The Living Wage

As a conservative it is somewhat peculiar to admit support for anything that hampers the free market, like a living wage. But I come from a family that has had more than its fair share of financial struggles that no bootstrap pulling would ease. My experience has shown that low-paying jobs are not as escapable as those rags to riches stories would have you believe. But then again, I know it’s possible to start from nothing only to gain what seems like the entire world. I do not dispute that many people have successfully pulled themselves out of seemingly impossible poverty, nor am I incapable of petulance when talking about fast-food workers who threaten to walk out unless their wages are doubled.

 

Where’s the beef? Fast-food workers in walkout to protest low wages

Don’t expect to have it your way today at some fast-food restaurants across the country.

Workers at the nation’s best known fast-food restaurants in seven cities across America are planning to walk off the job Monday to protest what they say are wages that are too low to live on. In a move orchestrated with the help of powerful labor unions and clergy groups, the workers plan to strike for a day to demand their wages be doubled.

The Washington Post reports that the protests will take place in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Flint, Mich., involving workers at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC. Some employees at stores including Dollar Tree, Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret are also expected to join the protesters in several cities.

The workers are calling for wages of $15 per hour, more than double New York’s current minimum wage of $7.25…

I support good wages for good work, but I am not sympathetic to the unreasonable demands of unskilled workers. The profit margin for a franchise like McDonald’s is a measly 5.7%. The owner of any given McDonald’s franchise is likely making six figures, but bearing an incredible amount of risk. That most fast-food restaurants are owned by a single person rather than a multinational corporation is something which I fear is lost on these halfwits threatening to walk out.

Furthermore, this brings to mind something I’ve mentioned a few times before: the morality of wages. I find it unconscionable that cashiers at Wal-Mart are struggling to pay their rent while the CEO, CFO, and Vice President are sailing around on a yacht. The plain truth is that Wal-Mart could definitely afford to give each fulltime worker an extra $200-per-week – and they should do it.

Yet, it is just as unconscionable to pay burger flippers the same hourly rate as nursing assistants. The work of a fast-food employee is not very meaningful or important, not even to their respective business. Any schmuck on the street can flip a burger, but it takes a special kind of person to be a nurse or nursing assistant. The work of those in nursing is both more physically and emotionally demanding than the work of a fast-food employee, and much more impactful, meaningful.

And so, curiously, it is the morality of wages which obliges me to reject socialism as totally immoral. The message that everyone is equally important to society is pure nonsense, and we all know it. So instead of picketing, I advise these unskilled workers to use whatever tools may be at their disposal to better themselves.

Comments

  1. Excellent article this morning on Townhall.com about this very issue:
    http://townhall.com/columnists/nealboortz/2013/07/30/entitled-fast-food-strikers-demand-to-be-paid-more-than-theyre-worth-n1652027/page/full

    However, I agree with you about Wal-Mart. Which is one of the reasons I avoid that store like the plague.

  2. Does a living wage hamper the “free” market? In gest then, I need to ask if the 100’s of billions given to lobbyist heavy industries annually, also hampers the “free” market?

    Free market capitalism is a myth in the US. The idea that a low level employee making minimum wage or less on a pig farm or picking oranges for Tropicana, is making some percentage lower than the CEO is not the issue. The problem arises when you discover that the Citrus Growers of America lobbied successfully to have trade barriers implemented to protect their groves both here and in Latin America, receives grants and subsidies from the federal government for tax breaks and new equipment or is protected with federally subsidized insurances…all bought and paid for by the same employees who are not making a living wage at the bottom.

    Disneyland in California pays 5 cents a sq. foot in property taxes. The TransAmerica building in SF has had the same property tax payment since 1972. Xerox in Webster NY has had zero significant increase in property tax ever. Entities like Walmart, Toyota and GE all lobby to get these financial benefits in writing before they even build a facility in a municipality. Many of these include property taxes to be “frozen” for up to 50 years while the state and county government subsidize all of the infrastructure for the plant. Alcoa here in central Texas is still fighting for ever lower rates of electricity, and they will probably get their old rate from 1990 back on the books. This in a state that considers itself as “welfare” free as can be, socially, but not for corporations.

    I don’t begrudge the guy at the top. I have a moral problem with them receiving ever more corporate welfare, at our expense, while profits rise and the folks at the bottom aren’t just stuck with minimum wage, they are hindered by a flat wage that only increases once ever 10-20 years.

    Can we really call this a “free market” when there are not only billions being given to special interests, but that any federal monies at all are used to prop up these companies? The equation is grossly tilted in the direction of these lobbied interests. Here is a link to the most recently compiled companies that paid close to zero federal income tax for 2008-2010. Then consider all of the known subsidies, grants, local tax easements etc and you have……….socialism.

    http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf

  3. Does a living wage hamper the “free” market? In gest then, I need to ask if the 100′s of billions given to lobbyist heavy industries annually, also hampers the “free” market?

    Of course it does. And how many times have I said before, and agreed with you, that corporate welfare should be of greater concern than general welfare? Many times.

    I generally agree with the remainder of your reply, but I’m not sure I accept the conclusion. You seem to be saying that since free market capitalism is already perverted, it’s okay to pervert it further. I don’t agree with that.

    I think that America is stuck in the middle of socialism and capitalism.. Businesses are generally free to make as much profit as possible at the expense of workers, but at the same time, like you said,they receive all sorts of help from government. It’s both socialist and capitalist.

    For the most part, I want a free-market system. I know government has its place and can do some good, but generally, I want as close to a free-market system as possible. I want controls put in place so big companies aren’t polluting our environment or raping workers, but generally I want a free-market system. Or, as close to one as possible.

  4. Nash makes a mistake with his premise when he speaks of “deals” being made even before ground is broken. This is indeed free market at work as the company can set up shop anywhere. If a municipality gives tax incentives that other towns won’t, it would be bad business to not open up shop where the breaks are plentiful. What’s more, it shows the effect of taxation on the ability or willingness of someone to start up a business.

    As to Walmart, I do not patronize the place, but not on purpose. I just don’t think of going there. But most of their people have started at the bottom. Thus, they have provided opportunity for every minimum wage employee they have. Doesn’t mean they’ll all get to that next level, but they have the opportunity to prove themselves. And they do this for thousands of employees. At the same time, the provide products as greatly reduced prices which is a benefit and blessing to the less fortunate in the community they service, and to anyone else who wishes to avail themselves of those products at those prices. For all this good that is done, I have no problem with their top brass getting the top bucks. It is, in fact, why they get it and deserve it.

    It is unfortunate that in this day and age so many have been reduced to taking jobs that pay the minimum wage. But that is not the fault of the employer who hired them. Is he supposed to cut into his own income, which is why he is in business, or the companies earnings, which sustains the business that employs the minimum wage employees, or cut into the pockets of his customers in order to provide the “livable” wage that the job was never intended to provide? It is one thing to suggest in general terms what the CEOs should do from a philosophical point of view. But to dare suggest it as if one knows the full scope of the ramifications is to butt into the business of others. Start your own business and pay what you think is a fair wage for the job. Leave others to do the same.

  5. “Living wage” is so subjective a term. What is it? $15/hr.? $30,000/yr.?

    How do we determine it? Is it ok to pay a person minimum wage if they live with their rich parents?

    What if it’s part time? $15 at 20 hrs a week is about $15,000 a year. Should wages be pro-rated? If I hire a day laborer for 2 hours, why couldn’t it be said that double or triple minimum wage is not a “living wage”? I will have paid the guy $42.00 that year!

    Wages cannot be based on what the employee needs or wants, unless their skills are in very high demand. Like a competent or super-star CEO, for example.

  6. For the record TerranceH, I am not trying to argue that we don’t agree. I was simply attempting to expand the conversation to others in a general way.

    Also I am not saying that since the economic mechanisms that are a reality right now are perverted, we should just accept future perversions. The emphasis for my part is that we have a great many services that are federally funded that in general even fiscally conservative citizens either don’t care about or don’t realize are socially democratic by their very nature. This by-product of the culture war is always about how the poor are just lazy and they are bilking the country dry. Where is the conversation then about the kind of welfare that is actually bilking us dry? This is not directed at you TH, just a general observation of the often times, one-sided aspect of this conversation. The same could be said for left leaning folks who are blinded by never seeing any problem at all with lifetime welfare for parasitical individuals who game the system. They can never answer the question about what our country will look like when 50% or more of the population is receiving some sort of government funding.

    The difference is that corporate welfare outpaces social welfare by 25-1.

    And Marshallart, I am at a loss about where to start. You say that there is a mistake in my premise? When a company shops, i.e. searches out the most municipal, state and federal welfare, for a location, how exactly could you even begin to consider taxing us, the citizens, without representation, to be free enterprise? So the 100 billion + given away every year since 1992 to big business/industry is free enterprise? This as per the Cato Ins. does not include the tax loopholes which are another form of federal give aways. If the corporate tax rate is 35% please find any company that has paid that. None of the top 500 companies in the Forbes 500 paid 35%. And the majority of the top 130 paid zero federal taxes after getting all of the aforementioned subsidies etc.

