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Archive for Sunday, April 7, 2013

Letter: Living wage

April 7, 2013

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To the editor:

Through a month-and-a-half-long campaign, United Students Against Sweatshops at Kansas University secured orders of union-made, living-wage apparel set to enter KU Bookstore in mid-April. This victory was achieved through students caring about conditions under which university apparel is made. It is a positive first step in addressing the enormous issue of sweatshop labor in the garment industry.

Nonetheless, the university still does business with companies engaged in sweatshop labor. A key example is the company Adidas, which markets KU athletic apparel. Adidas failed to ensure that 2,800 Indonesian garment workers were paid legally mandated severance totaling $1.8 million.

Our labor code of conduct, from the Collegiate Licensing Company, is clear: “Licensees shall pay employees, as a floor, at least the minimum wage required by local law or the local prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher, and shall provide legally mandated benefits.”

We should have reason to be proud of companies that make products for the university. This is not a reason to unconditionally sever ties with Adidas, but it is on KU to ensure companies it does business with act responsibly. Adidas’ contract with KU expires this summer; if Adidas wishes to do business with KU in the future, it should be obligated to pay their workers.

Comments

KS 1 year, 4 months ago

And how do you know that Adidas is not? You don't mention your proof of that. You make a statement, but what is your proof?

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beingcosmicdancers 1 year, 4 months ago

It is well documented, and has been in the news for the past two years--adidas has yet to pay the legally owed severance pay to these workers. The Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor monitoring organization, just released an update on the impact of non-payment of severance on the PT Kizone workers and their families. They surveyed 110 workers and conducted in-depth interviews with 11 workers. Here are some of the most stunning figures:

One hundred six of the 110 workers stated that their current income was not adequate to fulfill their families’ needs; the majority are not currently working.

Nearly half of this group of 100 workers said that they had reduced their meals from three times a day to twice a day and a significant majority reported that the frequency and nutritional quality of their meals had dropped since the closure. Almost all of the workers (96 out of 110) reported that they have experienced periods of time since the factory’s closure when they have not been able to meet their families’ basic nutritional needs.

Nearly all of the workers reported that they have accrued debts since the Kizone closure. Most workers have incurred debts related to school fees, housing costs, food costs, and/or health care.

21 workers reported that they had been forced to pull their children from school and delay their education because they could not pay their school fees.

We asked the 110 workers surveyed last month if they had sold food vouchers rather than use them at Alfamart; 88 of the workers reported that they had sold at least some of the vouchers.

Check out the report here: http://www.workersrights.org/freports/WRC%20Memo%20re%20PT%20Kizone%20Update%203.26.13.pdf

Also, former workers of the PT Kizone factory have gone on several tours in the US, and will go to Europe this summer to speak with the public about adidas' continued failure to remedy this situation. The worker tour is stopping by Lawrence in late April.

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deec 1 year, 4 months ago

Google is your friend. " Most recently, the spotlight has turned on adidas – the athletic apparel company with a multi-million dollar exclusive contract for UW-Madison’s athletic apparel. Beginning in 2010, the P.T. Kizone factory in Tangerang, Indonesia, which manufactured collegiate apparel for adidas and other manufacturers, failed to pay wages and other mandated compensation required by Indonesian law, including severance pay after the factory closed and the owner declared bankruptcy. An Indonesian bankruptcy tribunal determined that the factory owed 30.8 billion Rupiah – approximately $3.4 million in unpaid compensation to the approximately 2600 workers at the factory."

http://www.hq-law.com/blog/Labor-Law/court-grants-indonesian-union.html

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voevoda 1 year, 4 months ago

So, cheeseburger, students exercising their freedom of speech in a polite (with valentines and cupcakes) and lawful manner, and calling upon the leadership of the KU Bookstore to conduct business in an ethical manner, now constitutes bullying, in your opinion?

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voevoda 1 year, 4 months ago

According to the LJW article, the protest was peaceful and friendly. What the students wanted originally wasn't workable, according to bookstore staff. But there is a world of difference between presenting an unwelcome truth in a peaceful manner and bullying. Unless, cheeseburger, you consider Jesus to be a bully, too.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 4 months ago

Cheeseburger, not surprised that you would come down on the side of sweat shop. Did you have a bad childhood, or is it your nature to be on the side of greedy, selfish weathly people?

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Bob Forer 1 year, 4 months ago

My parents taught me to stand up for what is right. If you don't like that, its probably because people hate being called to task when they know they are wrong.

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beingcosmicdancers 1 year, 4 months ago

These students were not bullies! They were a group of organized and dedicated students standing up for what is right--also something that is good for public image and will earn the bookstore money! The bookstore may have been intimidated because they are not used to students coming to them, but the students were always peaceful, reasonable, and polite--if bringing someone cupcakes is considered radical activism or "bullying" now, I can't imagine what you think of other movements! The real bully here is adidas--a company that earns billions of dollars each year, yet for two years has refused to pay $1.8 million dollars in severance pay to Indonesian workers.

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beingcosmicdancers 1 year, 4 months ago

Brands currently sold at the KU bookstore violate the labor code put in place by the University. The brand that students, community members, faith community members, and local businesses were calling for is the first brand that does not. You can find all of this info online.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 4 months ago

KU should NOT be doing business with companies engaged in bullying sweatshop labor.

Bring the business back to the states. The USA need the jobs back home for our broken down economy driven by outsourced labor and fraud within the too big to fail financial institutions.

Bring the jobs back home.

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Curveball 1 year, 4 months ago

Bring the jobs back to the US? Do you want to pay $60-70 for a T-shirt or hat?

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Bob Forer 1 year, 4 months ago

Excuse me. There are American manufacturers who American workers that produce the same product at competitive prices.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

How do they manage that, given the great disparity in wages between this country and many others?

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Bob Forer 1 year, 4 months ago

Number of reasons:

1) Because of modern machinery, an individual item does not have a lot of human labor involved. Most of the cost is in the machine.

2) American manufacturers don't have to pay to have the item transported half way around the world. Energy is expensive, and much of the money saved on labor is lost in additional shipping costs.

3) American manufacturers are willing to reduce their profit margins. Some actually have a conscience and would rather have lower profits than exploit ten year old children.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks.

So why don't more American manufacturers do it? It's relatively difficult to find many items made in this country.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

If the true cost of a sweatshirt, including paying a decent, livable wage to those who make them, is $60-70, then that's what they should be priced at. If you decide it's not worth that much, then don't buy one.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

And, then if people don't buy them, the business can't succeed, and will fail, and those employees lose their jobs.

