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Thread: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    Here's what I don't get. The right wing now accepts that illegals undermine U.S. wages, see my post nearby. And they want to shut the border down, kick out 12 million illegals, so the workforce drops, the supply curve moves, demand for labor stays constant, we get higher wages. All good.
    Except that demand would decline, thus the need for labor would decline. Illegals are consumers also.

    But I gave you a "like" because I get your point.
    Quote Originally Posted by ocean515 View Post
    ...I'm not interested in debating someone who is trolling for an argument....
    Quote Originally Posted by Papa bull View Post
    I see a big problem with the idea that whatever the majority wants is OK.

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    I suppose that's true, but if a minimum wage employer doesn't offer health benefits, for example, then taxpayers pick up those costs. We know this happens, because we can see who is on Medicaid, and MANY of them have jobs with various low wage employers. Walmart is by far the biggest employer of those on Medicaid, but in my state the biggest as a group are apparently now 'staffing' companies that fill all kinds of low wage positions - warehousing, cleaning, etc.

    So we could as society remove the safety nets and these people and their kids, when they got sick, would just get denied care and many would die. In short order, there would likely be protests, walkouts, etc. and employers in a 'free market' perhaps unable to fill those positions without some base level of benefits. Or they'd fund company clinics or find some other way to keep their workers from revolting. But it seems clear that those healthcare costs would be shifted back to employers somehow, at least in part. Mothers aren't going to work a job that if they do what's asked, still won't allow them to afford healthcare for a sick child or themselves if they get sick, not in the U.S.

    That's how I look at Medicaid as a subsidy - it allows for low wage labor while keeping the peace in workplaces in many industries, and taxpayers pick up that cost. Not sure how else to accurately describe what the net effect of safety nets are to employers of low wage labor. We make that low wage job possible, in part at least, by assuring some basic level of subsistence no matter how low the wage or whether or not benefits come with that job.
    That's why I am against all forms of means tested benefits. I believe in the KISS method - keep it simple stupid. We make things overly complicated when we provide subsidies (to anyone), and that distorts the market in multiple ways.

    Some people have been arguing against a higher minimum wage based upon the idea that companies would pass the cost along to the consumer. But when we have to provide means tested welfare to the employees of low wage employers, that cost get's passed along anyway - in the form of higher taxes or a higher budget deficit.

    The simplest (and thus the most efficient) thing to do is to require employers to support their own workforce, eliminate means tested benefits, cut taxes, and if we have minimum wage driven inflation (which is debatable) then so be it. No low wage employer would have a competitive disadvantage over any others by increasing minimum wage because all would be required to do it. And the argument that we would offshore more min wage jobs is total bullcrap because we can't offshore the types of jobs that pay minimum wage (cashiers, burger flippers, and shelf stockers).
    Quote Originally Posted by ocean515 View Post
    ...I'm not interested in debating someone who is trolling for an argument....
    Quote Originally Posted by Papa bull View Post
    I see a big problem with the idea that whatever the majority wants is OK.

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by imagep View Post
    Except that demand would decline, thus the need for labor would decline. Illegals are consumers also.

    But I gave you a "like" because I get your point.
    Yes, but I'm not sure it's clear what the net effect would be. Let's assume there are 6 million workers out of the 12 million. The number doesn't matter, just making a point. Kicking 12 million consumers out would definitely reduce demand, and therefore the number working must go down. So we'd lose a bunch of jobs, no doubt. The question is whether we'd lose 3 million, or 10 million. And if we lost 8, say, as a first order effect, but wages increased not just for the generally low wage jobs performed by undocumented workers but removing them had the effect of lifting the entire wage scale for workers up through skilled labor, would we eventually get to equilibrium at a higher jobs level, or at higher wages for the other 100 million workers at similar jobs levels, etc. I've read enough papers involving modeling to know that relatively small changes in assumptions can probably get you whatever answer you want to get to. Or, at a minimum, that an honest prediction of the effect would be some large range of outcomes, depending.....