    Your use of Walmart as an example leaves out the glaring and ugly fact that 85% of what is sold by Walmart goes straight to the trade deficit. They sell cheap, ready-made landfill garbage, which through the trade deficit continues to internationally drive down the value of the dollar. Celebrating Walmarts service to the poor is, well, ignorant. As an employer they have more employees per capita on welfare, than any other company. We can’t exclude these 2 points when talking about the economics of a living wage.

    And again I have never once suggested that ceo’s take a cut in pay and disperse it amongst their lowest tier employees. I am questioning the moral legitimacy of a very skewed idea held by fiscal conservatives that we are actually operating in a capitalist/free market economy. I posit that we are not, but I wish we were.The economic playing field is tilted heavily in favor of corporations. It doesn’t help that the SC has now granted corporations the same rights as individuals, but that’s another topic.

    Well conservative2cents, I think that if we can determine what the “Minimum” wage is, we can tackle a living wage. I mean we sent a monkey into space back in 1947 so I am confident this could be overcome. I had suggested in other posts that we could begin by using both the national inflation rate and the local cost of living scales such as the consumer price index as a starting point? Maybe it’s tied to a generic city or county tax rate table, maybe not. Any ideas?

    • My point is that there is nothing to overcome. Raising minimum wages hurts the people it’s supposed to help.

      Let’s say we set minimum wage at $15/hr. What will I do as an employer of 50 minimum wage employees? I’d either cut the number of employees to recoup some of the extra cost, cut back on their hours, raise prices at the risk of becoming too expensive, forego any plans for expansion which would add to the workforce, cut everyone else’s wages and/or hours, start shopping for cheaper materials and services making my product worse (and more expensive?)…

      • So by that logic we could keep minimum wage below what was being paid in 1968?

        And the rest of your post is the same, frankly tired old bullet points that have been used for the last 30 years. I am not trying to be purposefully provocative. I am trying to suggest that the status quo is immoral and “if” we can do better, why don’t we? I still think it is relevant to ask if Jesus would pay citrus workers $24 for a 12-14 hour day?

        If you care to counter with the usual conservative, special interest driven points ad-nauseum, that is your prerogative. But there is a wealth of data that shows the exact opposite of what you have stated above.

        Raising minimum wage in the past did not destroy or hinder the economy. In fact we have had some serious long term positive runs, government spending aside.

        For instance, The Institute of Industrial relations at the Univ. of CA in 2003 showed that when the minimum wage of security screeners at the airport in SF was raised from $6.45 to $10/hr. the turnover rate dropped by 79%. The study further rated improvements in employee morale and how that helped improve customer service ratings. This helped the airports efficiency ratings, for speed through the checkpoints, skyrocket by almost 50%.

        Another study in 2006 by Harvard Business Review showed conclusively that Costco’s higher retail pay scales lowered employee theft, decreased turnover by 30% and increased productivity. This is in stark contrast to the Walmart model.

        A living wage also propels a consumer driven economy such as ours.

        • There is nothing in the Constitution which allows the Federal Government to tell any employer what they must pay as a minimum wage. That is the main issue for me. Keep the government out of our lives if the Constitution doesn’t permit it.

          • So Glenn, you would agree with removing ALL welfare from the economy then? Every incentive across the board, all grants, tax breaks, mineral rights, grazing on public lands, agricultural subsidies etc would be gone.
            Under that scenario the majority of big business would continue their exodus started under Reagan for other countries.

  7. Nash,

    Your stats indicate a decided free market pressure upon entities that chose to raise their wages. They found a ROI that justified the raises. I’ve no problem with that as it is what a free market type effect would and should have. If an entity finds it worth their while, the change will take place. It doesn’t require legislative force.

    • But Marshalart, is it moral to pay someone less or markedly less than minimum/living wage?

      And why is it acceptable, legislatively, to either accept or ignore the million and one other things that the feds regulate everyday of our lives, but something as trivial as a living wage is off the table even for discussion? The dogmatic mantra continuously makes conversations that must be had, into just culture war gibberish, us vs. them.

      The feds have legislated the price of electricity on all 5 grids, the cost of your water locally, the pay scales for every municipal/state and federal worker, how fast you can drive, how many airbags your vehicle has to have, how many Forest Service firefighters make up a “squad”, they also legislate how little they will spend on VA care, or how little will be spent on mine resistant vehicles or body armor.

      When the legislation/votes come around to raise the pay rates for any city, county, state or federal employees from your local library workers to all members of Congress do you fight those as vehemently as you do a raise in minimum wage?

  8. ROI BETTER be the reason for a raise! Otherwise, the money’s not there to give. We could legislate a mandatory living wage. But, what happens when the sales aren’t enough to pay for it? People get canned! Business models depend on being able to pay the workers a certain level. You can’t just raise the level because you feel like there’s some sort of “gap”.

    And why must this be a bunch of “conservative talking points”? Why isn’t it “good business” and the push for a living wage just completely devoid of consideration for what business needs?

  9. Nash,

    You are again mixing fruit. What the government does or should do, in terms of regulating speed on highways for example, has absolutely nothing to do with how they intrude upon business and the regulations forced upon them. It has no business dictating to businesses how much they should pay their employees. Period.

    As to pay for gov’t workers, they work for us. Thus, to vote against pay raises for gov’t workers is a legitimate act if I believe the pay raise is unjustified. In my state of Illinois, I would vote to lower their pay considering the bad job that has been done in running this state’s financial affairs. But again, the gov’t workers work for ME and the public in general. A burger flipper at the local McDonalds does NOT work for me, but works for the franchise owner of that establishment. It is up to him to decide how much the burger flippers in his store should be paid.

    You said to C2C, “I am trying to suggest that the status quo is immoral and “if” we can do better, why don’t we?” Well, who is “we”? How many people do you employ and why aren’t you paying them a living wage? If you don’t employ anyone, it’s none of your business how much other employers pay their people. If you are only earning a small amount, what do YOU do? Nothing? Do you not lobby for an increase or failing that, seek out better opportunities? That’s how it’s supposed to work.

  10. The problem is that there’s not enough money to do what they want. And there’s no good reason to pay people more than their job produces. CEOs get paid a heck of a lot more than the burger flipper because their work produces a heck of a lot more. Sales people get paid more, because its a more productive job than the guy who sits and waits for the orders to come in.

    If you need more money, it’s YOUR moral obligation to learn more and get a higher paying job.

  11. ROI BETTER be the reason for a raise! Otherwise, the money’s not there to give. We could legislate a mandatory living wage. But, what happens when the sales aren’t enough to pay for it? People get canned!

    Then this is true now, with minimum wage mandates. Are you saying you don’t support a basic minimum wage? If so, how do you prevent abuse? For example, in my area, the typical manufacturing company pays anywhere between $11 and $12 an hour. They all do it, so there’s no real “market choice” for the employee. There isn’t much competition. They all offer the same damn thing, which is little pay for lots of work, and at the end of year, the reported profits are always high, for each company. I looked into this a few years back when I was hired into a semiconductor plant. I was pissed off because it was a helluva lot of work for very little money.

    You can’t NOT regulate at least a minimum wage, otherwise you’ll get abuse. Businesses will advertise “competitive wages” that only differ a few cents from other businesses in the area. Not mandating at least minimum wage means employees will pay the price – and so will you, with each new welfare applicant.

  12. Terrance,

    Are these starting wages that will eventually be increased after annual reviews, or fixed regardless of tenure? This makes a difference. A low starting wage is a good business move, especially if the business isn’t legally forced to retain a poor employee. The employer could keep the substandard employee and not raise the wage until the employee’s performance improves, or, should the employee not be worth keeping at all, the employer isn’t out a large sum in wages.

    If the entire industry is paying the same wage, within a few bucks from one to the next, it could simply be that the job in question just isn’t worth a greater wage. It is not for the employee, or worse, someone not even working in the industry, to dictate to the employer what an offered job is worth. This does not indicate abuse all by itself, and I haven’t seen an example of real abuse in this discussion. Simply paying a low wage isn’t abuse, especially if it is part of the decisions made by the employer to keep the business in business.

  13. Marshal,

    The starting wage is usually $11-an-hour that increases to about $12-an-hour after about three-years of employment. Trust me, I know. I worked in one of our local manufacturing companies. We worked 12 hour shifts with a 15 minute unpaid break every three hours. No union and no internal method to appeal company rules, regulations, or company sanctions. It was a gulag.

    It could be that way, Marshall. But more likely, company A notices that company B and C pays substantially less and so responds in kind. Thus, all surrounding businesses are paying about the same wage for similar work and “market choice” is extremely limited.

