The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 October 2004

Low man on a totem pole

This Kerryism from last night's debate seems to demand further examination:

If we raise the minimum wage, which I will do over several years, to $7 an hour, 9.2 million women who are trying to raise their families would earn another $3,800 a year....We'd put money into the hands of people who work hard, who obey the rules, who play for the American dream. And if we did that we'd have more consumption ability in America, which is what we need right now in order to kick our economy into gear.

Well, they wouldn't actually reach that presumably-happy plus-3800 state until the last year of the phase-in, but that's a quibble.

And yes, $5.15 seems absurd in the context of today, but where do you stop? Jacob Sullum follows it to its logical conclusion:

If the minimum wage can work this sort of magic, why not raise it to $100 an hour? Then everyone would be well-off, with plenty of spending cash to stimulate the economy.

I certainly wouldn't object to being paid $100 an hour, but I think it's fair to assume it's not going to happen in my lifetime. And somehow I suspect that if the minimum wage were raised to $100, prices would rather quickly jump upwards to cover the increased costs of labor, and what's more, the recipients thereof would be in a much higher tax bracket.

<fantasy scenario>
"Are you better off today?" As I pull two slices from my $35 loaf of store-brand bread and slap them with a dollop of peanut butter ($49.95 for a ten-ounce jar, and it's not even crunchy, fercrissake), I'm inclined to say No.
</fantasy scenario>

Now that I think about it, the last time my taxes were cut, I made sure the proceeds were cycled back through the economy. And I'd be happy to do it again, though I don't expect to get anything like $3800 a year from the next Bush administration — or anything at all should Kerry be elected.

Posted at 2:00 PM to Political Science Fiction , TANSTAAFL


Kerry looked right into the camera and promised he wouldn't raise your taxes. Based on experience, I'd say that actually amounts to a promise to raise your taxes even more than he would have otherwise.

And I'm not even falling back on old "I worked harder than I ever have" and how he bailed on his promised middle-class tax cut. I knew he was lying when he said it (insert snarky comment here), but apparently only 57% of the people voting that year agreed with me.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:06 PM on 14 October 2004

This goes back to the Clinton era and so-called "targeted" tax cuts, which presume that some people are more deserving than others, and the people who make the most money and pay the most taxes are the least deserving. I am not wealthy, but I am no longer supporting a family — my children have households and children of their own — so I am considered unworthy by these standards. I have no reason to think this would change under a Kerry administration. On the other hand, I did get a few hundred bucks from Dubya.

No, this does not mean you can buy my vote for a few hundred bucks, though all offers are entertained. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 9:16 AM on 15 October 2004

For some reason folks don't understand that if I own a business and I can afford $20 an hour to run it, would I hire 5 people at $4 and hour OR if the min wage were raised to $5 and hour, I would then fire one and work more hours myself.

Min wage is not supposed to be a living wage, it is an entry wage. But then again I'm flabbergasted that MY kids have griped about only earning $5.15 an hour and an unemployment rate of 5%. They should have tried to get a job in the rust belt in the late 70's (Carter years: double digit inflation, double-digit unemployment)

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 9:28 AM on 15 October 2004