    My guess is a legitimate economist could talk about elasticities (slopes of the curves) and other factors and conclude the effect would vary depending on a host of factors, etc.

    But you're right, the main point was employers favor illegal labor the same reason they favor offshoring production to China and elsewhere, and it makes no sense to me to be rabid on the border, but OK with 'free trade.' Or for that matter, support free movement of capital, but not free movement of labor.

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    Oh. You would prefer our low-skill low-education workforce remain unemployed?


    The issue is not how low wages can go but whether or not and how high people can climb.
    Of course the lower wages are the further you have to climb. And we have billions of people trying to climb that ladder now too.

    Things might sort themselves out in a couple more generations.

    String it out long enough and Americans won't even remember what was meant by the American dream.
    Anyone wondering what I'm talking about start here:
    The Psychology of Persuasion

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by imagep View Post
    That's why I am against all forms of means tested benefits. I believe in the KISS method - keep it simple stupid. We make things overly complicated when we provide subsidies (to anyone), and that distorts the market in multiple ways.
    But even if we raised the minimum wage to $20 an hour, there are still millions of unemployable Americans, at a minimum the mentally and physically disabled. And a very small number just are fine with subsistence and won't work. So I don't see the minimum wage as ELIMINATING the need for safety nets, just reducing them tremendously.

    Heck, right wingers DO have a point about welfare, etc. It is hardly worth the effort to work if you can NOT work and get fed, your medical needs more or less taken care of, and a poverty level housing. If all working full time at min wage gets you is basically what someone on welfare gets for doing nothing, it IS a huge incentive to not work.

    My problem with that is so many jobs pay no better than poverty level existence. We don't have to guess what happens when good jobs open up - they get flooded with applications for people desperate for a decent life. With more decent jobs, the trade off isn't "poverty and work" or "poverty on the dole" it's "work and make a living wage" or "guaranteed poverty on the dole." I just believe all but a tiny minority pick the option to work and provide a better life for themselves and their family if they have that option. Increasingly now they do not have that option.

    Some people have been arguing against a higher minimum wage based upon the idea that companies would pass the cost along to the consumer. But when we have to provide means tested welfare to the employees of low wage employers, that cost get's passed along anyway - in the form of higher taxes or a higher budget deficit.

    The simplest (and thus the most efficient) thing to do is to require employers to support their own workforce, eliminate means tested benefits, cut taxes, and if we have minimum wage driven inflation (which is debatable) then so be it. No low wage employer would have a competitive disadvantage over any others by increasing minimum wage because all would be required to do it. And the argument that we would offshore more min wage jobs is total bullcrap because we can't offshore the types of jobs that pay minimum wage (cashiers, burger flippers, and shelf stockers).[/QUOTE]

  6. #146
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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    But even if we raised the minimum wage to $20 an hour, there are still millions of unemployable Americans, at a minimum the mentally and physically disabled.
    I don't think that anyone has an issue with taking care of the handicapped. But such aid shouldn't be based upon means, it should be available for everyone.

    And a very small number just are fine with subsistence and won't work. So I don't see the minimum wage as ELIMINATING the need for safety nets, just reducing them tremendously.

    Heck, right wingers DO have a point about welfare, etc. It is hardly worth the effort to work if you can NOT work and get fed, your medical needs more or less taken care of, and a poverty level housing. If all working full time at min wage gets you is basically what someone on welfare gets for doing nothing, it IS a huge incentive to not work.
    Sure, I agree. Thats part of my reasoning that if we eliminate means tested benefits, we also need to lower the lower income tax rates and increase minimum wage. If we can create a system where work pays well, and most of us can keep most of the money that we make from work, the the transition from welfare to work should be an easy one.
    Quote Originally Posted by ocean515 View Post
    ...I'm not interested in debating someone who is trolling for an argument....
    Quote Originally Posted by Papa bull View Post
    I see a big problem with the idea that whatever the majority wants is OK.