    There is one manufacturing company in our area that pays much better than all the rest, but the prospective employee list is a mile long so it’s very hard to get in. It’s Nexteer Automotive, owned by the Chinese. They pay great wages,offer great benefits, offer free childcare for all employees, and give each employee the opportunity to work at least 15 extra hours at time and a half. It’s not uncommon to work there and rise to upper middle-class after a few years. They pay really well.

    It’s odd that a Chinese company would be so generous, given the horror stories we hear out of China. But then I remembered, almost all those sweatshops produce for American companies…

    American businessmen are spoiled.

  14. Terrance,

    I will assume you have investigated the terms of compensation for every mfg company in your area before settling upon the one for whom you worked. But I don’t know that companies look to others to lower their wages as much as to make sure they aren’t paying less (if not to insure they are paying the best). But all in all, I’ve no doubt that any given industry would agree upon a general idea of what a given type of job is worth. This is their right and it is not for the gov’t to dictate to them what they must pay.

    If a given industry pays poorly, there are three choices one has: 1) Lobby for better compensation, 2) Accept what is offered or 3) Go elsewhere.

    The latter choice is the only way employees can dictate to the employers, if enough employees do the same. IF you’ve proven your worth to the company, they won’t want you to leave. If that worth to them justifies paying you more to keep you, they will indeed. But if they won’t, then your ability and loyalty is paid already compensated at the rate the employer believes is suitable for the task.

    I, too, work in an industry that seeks to pay low for lots of hours. I drive a tractor-trailer. The company for which I work is one of the lowest paying companies, but they do pay time and a half after forty hours. Some companies pay more without time and a half, others pay time and a half after 50 or 55 hours. There are many variations, some of which provide no health care. And these are all local driving jobs BTW. I changed jobs about a year and a half ago and made much more per hour, but the employer was a pain in the ass. I returned to my original gig, but am still applying to others. In the meantime, I am about to request a pay increase, as I know others have gotten one. Supposedly it is to be done as part of a review process, but they don’t really stay on top of that stuff without prompting by the employees. But, if they won’t increase my pay (and they have no law telling them they must), and I can’t find a better paying gig, I must either accept what I get or try to find something in another industry. (Too old for that). That’s life.

  15. Marshall,

    I will assume you have investigated the terms of compensation for every mfg company in your area before settling upon the one for whom you worked.

    It may be hard to believe, but yes, I investigated each one. We’ve seen a drastic decrease in manufacturing jobs ever since General Motors filed bankruptcy a few years back. There simply aren’t that many to investigate.

    But I don’t know that companies look to others to lower their wages as much as to make sure they aren’t paying less (if not to insure they are paying the best).

    I notice that you always seem to give the benefit of the doubt to business rather than workers; to the rich rather than the poor. I mean no offense, but seriously, you’ve argued many times that poor people are often responsible for their own lot in life, and have suggested on many occasions that if only they worked harder, they’d be among the privileged. But whenever someone mentions corporate welfare, you disregard it and revert back to the “right of business” to this or that, et cetera…

    Seriously, I can understand why Nash, who I rarely agree with, refers to some of the comments as being nothing but “dogmatic mantra.” That’s precisely what it sounds like, I’m sorry to say.

    But all in all, I’ve no doubt that any given industry would agree upon a general idea of what a given type of job is worth. This is their right and it is not for the gov’t to dictate to them what they must pay.

    So you don’t support a minimum wage? You don’t worry about abuse?

    Also, refusing to support at least a minimum wage means you allow companies to dictate, in effect, that some jobs aren’t worthy enough to accommodate basic human dignity. I’m sorry but I don’t understand how Americans, let alone Christians, can accept such a corruption of our value system, even if it’s a direct, undeniable tenet of free market capitalism.

    If a given industry pays poorly, there are three choices one has: 1) Lobby for better compensation, 2) Accept what is offered or 3) Go elsewhere.

    1). Akin to mice screaming at lions; 2). Not exactly a problem-solver; 3). Oftentimes not a possibility.

  16. Terrance,

    “I notice that you always seem to give the benefit of the doubt to business rather than workers;”

    Not exactly. We’re talking here about what is just policy. There may indeed be businesses that are willing to be abusive. I don’t support that policy at all. But I do support their right to dictate what they believe is a proper level of compensation, and then to suffer or benefit from the consequences, as the case may be. If they can continue to acquire employees at what you might consider a poor wage, apparently that decision is working for them. As an example of consequences, you may know that some people will not patronize Walmart due to perceptions regarding how they run their business, how they compensate their employees, etc. Well, there are enough people who both patronize and seek employment with them to justify their decisions.

    My position merely takes into account what is required to start up and maintain a business, and often that requires a lifestyle of self-denial until such time as profits are more automatic and assured. A friend of mine, for example, often went without a paycheck in order to keep his doors open and employees paid. Who thinks of this when they bitch about “living wages”? It is more typical than one might imagine. Surely you’re aware of the stats regarding how many new start-ups fail within the first 2-5 years.

    “you’ve argued many times that poor people are often responsible for their own lot in life, and have suggested on many occasions that if only they worked harder, they’d be among the privileged.”

    That’s not precisely my position, but close enough. More accurately, my position is that the poor have it upon themselves to raise themselves up, and quite often have that ability should they alter their decision making process to match that of successful people. No employer is required to make sure that any employee becomes wealthy. That’s the burden of the employee, just as it was the employer’s at one time.

    “But whenever someone mentions corporate welfare, you disregard it and revert back to the “right of business” to this or that,”

    The term is loosely used, not narrowly defined and not generally relevant to discussions regarding what poor people do or don’t do, or as in this case, living wages.

    The problem with “living wages”, “minimum wages” or the like, is the artificial pressure it applies to business in terms of costs and how those pressures lead to increases in prices that tend to nullify the imagined benefits of the wage increase. As C2C suggests, it can lead to job losses, more unemployment, as businesses try to adapt to the new impositions. What Nash describes as “dogmatic” is merely an acknowledgement of certain realities of business. The fight for “living wages” does not take into account those realities, but instead, ignores them as well as the realities of what each of us on the employee side of the equation must face on our own.

    “Also, refusing to support at least a minimum wage means you allow companies to dictate, in effect, that some jobs aren’t worthy enough to accommodate basic human dignity.”

    No. It means that I allow companies have the right to determine what a given job is worth based on the realities of the situation. If they cannot get anyone to take the job at $2/hr, then they’ll have to raise it to $4/hr. If they cannot get anyone competent at $4/hr, they’ll have to raise it to $6/hr. Companies have the right to dictate how much effort they want to endure to keep themselves in the business. They have the right to dictate how much THEY get to keep based on THEIR notion of what THEIR efforts are worth and THEIR decision making regarding such things.

    “I’m sorry but I don’t understand how Americans, let alone Christians, can accept such a corruption of our value system, even if it’s a direct, undeniable tenet of free market capitalism.”

    And I don’t get how Americans, especially Christians, can presume to tell anyone else how to run their businesses. Encourage change all you want. I encourage such encouragement, in fact. But forcing such change through legislation? Not for us to do.

    “1). Akin to mice screaming at lions”

    Then you haven’t demonstrated you are worth the increase. Show an employer you are worth it and they’ll be more willing to grant the increase. That’s how it works. Even the most evil employer is affected by such as it benefits him to keep the good employees.

    “2). Not exactly a problem-solver”

    Not meant to be.

    “3). Oftentimes not a possibility.”

    Then it’s #2, isn’t it?

  17. Not exactly. We’re talking here about what is just policy. There may indeed be businesses that are willing to be abusive. I don’t support that policy at all. But I do support their right to dictate what they believe is a proper level of compensation, and then to suffer or benefit from the consequences, as the case may be.

    You support the policy by default, Marshall, when you ignore the fact that entire industries are setting scandalously low wages. If you work in that industry, what choice do you have? If you’re not in a position to go back to school or learn a new trade, then you’re stuck in an industry that has essentially fixed the wages. Not a single company, but an industry.

    If they can continue to acquire employees at what you might consider a poor wage, apparently that decision is working for them. As an example of consequences, you may know that some people will not patronize Walmart due to perceptions regarding how they run their business, how they compensate their employees, etc. Well, there are enough people who both patronize and seek employment with them to justify their decisions.

    Wal-Mart’s decision to buy product from sweatshops is in no sense justified; they’re merely benefiting from the staggering level of apathy that exists in our society.

    My position merely takes into account what is required to start up and maintain a business, and often that requires a lifestyle of self-denial until such time as profits are more automatic and assured. A friend of mine, for example, often went without a paycheck in order to keep his doors open and employees paid. Who thinks of this when they bitch about “living wages”? It is more typical than one might imagine. Surely you’re aware of the stats regarding how many new start-ups fail within the first 2-5 years.