Hardly a great outcome.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Exploitive wages distort market forces. If there isn't enough demand for a good or service, priced to include its true cost of production, including decent wages to those doing the producing, then there really isn't a strong need for it. Fast food is a prime example of that. If prices for fast foods increased enough to cover a living wage for the workers that produce it, people would eat less of it, but they wouldn't stop eating. They'd just buy more food at the grocery store or farmer's market, and prepare it themselves.

And with the sweatshirt (who really needs one with a jayhawk on it?) people will still have that $60-70 available to spend, and they'll spend it on something they find more necessary to their lives, and that will fund the jobs that create that good or service.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

What you are describing is both a long term and a best case scenario. But what happens in the short term?

Let's look at the example you gave, the fast food industry. Let's suppose you're correct and people frequent fast food joints less due to increased prices which was itself the result of those businesses passing on to consumers the higher wages. Those fast food restaurants not only will respond by laying off workers, but the workers they lay off will be those who are of the least value to the restaurants. And let's be honest again, what we're talking about are people with the fewest skills, people who are marginally employable. What you are counting on, or more precisely, what you're hoping, is that those who lose their jobs in fast food will then become employed in the industries that will be picking up the slack, or in your example, the grocery stores and those who supply grocery stores. And that these marginally skilled workers will bring to their new employers skills that will be of value of at least a living wage.

It's not a bad plan. It just involves a lot of wishful thinking where everything has to fall into place. And if it doesn't, you've created a huge unemployment problem.

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grisgris 1 year, 4 months ago

Your plan doesn't take into consideration what those 'marginally employable' people will do for food or bills between working at the fast food restaurant and getting hired at the grocery store.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Well, I might agree generally with your comments, but I think there's a lot of difficulty defining some of the terms you use in a reasonable way.

"Exploitive" wages. "Decent" wages. "Strong need". "True costs of production".

Most of what many people buy they don't "need" at all, but we "need" people to buy things, so that our economy can flourish.

Also, if the grocery stores, etc. all raised their wages, then costs of everything would increase, which would leave the folks at the low end in basically the same situation - they'd have more money, but everything would cost more as well, so...

For the idea of raising wages to work, it would have to be across the board, but then you'd also have to have some way of ensuring that costs don't just rise commensurately, otherwise the whole thing is pointless.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

So, are you (and jhawkins) saying the economy can only function if low-wage workers continue to be exploited? (And paying someone a wage that they can't possibly afford the basic necessities and a small number of amenities is clearly exploitation.)

And I don't need to define what anyone's "needs" are. They can do that themselves. But as long the the pricing structure is distorted by the ability of employers to exploit employees, that choice will not be a properly informed one.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

I can't speak for him, but that's not at all what I'm saying.

And, I might agree with that definition of "exploitive". But, I might not agree that folks working entry level jobs should be paid enough to support a family of five on their income alone, otherwise they're being "exploited".

I'm pointing out that your terms are loaded and not clearly defined, for the most part, and that the idea of raising wages is alone not enough to ensure that those at the bottom end of the economic spectrum are able to afford to live decently.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

We'd all like to think of the noble worker, toiling in sweatshop-like conditions, oppressed by some international conglomerate with a CEO who makes tens of millions. That happens. It's wrong. And we should do what we can to solve that problem.

But, we also have dishwashers, bus people, those manning the french-fryer at our own local fast food joints. Those jobs are being paired with employees who are recent releases from jail, recent graduates from treatment facilities, high school students. Sometimes it's a person who has been clean and sober for less than 24 hours. It's people with poor work histories or no work history. It's people like that who businesses are willing to take a chance on at minimum wage, but not at a living wage if that's defined as a 40%-70% increase, as has been done in this forum.

Not everyone is the classic working class hero. Some are on the margins of being employed and on the margins of employability. It's that latter group that certainly suffer in the short term and will probably suffer in the long term.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Not everyone, and certainly not a majority of people, getting minimum wage are drunks, drug addicts or recently released convicts. Using the existence of such people to justify the exploitation of other workers is just plain dishonest.

And the employers out there doing the "community service" of hiring marginal workers, and paying these folks a wage that couldn't possibly pull them out of the margins, and in fact only perpetuates their existence there, is really no service to society at all.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

I didn't say everyone getting minimum wage are drunks, addicts, etc. But some are. Some are mere high school students with zero experience, zero work history, zero anything. They are a complete blank sheet of paper, which is actually better than the drunks, etc.

As for doing the community a service, I would argue that we are, as are they doing the business a service, assuming they do a good job. We're helping each other, because Lord knows, Bozo, you're not hiring them. And if you force me to pay them $12.50/hr., I won't hire them either. No one will.

As I said elsewhere in this thread, I pay many employees more than your proposed living wage, after they have proven themselves worthy by doing a good job. I have one employee who has been with me for almost two decades. I've had workers who lasted one day. I'm no more exploitive of the lower paid person than the other worker is exploitive of me. Force that higher wage on me and businesses like mine and I'll just give those hours to those currently there, cut out those on the lower end and leave them for you to hire.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Maybe.

But, I think you underestimate the effect of paying people low wages, as well. How much can you expect people to care and how hard can you expect them to work if they're getting paid so little that they can't afford to rent an apartment and live decently, if basically?

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Here's the deal, when we're discussing those in society with the fewest marketable skills, those with dismal work histories, those who simply hiring them represents a significant chance to the employer, those individuals might actually have to make some compromises as well. I know good and well that while I attended KU and worked at McDonald's that I might not have enough money to live a certain lifestyle. So I compromised, as in I had roommates. Yes, I shared rent. With that simple compromise, I could get by, which included paying tuition. Now if it's your intent to say that every worker, even those with the fewest skills, dismal work histories, maybe leaving rehab, maybe leaving prison, deserve a nice one bedroom apt. in a nice complex, spending no more that 25% of their income on housing, then you've set the bar too high.

As an example, go to the shelter here in Lawrence. Look at their residents and think who is going to hire these folks? Will Scycho hire them as an attorney? Will Cottonwood hire them to supervise developmentally disabled adults? Will Bozo hire them? Will you? The fact is, that the simple act of hiring them is a significant risk, even for someone who is in a business that is itself a risk. We certainly want them to become employed, right? Who is going to do it, if not people like me? And I'm telling you that at $7.25/hr., I'll take the risk. At $12.50, I won't.

I currently have several employees who make considerably more than the living wage being talked about. These are people who have worked for me for years. I have no problem paying people once they have proven they are worth the money. But if you enact a substantial wage increase, I will simply give those hours to people who have already proven themselves, letting go those who have not.

Go to the shelter, Jafs, go tonight. And tell me you'll hire them at $12.50/hr. Tell me Bozo will.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 4 months ago

Why does it take years for people to prove themselves. Working at a hamburger joint isn't an exceptionally hard job to master.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

While you suggest it isn't a particularly difficult job, one that shouldn't take years to master, you'd be surprised at the number who have failed. Simply showing up on time, day after day, properly attired, not reeking of alcohol, seems to befuddle a certain segment.

