Thursday, May 1, 2014

Relax. It's not as bad as you think. It's much worse.

The much contested minimum wage bill was officially defeated yesterday.  I’ve read figures that put over 70% of Americans in favor of this bill.  And when the GOP does what the GOP has done best over the past few years, there was a real groundswell of outrage.  At least that’s my unscientific impression.  But the anger is real.  And it’s building.  And while I agree in spirit, I have to remind myself that the argument is inherently meaningless.

So everyone just relax.  It’s not as bad as you think.  It’s actually much, much worse.

I’ve heard arguments over the minimum wage from both sides for years and both sides present more or less meaningless arguments. For the record, I think any change would be miniscule.  From the worker’s perspective all a minimum wage increase really does is increase the number of minimum wage workers.  Businesses are forced to pay more in wages which they gleefully pass on to the consumer, the price of goods increases and…. ta da!  Now you have more people living at a wage far below what is reasonable in this country.  It’s like a trick where a magician takes a twenty dollar bill and turns it in to a piece of shit.  Then he takes that piece of shit and turns it into… two pieces of shit.

From the perspective of an employer, the small business suffer most.  For them, the increase in cost can be a real and maybe even debilitating blow.  Walmart will be fine.  They’ve already figured out ways to avoid little annoyances like paying employees.

A minimum wage increase isn’t the answer.  What this country really needs is good, middle class jobs.  But that’s a whole different rant.  I didn’t see a solution to the nations problems get shot down yesterday.  What I did see was a giant middle finger courtesy of the richest Americans to the rest of us.

Dear America,
Fuck You

Love, The People Who Ran Off With All Your Money

The actual statue in front of the Milano stock exchange. 

In my mind the whole debate is fighting over scraps from the Master’s table.  There are numbers everywhere.  The numbers we’re talking about here?  According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012, 3.6 million people made at or below minimum wage last year.  The operative words here were ‘at or below’ but let’s just assume everyone there made $7.25 per hour.  They didn't, most actually made less, but let's assume.  They were going to get a raise to $10.10.  We’re talking about an increase of 10.26 million dollars in total that would need to be paid out every year  Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPmorgan got a 20 million dollar bonus last year.  Correct my math, but that means that one CEO could have given his bonus (not his salary mind… just his bonus.  Just the extra money he gets for being such a swell guy) and raised the minimum wage twice.

It’s pocket change to these people. 

And in the end it doesn’t do much to raise the standard of living.

In fact with the figures in mind, I’m almost forced to the conclusion that the only people a minimum wage increase would help would be the richest Americans.  Think of it as a nice little gesture to prove that the ‘job creators’ really, really do care about America.  Like a twenty slipped into the country’s collective g-string while they pat our ass and say, “Here you go, sweetheart.  Buy yourself something pretty.”  It would be insulting, but at least we would be an entity worthy of placating just a little.

We don’t even rate that level of respect.  This is short-sighted greed and stupidity on a scale that even my cynical heart has trouble comprehending.  People without money have almost no say in government anymore that’s becoming clear.  Not only are we losing say, but those in control are actively ignoring the will of the people.

I’ve been listening to the Revolutions podcast for a while and I’ve always been interested political upheavals in history.   I know two things from what I have studied.  First, when the revolution does hit, things that seemed impossible twenty-four hours ago become real.  Second, they are violent, unpredictable monsters.  People get hurt.  People die.  Some that deserve it, most that don’t.  It sometimes leads to freedom.  It just as often leads to violent oppression and subjugation.

I like to wonder if a time traveler from fifty years in the future came to this time and warned them of the coming revolution.  Say he managed to fill a stadium with the one-percent and warn them that the guillotine blade was being greased as he spoke and it would come down soon.  What would they do different now?

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