    Most businesses fail because the owners don’t know what they’re doing, not because of minimum wage laws. My brother, for example, started a tattoo shop that closed down because he mismanaged his money. He had $50,000 with which to start the business. He leased the building for a song, bought all the necessary equipment, and instead of saving the rest of that money as a backup in case business didn’t boom as he suspected, he blew it all on fancy furnishings and unnecessary items. I tried to tell him that people don’t go into a tattoo shop to watch a 72” television – but he didn’t listen.

    That’s not precisely my position, but close enough. More accurately, my position is that the poor have it upon themselves to raise themselves up, and quite often have that ability should they alter their decision making process to match that of successful people. No employer is required to make sure that any employee becomes wealthy. That’s the burden of the employee, just as it was the employer’s at one time.

    You make an assumption that all people are equal in skill, talent, and brains; they’re not. Some people simply aren’t that smart. And I never suggested that employers are obligated to make their employees wealthy; I merely suggested that employers have a moral responsibility to pay wages that accommodate basic human dignity.

    The term is loosely used, not narrowly defined and not generally relevant to discussions regarding what poor people do or don’t do, or as in this case, living wages.

    I think Nash defined it pretty well.

    The problem with “living wages”, “minimum wages” or the like, is the artificial pressure it applies to business in terms of costs and how those pressures lead to increases in prices that tend to nullify the imagined benefits of the wage increase.

    This simply isn’t true. Studies have shown that moderate increases in minimum wage does not lead to adverse employment outcomes for low-income workers. Conversely, adverse effects are numerous when whole industries set, as I said, scandalously low wages, and these effects are not only evident in the lives of industry employees, but local economies as a whole.

    No. It means that I allow companies have the right to determine what a given job is worth based on the realities of the situation.

    If you agree that there exists a minimum standard of living under which no human being should be condemned to live, then your position is self-contradictory. You cannot continue to operate under the impression that all people are in a position to do anything but accept the low-wages that entire industries have been known to set. You keep saying that if wages are too low, people won’t take the job, totally ignoring the fact that, in some cases, people have no choice, such as the case of migrant workers.

    And I don’t get how Americans, especially Christians, can presume to tell anyone else how to run their businesses. Encourage change all you want. I encourage such encouragement, in fact. But forcing such change through legislation? Not for us to do

    And yet you’re okay with legislation against same-sex marriage and abortion. I am too, by the way. And I’m not comparing abortion to minimum wage laws; I’m merely pointing out that society passes legislation all the time that outlaws or mandates things in accordance with our value system, and I believe that allowing industries to pay wages that cannot accommodate basic human dignity is a corruption of our value system.

  18. I know I’m going to repeat some of what is above, but so many comments have been made that sometimes the real message gets lost in the shuffle.

    Minimum wage laws are a violation of the Constitution, let alone a violation of employers’ rights. The whole idea of a “living wage” is vacuous because it is so subjective. Each person has the right to determine what they think is a “living wage,” and it can range from the bare essentials keeping one from starving to living in what most people in the world would consider luxury.

    What is really apparent here with all the charges against businesses is that little study of economics has been done. I highly recommend books on the subject by Thomas Sowell. The first book I read by him was 17 years ago, “Th Vision of the Anointed,” which is still current today. But the latest book I think every American should be required to read to understand why our government is so messed up is his masterpiece, “Intellectuals and Society.” The nation is being run by people who think they know everything about everything and ruin everyone’s lives in the process.

    Germane to the current topic is this excerpt:
    Intervention by politicians, judges, or others, in order to impose terms more favorable to one side – minimum wage laws or rent control laws, for example – reduces the overlapping set of mutually agreeable terms and, almost invariably, reduces the number of mutually acceptable transactions, as the party disfavored by the intervention makes fewer transactions subsequently. Countries with generous minimum wage laws, for example, often have higher unemployment rates and longer periods of unemployment than other countries, as employers offer fewer jobs to inexperienced and low-skilled workers, who are typically the least valued and lowest paid – and who are most often priced out of a job by minimum wage laws.

    It is not uncommon in European countries with generous minimum wage laws, as well as other worker benefits that employers are mandated to pay for, to have inexperienced younger workers with unemployment rates of 20 percent or more. Employers are made slightly worse off by having to rearrange their businesses and perhaps pay more for machinery to replace the low-skilled workers whom it is no longer economic to hire. But those low-skilled, usually younger, workers may be made much worse off by not being able to get jobs as readily, losing both the wages they could earn otherwise and sustaining the perhaps greater loss of not acquiring the work experience that would lead to better jobs and higher pay.

    Every time the minimum wage goes up, so does the cost of living – which makes the new wage with no more purchasing power than the old wage. When employers are mandated to raise wages, aside from reducing the number of employees, they just pass along the increase to the customers who now have to pay more for what the previously purchased before the mandated wage increase. Why is this so difficult for liberals to understand?!?!?!?

    • Well Glenn, by your definition every single regulation on the books, that is not in black and white in the Constitution, would be a violation. The Clean Air Act, fought by certain special interests vehemently, is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. The same goes for the Clean Water Acts, airline safety (FAA), FCC, the USDA. These are all illegal? They are all Congressional forces and regulatory bodies of law enacted by the people for the people. Notice I did not mention the IRS…..because, well they can get bent.

      I have now defined living wage 4 times. It’s at least a starting point and is no longer subjective. Not sure how or why this, along with a couple of other points are being skipped over repeatedly. Further I have never seen anyone in the US define a living wage in a way that compares it as a luxury in other countries. This is just a red herring.

      The use of an academic Ivy League economics professor seems out of sorts here. I thought that these sorts were all liberal, brain-washed lefty fundamentalists? I guess when they are conservative enough it’s easier to dogmatically walk lock-step in their shadows? Sowell’s work is just that, academic. If his premise that minimum wage laws are bad for the country then why during Bush 1 and Clinton did the economy skyrocket in all sectors after 2 raises in minimum wage? We have become the worlds superpower using unions, workplace safety standards, ever shorter work weeks and minimum wage standards…but this was all illegal? Gross violations of the Constitution?

      Am I the only one who is caught amiss by your use of an intellectual (Sowell) to bash intellectuals? I know of no intellectuals running and then ruining this country. I do know of a great many power hungry and useless bureaucrats who have mastered it though.

      I will say this: There is no way that you can use Sowells subjective, and therefore biased extrapolations on semi-socialist misgivings regarding wage scales in Europe, to describe what we are talking about here. There is nothing generous about $7.25/hr. with zero benefits. On the other hand it does propagate abject and unequivocal poverty. And I think this is where we most greatly diverge. What to do about it? I would posit that the status quo is unacceptable. Quasi or pseudo utopic ideas about free market enterprise capitalism got us into this situation. They are obviously not the answer then. Chicago School economics are the cause of these problems not the solution.

      Overall wages have gone up in the last 22 months while cost of living has remained stagnant. Just for the record CS economics and its “intellectuals” invented mass outsourcing and NAFTA. Not sure those are decent badges of honor or not.

      Another example of a seemingly contradictory point to your position: If mandated minimum wage increases are responsible for increases further down the line and layoffs, why didn’t those things happen after all 3 of the last hikes in minimum wage?

      Why is it so hard for conservatives to understand that Jesus would not take part in, this type of unregulated, welfare-inflated and immoral capitalism. It is devoid of any sense of equity…..no matter how many Ivy League intellectuals with a shared ultra-conservative dogma are trotted out.

      • R.Nash,
        There are many acts which are not specifically defined as something authorized by the constitution, but many are shoehorned into the commerce clause, and many of these really reach. But minimum wage laws can’t even be rationally justified by any clause of the Constitution – it is mandating what employers must pay. That is a violation of personal rights!

        Your definitions of what YOU think is a living wage are still very, very subjective. Your asserting otherwise doesn’t make it so.

        Your statements about Sowell only demonstrate your ignorance of his credentials. His field of expertise is economics, and he has lived it – you know, something liberals don’t do.

        Your assertions of what did not happen with minimum wage increase are, again, just that. Liberals make statistics show anything they want them to show to support their failing ideology.

        Your last comment about Jesus also demonstrates your ignorance of his teachings, let alone the teachings of the Christian faith in general.

        • Thanks for your utterly devoid of substance, generic reply, Glenn.

          Please specify when corporations or industries became natural persons with rights.

          The definition I have given repeatedly for a living wage is not mine!!!!!! It is a set of agreed upon standards across many different entities, state and local governments and policy think tanks, both liberal and conservative! It is not subjective! Seriously! Stop using this as some sort default crutch to continue justifying ad nauseum a position that was given to you by right wing pundits and Ivy League intellectual know-it-alls.

          Please tell us how Sowell has “lived it.” He lives in an Ivory Tower surrounded by other white collar Ivy League intellectuals. Isn’t this exactly what your conservatism complains about just to replies back? I know his work well, which is why you using him as some sort of grand example for all that’s wrong with wage scales that much more laughable. This is a the ultimate and grand example of having a conservative trot out an intellectual. Do you not see the hypocrisy and contradiction of the dogma so adhered to in every other instance in right wing politics. I’ll tell you what, I will match your one Sowell with 100 others who disagree with him. Aren’t you doing exactly what you rail against liberals all day for doing? Your using Sowells “model” and statistics to say whatever you want. This would tear my psyche apart.