But you are correct, once they overcome those obstacles, the job of dishwasher or bus person isn't too terribly difficult. But the going rate for those jobs isn't that great either. The real value to the business is when they can cook when that's needed, clean when that's needed, bus, wash dishes, whatever. It's when they learn that the free meal they get with each shift doesn't always have to be the surf and turf. Sometimes it can be the salad that someone ordered for pickup but failed to show up. And if it's slow, they know to go home but if it's busy they are willing to stay longer.

For some, that learning process takes a couple of months, for others, it takes years. For some, it never does. For that last person, they will work at my burger joint for a short time, then at another for an equally short time, again and again, repeat forever. And it's that last person, the one whose light bulb never is lit, that I question the wisdom of those who advocate a living wage.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

So, you want one employee to bus, wait tables, clean, cook and wash dishes.

Hmm - sounds like you expect a lot from an employee to me. It's no wonder you are often disappointed.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

That is by far the most naive comment you've made in a long time, Jafs. It's reflective of your lack of real world experience.

Every restaurant is going to have busy times and not so busy times. It makes no sense at all to bring in a full staff during the not so busy times, one person washing a dish or two as they trickle into the back, another bussing a table or two, another to greet the few customers as they enter, another to prepare the food, another to bag up the to-go orders. During those times, what the business needs is a person who can do it all. Then, when it's busy, you bring in more people each doing a specific task, yet flexible enough that if one person falls behind, they can jump in and help. No offense, Jafs, but that's restaurant 101 and shows clearly that you haven't a clue as to how to run a business.

I must say, Jafs, that my irony meter jumps off the scale when people with no real world business experience offer poor advice to someone with substantial experience. It's the same when someone who is risk averse telling someone who already takes substantial risk that it's in their own best interests to take more risk. The irony meter just pegs out.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

That's fine - you can dismiss me if you like.

But you're the one working 80 hours/week and not making much money, if your past posts have been honest, even though you've been running this business for a long time.

I've never claimed to know how to run a restaurant, either. And, wanting minimum wages raised isn't because I think it's in your best interests to take more risk - it's because I think people deserve to make enough to live decently if they're working full time.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

"it's because I think people deserve to make enough to live decently if they're working full time." I would agree with you if you added one small addition. That being "if the quality of their work is such that it is of value to the business." That has yet to be determined and it should be determined by those in a position to make such a determination. You're making sweeping generalizations about people, treating them all as if they are all quality workers. You're right 90% of the time. It's those 10% that I'm hiring, giving them a chance. (Sorry, not many quality workers aspiring to be dishwashers and bussers. Not many children dream of growing up and washing dishes in a restaurant.) It's those 10% that I won't hire if you force me to give these unproven workers a big raise on day one. And I know for certain you won't be hiring them either. Who will? Oh, right, Bozo says grocery stores will hire them some time in the future, maybe, perhaps. And in the meantime, we'll all just support them on welfare.

BTW - When you make a comment like the one immediately above, you absolutely are making a claim that you know how to run a restaurant.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

College students working part-time are clearly in a different category than adults working full time and trying to support themselves.

And, many minimum wage employees aren't members of the categories you mention.

Regardless, you didn't answer the question - how hard can you expect people to work and how much can you expect them to care for low wages? You have to understand that job performance is related to that as well as other factors. So, if people who are being paid a low minimum wage don't offer much, and you conclude that they're not worth more than that, you're missing a part of the equation.

How many people in the categories you list do you hire?

You make a good point, in that those folks are the ones we want to get integrated into productive society, and it's hard to do that. But for me, if we're going to hire them, we should pay them a decent wage - there's no real reason to pay them less than other folks who do the same jobs.

By the way, there was a guy who had a sign that he wanted work, and I spoke with him for a while - he said that Loring Henderson would vouch for him. I know Loring, and called him - he said the guy wasn't reliable, and didn't recommend I hire him (we needed some work done on our house). So I didn't hire him, but I felt that was a real shame - he was at the shelter, and I like the idea of helping those folks by exchanging work for money rather than just donating.

By the way, I've never advocated for $12.50/hr - the number I've used is the one for the minimum wage adjusted for inflation - about $10.50/hr.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

"College students are in a different category ... " Many people are in different category. That's been my point all along. Your one size fits all approach will benefit some and destroy others.

I might have a dishwasher who has been with me for a long time and has shown to be a good employee, a reliable employee. I've given him raises to reflect his value. Should the new hire make as much on day one, even though he's doing the same job? No. It's you, and others in this forum who are lumping all workers together and all businesses together. It's I who have said we need flexibility to treat people different. The person who has worked for me for 20 years makes more than the person who has worked for me for five years, who in turn makes more than the person who has worked for me for 5 months. Even if they are doing the same job.

Businesses also need to be treated differently. A small town diner has different concerns than McDonald's. The small town grocery store is different than Costco. The small town hardware store is different than Home Depot. It's people who are making these one size fits all proposals like a 50% wage increase that are failing to see the differences. Do that at your own peril, because while you may increase the wages of many who work at those large establishments, you'll lose workers at the smaller ones.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Yes, I didn't say that right.

I agree that employees shouldn't all make the same amount - businesses need to be able to reward performance. But, all folks making minimum wage should make the same amount, and it should be enough to live decently.

College students and others who are only working part time and don't need to support themselves are clearly in a different category from working adults who are supporting themselves - I'm just not sure how to deal with that.

Also, I never said employers should hire unreliable employees. What I would like is for places like the shelter to offer a variety of helpful programs, to help folks with addictions, learning how to dress/interview/work, etc. so that people without a lot of education and skills have a chance.

And, it's precisely because those low end jobs are boring and mind/soul numbing that I want folks working them to be able to support themselves decently (not lavishly) - somebody's got to do that work, and it's inherently not rewarding. If they can do almost as well on welfare, or better with crime, what's the incentive to work 40 hours a week?

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

If welfare, which might include cash payments, housing subsidies, food stamps and then supplemented by private charitable organizations that supply food, clothing, etc., if all those combined net the recipient the same lifestyle as full time employment, then the possible solutions are to either increase the incentives to work or to decrease the incentives to stay on welfare. You're focused on increasing the incentives to leave welfare because you have a belief that by simply being alive, people are entitled to a certain lifestyle. You then extend that to include that by simply showing up at a job, they are entitled to a certain livable wage. I qualify those assumptions. People are entitled to certain things "if" they do certain other things in return. I have no problem reducing the incentives to stay on welfare if the person does not abide by certain guidelines. And I have no problem making a life of crime so onerous, that few would willingly choose such a lifestyle.

