've seen the results first hand. It supports an extractive, winner-take-all economic the one we have growing by leaps and bounds every day right now in the U.S.
Robert Wendell Added May 27, 2015 - 12:17am
every day right now in the U.S. with your unwitting support.
Barath Nagarajan Added May 27, 2015 - 3:16am
I was going to give you a long reply, but what's the point of being lost underneath 1000 other responses. It's your article and I'm not convinced. Seattle and San Francisco raised their minimum wage to 15$, LA and Fresno also raised their municipal minimum wages. 
         The fact that activists’ proposals include phase-in provisions therefore suggests that for all their bluster, they know that negative effects on employment are a serious possibility. If they really cared about low-skilled workers, they’d struggle to figure out the magnitude of the effect. Instead, they cleverly make the disemployment effect of the minimum wage too gradual to detect.
Why Don’t City Governments Increase Minimum Wages Now Instead of in 2020? via @actoninstitute
I'll just say, " Leave the workers of the world unite speech for someone else".
Darius Grimes Added May 27, 2015 - 9:29am
You forget a whole slew of very important "cat" tests that the US not only passes but establishes for the benefit of all free nations.
Our cost of living is still pretty low in comparison most other nations, especially those with cradle to grave social programs.
Even the poorest in the US are among the world's top 1% of the wealthiest.
And unlike many European countries the US population making up the top 10% is not a static group or class of individuals, mobility up and down the income scale is a constantly changing group of characters.
And perhaps of most importance, the US has been lifting individuals in other nations out of poverty by the tens and hundreds of millions since the 80's dues to free trade and our large appetite for competition in features and pricing of consumer goods.
The entire free world benefits from the US in trade, medical breakthroughs, innovation in technology, and last but not least our military protection.
Many in the US are acting like crackheads, they will gladly trade anything and everything including the rights, freedoms, and property of others to get more social benefits and safety nets (entitlements) because the high of socialized dependency relieves them from the fear of individual responsibility, failure, and success.
Robert Wendell Added May 27, 2015 - 3:32pm
Darius, yours is an extremely idealistic, cherry-picked view of reality. That is not to say there is no truth in what you say. However, there is nothing balanced about such a naive picture of what's really going on. That's all I'm going to say for now.
Robert Wendell Added May 27, 2015 - 5:57pm
Thank you very much for taking the time to bring a little balance to the picture, Ryoma. I frankly didn't feel like bothering to deal with such a lopsided, rah-rah-team, we-support-everything-you-ever-do, high-school-team-spirit kind of extremely naive idealism. 
Darius Grimes Added May 27, 2015 - 7:00pm
As my grandmother would say.. sometimes it important to focus on your successes otherwise you lose the ability to see the opportunities that are everywhere. The field of opportunity has not shrunk there is more opportunity than ever before. One has to shake off the fear of failure and the cacophony of idiots telling you why you can't succeed or why the deck is stacked against you. Only 1% of college football players ever make it to the NFL, I don;t see anyone crying foul there. Intellect can be very helpful in exploring new ideas and comprehending data, but intellectuals without common sense mimic thoroughbred racehorses. They are trained n have learned to run in circles faster and more efficiently.
Capitalism is the only economic system that lacks discrimination. It is Socialism that allows the rich to get richer and everyone below to sink into the mutual misery of dependence on the crumbs that trickle down. The more we move in that direction the more income disparity will grow. Prescribing more government programs, taxes or regulation is tantamount to prescribing heroin to an addict to cure them of their addiction. 
Robert Wendell Added May 27, 2015 - 8:29pm
Darius, just search on these two strings to find the corresponding and relatively short comments and tell me what you don't understand about them:
Added May 25, 2015 - 11:03pm
Added May 25, 2015 - 11:30pm
Robert Wendell Added May 29, 2015 - 1:01am
Optimism is not defined by refusing to get medical help when you're sick. A nation with a lot of good people and even a very few good, honest politicians (almost an oxymoron) and a very good legal system on paper can have a lot of politico-economic disease as well as injustice to individuals and minorities others are suspicious of or fear. Refusing to look at this is no way to uphold ourselves for either our own good or that of the world.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 12:49pm
Robert, let me weigh in again on raising the minimum wage. A raise in the minimum wage would result in a general increase in all wages, would it not? Whenever possible these costs would be carried over to consumers as higher costs. As such it would amount to a general tax on consumers.
    Higher prices would make American goods more expensive overseas, and this would decrease our competitiveness in global markets and increase our trade deficit which already stands at $767 billion. In turn this would increase unemployment as U.S. businesses would be less profitable and would have to reduce the number of workers they employed.  
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 1:02pm
The trade deficit with China alone is over $360 billion. Consumers would by more imports and less domestic products since they would be cheaper 
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 1:45pm
Barath, you say, "A raise in the minimum wage would result in a general increase in all wages,"
Wages at the bottom are generally at a long term low right now. I don't believe historical evidence supports your statement quoted here above. If you think it does, I would like to see support for it that is not cherry picked data.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 2:07pm
The classical view of course is that there is a trade off between full employment and wages, that wages adjust to support full employment.
   My argument is from a priori logic; if the minimum wage is $7.50 the next promotion would be $10, and then $15, and so forth. But, if the minimum wage is $10 then the next promotion is to $12.50 and then $15.00 and so fourth. But, one could hardly explain why a minimum wage worker gets paid nearly much as they do for work that is not comparable.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 2:33pm
 Increased GDP growth, would increase demand for labor, resulting higher wages. The question in part depends on the trade off with inflation. Higher wages would either mean a general increase in prices or unemployment.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 2:52pm
Otherwise, once full employment is reached, it should result in increased GDP growth by Okun's law, which in turn would increase aggregate demand, and demand for labor: thus wages would increase without government intervention to raise wages by in the economy.
But, by government intervention, markets would not function properly, and trade deficits would ensue, causing unemployment and money flowing to other central banks and out of our system.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 3:15pm
Wage increases have to be a product of profits, and aggregate forces of supply and demand. Government intervention often has negative results.
Lem Bray Added Jun 11, 2015 - 3:53pm
My first read.  Didn't go through the whole string.
The article is right on target.  The question is how to move to a more stable method of managing the economy.
We have plenty of historical solution examples but each solution was to put out a particular flare up of fire rather than discover a methodical way of managing the flame of the economy.
The Fed has interest rates to cool inflation or release capital.  Interest rates as a leverage on demand is too slow and the results is the flare up of recession.  As a release of capital doesn't guarantee investment in tooling or start ups involving new employment.
No tool is directed at managing the equity capital pool to prevent bubbles and corrections that turn into recessions.
During the IKE administration high top end marginal income tax rates with many fewer exemptions did well although not specifically directed at this purpose.
The new form of economic management must look at all of the historical problems and solutions and come up with a better global (not segmented) managing system.  We must get special interests arms length from government politics to modulate from "favoritism" to necessary "protection."
We will  eventually get money out of politics or end up in another Dark Age.  Perhaps a collapse back into warring tribalism after going through something like the Killing Fields.
We might move to a debate only campaign mode.  Perhaps only allowing PACS to be developed for specific narrow issues.  Perhaps the electing majority will learn to ignore the too well financed politicians.  The ones that would be beholden to special business interests that are dangerous to consumer and labor interests, in essence the ones bringing on the collapse of capitalism as we now know it.
I think the results may not be so different in form as in focus and education of the electorate to pick better politicians.  It may take another generations going through a great depression that is so bad that it will not be forgotten, as well as its cause, in primary and secondary education .
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 4:28pm
Robert, let's say you have minimum of age earner who makes $7.50 an hour and a first line manager makes $10$ an hour and a senior line manager $14 per/hr. The Government raises the minimum wage to $10per/hr. Now the minimum wage workers make $10, so the first line manager expects a raise to $14 and the second line manager to $20. In this way raising the minimum wage raises general wages for all wage earners.
This cost is then carried over to consumers causing unemployment, inflation or trade deficits.
Janie Smith Added Jun 11, 2015 - 4:39pm
You know what the problem really is?  That we can't just be good humans to one another in the first place; that we need government to regulate who gets to have what; that we adhere to a belief system that judges value based on production, based on how "useful" we believe a person is within our social construct; that we choose to live outside of our organic ecosystem; that our preferred method is to conquer and destroy instead of nurture and cultivate.   