          And how specifically, does my supposed ignorance of Sowells credentials paint a positive light for you? You have now distilled your “against” position regarding a living wage, down to one-liners about how I am just a stupid liberal.

          Again be specific, about my ignorance of the teachings of Jesus and his staunch position against moral wages. Where does it say in the Bible that free market capitalism should include welfare for The Citrus Growers of America, whilst paying workers on average $3/hr. with no benefits?

          • R.Nash,
            Corporations are started and run by people. They don’t just spring up out of nowhere, and people aren’t employed by some vacuous entity. People employ people. People start businesses which may become corporations. It is THEIR business how much to pay their employees – not YOURS or anyone else’s.

            I don’t care whose definitions of “living wage” you come up with – they are all subjective. There is no dictionary definition, no objective standard with which you can compare any idea to.

            So-called “Ivy League intellectual know-it-alls” who are liberals are the ones who have been running and ruining this country for decades with all their social engineering. Try reading a bit about Sowell’s history – he has lived in the lower ranks of society and worked his way up. If he followed liberal ideology of your ilk and the Demokrats, he would have been a gang-banger with 17 children by numerous women!

            Your ranting is without any substance – which is usual for liberals. Your foolish comments at the end of your diatribe demonstrate why discussion with you is futile.

            • Well thanks for the non reply. Your bias and contradictory cognitive dissonance has been fully exposed, not by me, but by you. Keep towing the culture war line and walking lock step with said conservative dogma.

              And your comment about Sowell growing up to be a gangbanger with 17 different kids is the most honest and racist thing you have said on this site. True colors shining through. I couldn’t have done a better job of bringing out your real position.

              And you can check my voting record, I have never once voted for a liberal at any level or in any election. I did not vote for Obama either time around and find him to be a well below average president. So keep telling yourself that there are only 2 sides in your world. You vs them. The liberal demokrat ilk. Anyone who disagrees with you gets put into this category. The only problem is I am not any of those things. Try formulating your own ideas from a multitude of maybe more objective sources. You might just discover that you are not imbued without absolute rightness or perfection.

              Again thanks for not answering any of the questions and just turning this into the usual left right gibberish.

              • I didn’t see any real questions which weren’t already answered. What I saw was a bunch of ad hominem attacks on a brilliant man who you know nothing about. (let alone continuous ad hominem attacks on me).

                If you think laws requiring employers to raise their wages will not change the price of products as the employers pass along the cost to you, then you are dumber than I thought.

                Whether you vote for a Demokrat isn’t the issue – your ideology has been demonstrated to be quite liberal on the many blog articles I’ve seen you comment on.

                It is never me vs them. It is truth vs fables. It is the liberals who have 95% of the fables and expect us all to live by their fables because, after all, they are the “anointed.”

              • I studied Sowell in 1988 in 2 economics classes and again in 2000 when I went back to school. Are you aware of the friendship between Dr. Steven Pinker and Sowell and their research collaborations? He’s an evolutionary psychologist. Huh, another Ivy League brainiac rubbing shoulders with your one outlier.You are doing yourself another disservice by continuing to insist that I am unfamiliar with his work.
                My attacks only came “after” your usual culture war drivel. All of your conversations end this way when someone doesn’t agree with you. Maybe you should have taken the red pill?
                Keep up with your 95% made-up-along-the-way-statistics Glenn. They will never, in this reality, extend to you the absolutist rightness that is really just a figment of your imagination.
                And again thanks for not engaging the questions posed and once again mistaking them as attacks on your idealogical well being. You should email Sowell and tell him how glad you are that he didn’t turn out to be like all of those other dirty stupid black people.

              • R. Nash
                You are the one who claimed Sowell never lived what he preaches about, which says you don’t know his history.
                My “usual culture war drivel” is not drivel – it is demonstrated facts about how the LEFT has screwed up the culture by thinking they are anointed to run everyone’s lives. It is the LEFT who is ruining the economy, re-inventing what marriage is, hugging trees while murdering babies in the womb, and destroying our military capability – and ETC.
                I posted no “made-up-along-the-way-statistics.” That is the purview of leftists.
                I have no idea what questions you posed which were serious and worth responding to.
                Again I see you like to declare someone racist by twisting the intent of a statement about what LEFTISTS would have preferred Sowell to have been. It is the LEFTISTS who keep the black man a slave to the government; it is the DEMOCRATS who have been racists their whole history and doing everything in their power to prevent the black man from rising out of the slums that the DEMOCRATS put them into.
                If I end my comments with you in the same way – i.e. getting fed up with your foolishness – especially when you start claiming things about the Bible, Jesus, and the Christian faith – it is because conversations with people like you are a waste of time due to your severe brainwashing into everything leftist.

  19. Terrance,

    “You support the policy by default, Marshall, when you ignore the fact that entire industries are setting scandalously low wages.”

    This is like saying that I support murder because I don’t believe in the gov’t regulating gun ownership.

    Most industries, if not all, either directly or indirectly set the wage levels of jobs offered within that industry. That’s why you can go online and find average salaries of any given job. And what you describe as “scandalously low” wages might be legitimate levels set by the industry as determined by the various other costs of doing business. Keep in mind that the purpose of one starting up a business is usually the benefit of the business owner.

    But somehow, it seems as if some believe that each business owner is responsible for the situation of their employees. This is a bad perspective to hold and not realistic. The employer cannot be held responsible for everything that befalls the employee and then made to rectify it by tapping his own wallet. It is unfortunate that a MBA cannot find work except in low paying gigs. It is unfortunate that some have experienced any of a variety of bad experiences, regardless of its cause. Must an employer be made to rectify any of them?

    Gotta go…

  20. The last paragraph in this article addresses the very issue of a “living wage”
    http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2013/08/06/5-liberal-policies-that-backfire-and-ruin-lives-n1657028/page/full

  21. OK am I wrong that the concept of a “living wage” presupposes some sort of minimal standard of living. Who gets to decide what that standard of living is? Based on what? Does the “living wage” change by state? By county? By municipality? How does one even begin to set the minimum standard or living? Isn’t any “living wage” or minimum standard of living simply arbitrary?

  22. This is like saying that I support murder because I don’t believe in the gov’t regulating gun ownership.

    No, it isn’t. We’re talking about something directly connected. Regardless, this only amplifies a previous point: you always give the benefit of the doubt to businesses. You also seem to think that if businesses do something wrong that the market should be the sole arbitrator. I’m sorry but civilized societies cannot function this way.

    Once again, I am not suggesting that businesses are obligated to make their employees wealthy. However, I believe they are obligated to pay them wages that accommodate basic human dignity. If companies like Wal-Mart are breaking sales records then they can afford to pay their full-time employees at least enough to make ends meet.

  23. “I’m sorry but civilized societies cannot function this way.”

    Here’s the good news: this society doesn’t. We have courts of law to determine if anyone, including a business, is culpable for the suffering of others. In the meantime, I’m giving business only what they entitled to get. In this case, they are entitled to decide for themselves how to run their businesses, which includes the wages they determine they are able and willing to give for any given job.

    And once again, I am all for encouraging the best possible terms between an employer and employee. I would love to see you start a business and pay your people as much as the business provides to you. But I acknowledge that such is up to you and if you pay like crap, I’ll look elsewhere until I find a better gig.

    What a company can afford has nothing to do with it. That is to say, if a company can easily afford to triple the salaries of all their workers, that alone is not a legitimate business reason to do so.

    As to dignity, one either has it or one doesn’t.

    One more thing. About your brother. His issues with his business are actually part of the process. Many people do similar things and suffer the consequences. Some recover enough to carry on, others learn from their mistakes and overcome them in their next attempt. Still othesr pack it in and never again attempt to start up a business. But such stories don’t matter to the point I was making about what a person or group of people must do to make a business sustainable and the sacrifices they make justify pretty much anything they choose to do concerning the profits of that business. If it was easy, no one would have employees as everyone would have their own business. But those who grow enough to hire, way too often end up with employees who think they know enough to presume all sorts of things about how the business is being run or should be run, especially as regards pay. I have my ideas as well, and stand ready to offer them should I be asked. In the meantime, I do not forget who’s running the place, who owns it, and how long it took them to get it where it is today, such as it is. I’ve got my own business to which I must attend: running my life and household on the current level of income.

  24. Here’s the good news: this society doesn’t. We have courts of law to determine if anyone, including a business, is culpable for the suffering of others.

    We also have laws, rules, and regulations on the books so as to dissuade companies from engaging in unscrupulous business practices. You think these laws go too far, but clearly they don’t go far enough. Of course I know you don’t accept as true my premise, but the fact remains that manufacturing companies in my area bust unions, produce record-breaking profits, and set notoriously low-wages. The idea of an “efficiency wage” is simply a lie in our local manufacturing industry. People line-up for their jobs because they have few options.