BTW - Take your proposed minimum wage, $10.50. Now let's suppose there was a hypothetical husband/wife partnership, each who likes the work they do, each chooses to work 80 hrs/wk. Now break out your calculator. What you will find is that this hypothetical couple are making less per hour than some of their employees, more than others who are being paid the current minimum wage, but cumulatively are making a decent living. In this very forum, I've seen this hypothetical couple being described as greedy, disgusting, etc. Would you agree with those descriptions? I know a couple who closely resembles this hypothetical couple.

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msezdsit 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh but that is capitalism. Succeed and profit or fail and go away.

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Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 4 months ago

Either the goods, if they are sold by the KU bookstore, should be priced so that people can make a living, whatever country they're in, or American manufacturers can be found, such as what The Sycophant refers to, to do this work and still produce the shirts at a reasonable cost.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

These are just weasel words in support of exploitation.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

This was in response to the latest tinky incarnation, which appears to have left the building (again.)

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cowboy 1 year, 4 months ago

Collegiate goods have one of the highest profit margins for everyone involved in the manufacturing , sales , and retail sales of the products. There is no reason all of these products should not be produced in the states other than complete greed.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 4 months ago

I wonder how many of the folks posting who have no problems with sweat shops and other forms of exploitation consider themselves "Good Christians?"

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Patriot2 1 year, 4 months ago

What was that movie all those years ago? Soylent Green or something like that?

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

If they're not of value to the business, then you shouldn't hire them at all.

On the other hand, if you do, and they do an acceptable job (not stellar or outstanding), then I think they should make enough to live on. On top of that, performance based raises or bonuses make sense to me as well.

Given my experiences as an employee, I wouldn't trust most employers to reasonably determine what employees are "worth" - they tend to squeeze as much as possible from them and compensate them as little as they can.

And, it's precisely because those jobs are boring and nobody really wants to do them that those employees should be compensated adequately for them. It's soul destroying to spend your life doing things that have no inherent interest or meaning - how much is that worth?

By the way, from watching many episodes of Restaurant Impossible, a show about failing restaurants, I can say that it is very common advice from the host for owners to work less, delegate more, and create clearly defined job descriptions, all of which seem to go in the opposite direction from what you do.

The show has a 90% success rate, meaning that 9/10 places he visits are able to turn around a failing business (often on the verge of failure within months), and make it successful - pretty impressive.

Other common issues and themes are cleanliness, overly large menus, food quality, and decor.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

I've said this many times, in many different ways. I'm willing to take the risk at $7.25/hr. but not at $10.50/hr. You ain't hiring them. Bozo ain't. Now what? Welfare? Prison?

You've provided no alternative for those 10% who are marginally employable who won't get the chance when you raise than minimum wage.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

"You've provided no alternative for those 10% who are marginally employable who won't get the chance when you raise than minimum wage."

You're using the relatively small number of "marginally employable" to justify keeping wages for the very large swath of the labor force that don't fall into that category at levels that are purely exploitive. Raising the minimum wage to something sane and non-exploitive might cost you a little bit of money, but it will very likely also create a larger pool of potential customers for you. For those who are "marginally employable," we need to find more targeted solutions than allowing vast swaths of low-wage earners who aren't in that category to be to exploited.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Well, I think that we should be doing more to help those "marginally employable" people so that they become more employable - that's why I support education, job training, drug programs, etc.

Frankly, if they don't become actually employable, then they don't have much of a chance at all, and will probably wind up committing crime instead. Given your scenario of how they'll work for you for a couple of months, then drift on, etc.

If you hire somebody for a couple of months, then fire them because they're not doing a good enough job, that's not really addressing the issue (and it's not your job to do that alone).

How many drunks/drug addicts/ex-cons do you hire at $7.25? Do you provide any job training/coaching to try to help them succeed?

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

And, what bozo said.

Although, we also have to find a way to make sure that costs of goods and services don't just rise along with any rise in wages, otherwise everybody's in the same boat.

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Patriot2 1 year, 4 months ago

30 years ago I made less than one quarter of what I make now. I had rent, utilities, car payment and a child to raise. Today I have a house payment and utilities. My car is paid for but is on it's last leg and I have no children to raise. 30 years ago I went to the grocery store and the department store and bought what we needed and wanted. Today I shop the adds before grocery shopping if its not on sale I most likely decide that I don't need it. The clearance rack is my friend. The minimum wage has increased a number of times over the last 30 years. With each increase everything else also increased. The dollar will only buy about 25% of what it bought 30 years ago. Remember buying a hamburger, fries and a coke AND getting change back from a dollar? Try that today. Guess what I'm trying to say is, if you raise the minimum wage to $25.00 an hour, it won't make a difference everything will increase right along with it and the value of that dollar will go down further. Maybe we'll be able to get that burger, fries and coke and still get change back from a $10.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

This all ignores a few realities. 1) The minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation. If it had done so over the last few decades, it'd now be approaching $11 an hour. 2) Worker productivity has increased significantly over the last few decades, but the income gains that have come from that have gone exclusively to the top 10%, very highly concentrated in the top 1%, and even more concentrated in the top 0.1%.

"Remember buying a hamburger, fries and a coke AND getting change back from a dollar? Try that today. "

Yes, there's been inflation. But the cause of that has certainly not been the rising wages of the working and middle classes. And most certainly not because minimum wage has failed to rise with inflation.

BTW, I don't know anyone suggesting a minimum wage of $25 an hour. But $11 an hour would get us back to purchasing power that was available to a minimum-wage earner in 1968.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Only if we can make sure that businesses don't just increase their prices.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Whether prices would be raised with a raise in the minimum wage would vary from business to business. Those wages aren't the only drivers of the price-setting. There's also wages of management and profits for the owners, along with a large number of other expenses, some more and some less essential to the operation of the business.

Bottomline, if a business can't operate without exploiting its employees, they shouldn't be in business. Some industries, such as fast food, would very likely have to raise prices if they didn't lower expenses otherwise, or lower profit expectations for the owners of the business. But so what? As I noted above, society and the economy would be just fine if people ate less fast food. And while there may be slightly fewer such restaurants and minimum-wage employees, those employees that remained would have more money to spend at other businesses, and this is why a raise in the minimum wage historically has no net effect on the overall level of employment.

Besides, if income/wages are the main driver of inflation, nearly ALL gains in income over the last 30 or so years have been at the very top, not among minimum wage earners or the middle class, and those gains have been very dramatic.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

You're missing the point.

If we don't stop them, businesses will just raise prices, and then folks making $10/hr. will just scrape by, and not be helped any by higher wages.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

"Some people's efforts aren't worth $11 an hour."

Then don't hire them.

"But let's do it your way - jack up the minimum wage up to an unrealistic figure and watch the unemployment rate skyrocket as small businesses and mom-n-pop operations lay people off or go out of business altogether."

$11 an hour is hardly jacking things up to an unrealistic figure-- it wouldn't even be above the poverty level for a small family. Historically, raising the minimum wage has a net zero effect on employment levels. And for those very few businesses that can't survive without exploiting their employees, good riddance.

Fearmongering usually isn't particularly fact-based.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

"Your earlier post seemed to indicate that retailers wouldn't necessarily raise prices to cover the increased costs of your proposal."

I said no such thing. Read it again.

Some businesses might have to raise prices, but there's been a good deal of research on that, and on average, raising the minimum wage to $9, all other things remaining the same, would only raise prices by a 2% or less. Raising it to $11 would raise it more than that, but if all competitors in a particular field also have to raise their prices the same, the competitive landscape would remain the same.

"Your 'solution' only shifts issues from one demographic to another."

I'm all for shifting a bit of the "exploitation" of low-wage workers to higher income brackets that can easily afford-- that's the whole point.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

You miss the point. Businesses can choose to raise prices, even if they don't have to, unless we stop them.

If they raise prices to cover their increased costs, then the whole thing is a waste of time - low income folks will have more money, but it won't buy them any more.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

I understand the point, but your math is off.

Raising the minimum wage to $9 (from $7.25) would likely cause a price increase of 2% or so on the goods or services that they are directly involved in producing, and the economy-wide inflation effect would be considerably less than that. But these workers would see a nearly 20% increase in their income. So from their perspective, it'd be no waste of time at all.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Why wouldn't companies raise their prices by the exact increase in their expenses? That would be the logical thing to do.

And, my number was $10.50, to bring the minimum wage into line with inflation over the last 40 years or so.

Using your figures, the business is paying about 24% more in wages for the minimum wage folks, but only increasing their prices by 2% - how would that work exactly? If there were only a few people working at minimum wage, I could possibly understand it, but there are lots of people working at that level.

And, you even say that's on the stuff they're directly involved with, which makes even less sense.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Wages to minimum wage workers aren't the only expense for most businesses. There are also raw material expenses, rent, utilities, wages and benefits to management (and other higher wage employees,) profits to owners (not technically considered an expense,) etc. So a 24% increase in salaries to their lowest-paid employees will not require a 24% increase in the prices they charge. The research I've seen say that an increase to $9 would, on average, lead to an increase in the price of goods or services provided of 2%, plus or minus.

But even if prices rise, the main effect of this would be that consumers take that price hike into account in how they spend their money-- in other words, fair wages to employees become part of the marketplace decision.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Ok - that might make more sense.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Bozo - Worker productivity has increased largely as a result of automation. While it might take a quarter of the workforce on an assembly line to produce a widget now, compared with a few decades ago, it would not be accurate to say each worker is working four times as hard, or working four times as many hours. The increase is due to robots making the widget. Whether or not that is a good thing or not, I'll leave that one alone.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

That's certainly a large part of the equation, but it still doesn't change the fact that ALL of the increased income from the increase in productivity has gone to the top 10% (and that disguises that the concentration gets even more among the 1%, even more among 0.1% and even more among the 0.01%,) while none of it has gone to everyone else. Preventing the minimum wage from keeping pace with inflation has been a very conscious part of that process.

And none of that is a good thing.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Let me ask you a question, Bozo. Suppose a factory making widgets makes the decision to automize. They reduce their labor force from 100 to 25. They pay for the machines and their upkeep, but save on wages, health care, retirement benefits, etc. With those decisions, profits go up. Who should get those increased profits, the 25 remaining employees or management who made the decision to automize? Or even more fundamentally, who gets to decide where those extra profits go?

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

That's an interesting question.

Let's see - they've laid off 3/4 of their work force. What happens to those folks?

Their profits increase.

As far as we know, the quality of their products remains the same.

If, as you seem to suggest, management gets the extra profits, then management gains, customers stay the same, and 3/4 of their work force loses, while the remaining employees stay the same. It's the perfect modern capitalist scenario at work, I guess. Folks at the top gain, many in the middle (or lower) lose or stay the same, and customers aren't getting any better products/services.

I say that we all have a stake in those decisions, and that we all (through government) have a right to decide on policies that affect them. Why? Because we may care more about those 75 employees than the increased profits for management. We may think that it would be better for them to continue to have jobs that pay decently than for the company to increase profits (especially if those go to management, who are already making way more than labor).

You point out the problem quite nicely - when businesses only care about profits, people come in far down the line. That's why we need regulation and government involvement.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

You want government to be involved in the decisions whether or not to automize a private widget factory, why? Because government has proven itself to be a wise decision maker? Because they run their operations in an efficient manner?

Will government be there when the money is needed to automize? Was government there when the company opened, needing initial capital outlays? And when those widgets are really horse drawn carriages, and not wanting massive layoffs, government will step in to guarantee demand for this useless product.

This all sounds very familiar. Where have I heard of this scheme before? Oh, yes, it was called the Soviet Union. As I recall, things didn't work out too well over there, with the government planning and executing the economy. The government being involved in more and more of the decision making simply caused government to become so big that the entire economy collapsed under the weight of the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, in theory, everyone was equal, equally poor and equally disgruntled.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

jhf.

Yes, I don't see reducing the already meager benefits available to struggling folks as an answer. That fits nicely with the inhumane nature of capitalism, though, which tends to objectify and commoditize human life.

And, I never said anybody who showed up at a job deserved a living wage - you must have me confused with somebody else. What I said is that anybody who performs adequately at a full time job should make enough to live decently (not lavishly). To me that means they can pay their bills, and maybe even have a little left over for an occasional luxury. Even at about $10/hr, that's not easy to do, since minimum wage jobs don't generally include health insurance or other such benefits.

I don't know how to answer your question. I would call those folks "workaholics", perhaps, and if they're still both working 80 hours a week as business owners many years into their business, perhaps people who aren't making the best decisions as owners.

But, it's really not my business to say - if those are the choices they want to make, that's their right.

It certainly doesn't make me want to go out and start my own business, if that's really what it takes to succeed in one.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

I did a little math - if one works 80 hours a week and sleeps 8 hours a night, that leaves about 4.5 hours a day for everything else.

Total hours in a week - 24x7=168. Sleep time - 8x7=56. Waking hours - 168-56=112. Non working hours - 112-80=32. Daily non working hours - 32/7=4.5.

