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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

March 14, 2005

Minimum wage is, indeed, a thing about which Congress should be ashamed. We should all be ashamed that we don't push our representatives harder on this issue.

Also, there's some debunking of that tired old "everyone on minimum wage will lose their jobs" mantra that conservatives are always throwing around.

Meanwhile, allow me to mention that what conservatives consider a "defense" of minimum wage is appalling.

And the conservative intelligentsia assures us that minimum-wage earners are not in dire straits. According to The Heritage Foundation, "One-half (50 percent) are teenagers or young adults under the age of 23. Two-thirds (66 percent) of these young workers live in families with incomes two or more times the official poverty level for their family size. Just 14 percent live in poor families. Almost 74 percent are enrolled in either high school or college. Just 5 percent are married. Over 88 percent live in families with an average income of almost $63,600 per year. The average income for single young workers is $10,000, but their average household income is $47,100 because 81 percent live with two or more people."

Notice how they figure how well-off minimum wage earners are. Half of minimum-wage earners are under 23. The study, or the article itself, by judicious editing, assures us that these people, largely high-school students, aren't supporting families.

You should also eye those "average" income figures dubiously, not the least because of the source. (Remember what we learned last year, class. "Mean" income is a much more accurate reflection of reality than "average." If Bill Gates' has a daughter working at minimum wage, Bill's multi-billion dollar net worth will skew any "averages" out of recognition. If Bill and Warren Buffet both have teenagers in the minimum-wage pool, then the "average" income of families with minimum-wage workers starts to look astronomical.)

Meanwhile, at least in this article, there's no discussion of the Heritage Foundation explaining about the other 50% of minimum wage-earners, those over 23.

"I have a concern about this phrase," Sununu said, "because it suggests that, as federal legislators, it is our job to reward work.

And yet, your body has felt comfortable rewarding their own work seven times in the last eight years, hasn't it?

Congress's accumulated raises total 18% of their current salaries.

How many of us have gotten those kinds of raises in the last eight years? (How many of us feel lucky any more to get an actual cost-of-living increase?)

Meanwhile, minimum-wage workers aren't allowed to set their own salaries.

I'm thinking...among the other government reforms we really need? We really need to take it out of Congress's power to give themselves raises. Maybe we should tie Congressional raises to minimum-wage increases, while we're at it? You can't get one without the other.

And, speaking of scandals, the dismissal of the Agent Orange lawsuit? Indefensible. (Warning: disturbing photo) To rule that the USofA government had no "malicious intent" is patently absurd.

A bit further down on the "scandal meter" but up there on the "war brutalizes people" meter, how about vidding the war?

Not scandalous, but thought-provoking. Forget "individual accounts" to replace Social Security. I'm thinking the stock market may not be where I want my money for the next few years. But...where to put it? With the Bush Administration & assorted neocon helpers desperately trying to bankrupt the USofA government, bonds don't look like a good bet. If they do manage to phase out all of government but the DoD, the Dept of Commerce, and the federal judiciary, I sure as heck won't invest in bonds. Too much of my money already goes for bombs and bullets. If that's where most of the government's money is going to go, they're not getting mine to play with. (Reading the article, I see the forecast for the "depression" hits before I plan to retire, but if we're in a "depression" for ten years, my own financial situation is likely to become problematic.

(And I owe comment responses. I know I do. But the weekend was overfilled with other things I wanted or needed to do and blogging just didn't make the cut. I'll get there. I just need longer days, or fewer hobbies, so that I have time to get to each hobby at least once each weekend, you know?)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:13 PM


Apparently that 50% figure on minimum wage workers isn't right anyway. Rush Limbaugh made this statement recently, so Al Franken debunks it regularly, using gov't figures. I think he said that over 60% are adults.

Posted by: Avedon at March 15, 2005 01:34 PM

You don't owe us anything. We gratefully accept the gifts you offer.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 15, 2005 02:31 PM

Me, I'd invest in the euro. :)

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at March 16, 2005 06:52 AM

Avedon - I should have known.

Jonathan - That's very gratifying. :) But in the back of my mind, I can still hear my mother's voice, scolding me bad manners....

Elayne - The Euro! Why didn't I think of that?

Seriously...I'm old enough that I'm looking at my 401k investments and realizing that the mantra of, "the stock market is a long-term investment so don't get tense over short-term missteps" will, before long, no longer apply.

While I don't "blame" the Bush Administration for the "stock market bubble" I most certainly do blame them for taking every counterintuitive step they could think of, and repeating every tactic that's failed in the past, under the guise of "jump-starting the economy."

Now I read we may hit another recession next year, and I'm getting tense. As someone who works for a small company, I'm acutely aware of how small the margin is between "can" and "can't" when it comes to affording employees. (I'm not exactly minimum-wage, either.)

Posted by: Anne at March 16, 2005 09:48 AM

Congress should be ashamed that both parties had proposals to increase the minimum wage and neither side could play nice enough to find a compromise. They should index the minimum wage and be done with it - that might give them the incentive to fix the problems with the indices they have...or link it to their wage growth.

With the Bush Administration & assorted neocon helpers desperately trying to bankrupt the USofA government, bonds don't look like a good bet. If they do manage to phase out all of government but the DoD, the Dept of Commerce, and the federal judiciary, I sure as heck won't invest in bonds. Too much of my money already goes for bombs and bullets. If that's where most of the government's money is going to go, they're not getting mine to play with.

Of course, bond prices are a reflection of interest rates and risk (inflation, ability to pay), not of what the money goes to buy (oh, I'm sure someone would take me to task about the link between the what the money goes for and ability to pay, but with the US government, the risk premium on ability to pay is zero - that's why it's a benchmark). And interest rates, mainly short-term, are heavily influenced by the Federal Reserve which isn't quite the dominion of the neo-cons. Of course, bonds are a BAD bet in the short run- interest rate hikes and inflation are more likely than decreases and deflation which means (short-term) bond prices will probably fall and the Fed had better worry about inverting the yield curve.

Oh..and very little of the spending goes to bombs and bullets..and even if you mean the entire DoD (of course, we'll take out that spending on such things as breast cancer research they put in DoD funding), it's still less than the non-discretionary entitlements.

Finally, I find it irritating this notion of the recent stock market performance as "evidence" against individual accounts. Anybody who is fully invested in equities and within 5 (or even greater) years of retirement is violating basic investment guidelines. Most folks adjust their risk through mutual fund allocation, moving to a balanced asset mix and then heavily toward fixed income assets. Hmm..and the same guy talking about this depression also predicts the Dow at 36,000 in four years - guess the President won't have to worry about his legacy if that happens...

Posted by: Col Steve at March 24, 2005 12:25 AM