    I’m giving business only what they entitled to get. In this case, they are entitled to decide for themselves how to run their businesses, which includes the wages they determine they are able and willing to give for any given job.

    Indeed. And we should also allow industry to decide how much dioxin to release into our waterways. Why not? Let’s remove all regulation. Seriously, why not? It worked well for the lumber industry in Michigan 100 years ago, when over half of our forests were cut down and sold to the highest bidder. It wasn’t until Roosevelt’s WPA that those forests were replaced.

    And once again, I am all for encouraging the best possible terms between an employer and employee.

    And yet you don’t support unions or minimum wage standards.

    What a company can afford has nothing to do with it. That is to say, if a company can easily afford to triple the salaries of all their workers, that alone is not a legitimate business reason to do so.

    So you don’t believe businesses have any moral responsibility, save producing as much profit as possible for the shareholder?

  25. Glenn,

    I don’t want pornography sold on the street corner. Businesses have a moral responsibility, I think, not to produce that smut in front of children, but they did it anyway which is why we have laws against it. Just another example of moral responsibility being rightfully pushed by government busybodies.

    • Terrance,
      I really can’t believe you are comparing the promotion of sexual immorality and sexual abuse with a right to determine what to pay employees.

      If you don’t like what an employer pays, you go work somewhere else. No employer should be forced by the government to pay what some anointed person decides they have to pay.

  26. Glenn,

    Hyperbole much? Most pornography is not sexual abuse. And while it may be sexual immorality, so what? One immorality is no better than another, so why are you supportive of regulating businesses that sell sexual immorality, but not supportive of regulating businesses that practice economic immorality?

    And if you don’t like what a business sells, go somewhere else. Government should not limit the First Amendment rights of corporate persons, after all.

    • I saw lots of pornography in my pagan days. YES, a large percentage is abuse. And Paul says that sexual immorality is worse than other sins because it is against our bodies.

      It is also a very, very subjective opinion that businesses are not practicing “economic morality,” whatever that is.

      And when I don’t like a business, I DON’T shop there. I have lots of businesses on my personal boycott list.

      The point is, there is no right for any government entity to tell an employer what he must pay in wages – that is a violation of the employers’ rights. Do you think that aside from wages that employers should also offer heath insurance? How about dental insurance, vision insurance, car insurance, 30-day paid vacation each year. Just where do you draw the line at what the government should mandate employers do as for wages and benefits?

      It used to be free market for employers to pay and benefit as they elected. Those who gave good wages and benefits got good employees.

  27. Glenn,

    I don’t know what kind of porn you were watching, but I’ve never seen much sexual abuse, unless you’re into S & M. Regardless, the point stands. Also, it doesn’t matter what Paul says about sexual immorality, or anything else for that matter. It matters to us Christians, but not the United States Government.

    If regulating how much a business pays a person is unconstitutional, then so is regulating what kind and how much porn they sell.

    • Read Paul in 1 Cor. 6:18. HE says sexual immorality is a worse type of sin because it is a sin against the body.

      Pornography runs the gamut, but most women, even if they are their voluntarily, are abused by the guy. They get paid for it, but they are abused.

      The point is, that sexual morality has been legislated for centuries, and pornography was banned by the Supreme Court in the mid-1800s as being corruptive of society.

      How you can make regulating porn analogous with regulating wages is beyond me. There is no Constitutional right, nor a moral right to regulate what businesses pay employees. One really has to stretch the meaning of morality (until fairly recently in history the word only applied to things sexual) to include economics. God gives a law about sexuality which is our moral standard. There is nothing in God’s word which says anything about what a “moral” wage would be.

      Government dictation of wages is why many businesses have left the country, and many more will do so.

      I notice you didn’t answer my question about where to draw the line with government mandating wages and benefits.

  28. Read Paul in 1 Cor. 6:18. HE says sexual immorality is a worse type of sin because it is a sin against the body.

    And what does that matter to the United States Government who, as a policy, claims to be a government of ALL people, regardless their sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion? It doesn’t matter.

    The point is, that sexual morality has been legislated for centuries, and pornography was banned by the Supreme Court in the mid-1800s as being corruptive of society.

    Are you kidding me? The United States Supreme Court once said that blacks were only three-fifths a person. Give me a break.

    How you can make regulating porn analogous with regulating wages is beyond me.

    That you don’t recognize the hypocrisy is beyond me.

    There is no Constitutional right to regulate how much or what type of a legal product a business sells.

    • Terrance,

      My point about sexual immorality is that YOU compared laws against pornography with laws for minimum wages. I was trying to demonstrate that the two have nothing in common. And that there is no morality associated with economics.

      No, the Supreme Court has NEVER said that blacks were 3/5 of a person. No where have they ever in any government document been considered anything less than a whole person. In the Constitution, only 3/5 of the blacks could be counted for representation, which was to prevent the southern states from having control based on their population of slaves.

      There is no hypocrisy involved. Regulating the moral character of a nation is the nation’s responsibility to keep the society from collapsing. Wages are amoral. There is nothing moral or immoral about wages. It is only personal opinions as to what is proper wages.

      And you still didn’t answer my question. If you think that the government should regulate wages, then how far should they go? How much wages and benefits should they mandate?

      As for the whole concept of a “living wage,” even that would have to be by state and city. I can guarantee that what would be a living wage in farm country Iowa would be starvation wage in New York City. So if you mandate a national minimum wage, then the people in NYC might be eking by while the Iowan is living high on the hog. Is that then “fair”?

      You are basing your argument on emotion – what feels right. That is what liberals do; you are too smart for that.

  29. My point about sexual immorality is that YOU compared laws against pornography with laws for minimum wages. I was trying to demonstrate that the two have nothing in common. And that there is no morality associated with economics.

    I see. So all those times you referred to socialism as “immoral,” you were just joking? Give me a break. The bottom line is that you have no problem regulating businesses when it suits your conservative Christian ideology. Aside from that, however, you refer to almost every regulation as being “unconstitutional.”

    No, the Supreme Court has NEVER said that blacks were 3/5 of a person. No where have they ever in any government document been considered anything less than a whole person. In the Constitution, only 3/5 of the blacks could be counted for representation, which was to prevent the southern states from having control based on their population of slaves.

    The Supreme Court said it by default, though they never ruled on it. Regardless, in Dred Scott, the Supreme Court ruled that African-Americans were not citizens. In Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court upheld the doctrine of “separate but equal.” And in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was protected by the 14th Amendment.

    So you go ahead and lean on some obscure Supreme Court case to prove your point, totally blind to the reality that the Supreme Court is hardly infallible.

    There is no hypocrisy involved. Regulating the moral character of a nation is the nation’s responsibility to keep the society from collapsing. Wages are amoral. There is nothing moral or immoral about wages. It is only personal opinions as to what is proper wages.

    Why, again, do you choose to avoid Wal-Mart like “the plague?” And are you seriously suggesting that Exxon-Mobil has no moral responsibility to pay their employees more than, say, $3 an hour? If wages are amoral, then it makes no moral difference how much they pay their employees, so $3 an hour would be fine. Right?

    The Prophet Isiah wrote, “They shall not labor in vain.”

    So much for that, ‘eh?

    James 5:4, ““Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord.”

    The Bible makes it clear that people deserve fair wages for their work, but it’s convenient for you to ignore this message because you’re a free market conservative.

    • Terrance,
      
First, I have NEVER stated that I have no problem with government control of businesses. I have major problems with it.

      I don’t recall calling socialism immoral, although the very fact that socialism has always promoted sexual anarchy makes it immoral.

      Most of today’s laws and regulations are indeed unconstitutional, and totally contrary to what the writers of the Constitution intended. The government ignores the Constitution. Judges ignore it when they legislate from the bench. So what if I point that out?

      No, the Supreme Court never even intimated that the black people were not fully human. But all the red herring cases you bring up to somehow prove that the Supreme Court ruling against pornography was obviously wrong, have nothing to do whatsoever with your claims. Firstly, the Supreme Court has been known to twist the Constitution to promote liberal agendas. But the issue with pornography was that it was seen as a corrupting influence on society by the majority of the society of the time! And anyone who says pornography is NOT corrupting of the morals of society has his head in the sand.

      I avoid Wal-Mart because they deal more with Chinese goods than any other store of their type, and I don’t like the way they treat employees. It is THEIR business how to treat their employees, though – it is not the government’s business to tell Wal-mart how many hours they have to give their employees or how much pay and benefits they have to pay. It is the public who forces changes for the better, but 90% of the population will never stop shopping Wal-Mart, so it won’t happen until people stop going for cheap junk.

      Wages are amoral, and, no, it doesn’t matter what how much anyone pays their employees. If employees don’t like the pay they can move on. When the employer gets no one to work for them for the wages offered, they will be forced to raise the pay.