So, after showering, cooking/eating three meals (let's say about 3 hours for all of that), you have 1.5 hours a day left over. Not much time for reflection, leisure, reading, music, entertainment, spending time with family, community, etc.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Working that many hours a week means, unavoidably, that you're not doing many essential tasks of being alive. So, any person who does work such a schedule has nowhere near enough time for doing things like exercising, cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, childcare, etc. If you're making upwards of $25 an hour working those hours, you can afford to hire others to do much of that for you. If you're only making minimum wage, it's a surefire recipe for a very quick downward spiral.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

I know - it seems nuts to me.

And, especially so, given that he's encouraging the rest of us to do the same.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

There is good and bad with all the decisions we make in life. That hypothetical couple, remember, I said they enjoyed their work. Also, not having a boss looking over your shoulder, not being dependent upon someone else for your continued employment, you simply can't underestimate how good that feels. The sense of freedom is enormous. Maybe it's a bad trade to you. Not to me. That the numbers add up to an income in the mid 80K range would be very accurate for this hypothetical couple, placing them somewhat in the upper middle class. The trade off is what it is. But I would no more ask someone who works full time to give up an additional 40 hours per week than they should ask that the hypothetical couple give up whatever extra income they get by working those extra hours. Bottom line is this, the hypothetical couple is equally greedy or not greedy as the person working 40 hours is lazy or not lazy.

While we're doing a little math, let's look a little deeper. Despite what others have said, exploitation isn't happening. Not when one employee makes a minimum wage that is less than what the owner makes and not when an employee makes more on an hourly basis. The average is probably right at where several posters here have said the minimum wage should be set at. Given that, and taking into account what the owners get in profit, what we're really talking about is a business that makes a modest profit. Posters have used the word greed. I would disagree. It's a fairly normal small business, employing people, paying taxes, providing a service that customers purchase. It's not some multinational corporation nor is it a sweatshop. It's a typical mom and pop business. It is exactly that type of business would be at risk if a substantial tax were placed on it. If done statewide or nationwide, you'll see an increase in unemployment of a couple of percentage points (my guess). It'll be the difference between a recession and a depression. And I'll say this for the umteenth time. Who do you expect will be the first to become unemployed? It'll be those with the fewest marketable skills. It'll be those who are marginally employed now. You're rolling the dice with their lives.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Yeah, but you have no time to spend or enjoy the money - you've got about 1.5 hours/day off. What freedom? I sympathize with not wanting a boss over your shoulder, but...

You've often suggested that people open their own businesses - have you forgotten that?

I'm not sure that a typical mom and pop business requires their owners to work 80 hours a week each.

How many of those drunks and drug addicts/ex cons are you employing again?

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Typical mom and pops that do much of their business in cash absolutely must have at least one owner on site all the time. Yes. I cannot emphasize that enough.

And you'd be surprised how little money means to me. It's the stuff I can buy with that money. And you'd be surprised at what those things are. Like private school for my child. Or the college of his choosing, no matter the cost. You see, I have intention of asking for financial assistance. I will work and pay may own way. I would rather drop dead today than file for unemployment, welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. I wouldn't say that about anyone else. But that's me.

Have I employed drunks, addicts, ex-cons? Yes. More than I'd care to admit. Here's the thing, I have yet to get a Ph.D apply for a dishwasher job. I have yet to have an MSW apply. No attorneys, no medical doctors. No RNs, no laid off teachers. The job of dishwasher or bus person is going to attract those with the fewest skills or those who are marginally employable. So my experience with that group is a lot.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Typical mom and pops couldn't possibly have both owners working 80 hours a week.

Typical moms raised children, and they wouldn't have any time to do that on your schedule.

Well, you may very well get your wish, if you continue working that much. I hope not, of course.

So, how many of those folks are you currently employing? I suspect the answer is very few, if any. It's interesting that you mention folks like doctors and attorneys, then the folks at the very bottom. That's symptomatic of the fact that we are increasingly a society of rich/poor with a vanishing middle.

In between, of course, there are still many people, and many who work at low wage jobs who don't fit your category. I would venture a bet that the ones who you continue to employ are those people, neither marginally employable nor highly educated or trained.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Ddi you not see the MSW or RN or laid off teacher? Wouldn't they represent that middle you say I ignore. Or did you only see those at the top and those at the bottom because that's what you wanted to see?

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

I did see those.

But, an MSW is an advanced degree, as are most RN's, and teachers also generally have advanced degrees. One certainly wouldn't expect those folks to be looking for dishwashing jobs.

In between those folks and the drug addicts are a lot of less educated, less trained people who are still capable of doing their jobs well.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Advanced degrees don't translate into comparable pay in the examples I gave. Anyway, the people coming to my place are those without high school diplomas and immigrants, legal and not. I think my place is pretty typical.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

That's exactly my point.

We only require education to something like the 8th grade, so there are lots of folks out there who haven't even graduated from high school, and plenty who haven't been to college, or higher.

It's a problem - I think we should require at least a high school education.

But, all of those folks aren't drug addicts and ex cons, right?

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Will the clients your wife serves be required to get that high school education? Clearly, not everyone has what it takes to finish high school.

I never said all those folks were ex-cons and druggies. What I said was that many that I employ are those with the fewest marketable skills. It is they who will be put at risk should my business be forced to raise their wages beyond what the business can stand. If they can't get a job as a dishwasher, they're not likely to go to medical school. What will they do? Where will they go?

Let me anticipate your response. Education, training, rehab., etc. At a cost of what and coming from where?

You can't solve a problem by creating two others.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Ok - sure there would have to be exceptions for those with organic physical limitations.

You don't solve the problem of marginally employable people by employing some of them at wages too low to live on, while ignoring the things that make them marginal.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

You can't teach people what they don't want to know. We have high school for anyone who wants it. We have jobs programs. We have rehab. We have program after program. We have a social safety net that's been cast far and wide. If people are on the margins of society, many are there of their own choosing. For those few who are not, there's Cottonwood. We're not ignoring them. They're ignoring us.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

That's too glib for me.

Our public education system, for those at the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum, is dismal.

The idea that we have helped people enough, and should stop here, even if the results aren't very good, seems odd to me. As does the idea that the only folks who aren't choosing to remain miserable are DD folks.

Are there some folks who choose to remain on the fringes? Sure. But a lot probably just don't see a way out. One's worldview is shaped by one's family and community quite a bit.

You can give up if you like, and pretend that everybody's just getting a just outcome, but I prefer to see things more clearly than that.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

I'd be OK making exceptions on the minimum wage for mom-and-pop operations, as well as for companies who are hiring the marginally employable or for teenagers who are in true trainee type programs. But the devil is in the details, there (and the current wage is still too low.)

But there's no reason to make exceptions for highly profitable corporations just looking to keep their stock price as high as possible at the expense of their lowest paid employees.