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    WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by JasperL View Post
    I suppose that's true, but if a minimum wage employer doesn't offer health benefits, for example, then taxpayers pick up those costs. We know this happens, because we can see who is on Medicaid, and MANY of them have jobs with various low wage employers. Walmart is by far the biggest employer of those on Medicaid, but in my state the biggest as a group are apparently now 'staffing' companies that fill all kinds of low wage positions - warehousing, cleaning, etc.
    First of all, no realistic minimum wage raise currently being discussed would allow families to be able to afford health insurance, so all you've done is raise the price of low skill labor but not reduced much if any social program expenditures. Second, many minimum-wage workers are able to get insurance through some other means than by their employer. And frankly, minimum-wage positions do not even come close to being worth what the cost would be for health insurance on top of their current wages. It would virtually double the employer costs. Third, a great many minimum-wage jobs are not full time, especially now that working 30 or or more hours per week on average in a single job necessitates employer health insurance offerings. Minimum-wage jobs will by and large be part-time positions that are not eligible for health insurance. So they will remain covered by government programs.

    Lastly, all of the wrath about employers not paying enough is directed at the few industries that still at least give these people jobs. What about all of the businesses and industries that have been able to completely eliminate this labor altogether? It is not really fair to say that the social programs that were instituted long ago are now suddenly only subsidies of low-wage employers. Why are they not considered subsidies for employers that have found ways to eliminate this low-wage labor altogether? Let's say retailers suddenly found a way to use robots to do all of their stocking, sales, and most other human tasks, and no longer hired minimum-wage workers at all. Those jobs were just eliminated entirely. Are the social programs that would still be in existence suddenly be no longer considered subsidies of retailers? Would they then only be subsidies to food-service and leisure and hospitality? Why are social welfare programs only considered subsidies to the businesses that actually hire people at low wages, but all the other businesses that don't even give any jobs to low skilled people immune from this criticism?

    Instead of employers paying taxes that go to subsidize their low wage workforce, wouldn't it be better to pay better wages and forego the taxes and handouts in the first place?
    You wouldn't forego those taxes. As I said above, low-wage labor will still not be able to afford these things that social programs are in place to provide to people universally.

    So we could as society remove the safety nets and these people and their kids, when they got sick, would just get denied care and many would die. In short order, there would likely be protests, walkouts, etc. and employers in a 'free market' perhaps unable to fill those positions without some base level of benefits. Or they'd fund company clinics or find some other way to keep their workers from revolting. But it seems clear that those healthcare costs would be shifted back to employers somehow, at least in part. Mothers aren't going to work a job that if they do what's asked, still won't allow them to afford healthcare for a sick child or themselves if they get sick, not in the U.S.
    You guys are not staying consistent with your own arguments. First you say that social welfare is a corporate subsidy, by indicating that people are ONLY willing to work for these low wages because welfare "subsidizes" them. But then if the hypothetical is presented that the subsidies were eliminated, suddenly the sky would come crashing down and there would be riots in the street. What about the fact that people would not take any of the low-wage jobs? If the subsidies as you call them were not in place, jobs would go unfilled until businesses offered more.

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Neomalthusian View Post
    ... First you say that social welfare is a corporate subsidy, by indicating that people are ONLY willing to work for these low wages because welfare "subsidizes" them. But then if the hypothetical is presented that the subsidies were eliminated, suddenly the sky would come crashing down and there would be riots in the street. What about the fact that people would not take any of the low-wage jobs? If the subsidies as you call them were not in place, jobs would go unfilled until businesses offered more.
    EXACTLY!!!

    Many low wage workers live somewhat comfortably on the combination of a low wage job plus various types of welfare. Get rid of the means tested welfare, and many of them would be motivated to do whatever it takes to find a higher paying job. At that point, low wage paying companies wouldn't be able to find enough decent workers at those low wages, and they would have to start competing harder for employees, most likely either with higher wages or with better benefits.