      Your abuse of Scripture to claim there is a standard of wages to be paid doesn’t make your case. They don’t labor in vain if they get ANY pay; it is only when they labor without pay that it is in vain. And James refers to wages being unpaid. We are not discussing refusal to pay wages here – we are discussing whether the government should be telling employers what they MUST pay their employees.

      Again you go to “fair wages,” but there is NO standard for what is or is not “Fair.” And why do you keep avoiding responding to my question about how far the government should go in telling businesses what pay and benefits they have to give their employees?

      • If the bible educates and informs your world view……then I hereby declare Glenn’s logic and premise refuted. Since the Constitution is not mentioned in the Bible, it is irrelevant. So now it’s just about morality Glenn. I once again ask: Would Jesus pay a christian, $9/day to load trucks with oranges? Would he tell them to suck it up or find other work?

        And having read the bible and been a christian, I recall no where in which God or Jesus created or suggested this faux excuse for capitalism via a “free” market. Where exactly is corporate welfare and abuse of employees in the Bible?

        And who cares what the SC has to say about African-Americans, it is also absent from the Bible. For the record Glenn, the Bible was used to justify slavery both socially and politically.

        Terrance, referring to Glenn as a “free” market conservative does a disservice to any hope of a legitimately real and free market. He is a pseudo market conservative. His position has been given to him. And now matter how non-sensical his simpleton take is on the subject, his biases and cognitive dissonance will forever keep him from even considering the hypocrisy of his ideas, no matter how many times you point out the glaring contradictions.

        I am now prepared to be called a liberal, baby eating, America hating, socialist, fascist, communist.

        • Nash,

          Since your worldview is based on atheism and evolutionism, I hereby declare your logic and premise refuted. If there is no God then there are no objective moral standards – just everyone’s opinion. If we are all evolved pond-scum, then even your arguments are just the results of irrational causes, the effects of Nature’s whims, and therefore sure to be irrational – which of course they always are.

          You’ve never been a Christian. A true Christian would never be an ex-Christian.

          Just because people claiming to be Christians twisted Scripture to suit their own agenda, that doesn’t make the Bible or the faith erroneous. You don’t judge a book or a faith by those who abuse it.

  30. Glenn,

    It most certainly is immoral to pay a CEO $13.3 million a year plus benefits while regular, peon workers are making $10,000 a year with no benefits. It is, I suggest, scandalously immoral, given the knowledge that such low wages cannot accommodate basic human dignity. You previously agreed with me on this point.

    I wrote,

    Furthermore, this brings to mind something I’ve mentioned a few times before: the morality of wages. I find it unconscionable that cashiers at Wal-Mart are struggling to pay their rent while the CEO, CFO, and Vice President are sailing around on a yacht. The plain truth is that Wal-Mart could definitely afford to give each fulltime worker an extra $200-per-week – and they should do it.

    You responded,

    However, I agree with you about Wal-Mart. Which is one of the reasons I avoid that store like the plague.

    So forgive me if I think you’re a tad confused, Glenn. You previously agreed that it is “unconscionable” for Wal-Mart cashiers to be struggling while the CEO is sailing around on a yacht. If wages are totally amoral, then why would it be “unconscionable,” I wonder?

    Anyway, I’ve allowed you to veer this discussion completely off track. It doesn’t matter whether wages are moral, immoral, amoral, or whatever. It doesn’t matter a lick. The bottom line is that your position, whether you see it or not, is entirely hypocritical. You have no problem with government “busybodies” pushing regulations that suit your conservative Christian ideology.

    Now, I know the specious reasoning you offer. It’s okay to regulate porn because porn is immoral. But what you fail to understand is that the U.S. Government follows no particular brand of objective morality. To certain Pagan denominations, sexual climax is the closest one will ever get to God. It seems clear, then, that those religions have no problem with pornography; it is not immoral to them. So for the U.S. Government to base its regulation of porn on morality is simply asinine, because, well, whose morality are they following?

    I know, I know. We’re a Christian country. Yeah, sure we are. That’s probably why abortion and same-sex marriage are legal.

    I skimmed through most of your post, but there is one thing in particular I wish to pay special attention to.

    No, the Supreme Court never even intimated that the black people were not fully human.

    If you look back to John’s post on the 3/5 Compromise, you see my explanation in detail. Black people were treated as property, not human beings.

    But all the red herring cases you bring up to somehow prove that the Supreme Court ruling against pornography was obviously wrong, have nothing to do whatsoever with your claims.

    My only point was that you can’t lean on an obscure, 200-year-old Supreme Court case to prove a point about the current nature of morality-based governance, especially given the Supreme Court’s penchant to be utterly wrong.

    the issue with pornography was that it was seen as a corrupting influence on society by the majority of the society of the time! And anyone who says pornography is NOT corrupting of the morals of society has his head in the sand.

    So the Supreme Court was wrong about blacks and women, but right about pornography? I see. And have you flipped on your television lately? Much of what you see is worse than almost any type of porn widely available in the 1800s. Times are changing, Glenn.

    Also, pornography is legal, whether you like it or not. So unless government is going to outright ban it, then they have no right to tell a business-owner how much or what type of porn they can sell. That should be left up to the owner and the free market.

    If the free market has to take a backseat to your conservative Christian ideology, then it should take a backseat to the “unconscionable” practice of scandalously low-wages. That, I think you’ll find, is my point.

    • Terrance,

      There is a huge difference between something being “unconscionable” (unreasonable, harsh to the conscience, etc) and “immoral.” We have an opinion as to what is reasonable, but there is a standard by which we can measure that which is immoral. Salaries are amoral.

      No, I am NOT hypocritical. I give to government the duty to maintain society, which is the duty God gave it (Rom. 13). It is NOT government’s duty to micromanage society giving no one the ability to make any personal decisions. Government has a right to dictate what one sells based on how it affects society – which is why the government controls the selling of drugs, pornography, the selling of sex (prostitution), poisons, etc. There is nothing “specious” about it.

      The U.S. Government has historically been based on Judeo-Christian morality, and cultures all over the world have really been based much the same. For example, around the world homosexuality was considered immoral and perverse for thousands of years and now the emperor wears new clothes with homosexuality.

      Black people were treated as human beings at the same time as they were treated as property. Throughout history slaves have been treated as property while still realizing they were human.

      So as far as you are concerned, if the Supreme Court was ever wrong on something, therefore none of their judgements can be right?!?

      Pornography is legal, yes, but it is restricted. Kiddie porn is banned. All porn is restricted to being sold to those 18 and over.

      But none of this has anything to do with minimum wage laws. And you have yet to respond to my question about how far the government should go in mandating wages and benefits.

  31. The lack of compassion and understanding by self-professed Christians is what bothers me most. Like I said to Marshall, we pass laws all the time as a society in accordance with our value system. Setting aside all theoretical opinion of wages, you must admit as a decent human being that there is something wrong with a multi-billion dollar company paying their full-time employees a meager $10,000 a year with no benefits. People in that situation are forced to choose between paying bills, buying food, fuel to get work, clothes, whatever. That petty amount can barely accommodate basic human dignity for a single person, let alone a family, a single-mother with two children, whatever.

    And instead of simply recognizing that people are human and make mistakes, you’ll no doubt come back with some diatribe about marriage, fathers, better decisions, so on and so forth, and in the end you’ll have come no closer to helping that single-mother solve her current problem. How can you? You’re too focused on what she SHOULD HAVE done with her life.

    That is not how Christians are supposed to behave. Our allegiance should be to God and His son Jesus Christ, but by ignoring the economic hardships suffered by a huge number of fellow Americans, you are turning your back on your brother, and thus God. And for what? Some fanciful notion of a free-market? Ridiculous.

    And don’t tell me I’m the one abusing scripture. I’m not the one turning my back. You are.

  32. Jesus on the free market? Matthew 20:1-16 gives us some insight. In it, Jesus uses the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The owner found a few guys in the morning to work and paid them a denarius. He paid the same amount to those he hired in the afternoon and again the same to those he hired in the evening. Regardless of how many hours were worked, each dude got the same amount because that was the amount offered upon hiring.

    Thus, I see nothing inherently wrong with any wage or compensation offered if the employee agreed to work for what was offered.

    The problem here is the difference between helping the needy as individuals, because as individuals we see that help is needed, and forcing others to do it for us, either through taxation or forcing wage minimums upon the people that provide the jobs. As Christians, I again say that encouraging a company to do compensate their employees better is one thing. Forcing them to do it against their will is quite another.

    Another problematic aspect is the notion that because the economy might be poor, or an area has lost companies for whatever reason, that remaining employers must now put their own company’s existence at risk because the low-skill, “anybody can do it” type jobs they offer are all that is available.