But this isn't new information for any of you; you just prefer to ignore it as you have been doing from the dawn of agriculture.  I am not a religious person because for the most part religion is another part of the problem, but tomes, like the bible, have sought to explain man’s relationship to his life, to the earth, the heavens and other men, and I have found that in those conditions there is some wisdom to be found.   
Many religious people read the bible and relate our suffering to one great sin, that of disobeying God.  I have heard many theories on what that apple was supposed to represent, but to me, the apple represents the moment we stopped trusting God or the earth to feed us, ergo the birth of agriculture.
But what about our 2nd great sin, you know the one where we kill our brother?  God comes to us and asks directly, “where is they brother?” and we reply with “am I my brothers keeper?” Well what a foolish question, obviously God expects that you are or he would not have asked in the first place.  But Cain answers that question in that way to hide his sin against his brother, to hide his guilt, he buried it with his brother deep into the ground so he wouldn’t have to look at it. And we have buried it to this day.
Back and forth the argument goes about who is worthy and who is not.  We use the word “Welfare” like a badge of shame, yet the definition implies that someone cares about the wellbeing of another person.  We are a world of broken, hypocritical, hapless, self-centered, hoarders.   
In essence…nothing will change till we do and there is no structure that man can build or contrive that will fix the human condition.   
mark henry smith Added Jun 11, 2015 - 4:49pm
Barath, you appear to forget that the money earned doesn't get put in a black hole. Low-wage workers tend to spend everything they earn giving an immediate boost to the economy, not a drag. You forget that businesses are in competition and prices don't directly reflect wages paid. It also includes return on investment, salaries to management, all kinds of factors.
I personally believe that minimum wages are a poor way to help the working poor, since the money is just spent by most. Better social services are much more effective, like healthcare, education, affordable housing. Social pressure and boycotts are better ways to convince businesses to offer better working conditions, since it rewards those businesses that make the biggest strides for a win-win. Marko (-:)>+ roll the r, keep the faith 
Darius Grimes Added Jun 11, 2015 - 4:53pm
 "During the IKE administration high top end marginal income tax rates with many fewer exemptions did well although not specifically directed at this purpose."
What???? True, the top tax rates were around 60-70% but due to the plethora of exemptions that no longer exist today the top "Effective Tax Rate" was closer to 25%. Another factor is that taxes were applied incrementally to income levels rather than one single rate to the AGI.
The more regulation/control you impose to control an economy the more discriminatory and unfair the system and the wealthier the top 1% will get. Free markets and Capitalism have historically created the largest middle class and the highest levels of upward mobility. 
Increasing the minimum wage does indeed trigger a domino effect in salary increases for institutional, academics, and government union workers. IN addition raising the minimum wage when overall productivity has been near zero percent for several years provides no basis for such an action, it becomes a tax as Brath suggests.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 5:55pm
Barath says, "Wage increases have to be a product of profits, and aggregate forces of supply and demand. Government intervention often has negative results."
So Barath et al, where is the line? If we assume a healthy slave gets paid with adequate food and lodging to maintain that healthy state, where do we draw the line? We have people today who work forty hours a week, but who don't earn enough to pay for what the slave gets.
How is that not comparable to slavery? Livestock gets a better deal from a good farmer or rancher. You people are citing economic theories as if what you say remains true under any and all conditions.
If the slave has a liberal owner and asks for some spending money beyond food and lodging, that cuts into the plantation's profits. So that's always bad, no matter how much profit the plantation makes? How ridiculous does it have to get before you think your "truth" doesn't apply anymore? There has to be a line. That should be obvious to anyone who is the least bit rational. So where is it?
Darius Grimes Added Jun 11, 2015 - 5:59pm
Should have said productivity gains, when productivity gains are high, which does require capital and GDP growth, wages rise rapidly.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 11, 2015 - 6:25pm
Robert, a min wage worker is not enslaved but is free to grow and learn unless enslaved by their own expectations and ideology. A slave has very  limited to no choice and no opportunity to learn and grow unless deemed necessary by their master. Poor analogy.
Debbie, Governments regulating who has what is exactly the problem we must deter. Our countries first Colonies were founded by socialists as collectives where everyone shared in the fruits of everyone else's work and contribution. I assume this would sound pretty wonderful to you. where everything was shared and the colonists were wiped out by starvation and disease. Much like today many are content to not work at all because someone else will support them through a scheme of redistribution.
Had not our forefathers not adopted capitalism with property rights nad the ability to build and keep one's earnings we would not have this wonderful country to live in. Here's a good read for you  "feel-good why cant we all get along" types.
Lem Bray Added Jun 11, 2015 - 7:25pm
"effective tax rate" has no real meaning in discussing "marginal tax rates".  And Darius, I can show you plenty of "tax returns" in accounting firm archive files which had sufficient income to pay the top marginal rates at any time since the inception of our "income tax".
Claiming something is true doesn't make it true.  What off the wall source do you have and what is the base of your obviously false statement?
Lem Bray Added Jun 11, 2015 - 7:27pm
By the way, the Income tax code had far fewer "loop holes" then it has now and the individuals filing taxes were much more likely to have a moral code that prevented them from tax evasion and even taking the legal loop holes available.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 7:29pm
      So Barath et al, where is the line? If we assume a healthy slave gets paid with adequate food and lodging to maintain that healthy state, where do we draw the line? We have people today who work forty hours a week, but who don't earn enough to pay for what the slave gets. 
Robert, I think slavery requires the denial of fundamental rights and liberties. The consideration by society that one is merely property and has no rights. People based on their own merits acquire wealth and property. No one prevents the average wage earner from education or training, and in fact there is the incentive to work hard, to garner  higher wages.
     When I was in college I worked as a salesperson at J.C. Penny, and I made the minimum wage of $6 per hour. I worked 39 to 40 hours a week and had a non-profit job on the side.At the same time there was a 65 year old man who did the same job, though I am sure he got paid more than I did.
Was I a slave by your definition?
Freedom and being paid a good salary are not the same moral imperatives.
Yes, low wage earners have more money to spend with a MW increase, but it is directed at consumption, and mostly only boosts aggregate demand and not capital investment. The problem is that as low wage earners gain in purchasing power, at the same time their gains are eroded by higher prices. More importantly inflation and trade deficits ensue and so higher unemployment.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 11, 2015 - 7:30pm
Okay Robert, fair enough, we cross that line when we start to believe that "from each according to his ability- to each according to his need" is a reasonable solution.
Where we differ is that I see working for someone for an agreed upon contract with mutually beneficial outcomes. The employee gets a chance to learn and grow while making a wage, the employer gets labor to help their business grow.
Interfering with the fabric of that mutually beneficial arrangement or contract by a third party is an intrusion that is unwelcomed and overbearing.
Lem Bray Added Jun 11, 2015 - 7:44pm
When you squeeze labor you squeeze out customers.  Simple basic fact of supply and demand.  We have proven low minimum wage hasn't worked twice.  Want to go for a third?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 8:32pm
Darius, you say, "A slave has very  limited to no choice and no opportunity to learn and grow unless deemed necessary by their master. Poor analogy."
I deleted my comment and reproduce it here both to correct some important errors and because a couple of people completely ignored my ending question that threw the analogy out. I did that to avoid an endless and ridiculous back and forth on whether the analogy is valid. How predictable that you would pick some irrelevant difference between the analogy and the issue in question in a lame (exceedingly lame) attempt to invalidate it!  
Analogies will always have something different from that for which it serves as an analogy or it wouldn't be an analogy. So you people can do that with any analogy that illustrates anything you don't like. Analogies are intended to demonstrate some principle. The principle is relevant and nothing else.
So precisely how do your silly attempts to avoid the question by falsely invalidating the analogy have anything to do with the principle the analogy illustrates? Issues irrelevant to the economic point I'm making do NOT make the analogy poor. An analogy that copies in every respect that for which it is intended as an analogy is not an analogy, but an exact duplicate. So that is a facile and absurdly inappropriate escape hatch that you want to imagine removes the need to answer the question. Think again. You're doing exactly what most here do when confronted with a strong argument. You try to avoid it by whatever silly and completely irrelevant means.