BTW, low-wage workers played ZERO part in causing the current recession, and raising their wages would likely reverse the effects of recession, since they're going to spend every dime of whatever they get paid.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Why? Don't the folks working at the mom and pops deserve a decent minimum wage as well?

I'd think the better exception would be for those, like college students, who are working part time and don't need to support themselves.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Like I said, the devil is in the details. What qualifies as a mom-and-pop business? Should there be an income threshold that determines whether they get to pay the reduced minimum wage? Could employees take a lower wage for some sort of profit-sharing arrangement?

And some college students have to support themselves 100%.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Sure, the devil's in the details. What might qualify as a living wage in Hays might be different than in Lawrence. Eudora might be different than Lawrence. High school students picking up some extra money are different than a struggling family. That's why a one size fits all will never fit. I've said all along, you'll be helping 90% while killing 10%. If you don't mind collateral damage like that, fine. Just do not pretend there will be no damage to those small businesses and the people they employ.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

I certainly think that penalizing the 90% primarily to help the 1% is the worst of the choices we have available. I also think the concern for mom-and-pops is a faux concern promoted by organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce who couldn't care less about moms or pops or "marginal" employees.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

I've been very careful to differentiate the large multinational companies from the small mom and pops. I've said that the large changes you propose are the kind that the McDonald's, the Home Depot's, the Costco's will be able to adapt to. It's the small town Kansas mom and pops that will fold.

You've speculated that McDonald's will serve less as a result of your proposal. I think the opposite will be true. The local diner will close, giving the consumer fewer options. If busy parents make the choice to eat out and that diner isn't there, they'll go to fast food.

I think proposals like yours will make the big guys even bigger. And knowing the predatory nature of Costco, Wal-Mart, etc., they will seize on this as another opportunity to squeeze smaller competitors out of the market.

Really, Bozo, do you really believe that Costco and Wal-Mart will simply pay their workers more and not pass on those costs? Do you really believe they'll just say, "Fine, we'll just reduce our profits?" Really?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

Of course they'll pass on their costs as much as possible. But prices won't need to dramatically increase if the min. wage goes to $9 an hour. They wouldn't even have to increase all that much if they went to $11 an hour.

And you're still using mom and pops in small towns to shield the ability of large businesses to screw their lowest paid employees. Besides, those moms and pops are already under severe pressure from all of those mega-corps, which is what's really threatening them. Perpetuating a permanent under class isn't the way to address that.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

The small businesses are already under pressure and your suggestion will just be the final nail in their coffin. I've often conceded that a minimum wage hike would help many. But what about those working in the small businesses, both employees and owners? What about the empty storefronts that will result? What about the loss of local taxes as the money goes to wherever the big box stores are? Are you willing to throw small locally owned businesses under the bus so that the big box store can become the only game in town? At a minimum, have a plan in place for how you're going to deal with those problems.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm all for a "plan." But keeping millions of workers at below subsistence wage levels is a long ways away from a plan.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

People that want the minimum wage raised also generally want much more regulation of large companies, and things like enforcement of anti-trust regulation, so that Wal-Mart can't dominate the way it has been.

So, they're probably more on the side of small business, speaking broadly, than those who prefer to allow large companies to dominate, and complain about the minimum wage.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Then you're in a small minority. Go to the parking lot of Wal-Mart or Costco. People are voting with their feet. If you want a majority of people to get on board with these grand plans you have, then get them to shop elsewhere. Otherwise, it's all rhetoric.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Why do you keep missing essential points?

Pay people $7.25/hour, and they'll have virtually no choice except to shop at Wal-Mart or Costco.

How many PhD's shop at those stores? Or CEO's of multinational corporations?

Since you spend so much time at work, I suppose it's only natural that you've become very narrowly focused, and don't see the bigger picture, but it's unfortunate as well.

I would say that generally speaking, those on the right aren't your friend - but they've positioned themselves so as to appeal to folks like you, small business owners. Their rhetoric is all about less regulation and lower taxes. Their actions over the last 30-40 years have resulted in Wal-Mart domination, increasing disparities in wealth, etc.

Those things are directly related to the policies of deregulation started by Reagan and continued since then (mostly by R, although Clinton did some of that as well, in his compromises with them).

If you want policies that would actually help small businesses and the folks at the bottom/middle, then I'd say that D are the better people to vote for - that's one of the reasons I do.

It's not my job to get people to shop any particular place - if you want more people to possibly patronize your business, then you should be in favor of raising the minimum wage - it's the only way that folks will be able to afford it.

The sad thing is that I think many are, like you, so caught up in the moment to moment struggle that they miss the big picture, and are vulnerable to the rhetoric from the right that seems so appealing (I'm not saying you're as vulnerable to that as many are), when the reality is that those policies actually perpetuate their difficulties.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Wal-Mart was brilliant.

Hire a lot of "part time" employees (35 hour/week), and pay them minimum wage, without any benefits. Not only do you have low labor costs, but you've created a customer base for your stores as well, since those folks can't afford to shop anywhere else.

The only thing that would stop them is government, acting in the interests of the people, through regulation.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Maybe you're right, Jafs. perhaps by working so much I've limited my focus. But then, you've never given any indication that you've spent much time running a business, yet you've been quite liberal with your advice. Advice, I must say, that often sounds so off that I think you must be pulling my leg.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Nope.

Really? What exactly seems so off to you? The idea that you shouldn't have to work 80 hours a week (and your wife as well) to run your business? The idea that if all folks making minimum wage make more money, that should generate some new customers for your business? The idea that defined job responsibilities are a good thing?

By the way, at least two out of three of those come from established experts in their field, not from me - I just see and retain the ideas, and pass them on.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

You're suggesting that by increasing my labor costs by something on the order of 50%, that that might, maybe, perhaps, in theory cause me to have more customers at some time in the future, maybe, in theory. Yeah, Jafs, you're pulling my leg.

You're saying that in a business that involves a significant amount of cash, the owners need not be present all the time. Yeah, Jafs, you're pulling my leg.

You're saying it's best to have employees who can do one thing and one thing only rather than have employees who can do several things. Yeah, Jafs, you're pulling my leg.

Either you're pulling my leg or you have no real world experience in which case this is all a word game for you. I'm dealing with real people, real jobs, real business decisions, paying real taxes, etc. The decisions I make have real consequences. The people I employ are generally happy with those decisions and the few that are not are free to leave at any time. Real world, Jafs, give it a try sometime. You might enjoy it.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

No, I'm suggesting that if the minimum wage is increased across the board, then more people will be able to afford to patronize your business - it's called "trickle up", and it makes a lot more sense than trickle down. The fact that you focus solely on your business is an example of your narrow focus.

I never said that either. I said that you shouldn't have to be working 80 hours a week with your wife in a business you've owned for a while.