  33. Glenn,

    I’m not going to argue this anymore. If you don’t accept that setting a minimum wage is legal, then you have no basis upon which to claim that government should regulate how much and what type of a LEGAL product businesses sell. Thus, you are, I’m sorry to say, hypocritical.

    You have some very radical views, Glenn. I like ya, buddy, but seriously, you are sometimes blindly ideological to the point of making little sense.

    Black people were treated as human beings at the same time as they were treated as property.

    I rest my case.

    • Terrance,
      Big time logic fallacy, buddy. There is a BIG difference between government protecting the culture and government interfering in culture. It is interference to set wages. It is not hypocritical (you keep using that word- I do not think it means what you think it means).

      Why have you continued to ignore my question? I’ll tell you – because you know that once you go down the road of setting minimum wages, then you can’t fight be against government setting what other benefits to mandate employers to pay.

      And FDR was one of the worst thing that happened to this country. He was hard-core socialist and caused us to stay in the depression longer than if he would have just let the system take care of itself. That has been explained by way too many scholars. FDR trounced the Constitution to dust. The SCOTUS was a bunch of socialists, many of which he appointed as he stacked the court. Anyone who thinks the government has a compelling interest in forcing employers to pay minimum wages dictated by the government has their hand in the government trough to live by the government nanny’s control from birth until death.

      • Talk about indoctrinated.
        Why can’t you just rely upon Romans 13 Glenn? You know, “obey the government because God has put it there,” etc. etc. Your God put Roosevelt the socialist there. He put Obama the fascist as president. To disobey obama is to disobey God.

        The government says that there will be a minimum wage. The government says that we will put limits on a billion other things. What you think about that is, irrelevant.

        • R. Nash,
          Every time you try to use the Bible you demonstrate your ignorance of it.

          In the USA, we as the citizens are ostensibly the government. That’s why we vote. It is a government of the people – or at least that is how it was set up before your beloved liberals trounced it. So being part of the government, we as citizens have every right to challenge what it being done by our voted-in representative.

          And you keep saying you understand the government.

          • You keep calling me ignorant but then you don’t provide any examples or corrections. Well unless name calling is your idea of a correction.

            Romans says obey your government. The only interaction you have is the vote, or donation to a campaign. All of your name calling about environazis to your rep is actually disobeying god since he put those environazis, feminazis and baby eaters into office. Stop disobeying God.

            • God allows us to put fools and idiots into office so as to give us as a nation what we deserve for turning our backs on him. But nowhere does the Bible say that when we are part of the government that we can’t work to correct it. One of the ways to work to correct it is to educate people about the harmful effects of the liberal policies. And you have NEVER found me disobeying the government. Appealing to it to change (as I do with all my communications to my congressmen/senators), exposing the agendas for what they are, are all part of my freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

              My examples of your ignorance are just your own words demonstrating a total lack of understanding of all things biblical.

              Go look in a mirror and keep reminding yourself how intellectual you are and how you have never been wrong about anything. Go ahead and have the last word – I’m finished responding to foolishness.

  34. And by the way, President Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, setting, among other things, a minimum wage. The United States Supreme Court unanimously upheld the act in 1941, holding that the State has a compelling interest in protecting employees from poor working conditions, long hours, and scant wages that “leave them inadequately supported and undermine their health.”

    Anyone who doesn’t see why the government has this compelling interest must have their head in the sand…………………

  35. Even in a monarchy, I don’t believe Romans 13 prohibits lobbying the gov’t for change. Until that change occurs, we are to obey the laws of the land, but no where are we called to do absolutely nothing about laws or the way gov’t is run regardless of how immoral or harmful the laws and gov’t policies are.

    • Why lobby a government that your God has pre-supposed, invented and placed into position?
      If the government is a purposeful invention of your loving perfect, omnipotent, omniscient creator, doesn’t it logically follow that the actions it engages in are also perfect? This is the premise of infallibility etc.

      How can christians talk about unseating obama, when he was placed there by God?

      • R. Nash,
        You continue to demonstrate your ignorance about God.

        God doesn’t invent or “pre-suppose” the governments – he establishes what is as leadership where He wants it. He uses the governments men establish for His purposes. Nowhere does He say we can’t seek to change it, and, in fact, in the theocracy of Israel the whole point was for the people to make sure their leaders didn’t go against God, yet the people followed their leaders into idolatry and apostasy. So God used other governments to destroy Israel.

        So today, he gives us the leaders we deserve. He allows the selections of leadership by those who have turned their backs on God so as to give us as a nation the leadership we deserve. God is NOT a puppet-master.

        In this vein, our government was established by God with people who followed Him and built a government on Judeo-Christian principles. Even the founders said it was a government only good for moral people. God allowed that to be established. And with that government, we have rights of petition to remove leaders who are working evil.

        God also said the we are to obey Him rather than man. So if a government established by God has men working against God and making laws which are against God’s laws, we are not to obey them. Which is why Christians could hide Jews in WWII regardless of the laws which said Jews were to be given up for extermination.

        • Well Glenn, that’s a very subjective and biased, if not interesting reading of that passage. On the one hand you say that God doesn’t invent governments, in spite of Romans 13 saying the exact opposite, and then 2 paragraphs later you contradict yourself by saying our government was established by God…..hmmmmmmm.

          Romans 13
          Obey Your Government Rulers

          13 All of you must obey the government rulers. Everyone who rules was given the power to rule by God. And all those who rule now were given that power by God. 2 So anyone who is against the government is really against something God has commanded. Those who are against the government bring punishment on themselves. 3 People who do right don’t have to fear the rulers. But those who do wrong must fear them. Do you want to be free from fearing them? Then do only what is right, and they will praise you.

          4 Rulers are God’s servants to help you. But if you do wrong, you have reason to be afraid. They have the power to punish, and they will use it. They are God’s servants to punish those who do wrong. 5 So you must obey the government, not just because you might be punished, but because you know it is the right thing to do.

          John I would love to hear from yourself and others on this poverty/wage issue. I often wonder how the ever drifting, far right, christian conservatives interpret the multiple passages in Luke where the theme is fairly distinct for the followers of Christ. It would seem that at least 12 times the theme of taking care of the poor is of some serious importance. Further, there are by my count at least 4 passages in which it is not just suggested that christians give away their belongings but take up the plight of the poor as a holy cause. One in which is looked upon with favor for ascending to Heaven.

          “Lend, hoping for nothing again . . . give, and it
          shall be given unto you” (6:35,38)

          Maybe it’s not as black and white as I think it is. Or maybe you have all sold your possessions already and are individually and collectively through your churches’ helping the poor. This is not said in gest. I actually don’t know. But it would seem that the historical nature of this blog and it’s posters might suggest otherwise.

          • R. Nash,

            Well, if you were to look in a dictionary, I’m sure you’d find there is a BIG difference between inventing something and establishing it. Your lack of comprehension apparently begins with your lack of understanding the meaning of words.

            Also, you might try a more literal reading of Scripture rather than the very dynamic version you posted. And it isn’t my subjective opinion – you should try reading commentaries by scholars now an then.

            I also want to point out, and I’m sure John will probably do so, that we as individuals are to help the poor, etc – we are not told to rely in the gov’t to steal our money and disperse it in a very inefficient manner, nor are we to help those who refuse to work, and we are also to take care of those IN the Faith first (Gal. 6:9-10)

            Back to Romans 13, don’t forget to use Acts 5:29 in conjunction with it. And you also keep ignoring the fact that in this country, we are considered to be part of the government process, i.e., WE the PEOPLE are the government.

            13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

            The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001 (Ro 13:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

            • Huh. Straight to the insults. I should know better by now.

              Well what makes your suggested commentary by any scholar not also subjective? What exactly was “very dynamic” on my part? I used cut and paste from the bible.

              Where in Romans 13 does it say that it is meant to be utilized on conjunction with Acts? Isn’t that a subjective assertion on your part? You are just a man. No infallibility on your part.

              And how does Gal. trump Luke? More subjectivity? I mean Paul was just another guy too. How do you know he got it right?

              Does anybody besides Glenn, have anything to add about the Book of Luke expounding at length about taking care of the poor, even if they weren’t christians, or the selling of all of your TV’s and computers and boats, and toys to help the poor?

              • R. Nash,
                Insults? I just stated an observation. Typical liberal – offended by everything.

                The whole Bible has to be taken in context. God tells us to obey the government, but he also tells us to obey HIS law if the government contradicts His law.

                My point was that it wasn’t just MY opinion – scholars would agree with what I stated.

                Dynamic was the translation you used, and I’m not sure what version it was. Some more dynamic versions are interpretive vs translative. The more dynamic the version it is, the more it becomes and interpretation vs translation. Too dynamic becomes paraphrase.

                Gal. doesn’t trump Luke. It just makes the point that when we help others, be sure to help those of the faith first. Paul was an apostle personally chosen and taught by Christ, and therefore the Word he wrote was as from the Lord.

                The poor will always be with us – Matt. 26:11.

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