So I'll remove the analogy. Where do you draw the line? How close to zero? Do your arguments remain valid no matter how close to zero we get?
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 9:46pm
Robert, I don't know if you have ever seen, The Fast and Furious, but take for example a poor garage hand who after work engages in illegal street racing. He finishes work, goes out with his friends, has  double fatburger with cheese, and has several girlfriends and a family that loves him. Do you think that he isn't happy because he is on the MW.
Certainly, you don't equate happiness soley with money.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 9:47pm
The street racer is happy because he is free, not because he is wealthy.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 9:58pm
And you really think that addresses my question, Barath? My question goes straight to the heart of the issue and none of you have the guts to address it head on in all sincerity and honesty, do you? You apparently have no idea what a genuine dialectic discussion is. You address each other's questions and/or arguments directly and seek truth together. You don't just keep trying to "win" at the cost of reason and factual information, which indeed does fit the definition of your word, "sophistry".
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 10:01pm
Your question was addressed to Darius, my arguments are addressed to you.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 10:03pm
An analogy, by comparison, has to address the central points you are trying prove doesn't it?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 10:14pm
This question goes straight to the heart of this issue:
Where do you draw the line on wages? How close to zero? Do your arguments remain valid no matter how close to zero we get?
I challenge anyone here to answer this question instead of responding with irrational, irrelevant comments and more transparent and consequently very unsuccessful attempts at "sly" evasive tactics. Show your intellectual integrity by addressing this question head on. Otherwise, there is no point at all in further discussion., is there?
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 10:33pm
I believe in a basic social safety net. My argument is traditional. The system is like a race where the government removes obstacles to fair competition,ensures a level playing field, and provides a basic safety net those who fail.
In terms of the MW you are not talking about zero, but a change from $7.50 to $10 or $15, or whatever. The poor in this country have freedom, and they enjoy that freedom:
   The right to enjoy a cold beer, to enjoy friendship; family, a girlfriend or a boyfriend, their church, baseball, football or whatever pastime, a Fatburger, or a McDonald's Big Mac, and I don't know many poor people who don't enjoy at least one or more of these things.
    Their happiness resides in their freedom, not soley in their wealth. Do you really think the minimum wage is more important than basic freedoms?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 10:43pm
The question is how close to zero, Barath. Nothing else. To say you believe in something greater than zero, but then spout specific wages with no criteria for deciding what makes sense is highly evasive...oh yes, once again. So far I'm not seeing much intellectual integrity here. I'll rephrase the question so you can cease your obfuscation and actually put attention on what the issue really is, as if you didn't already know:
Do your arguments remain valid no matter how close to zero with wages we get? If not, what are the criteria for deciding how much is too little? Is raising the minimum wrong no matter how small the amount?
You have done nothing so far to address this.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 11, 2015 - 10:48pm
If that difference is based on merit, than yes. But, we believe in being charitable.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 10:53pm
Your answer is very ambiguous. I have no idea how that addresses my question in the least. My last formulation of the question spells out clearly what anyone who really, sincerely considers the question would have already understood without the clarification. The intent was to eliminate more skating sideways. It clearly failed.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 11, 2015 - 11:17pm
Robert, there is no zero....
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 11:29pm
Here's a logical analysis of the question for the rationally challenged:
1. Either offering zero wages for productive work rendered is acceptable or it's not. Probably most would agree that it's not.
2. If zero wages are indeed unacceptable, then the wages must be greater than zero.
4. If there is any wage above zero, such as 10 cents an hour, for example, that remains unacceptable, then this inevitably means any arguments that claim minimum wages should never be raised under any conditions are clearly invalid.
5. The question remains, then, regarding what criteria we should use to judge what is the minimum acceptable wage.
6. If we answer that the minimum should be whatever the market will bear, that assumes that people have a choice, that the market for their labor is fully competitive (i.e., "perfect competition" in classical economic theory, which most "free market" ideologies falsely assume is a practical reality in all labor markets, when in fact it is very seldom so in any practical labor market).
7. If the market is not fully competitive and workers have no option but to take whatever above zero they can get merely because the only alternative is zero, how much if any additional profit is acceptable at the expense of those who have no option but to accept work that pays unacceptable wages?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 11:30pm
Darius, what does that comment add to anything? Duh!
Robert Wendell Added Jun 11, 2015 - 11:33pm
The first paragraph at the link below explains the error of assuming, as most "free market" ideologies do, that there is perfect competition in real markets:
Darius Grimes Added Jun 11, 2015 - 11:39pm
We are not skating sideways we are refusing to be limited in our view of what is fair or unfair when it is more about individual choice and market demand. You are attempting to corner us into agreeing that the world is a zero sum game that does not and never has existed. The pie is constantly expanding and wages are always rising, sometimes more slowly.  Many of us volunteer to work for zero wages with charitable and non-profit organizations.  the same is true of those that chose to apply for work that pays less, there may be other motivators than wages alone. I can tell you from many years of experience that min wage increases,
Many of us volunteer to work for zero wages with charitable and non-profit organizations, should these organizations be forced to pay wages? The same is true of those that chose to work in jobs that pay less, there may be other motivators and values involved than wages alone.
I can tell you from many years of experience in management that government triggered min wage increases and cost of living increases are viewed as entitlements and do not improve productivity, employee loyalty, or quality of work. In many cases, these minor increases actually move folks into a higher tax bracket that neutralizes or reduces take-home pay.
Minimum wage increases are not about helping folks or being charitable, they are simply a catalyst designed to trigger wage increases upstream and anyone claiming that it is about fairness or compassion. is either naive or lying.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 12, 2015 - 12:32am
Darius, you are skating sideways and it's obvious to anyone with half a grain that you are. The questions are simple. Your pretend answers do not address the clearly central question, but only obscure the real issue.
What is cornering you is not my questions, but the reality of the issue that you refuse to face. There has to be some reasonable minimum above zero. Instead of admitting the truth of that obvious to any dodo, you resort to the "logic" of classical economics that idealizes competition, is if that were real, and which I tried to preempt, but obviously failed because you're oblivious to the obvious.
Further, I saw a recent study that compared a large number of paired counties that bordered on opposite sides of the same state line. Each pair of counties put one in a state with a high minimum wage and the other in a low minimum wage state. The comparisons were made between the same kinds of job sets on each side. The economies of the higher wage counties were significantly better. There is also plenty of historical evidence to support this, despite whatever bogus studies you're looking at arranged and promoted by the ideologues you worship.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 12, 2015 - 8:31am
I am not sliding and not refusing to face anything Robert. There should be no federally mandated minimum wage period, zero works. If a county or state want to impose one I have no issue with that. What I don't support or want is more power and mandates coming from a statist style centralized command. Businesses and individuals used to be able to vote with their feet and move to the areas of the country offering the style of government and benefits they desired, this allowed upward mobility for those that desired it and good pay and benefits for those that had no desire for upward mobility. Just like the UnACA when you remove economic and competitive forces by flattening (not leveling) the playing field you negatively impact entire industries.
Just like we are witnessing with the UnACA when you remove economic and competitive forces by flattening (not leveling) the playing field you negatively impact industry and labor.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 12, 2015 - 12:22pm
The free market determines the merit of your work given that the market is fair. Wage supports are charitable, but they aren't necessary.
mark henry smith Added Jun 12, 2015 - 1:33pm
My feeling about all of this is confusion about the purpose of government. As Paul Krugman pointed out this morning in his column in The NY Times, often government fights battles with mythical beasts, like deficit spending. Right now our government can borrow money at virtually no cost. That's right, the dividend paid is less than inflation. It should be borrowing now to fund all of the projects that will reap rewards in the future, but ideologues say deficit spending is always bad. What person says that when they find a deal on a house and need to take out a mortgage?
