At 6 a.m. on Labor Day I pulled through a coffee shop drive-through and was greeted by a chipper delightfully friendly person who likely earned minimum wage: no holiday for him. It's hard to imagine that I would have been as pleasant were I earning so little per hour that -- after payroll taxes -- my hourly wage wouldn't have allowed me to purchase one of the large specialty coffee drinks that this gentleman was feeding through the window.
And yet this weekend the battle continued over whether or not to eliminate the minimum wage. Fox News featured economist Gary Smith who made the case that it was the minimum wage that was slowing our economy. While it's not surprising that Fox was the network to give oxygen to this fire, it was really presidential wannabe Michelle Bachmann who started the blaze by mentioning that her economic strategy would be just that. I took the liberty of writing her campaign slogan for her, "The United States: the world's next Haiti."
Will Congress and the president stand up to corporate greed in defense of the working stiff and said stiff's family? Let's just say that in light of the president's recent cave in over the EPA, I have my doubts.
Seems we've got a cadre of politicians in power from Commander in Chief to the most junior of representatives that are scared like school children of being called names. The name that scares them most: socialist.
I have only one thing to say about that fear. Well two things actually. Names can't hurt you but a lack of a living wage, roof over your head, health care benefits, a 40 hour work week, and an old age pension can and will have very detrimental effects. And secondly socialism is when we as a society accept responsibility for each other and act accordingly. For example, it may be as simple as our government passing laws requiring a minimum wage and a maximum work week or it could be a little more complicated like when service to the general public is provided by the government.
Government takeover of necessities and regulation of private industry is generally done for the common good. But you don't have to look back at historic data from the time of Karl Marx and the inauguration of public sanitation, which first began in London at the time Marx was writing the Communist Manifesto.
No, you can take for example the biggest socialist action by a president and his administration in recent memory and that's the implementation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Prior to George W. Bush's socialist takeover of airport security, private industry insured passenger safety. But that was before Mohamed Atta and his buddies flew planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. After those events the private business sector was deemed incapable of keeping air travel safe.
So now that we all agree that a certain amount of government regulation -- if not downright intervention -- is necessary to insure the common good we can get back to the argument of whether or not the government should tell businesses how much they must pay their employees.
Interestingly enough the U.S. Congress will decide if the minimum wage is too high or completely unnecessary from the get go. And it's ironic too. See Congress collectively bargains for their own wages. They represent themselves to their employer -- that's we the people -- and then they vote on our behalf in these negotiations.
And please note that when they negotiate with us on their own behalf they assure themselves that we agree to a wage much higher than the national minimum and with far more benefits than they mandate the rest of us receive from our non-governmental employers.
The best "gotcha" moment of all in the negotiations between Congress and their employers -- remember that's you and me -- is that if we want a few good old-fashioned socialist protections like a minimum wage, Social Security and Medicare for all, we must compete for face time with the lobbyists who represent private industry.
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