    Those who wouldn't bother to do whatever it takes to find better paying jobs, well who the heck really cares about them? If they are happy living in poverty, then that's their choice. Why should I be burdened with paying for their government welfare?
    Quote Originally Posted by ocean515 View Post
    ...I'm not interested in debating someone who is trolling for an argument....
    Quote Originally Posted by Papa bull View Post
    I see a big problem with the idea that whatever the majority wants is OK.

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by imagep View Post
    EXACTLY!!!

    Many low wage workers live somewhat comfortably on the combination of a low wage job plus various types of welfare. Get rid of the means tested welfare, and many of them would be motivated to do whatever it takes to find a higher paying job. At that point, low wage paying companies wouldn't be able to find enough decent workers at those low wages, and they would have to start competing harder for employees, most likely either with higher wages or with better benefits.

    Those who wouldn't bother to do whatever it takes to find better paying jobs, well who the heck really cares about them? If they are happy living in poverty, then that's their choice. Why should I be burdened with paying for their government welfare?
    It's not that I don't care about people just because they're unmotivated, I'm just saying there's an underlying contradiction in alleging people ONLY work for minimum wage because of welfare and thus welfare is a corporate (not social) expenditure. You can't flip the script all of a sudden when the hypothetical is presented that we simply withhold the "corporate" subsidy and then start bleating about individual welfare, because you just differentiated it as corporate welfare. Which is it? According to that very argument, those corporations would instantly feel the pinch from not being able to fill jobs, their work wouldn't get done, their sales would suffer, and the constant emergency mode operational status would come with its own high costs, and so forth. You kind of have to pick a position and stick to it, you can't play both sides, where you beg for government intervention in one breath but then bemoan it as a corporate subsidy in the next.

    My position is remove the intervention (whether you want to call it social welfare or corporate welfare) altogether. I do not claim this would be painless or pleasant, as there would certainly be some drawbacks and discomfort, both micro- and macro-economically, but in the grand scheme of things I see these "drawbacks" as temporary economic and cultural adjustments to the actual reality of the world, whereas the corporate/government dependence that has been fostered over the last 30-50 years basically insulates us from that reality. "If I run out of money, someone owes me something." No, we've got to get past that attitude and find more innovative and independent ways of meeting our own needs.

    This government intervention is fairly widely embraced as smoothing out price volatility, propping up indicators of economic growth, keeping people's basic needs met so that they don't politically mobilize and destabilize the system, and retaining the political support of rich and powerful people. Either you want government intervention (which is going to be an inextricable blend of individual and corporate welfare), or you don't want the intervention and trust that people are intelligent enough to figure out their own problems closer to home.
    Last edited by Neomalthusian; 07-14-14 at 11:02 PM.

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    Re: WAL-MART CEO: Things Aren't Getting Better For America's Middle Class

    Quote Originally Posted by What if...? View Post
    Of course the lower wages are the further you have to climb. And we have billions of people trying to climb that ladder now too.
    Wrong. The lower wages are the less you have to jump. We all start out pretty low-skill and low-experience. Some of us have higher skill levels at high school graduation due to our upbringing, and some of us have more experience because our parents pushed us into jobs. But for those who don't, the problem becomes that people constantly move the bottom rung of lifes' ladder out of reach in the name of "helping" them. But that only helps people who can manage to hold on to the very bottom rungs of the ladder, and those who don't have to buy from people that employ them. Those who get tossed off the ladder and those who never get to grab on are the ones screwed over.

    Meanwhile, given the freedom to climb, some individuals can climb very fast and very far indeed. We have a more meritocratic economy now than ever before, and increasing income inequality. Those two things are not unconnected.

    String it out long enough and Americans won't even remember what was meant by the American dream.
    That is killed Soft Despotism, not a lack of opportunity:

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexis de Toqueville
    ...After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd....

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