To improve the lot of the working poor, minimum wages do little. Better services do a lot. And Robert is right. If we say that slavery is unacceptable, then we are saying there has to be a minimum wage. If you can argue with that logic, you're not logical. And we should have basic services for all citizens. It costs less than locking them up. We appear to be fine as a society with locking up a large portion of our population and paying large amounts of money to do it. We appear to be fine allowing court costs and fees to keep the working poor destitute. And permanent debt is economic slavery. When will we change our priorities and offer better alternatives than military or prison to our poor youth? If we need to borrow now to build better schools, promote better health, make better environments, make better choices, we should be doing it now when it can be done relatively cheaply. Marko (-:)>+ roll the r, keep the faith       
Darius Grimes Added Jun 12, 2015 - 3:35pm
Mark, we already have a plethora of safety net programs on the books. Half of the 7 plus million enrolling in the UnACA were already eligible for Medicaid coverage. Maybe there needs to more education on all the assistance that is available. When Obama killed welfare to work that provided public assistance while people entered education and the workforce to start becoming independent he shackled their ability to get back up on their feet.
The problem with deficit spending is that we are borrowing short term to get those very low-interest rates. Have you stopped to consider that a 1% spike in interest could easily wipe out close to 1 trillion in tax revenues just to pay interest on the debt leaving no money for any entitlements or public assistance programs? What's not logical is sacrificing the security and our country for a contrived short term benefit that will just add to the unaffordability of what we have already committed to. 
What's not logical is continuing to weaken the present and future security of our country to create even more "feel good" entitlements will geometrically increase and accelerate the unaffordability of what we have already committed to in entitlement spending. It is unfortunate that some are always destitute and in poverty but the 30 plus trillion spent over the last 50 years on the war on poverty has not made even a dent.
Cliff M. Added Jun 12, 2015 - 11:16pm
Barath,You state that wage increases must be a product of profits and increased demand.In the current economy profits have been accrued by labor cuts and lowering the cost of labor without increasing demand.According to your premise this economy is disfunctional but profitable.What must happen to raise wages and demand? And why has this model become acceptable?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2015 - 12:58am
Barath, you say, "The free market determines the merit of your work given that the market is fair."
By "fair" I take you to mean a free market with perfect competition. I use perfect competition in the sense used in classical economics. It simply means there is enough competition to allow supply and demand to settle on a market-determined price for labor by allowing sufficient competitive options for labor.
I've already stated, more than once, I believe, that such markets seldom exist for labor, especially at the lowest levels. Most conservative ideology assumes perfect competition to support its arguments. However, this is bogus given the easily confirmed reality of the first sentence of this paragraph. Yet most if not all of the arguments others have presented here assume this.
The people most likely to agree with this false assumption are skilled labor or those with strong credentials, whether academic or from practical experience, whose status provides them options lower level labor lacks. It stems from an egocentric myopia that projects one's own circumstances on those for whom such circumstances are very much less favorable.
Your arguments repeatedly imply that labor markets actually work this way. I even provided a link here earlier at which the first paragraph exposes this as a fallacious assumption. Here it is again for your convenience:
By the way, "lib" here refers to library; not liberal for those who foolishly allow such things to color their responses to solid facts.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 13, 2015 - 9:52am
Where does the government come in to say what us fair or not fair where  free market is concerned? What rules does it have to evaluate that a plumber should get $15per/hr, but a minor league baseball player should make less or more?
mark henry smith Added Jun 13, 2015 - 1:39pm
Darius, government debt is an illusion. The government could pay off all of its debt anytime it wanted with devalued currency, it just won't do that because of how it will destabilize the economy. We've eroded the tax base and rewarded special interests with the money, not the welfare state. Look at the wars we've fought, look at the bail-outs, that's estimated to be upwards of six-trillion dollars of debt that went to corporate interests, not the poor.
The problem with so many programs is that they're set up to be complicated, to limit participation. Look at the health care bill, all the hoops you have to jump through, all of the decisions that have to be made. It could be as simple as every citizen getting a card in the mail. A one-payer system over seen by the government. But we get an expensive mess that rewards the very interests it was meant to reel in.
We make businesses out of everything here and when you make a business out of criminalizing behavior and locking people up for it, you get the largest prison population in the world with it being mostly minorities. We have become the most undemocratic democracy in the world.
And it's important for government to present an image. Minimum wages make little difference in the long run, when you have so many people working under the table, so many who are not forced to play by the rules, restaurant workers, but it does make a statement. Marko (-:)>+  
Darius Grimes Added Jun 13, 2015 - 2:36pm
Mark, where does the money to support welfare programs come from?
Darius Grimes Added Jun 13, 2015 - 2:52pm
Unskilled labor is and always has been a commodity and as such it is more sensitive to supply and demand than any other level in the labor market. Throughout history, a small percentage of populations have remained at the commodity level due to a lack of education, ability to learn and adapt, and in some cases by making poor choices.
Machines, new technology, new products, and computers have reduced the need (demand) for unskilled labor. We do however offer safety nets with the opportunity to be educated and receive public assistance providing basic needs.
So we can lead the horse to water, but what if it won't drink?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2015 - 2:57pm
Darius, the talking heads on the right work for the real people who are ripping the rest of us off. It's called misdirection. It's how professional magicians trick their audiences. They do things right before your eyes, but they make sure your eyes are looking at something besides what they're doing to create the illusion.
Read my post stamped May 23, 2015 - 11:48pm again.
Also May 25, 2015 - 8:38pm. Pay special attention to the graphic information cited there at:
Darius Grimes Added Jun 13, 2015 - 2:58pm
Robert, good article by the way I'll have to study it a bit more but he makes some valid points.
"It is individual purchases and sales which fix prices, not social, unless in a socialistic state or one organized in some other way than through free exchange between individuals, the kind economics deals with."
It is individual purchases and sales which fix prices, not social, unless in a socialistic state or one organized in some other way than through free exchange between individuals, the kind economics deals with.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 13, 2015 - 3:35pm
I do not disagree with the establishment of a minimum wage, but I strongly disagree that the fed should have any hand or right in establishing one. It is an overreach and there is no constitutional authority for it. There are however many good arguments that this be left up to states and local jurisdictions based on their specific market conditions. Many states have already adopted min wages higher than the federal min wage based on their specific economic conditions. Sometimes these have resulted in local markets losing business and jobs.
In addition, every wage increase also increases workers comp insurance, liability, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, etc there is a domino of increasing costs tacked onto to wage increases that must be considered. If you are a roofer in a state with no state income tax paying $0.70 cents in WC on every payroll dollar then a $2.00 increase in minimum wages translates into about $4.00 with all the actual costs combined. If your gross margin is 35% then the impact is close to $6.15 per man hour. Expand that onto a 6 man roofing crew reroofing a 20 square home per day and you increase the price of a square of roofing by approximately $15.00. You have not increased the value to the consumer, you have instead confiscated consumer money away and redistributed most of it to the tax man and business owner, not the laborer.
As pointed out in the article you referenced this is a socialistic solution affecting the pricing of products and services.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2015 - 3:50pm
Barath, you're essentially asking my question when you ask this, quoting you here:
"What rules does it have to evaluate that a plumber should get $15per/hr, but a minor league baseball player should make less or more?"
Without assuming that labor has perfect competition for its services as most conservative arguments falsely assume, you need to answer your own question, which I already asked in this form:
There has to be some reasonable minimum above zero, so how close to zero can we go without making profit at someone else's expense by paying less than their labor would normally be worth in a competitive market?
Free markets clearly don't work to answer your question, Barath. So how do you propose we deal with it? I have six more questions for you and anyone else who wants to answer them DIRECTLY.. I merely request that you answer the seven questions, including the one above, as specifically and directly as you can:
1. Do you believe it's possible to determine some basic wage level that pays for full time work enough to eat and sleep in some minimal but humane level of comfort?
2. Do you believe it's perfectly fine and good for the economy for some rich guy to make more profit by paying less than labor would be worth in a competitive market for labor simply because people are so desperate for work the market will bear such low wages?
3. Given that people will do almost anything just to survive, who do you think actually ends up paying for those who don't earn enough to eat and sleep in minimal but humane conditions?
4. Why should anyone blame the recipients of the charity and/or government programs that help these people survive, instead of blaming the employers who earn extra profit by paying so little?
5. Who do you think is at the top of any ideology that peddles the idea that we should blame low-earning labor for eating up your tax money with food stamps, etc.?
