Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Debate on the Minimum Wage: Part One

The following transcript chronicles, complete and unabridged, the first half of a recent Facebook debate on the minimum wage.

Matthew Rozsa

Hypocrite - a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

Example - a person who says he/she supports "family values" but then opposes raising the minimum wage or providing free daycare for working single parents

Kevin Brettell

I support both of those things. However, I'm not really certain that that not supporting them is inconsistent with supporting "family values."

Kevin Brettell

Actually, I take that back. I support raising the minimum wage. I support public daycares, but not necessarily free.

Matthew Rozsa
If you support "family values", then presumably it is because you believe that strong families are the building block of a healthy society. As anyone who has either experienced or witnessed the ramifications of poverty can tell you, it's pretty hard to raise children in an emotionally, psychologically, and morally healthy environment when the parents (a) are incapable of effectively providing for their needs, as is inevitably the case on a minimum wage (or even slightly above minimum wage) salary and (b) are unable to find a reliable, safe, and affordable place to deposit their children during workdays when they aren't in school.

In short, this is just one more example of how conservatives claim to support an abstract ideal but then oppose the concrete steps that would need to be taken to make it a realistic possibility.

Max Price

lots of folks in my town cant get a minimum wage job to support their children because the first half of their day is spent in high school. damn those family values! seriously though, this is such a loaded subject, matt. you can't just apply certain elements in order to shame conservatives.

Lacey A. Sparks
I think "family values" needs a definition here. Many conservatives probably believe that if parents just worked hard enough, they could provide adequately for their families without sucking the teat of the nanny state. This model does not account for race, class, and/ or gender, etc, obstacles such as work place discrimination, but instead believes everyone, in true American Dream fashion, can go from rags to riches with some hard work. Additionally, single working mothers, who are most in need of affordable day care, have already opted out of the "family values" club according to many conservatives, because single motherhood is not itself considered a family value. Basically, conservatives may not see the contradictions because to them, the definition of "family values" may not include the poor or single parents because "family values" only refer to providing a financially comfortable lifestyle with two opposite-sex parents.

Matthew Rozsa

A man I've never met named James Santini somehow saw this status update and saw fit to reply to it although, as is often the case with conservatives, he preferred to do so in a private letter, rather than in a public forum where he would be forced to accept accountability for his opinions (right-wingers apparently love the concept of accountability only insofar as it doesn't apply to themselves).

Here is what he wrote:

"Minimum wages create institutional unemployment by raising the costs of businesses requiring unskilled labor. If I could hire 3 people at 5 dollars an hour, now I can only afford 2 at 7.50 per hour.

This incentivizes outsourcing or the employment of capital improvements to further reduce staffing requirements.

Low skilled jobs are often the best opportunity for uneducated single parents to enter the workforce and build skills and experience needed to improve their conditions. These jobs are the first rung on the corporate ladder. You are supporting policies designed to eliminate or raise this rung.

For these reasons, minimum wage price controls are in fact antithetical to the alleged economic ends aimed at.

Of course, as a New Deal Democrat you probably don't know this and or if you do, support this effect as it drives more of the huddled masses into your redistributive welfare web. If these are Family Values than I want none of them.

Rethink your stance please."

Here is my rebuttal:

1. Conservatives will often cite the ridiculous belief that raising the minimum wage causes business to cut jobs. This is an assertion that they tend to insist upon even after well-respected economists have refuted it (see, and even after it is pointed out that all of the downsides they identify as existing with raising the minimum wage - such as an increased cost of operations for small businesses and a consequent tendency to outsource jobs - can easily be rectified by additional policies that won't insist on paying the average worker substandard wages (i.e., creating tax cuts and financial subsidies to small businesses to cover the cost of wage increases, raising tariffs on foreign goods so as to make it more difficult for companies that ship jobs overseas to continue selling their products to consumers in the United States).

2. The argument in the third paragraph (i.e., the one beginning with the phrase "Low skilled jobs...") is perhaps the most ridiculous one of all, since there isn't any reason to believe that entry-level positions would be any less "entry-level" if they were paid $8 or $10 an hour than they are at the current wage. After all, plenty of jobs in hiring paying industries DO have entry-level positions at these or higher rates; it is only the businesses that have gotten away with either preventing their employees from unionizing or crippling the bargaining power of their unions (see retail outlets, manufacturing jobs) that force their entry-level workers to subsist on such inadequate incomes.

3. In the final paragraph, Mr. Santini then resorts to the standard smear against New Deal Democrats, i.e., that we want to "drive... the huddles masses" into a "redistributive welfare web." This boils down to a formula that I have recently deduced exists within the conservative community whenever they address a liberal opponent (usually one they can't rebut using actual fact and logic):

X + Accusation of supporting "socialism" or "big government" = Shut the fuck up!

Unfortunately for Santini, I have encountered this imbecile approach so many times that I've already written a blog article thoroughly debunking it, one that I'm ready to whip out whenever the occasion calls for it.

In conclusion, I hope that Mr. Santini will post his future replies on this thread, rather than being a coward about it.

Matthew Rozsa

To Max:

I'm not sure what you meant by your post, but I believe my response to James Santini addresses the points you raised (minus the accusations of cowardice, which do not apply to you since you did have the integrity to post your thought...s on my wall). That said, if I inadvertently did leave one of your major arguments unaddressed (which is entirely possible, since I'm a little confused as to what you were trying to articulate), please let me know so I can fix that.

For Part Two, see:

No comments: