[This is the transcript to my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 24 January 2014.]
The class warfare drums have been dusted off and are again starting to pound ever more loudly across our land. It is time to put Obamacare and the economy behind us, and focus on the nation’s real problem – income inequality.
Now an internal memo from HHS comes to light that spells out the dire straits of Obamacare. And they only wrote that to justify firing their old software contractor – remember healthcare.gov – so they could hire Accenture to fix things without going out to competitive bid. All hell will break loose if the website is not fixed, a working end-to-end system built, and the proper ratio of bamboozled young to the sickly old is not in place by mid-March. And what gives truth to all this, from the most cynically lying administration in my lifetime, is that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is again breezily telling every mike stuck in her face that all is well and things are going swimmingly. We look for a massive taxpayer bailout of insurance companies to keep this silly game going. (more here)
But pay that no never mind. Let’s first focus on the minimum wage which won’t let a worker support a family of four, or even two. The federal minimum wage was last raised to $7.25/hr in 2009. Raising it now to $10.10 would constitute a 40% increase, and this during an economic doldrum. However, here are the actual numbers on the minimum wage whose buying power has gone up and down over the years. Minimum wage earners constitute 60% of teen-age and young adult workers who are also currently students. And three fourths of the older minimum wage earners already live above the poverty line because they are either married in a two-income household, or choose to work part-time.
Only 4% of full-time minimum wage workers are single parents. But we must always remember that the minimum wage is a “learning wage” with which over half of Americans started their work careers and quickly advanced to higher pay. Today only 3% of our workers of all ages earn the minimum wage. And beyond the usual arguments of higher minimum wages killing jobs – especially true today with advancing technology and offshoring – a higher wage also crowds out the most disadvantaged in a poor economy, since it attracts more skilled and experienced workers from the unemployed into such jobs that do remain. Even Bill Gates and other advocates for the poor don’t think that raising minimum wages will do anything to help disadvantaged workers. (more here)
Now what about those dastardly one percenters, those households with wages in the sky high bracket. For openers, wealthy households average more than four times the number of full-time workers than do poor ones, overwhelmingly single and under-educated. And the high earners, overwhelmingly married and well-educated, literally work their hind ends off when compared to everyone else. Quite opposite for the bottom income group that averages less than one half worker per household, with more than 2/3 householders not working at all.
Finally, the economic immobility myth was put to rest yesterday by a report from the nonpartisan, non-profit National Bureau of Economic Research finding that the ability to get out of being poor has not changed over the last thirty years. This discovery gores the policy talking points of both major parties. (more here) America is still the land where the clever and the industrious can successfully game government’s far reaching and heavy hand in creating and maintaining dependence.
My name is Rebane, and I also expand on this and related themes on NCTV and georgerebane.com where the transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and where such issues are debated extensively. However my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.
[Addendum] In today’s (25jan14) WSJ we see a letter to the editor entitled ‘Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?’ by Mr Tom Perkins, co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Observing past goings on in the public forum from his considerable perch overlooking the national vista, he “would call (our) attention to the parallels of Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent’, namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’”
He is among the many observers of collectivism’s progess in America (yours truly included) who detect a new shrillness arising in the legions, those who see their comfort and succor coming from an ever larger and encompassing state. And as they have so well demonstrated in the past, these people start busting up things when they get impatient with the country's rate of enforced wealth transfer. Perkins speaks of the “outraged public reaction”, albeit in San Francisco, to the city’s technology workers being bussed down the peninsula to their well paying jobs.
Led by local leftwing media (e.g. San Francisco Chronicle), and now again by our President, the crowd is getting pretty worked up about our already vilified ‘1%’. Perkins identifies the growing “libelous and cruel attacks” on the wealthier among us that arise out of “a very dangerous drift in our American thinking.” He concludes, “Kristallnacht (9-10nov38) was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”
[26jan14 update] Thanks to a correspondent and reader, we now hear from the Left about income inequality and the 1%. Leftwing economist Robert Reich worries about the lack of street demonstrations to answer America's income and wealth distribution woes as he sees them. Reich also worries about something that could end in revolution or (gasp) the Great Divide, revelations that should be news to the grassroots collectivist chorus who see these ideas as only overheated concerns from redneck conservatives. His piece 'Why There's No Outcry' is worth a read; it concludes with, "At some point, working people, students, and the broad public will have had enough. They will reclaim our economy and our democracy. This has been the central lesson of American history. Reform is less risky than revolution, but the longer we wait the more likely it will be the latter."
[27jan14 update] As long argued here, math and programming are skills that can and should be taught much earlier in school systems that intend to produce workers who have a chance of earning some significantly (what progressives call) inequitable wages during their careers. A reader sends news that my native Estonia is “making another leap ahead of the curve by beginning to implement Computer-Based Math ™” as reported by none other than Conrad Wolfram of Mathematica™ fame in ‘Computer Based Math Continues to Gain Momentum’.
We have discussed the importance and role of STEM careers to keep America in the forefront of developing and implementing LST (labor supplanting technologies) and increasing our overall quality of life. Yet our Left dominated schools ignore approaches like these and continue to sink our younger generations ever lower on the global scale of educational achievement. Instead, we seem to like class warfare wherein the state steps in to equalize things and deliver social justice at gunpoint. On the eve of the messiah's latest missive, why don't we consider giving the kids a real education, and then turning them loose in a market that rewards merit?