6. Why do you think any argument that leaves out these considerations is not full of some very big holes?
Darius Grimes Added Jun 13, 2015 - 4:49pm
Q1. Aren't most folks working for min wage being subsidized, many by their parents and/or grandparents? How many heads of households are actually working for min wage? When I began working in 1974 min wage was not enough for me to be able to leave home and support myself I had to work at 2-3 jobs to get enough money to move out.
Q2. You are assuming the owner or stockholders (rich guy?) is keeping the delta. For most business owners that delta is already being consumed by the ever-increasing cost of business, insurance, regulation, taxes, etc. Could it be that that the consumer of the goods and services is is the real beneficiary rather than the owner? And could it be that absorbing or finding ways to lower costs in an environment of ever increasing regulation and taxation in order to attract buyers is the market force?
Q3. We have spent trillions trying to solve that problem and the percentage of poor remains virtually the same. How is more of the same social tinkering, not insanity?
Q4. Who is blaming them? They are in fact being incentivized to live that lifestyle. That is why businesses can't find anyone to work for min wage and are already paying well above min wage to attract qualified employees. In order to get someone off welfare, they have to be able to pay for the services they get for free in a skilled job. This is why killing the Welfare to Work program that incentivized the poor to become skilled workers was foolish.
Q5. I don't know, who?
Q6.  Some may not actually be relevant?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2015 - 6:37pm
Darius, first, thank you for actually attempting to respond to my questions. You left out the one that came before the number:
There has to be some reasonable minimum above zero, so how close to zero can we go without making profit at someone else's expense by paying less than their labor would normally be worth in a competitive market?
That is the most important question, the one that goes right to the heart of the issue. You're still assuming market forces work perfectly. They don't. That is an unarguable fact for anyone who is not fatally married to an ideology that self-destructs upon admitting that.
However, it turns out that upon looking more specifically into minimum wage, it is a small portion of the population and most are not poor or very fully dependent on those wages. They "total...3.3 million hourly workers at or below the federal minimum. That group represents 4.3% of the nation’s 75.9 million hourly-paid workers and 2.6% of all wage and salary workers." []
The bigger problem is all those above minimum wage. They're not poor, but their standard of living is in the dumps and there are too many unemployed. Simultaneously, there is greater income inequality than there has been in many decades. So I have come to agree that raising the minimum wage will help only a few people who actually need that help. It will not do a lot to help the economy.
However, it will do a lot to help those who do need the help. The total of all people 25 years of age or older and paid at or under the minimum wage is about 32% of about 31 million who are paid by the hour or just under 10 million people. Just under 10% of all wage earners are low-wage earners living in low-wage families, but that's over 3 million people. About half of these have children, so that's 1.5 million people in low-wage families with children and earning minimum wage or less. That is a low percentage of the population, but nevertheless a very significant number of people. The worst implications of this is what that does to perpetuate drug use and alternative means of generating income like crime.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 13, 2015 - 6:51pm
Robert, then let me ask you is it important how productive a worker is, or how much value-add they generate? Who is most able to say how much value an employee has or how valuable they are to a business, the business management or the Government? Or is that irrelevant to the point your trying to make?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 13, 2015 - 9:10pm
First, thank you, Barath, for your pertinent reply. I've made my points as clear as I can. Productivity is certainly relevant to the overall picture, although it is not precisely in the center of my argument. Of course, the productivity of an employee is important and that's why employers can fire them or not hire them if they suspect they won't be productive.
So my assumption has been that if an employee remains an employee, it's because s/he is productive. I would think that is something that we can take as a given if the employee is still working for an employer, so I didn't mention it. Perhaps there are other points that we could take as givens or just take as understood without mentioning them all.
To pretend that the market is such that low level workers have gobs of potential employers competing for their services is absurd. Yet virtually all the arguments presented so far have assumed such a ridiculously unrealistic scenario. I return to my slavery analogy, since it is completely relevant to the central issue.
The freedom of a slave or lack of it has nothing to do with the cost of maintaining a slave versus paying an employee. I submit that if a wage is insufficient to pay for primitive but humane accommodations, including food, healthcare, etc. for a slave, the employer does not get off the hook for paying such low wages to a full time employee simply because the employee is free and a slave is not. 
To invalidate the slave analogy because of a difference that is completely irrelevant to the principle it illustrates indicates a lack of sincerity for Darius and whoever else indulges in that kind of foolishness. It should be clear to someone as smart as Darius that this tactic is totally lacking in anything remotely like intellectual integrity. It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise intelligent people can obfuscate this way and feel it's perfectly legitimate when it is so transparently not. 
It should be clear that competition with people who pay labor less than the cost of supporting a slave under minimal but humane conditions can force others to do the same to make a profit. That's why international trade agreements should always be conditioned with clauses that countermand such competition. That's been part of our economic problems here in the U.S. We have not mandated this in our agreements so far.
So I propose that instead of pretending we have to squeeze the life out of the low economic end of our society to make a profit, we need to do whatever works to eliminate competition from what is effectively economic slavery. The conservative objections to the very idea of economic slavery are nothing but a pernicious attempt to justify inhumane economic behaviors for the benefit of a few at the top. Genuine free-market economics cannot exist without perfect competition, which is in many contexts nothing more than a conservative pipe dream.
Nobody has responded to the graphic I presented earlier, showing that extreme levels of economic inequality put money in the pockets of the top 30% of the population at the expense of the bottom 70%. For those around this 70/30% break point, the effect of this is hardly felt, but felt ever more strongly in both directions as we move away from it. The percentage difference it makes for those who gain the most from this is nothing compared to the percentage loss to the low extreme.
It is well demonstrated in political psychology that past a certain amount of wealth, the motivation to earn more is not the wealth itself, but the place at the table it buys at the seats of power. These people still suffer from the same illusion we used to call "the divine right of kings". They don't view the rest of us as counting much at all except as they have to deal with us politically. This is especially obvious when it manifests in economically motivated war.
mark henry smith Added Jun 14, 2015 - 3:09pm
Robert, I thought I had answered your question about disproportionate distribution of wealth when I said we've eroded our tax base. The same reason you tax rich people, is the same reason why you rob banks, it's where the real money is. I love listening to David Brooks say, evn if you raised the income tax by ten percent on the wealthiest people in the country, it would still only reduce the debt by a fraction. What? So that's a reason for not taxing? So why do we tax anybody? All we're talking about is fractions.
And of course the wealthy will say they will always be more productive with their money than the government. But I'm not so sure. Is another app making it easier to send nude photos, a very profitable venture, more productive than a better school environment? Government has a different job than the private sector. It's not about productivity, because that's a short-time horizon view. How do we compare educational productivity? If one teacher produces five students who are off the charts, going places, but has ten who are failing, is that more or less productive than a teacher who produces fifteen who are average? It's just not that simple and the business people try to make it all sound simple. I saw The Barefoot Contessa last night and it's about wealth and privilege, what the wealthy will do to get what they want, and one character says, none of the really wealthy people do an honest day's work. To turn a hundred dollars into a hundred and ten, that takes work, but to turn a hundred million into a hundred and ten million is child's play.
Our priorities. Our perspectives. Our systems. All are skewed. The money people have won. They have all of the money they could ever want or need. Now they're just playing with the world, playing for power. Marko (-:)>+  
Darius Grimes Added Jun 14, 2015 - 5:08pm
Robert, Comparing folks working for min wage to "slaves" who lived in horribly inhumane conditions and were maintained with less compassion than livestock, then when they slowed in production they were sold or allowed to die, is an analogy that is starting to sound a bit like those who invoke Godwin's' rule. You should visit some of the slave plantations that have preserved the actual living conditions and torture tools, breeding rooms, and see the horror. That is why I disagree with your comparison, no one is living in conditions like a slave, even the homeless enjoy a more humane lifestyle.
Mark, What you fail to understand is that we are all paying more taxes now than we were 50 years ago and federal spending is always 2 steps ahead, time for a reality check. Blaming the rich who have seen a steady increase in taxes, and who actually are paying a proportionally higher share of all federal income taxes only promotes envy and greed. Further, taxing anyone just a little more, which many think is fair, is morally indecent when government spending remains unchecked.
To borrow from Robert, how much tax is fair? Over the past 50 years, the top percent have seen their ETR doubled. And I think the quote you are referring to is that we could confiscate 100% of the wealth of the top 1% and it would only pay the interest on the debt for a few weeks or months.
Barath Nagarajan Added Jun 14, 2015 - 5:08pm
Mark, you guys are sitting around and saying why 85% of people in a school district scores less than the 50 percentile on academic achievement tests, and then drop out of school and become a crack dealers or an illegal gun dealers. It must be the fault of the wealthy, or they lack of opportunity, so the wealthy are at fault.
The fact is when the government taxes you and spends the money it goes to social spending programs to help the poor. Government spending goes to interest payments on the debt, entitlements, defense and to everything else in deficits. Instead private savings that go towards investment by Financial Institutions that help businesses create jobs.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 14, 2015 - 9:27pm
First, Darius, if you think every slave was treated that way, you don't know anything about it. There are farmers today who treat animals badly and some who treat them well. The slave owners who were not sadistic probably got more out of them that those who didn't. There were even those who stayed with their masters after their emancipation. I'm not defending slavery; just saying what should be obvious to any thinking person who has the slightest desire to be objective. Apparently you don't.
It's also totally irrelevant to the principle, and if you used 1% of what you've got upstairs instead brainlessly trying to defy all reason because it doesn't go your way, you wouldn't be off on this exceedingly stupid tangent. Your critique of the analogy is utterly irrelevant and you have enough brains to know that, so I conclude you're not interested in truth, but only in maintaining an untenable stance.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 14, 2015 - 9:31pm
This is not about history anyway. Can you please explain to me how a half-way intelligent human is incapable of using hypothetical situations to understand a practical principle? Hypothetical situations are very practically applicable, useful, and used often to solve practical problems, by the way. That's just in case in your misguided commitment to promoting the absurd you go off on that tangent, to boot.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 15, 2015 - 11:00am
First, Darius, if you think every slave was treated that way, you don't know anything about it. There are farmers today who treat animals badly and some who treat them well. The slave owners who were not sadistic probably got more out of them that those who didn't. There were even those who stayed with their masters after their emancipation. I'm not defending slavery; just saying what should be obvious to any thinking person who has the slightest desire to be objective. Apparently you don't.
So you would make exceptions for slave owners and slaves but in your hypothetical comparison you would not extend the same rationalization to employers and min wage earners?
It is entirely probable that min wage earners:
Value their jobs and the ability and opportunity to earn while they learn, or
Receive compensation beyond $ pay, e,g, benefits, or they like what they do and do not need more because they have a working partner or other means of support,
Their employers offer high than min wage pay, true in many entry-level jobs these days due to a lack of qualified labor, or
They like what they do and do not need more because they have a working partner or other means of primary support, or
Stay in a position because they are happy and not looking for more responsibility and upward mobility, or
Are using the job to supplement a career pursuit or change (actors waiting tables?) or facilitate a small business start up that is not capable of producing profits for the owners salary yet, etc
In short the entire min wage argument is likely to be just another distraction from the real challenges that face us e.g. the economic recovery of the country. Wealthy folks do well in all markets up or down because they have more mobility in both choices for how to make income and where they live to make it.
Wealthy folks do well in all markets up or down because they have more mobility in choices for how to make income and what tax environment they live in. I am unconcerned with wealthy folks because taxing them in a global market is dependent on the amount of income or assets they choose to expose to taxes before they just pick up and take their ball somewhere else (Zuckerman?).
mark henry smith Added Jun 15, 2015 - 12:07pm
Now, please. To say that the rich pay more in taxes as a percentage of taxes makes sense when their incomes have grown by such a large percentage of overall income. Tell me why should capital gains be taxed at such a low rate? Isn't that income? Doesn't that create perverse incentives?
I have no desire to see the wealthy taxed out of existence. I would like to be wealthy one day, God willing. But I don't believe that my sole social responsibility is investing in enterprises and institutions that serve me and my private interests. The concept of private charity is all fine and good, but it's as much about tax write offs, and cushy jobs, than it is about serving a cause. And it allows private whims to rule. We need to promote that idea that all deserve equal treatment under the law, and not just people, but dollars. All income should be taxed for social security, including basic healthcare at a reduced rate. All schools should be funded by a general fund, not real estate taxes that favor the rich communities, and punish the poor. But we have this system in place, as undemocratic a system as anything in the western world. All minimum wages do is make the least fortunate, a little less unfortunate. All I'm asking for is more democracy, not less. You Barath, and Darius, appear to be proponents of capitalism, but enemies of democracy. I believe we need more of both.
Marko (-:)>+        
Lem Bray Added Jun 15, 2015 - 12:31pm
Marko, I'm 100% in agreement with your posts.
As for the absolute corruption of power, yes a small percentage of slave owners treated their slaves badly.  But the vast majority treated them as well as the greedy hypocrite treats his horse verses his maid.  The one who is only seeking power. 
I've seen the dichotomy of treatment of humans and animals several times and then at times men who were just plain mean to both animals and humans within their reign of power.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 15, 2015 - 7:21pm
Yes, Lemuel! All the attempts, absurd on their face, to invalidate the fact of economic slavery in this world and all around it (e.g., the sweat shops in Indonesia, etc., etc.) use reasoning that would absolutely be reversed if it happened to favor the views these silly folks are married to. I'm amazed at the number of times I see a line of reason absolutely dumped on by some self-blinded folks, who then turn around and attempt to sell their positions with the most outrageous fallacies imaginable.
The point I made about slavery is simple, but look at the cow poop Darius keeps slinging at it. The argument he presents completely ignore a simple, obvious truth. If a person ever existed in all of history who had slaves, treated them well, but didn't spend any money on them except for clothes, room, and board sufficient for them to have a minimum level of comfort that qualifies as humane, we have a legitimate basis for a comparison. Freedom is a completely irrelevant issue with regard to the principle under discussion. Failure to pay enough money for free people working full time to pay for the same amenities for themselves is just as immoral as failing to provide minimal living conditions for a slave, or an animal, for that matter.
How smart do you have to be to realize that people who have a choice won't work under such pitiful conditions? They are not free. They are economic slaves. This is not rocket science, but it undoes all the sophisticated, highly informed cherry picking conservatives fecklessly try to apply to justify unjustifiable positions. They refuse to deal with anything that represents or boils issues down to the core, the un-cherry-picked big picture, because that demands noticing very large holes in their own thinking. 
That's why they can't accept the comparison with legal slavery. They adamantly refuse to accept it, and so make pitifully silly attempts to justify this with truly stupid attempts to invalidate it against the most elementary principles of reason. It's kind of sick how so many people will bend the living daylights out of logic in pitifully flawed attempts to justify their emotional attachments to their positions.
Again, they naturally think that's what everyone else is doing and fail to recognize that this is directly owing to the sad fact that it's precisely what they're doing. It's called classical projection in psychology, but they don't want to hear about psychology. Ha-ha-ha!...Have you ever noticed that for conservatives, if you venture into psychology you're in danger of contracting a mental infection, a poisonous glimpse of reality, in such liberal territory?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 15, 2015 - 7:37pm
By the way, slaves were high-value items. That why the trade was so widespread. It was extremely lucrative. Just as when a farmer buys an expensive animal, when an owner paid a lot of money for a slave, he had an incentive to keep the slave healthy and able to provide the services desired.
Employers exploiting a labor oversupply to pay miserable wages have plenty of workers waiting for the job if they lose a worker. They didn't have to buy the worker for lot of money, so they don't have that much financial incentive to treat them well, including to pay them well. At worst, they lose money on training expenses if the replacement happens to be inexperienced and/or a slow learner.
Cliff M. Added Jun 15, 2015 - 9:52pm
Marko, I recently saw Bernie Sanders talking about this issue.He stated that it is time for a different tone both politically and economically.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 16, 2015 - 12:06am
Robert, you really need to get some perspctive "high-value items" really?
Robert likes hypotheticals so here's one for you.
Lets say you are a successful farmer with a plentiful harvest (rich by many measures), I have no doubt you would gladly voluntarily give some portion of your harvest to organizations feeding the hungry, I think any of us here would? But I wonder if you would feel so charitable if the government came in and said why Mark? you have too much and it's not fair so we shall take 40-60% of your crops and give it those THEY decide are more deserving without your input or counsel. Your darn right the wealthy can choose who and what organizations to give their money to, ITS THERE MONEY NOT YOURS OR THE GOVERNMENTS.
Or, how would you feel if by mob rule (pure democracy), it was decided that your wealth and success resulted from hoarding or unfair competition so your neighbors just come in and take what they want, trash your fields and burn what's left (shades of the 99%).
If you are a small business owner these days that is a little how it feels every time some intellectual elitist that's never taken a risk unless it was with someone else's money, states that you didn't build your business or decides we need mandatory paid vacation, mandatory healthcare, more regulation, higher min wages, higher taxes, etc, etc, etc. Where is the democracy in that?
It's easy to solve problems and be charitable with other people's money. A different tone indeed!
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Democracy in its purest form is nothing more than mob rule. It's easy to be charitable with other people's money. And you ar more apt to give if it is voluntary than when a proverbial gun is pointed at your head. A different tone indeed!
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Darius Grimes Added Jun 16, 2015 - 12:09am
Got some weird edit duplication going on, haven't figured that out yet.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 16, 2015 - 2:43am
Darius, I guess you think slaves were cheap? The prices put on them were cheap in terms of human and humane values, of course, but not in terms of who could easily afford to buy them. For example:
The cost of a prime field hand (18-30 year-old man) in 1850 was typically $1,200 ($37,400 in 2015 dollars). A skilled slave like a blacksmith cost $62,370 in 2015 dollars. The average cost of a slave regardless of age, sex, or condition in 1860 was $23,330 in 2015 dollars.
Now, the average white collar male in 1861 earned $17,000 a YEAR in 2015 dollars. So "owners" didn't typically starve people they paid that much to "own". A prime field hand would cost a white collar male in 1861 almost two and half years of his salary. It should be obvious even to people as obviously challenged as you that back then, not that many people could afford to own slaves in the first place. 
So who really needs "to get some perspective"? You really don't know when to get off a sinking boat, do you? I thought your brain was just ironically twisted beyond belief by your belief system, but you're starting to change my mind about that.
mark henry smith Added Jun 16, 2015 - 12:55pm
I wrote a comment and someone logged me out. This happens sometimes here at the library. Death be not proud. I'll retype it. The point was, all we own are our skills and our initiative. All the rest is in the public domain. Marko (-:)>+ 
Robert Wendell Added Jun 16, 2015 - 5:01pm
You know, Mark, some people here just don't have any common sense at all, let alone good reasoning, when it comes to the nature of human and economic reality. They're just plugged into dogma they got from others who, for their own benefit, want to manipulate them. They naturally go for the gullible, unthinking people who are an easy sell. Note how all the dumbest arguments here are hard right boiler plate...not an ounce of independent thought except for some absurd mental flatulence here and there that indeed are original with their authors.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 16, 2015 - 5:12pm
Hmm interesting, I was just thinking the value of your slave in today's dollars is just about identical to what someone on full welfare that does not work is getting in housing, food, social services, healthcare, and welfare.
I thought "The Donald" summed it up pretty well today.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 16, 2015 - 6:43pm
Yeah, Darius, I could have guessed you would sucker enough for that dingbat to actually vote for him. Good thing we have enough people with their heads screwed on at least halfway straight to know better.
Robert Wendell Added Jun 16, 2015 - 6:50pm
I guess Darius completely forgot about what a stupid joke his comment on the economic value of a slave was or how many people actually had them. Talk about cherry picked information...just go back and read some of his earlier comments about the economic slavery issue if you want to see stellar examples of world championship cherry picking. He also has no clue about how much more the lower 50% of the population would make if they weren't getting ripped of 5 times as heavily from above as they are by taxes that go to wlefare programs. His heroes sure have him snookered into blaming the wrong folks, most of whom wouldn't be so badly off if they weren't for the bloodsuckers he kisses up to.
Darius Grimes Added Jun 16, 2015 - 11:25pm
Ooooh must have hit a nerve, so you come out swinging with personal attacks. When I awake in the morning, I will still be realizing the power of my freedom to work with diverse groups to create success for others on a large scale. 
But you friend will wake up in the morning with the same tired old failed socialist ideas that will plague you to the ends of your days.
Live long and prosper......
Robert Wendell Added Jun 16, 2015 - 11:32pm
No nerve hit, Darius. Just stating the obvious. So what in your mind is a socialist?...anyone who thinks it's wrong to consistently rob money from people with less money and power simply because you have the power to do that? If you think I'm a socialist, then tell me what that means to you?
Robert Wendell Added Jun 16, 2015 - 11:39pm
By the way, where's the ad hominem attack in my comment? If you make a dumb statement and I call you on that, do you consider that an ad hominem attack? If so, why are you pointing the finger at me when you have done that scores of times.
There is not one sentence in that comment that says anything other than that some of what you have said is truly stupid and the evidence is right on this page for any halfwit to see. (I bet you even think I just called you a halfwit, but read it again and see if you can improve your reading comprehension. If you believe truly dumb, stupid statements make their authors halfwits, that's your conclusion, so own it. I attacked what you said. The rest is up to you, pal!)
Robert Wendell Added Jun 16, 2015 - 11:52pm
Oh, and Darius, I bet you agree that it's wrong to consistently rob money from people with less money and power simply because you have the power to do that, but you think it's only the government. They definitely do some of that, but they're small time players in that game and most of them effectively work for the real, big players. They're the ones you cluelessly vote for.
You just sucker for the manipulation of those you've sold out your brains to and blame the wrong folks, just as your manipulators have always intended. They exploit your petty prejudices, your knee-jerk conclusion that poor folks are stealing your tax dollars via the government, and get you all distracted with that so you'll refuse to even think that the people who sell you your baseless ideology are working for the real culprits.
mark henry smith Added Jun 17, 2015 - 12:26pm
Now I remember what I said. Tax all income the same. All income gets social security taken out at a reduced rate. Do conservatives even get the fact that the bailouts, the wars, the rigged system cost the taxpayers more than 5 trillion dollars in debt? Are the people who benefitted from that, the military services industry, the private security industry, the oil industry, the banking industry, the investment industry, on and on, going to pay? No, their federal taxes have gone down, and they get to write off losses, and they negotiate breaks on local taxes, state taxes, are able to game the system everywhere they go.
Wealth, the accumulation of wealth, is not the issue. Some idiot said people who complain about the wealthy are just jealous. That's just stupid. It's about fairness. All of these right wingers talk about paying for what you get. Well let's see them put their money where their mouths are.  
Lem Bray Added Jun 17, 2015 - 1:05pm
Well said, Marko.  Let them put up the money to pay to secure their money.
Lem Bray Added Aug 5, 2015 - 8:12pm
It is not illegal to force an employee out and higher someone at a cheaper wage.  And as far as I know an employer in the U S can cut wages and salaries.
Lem Bray Added Aug 5, 2015 - 10:40pm
U S laws seem to protect the ability of the business to continue when in trouble.  But the laws are taken advantage of by profitable businesses to milk every ounce of profit for the business or the stock holders.  And so we have a flat line average individual pay check while executives and bottom lines are increasing exponentially the way they did in the Robber Baron era.
Robert Wendell Added Aug 5, 2015 - 11:41pm
Dianna, it's very difficult to change anything in the current environment here in the U.S. Lots of us have reconsidered long ago. For some of us who have always considered wrongheaded what's been in place since we were old enough to even think about it there is no question of reconsidering. We've been in the minority for most of my life (b. 1944), but that's changing. However, "we the people" are not really running things.
Worse, many of us, including most who are the victims of its self-serving purposes, are total suckers for corporate propaganda that sells with great vigor the idea that changing the status quo would undermine business and their "freedom" to operate as they please. Well, the last part is true. Policing anything undermines the freedom to act as we please whenever we wish to behave to behave in ways that enhance our own positions of wealth and power at the expense of others.
However, the suckers for this deceit associate the freedom with patriotism and sacred, fundamental American virtues and values, never mind that in many cases it's actually corporate theft. Never mind that it is simply less obvious to the simple-minded than someone snatching their billfolds. I think we call both theft, but it's suddenly OK in the minds of some if when it happens on an industrial scale, obscured by the clever and elaborate means of its execution and vigorously spun as an American right to practice "free enterprise".
John Minehan Added Mar 11, 2016 - 3:59pm
Here is my particular view of the minimum wage:  when I was in retail, it meant that I overpaid my newer (or weaker) employees and categorically underpaid my best employees.
Because, there was a minimum wage that applied across the board, everyone in a set market segment paid people in similar jobs about the same, there was a very narrow band of compensation.
However, there was a broader range of contribution to the bottom line. Some people were absolutely pivotal to the store's keeping its doors open and other people were, at best, someone who was there to fill an authorized slot.
Now, if there were NOT a minimum wage, I would have had to pay my best people more, as there would have been other people willing to compete for their services.  If I could have paid my weaker people less, I could have done that without busting the store's budget.
This would have increased the compensation of my best people (possibly to something close to $15.00/back in the mid-1990s, especially for part-timers like housewives who worked at critical times while their kids were in school), while at the same time incentivizing weaker performers to either "up their game" or seek employment in something more suited to their skills. 
michael d zitterman Added Mar 12, 2016 - 12:59am
Robert W,
Regarding:  If we look at the economic engine, perhaps we can view the solution as some kind of engineering problem metaphorically equivalent to a governor that limits rpm (revolutions per minute) so the engine can't blow itself up by increasing revolutions beyond what it can materially tolerate. It seems that we might need some kind of more or less fixed, automatic economic mechanism to prevent this kind of runaway socio-economic effect. But so far no one, or at least no one many people are listening to, has proposed a viable solution to this social reality. Some simplistic combination of capitalism and socialism is clearly not the answer, as European economies unquestionably demonstrate. Any takers?
Response:  Yup!
A problem (income inequality) must be recognized and understood
Components of this problem:
Greed, which is intrinsic to the human condition.
   Requires engine (economics) governors to mitigate, which          
   includes equitable income tax structure (current is NOT)
Congress (promulgating legislation favoring top 0.1%)
Developing rational concept: Equitable Distribution
   This is NOT equal distribution (which is insane)
Food 4 thought
In memory of Peewee
michael d zitterman Added Mar 12, 2016 - 1:12am
We will always have problems, but unless we recognize, analyze to understanding, we will not possess the requisite information to mitigate those problems.
I propose that the MINIMUM WAGE concept is RACIST, at its core, and many of our problems are rooted therein.
Please review the following to understand (you will be shocked):
MINIMUM WAGE, What’s It All About?
Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Most of them, i.e., those who keep their jobs, would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold. Those who lose their jobs (per CBO projections) would see their incomes fall (brilliant observation).
Unfortunately and, perhaps, insidiously, no mention is made of those who will not be able to find entry-level jobs and will be cast within a low and, perhaps, permanent underclass.
That manufactured situation would cause frustration, depression, and desperation, which, probably is not a healthy situation for a community of any size.
Any and all legislation, that would tend to create that situation, should be held as irresponsible, mean-spirited, shortsighted, and damaging to our economics, and if that thought were valid, any advocate for such legislation must be dismissed with prejudice.
The CBO projects that, once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent.
Stipulated and underscores, “Any and all legislation that would tend to create that situation should be held as irresponsible, mean-spirited, shortsighted, and damaging to our economics, and if that thought is valid, any advocate for such legislation must be dismissed with prejudice.”
The CBO estimates that the increased earnings for low-wage workers resulting from the higher minimum wage would total $31 billion.
However, those earnings would not go only to low-income families, because many low-wage workers are not members of low-income families. Just 19 percent of the $31 billion would accrue to families with earnings below the poverty threshold, whereas 29 percent would accrue to families earning more than three times the poverty threshold, CBO estimates.
Moreover, the increased earnings for some workers would be accompanied by reductions in real (inflation-adjusted) income for
the people who became jobless because of the minimum-wage increase, for business owners, and for consumers facing higher prices.
If it were mandated, by legislation, that federal expenditures for personnel must be reduced by 12%, effective January 1, 2016, would it be better to lay off 12% of the federal workforce or to reduce wages and benefits by 12%?
When one is laid off, there are many negative results, including, but not limited to depression, unable to meet financial obligations, losing property, such as his or her home, and adversely affecting his or her future in so many other ways.
When one has a moderate reduction of income, but maintains his or her job, he or she will not be thrilled, but will adjust his or her lifestyle, accordingly.
Which is better for a community, legislating the loss of jobs or a moderate reduction of income with all maintaining their jobs?
Similarly, which is better, a higher minimum wage with fewer jobs or more jobs?
Should it be Congress’s responsibility to advocate, propose, and pass legislation that would positively benefit our Nation?
If that were a goal of our Congress, why would they advocate passage of a $10.10 minimum wage when the CBO offers:
“Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent.”
What is the “theory” that legislation, that is projected to cause 500,000 lowly paid workers to lose their jobs, would be beneficial to our Nation?
The 500,000 only represents those low paid workers, who will lose their jobs, but does not include the vast numbers of new potential entrants into the workforce who will be unable to find those “entry-level” jobs.
An entry-level job is critical to one’s future as it is the first rung of his or her ladder to the future. Our “leaders” should pass legislation, which would stimulate the creation of more entry-level jobs, now fewer.
michael d zitterman Added Mar 12, 2016 - 1:17am
Whereas Senator Diane Feinstein was a co-sponsor of the $10.10 proposed legislation, on July 22, 2015, I was told by a member of her staff that, in April, she co-sponsored proposed legislation promoting a $12.00 minimum wage, thus the estimate of 500,000 lost jobs rises to X lost jobs and even fewer will find entry-level positions.
It appears that Einstein's definition of insanity is alive and well.
Redundancy can be good: “Any and all legislation that would tend to create a situation that would cause fewer jobs and fewer opportunities should be held as irresponsible, mean-spirited, shortsighted, and damaging to our economics, and if that thought were valid, any advocate for such legislation must be dismissed with prejudice.”
It appears as though ANY minimum wage is damaging to any community.
I posed the following “theoretical” question to staffs of Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Bernie Sanders, and my Congressman, Brad Sherman:
If minimum wage were $25, how would that affect high school graduation rates and the increase or decrease of unauthorized visitors and how would “no minimum wage” affect those two segments?
After more than 15 calls to DC and SF, Senator Feinstein has not offered a reply.
After 6 calls to Senator Sanders’ DC office, the best I could get was that a staff member said she was uncomfortable giving her opinion, but will make an effort to obtain a reply from the Senator.
After too many calls with Congressman Brad Sherman’s staff in DC and in Van Nuys, one staff member offered, off the record, that he or she and his or her father agreed with the obvious.
It appears that the higher the minimum wage, the result will be lower high school graduation rates and a higher number of unauthorized visitors.
This is more evidence to confirm that it appears as though ANY minimum wage is damaging to any community.
Any artificialities (in this case, any minimum wage) inserted into the economy will have unintended consequences.
Politicians who advocate minimum wage are ignorant (doubtful to perhaps), afraid to speak truth (for fear of losing their positions), or attempting to win votes (pandering), but regardless of the reason, any advocate for such legislation must be dismissed with prejudice.
We, the People, desperately, need leaders, not politicians who have embedded within their DNA the “need” to lie.
On July 4, 2015, Congressman Sherman and I were walking out of Woodland Hills Park as I asked him about minimum wage and he responded that there is some good in the concept.
On August 27, 2015, I was told by a staff member of Congressman Sherman that the congressman believes, in some situations, a "minimum wage" is appropriate.
If that report were true, it appears to be a stellar example of obfuscation and political-speak (redundancy).
Congressman Sherman supports the “minimum wage” concept.
John Minehan Added Mar 12, 2016 - 3:36pm
Mr. Zitterman:
The growing trend toward retaining contractors rather than hiring employees (as with Uber) is how the issue is being resolved.
Make something hard enough, they stop doing it . . . .

Recent Articles by Writers Robert Wendell follows.