And, that you don't want one person doing too many different things - a cook, for example, should be somebody who can cook, whereas a dishwasher doesn't need that skill.

Think about it for a minute - your business, as you've described it, can't compete on price with McD, so folks at the very bottom won't go there. It's not a place that probably appeals to CEO's or rich folks either. In fact, your customers are very likely to be those at the lower end, but not bottom of the income spectrum - exactly the group that would grow if the minimum wage were increased.

If you're suggesting that I should emulate your example, no thanks. Sounds miserable to me, actually.

And, again, virtually all of the ideas that you disdain so much are actually not mine, they're from experts in their fields, one of whom makes a living by helping failing restaurant owners turn their business around.

By the way, unless all of your labor is minimum wage, increasing the minimum wage by 45% wouldn't raise your labor costs by that amount, it would only raise them that amount for the minimum wage folks.

But, if it makes you feel good to dismiss me, go ahead. I wouldn't begrudge you that pleasure, given what I know about you.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

The problem with trickle up is that it's equally valid, or not, as trickle down. It's one of those things that looks good on paper, and may or not work in practice. But what's real is the increase in my labor costs. That's not theory. How about I give my employees an IOU for those labor cost increases and if your trickle up theory doesn't pan out, you pay off those IOUs. After all, it's your idea, your theory. Earlier you said we all had a stake in businesses when they reap profits, here's your opportunity to have an equal stake when your ideas fail.

So let me understand your suggestion, in real world situations. A restaurant is slow for a period of time. The dishwasher has done all the dishes, the bus person has all tables clean. Then, a large party comes in, maybe two or three groups. Suddenly, the wait staff is somewhat overwhelmed, unable to give menus, serve water, take orders. You're suggesting that the dishwasher should just sit on his hands, in the back, rather than pitch in and deliver the water. When the large orders come in to the cook, who is then very busy, the dishwasher should again sit on his hands rather than help the cook. And then once the orders have been taken out, the cook should sit on his hands rather than help the now overwhelmed wait staff, bus people and dishwashers. And I guess you think the owner should be in the back counting the profits. Well, with all that sitting on one's hands, there won't be any profits to count. Each and every person, owner included, better be willing to jump in and lend a hand when needed or that business is going bye-bye. Despite what some reality show may or may not say. (I've seen snippets of the show, not an entire episode. But I would be somewhat cautious when taking advice from a reality show and then transposing that to real life. Their motivation is not to turn around failing businesses. Their motivation is to make a television show. Their advice to me, as an owner of a successful business may be spot on, or not. Just as my advice to them about how to produce a successful television show might be spot on, or not.) And I don't take relationship advice or parenting advice from Snookie. Not that I don't believe she's a good parent or not. I have no idea. Not that I have any idea how she conducts her personal relationships. I have no idea. What I do know is that she's a reality star and if I need advice with that, I'll seek her out. Otherwise, I have no need for her.

I get no pleasure from dismissing your suggestions. No more than when a 5 year old gives me advice about how to conduct my business. The 5 year old and you have no experience. It's not pleasure, it's simple matter of fact.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

As I said, feel free to dismiss me.

You're the one working 80 hours a week with your wife, years into owning your business, and making about $10/hr for your labor.

Do you want to also give me any profits you get from the increased minimum wage? Probably not, and even if you did, you're suggesting I go into your business, which I have no interest in doing.

Well, perhaps you should watch an entire show or two. They have, as I've mentioned, a 90% success rate in helping restaurants on the verge of collapse.

I can't possibly do what he does, given the little I know about your business - I just passed on a few common suggestions he offers that seem to help quite a bit. If you're serious about improving your business, then you should probably find an expert who does that (which very well may be a little different from rescuing a failing business).

My guess is, though, given what I know, that he would almost certainly tell you you shouldn't be working 80 hours/week with your wife, at this point in your career. Other suggestions would have to be more specific to your situation - one would need to analyze it, and find where improvements can be made.

By the way, what on earth makes you think I would enjoy your version of "real life"??? I have no interest in working 80 hours a week for $10/hr, and having no time for the rest of my life.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

The profits that are likely to result from many people making more money.

It's astonishing to me that people don't see the connections here. If everybody making minimum wage made more money, they'd almost certainly spend it. That means more customers for businesses.

In fact, given what I know about jhf's business (all from him, and not much, admittedly), it seems to be exactly the kind of business that would benefit, since it's structured to appeal to folks at the lower end of the economic spectrum, but not at the very bottom of it.

You do understand, I hope, that raising the minimum wage doesn't mean raising it for jhf and nobody else? It means raising it for everybody making minimum wages.

By the way, why should I "cover his expenses"? I'm not his business partner, or investor. If he wants those, I'd need to know a lot more about his business before making that decision.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Again, Jafs, your trickle up theory is equally proven as a trickle down theory. Maybe it will work, maybe not. It might work quickly or it might take a while. In the mean time, you're putting enormous pressure on small businesses, based on your theory. Interesting that you cloak this as an opportunity, while ignoring the risk. Of course, you're risk averse, so you wouldn't want to impose that on someone else. But it seems you're opportunity averse as well. Whatever you call it, it's all the same. A huge risk. One you're not willing to take but one you're comfortable imposing on others.

And as to you becoming a partner, or covering my expenses, the fact is that government, through their taxing policies, does indeed make us all partners to some degree. The government can bail out big banks, give tax abatements to local industries or impose minimum wages. Those are all within the legitimate function of government. You can simply become a partner in my business by advocating tax abatements for my business equal to the costs of this new minimum wage. That way, we'll all be investing in this new trickle up scheme of yours. Of course, your taxes will go up to cover the shortfall, or services will go down, until these new living wage employees start paying taxes based on their new, higher wages. Then things will even out. My "opportunity", will then be shared by you.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

Capitalism is a brutal and inhumane system.

It puts pressure on everybody, and devalues human life by commoditizing it.

The idea of a higher minimum wage is to counteract some of the brutalizing effect on those at the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum. It's not there to help businesses. But, I think that it's quite clear that it stands a good chance of doing that as well.

Even working ideally, as it's supposed to work, with lots of competition, capitalism is brutal on business owners, since they're the ones having to compete for customers. That's why I have more sympathy for you than others on this forum.

If I were to even consider becoming a partner in your business, I'd have to know a lot more about it, and be much more involved in how it's run - do you really want that? I suspect not. What you're asking is that I share in your risk, but without the power and control that you have over your business and business decisions - why would anybody want that? And, I'm also pretty sure that you don't want to share any increased profits, if those occur.

You're a perfect example of the modern capitalist, who wants to socialize the risk, but privatize the profits :-)

Of course, I don't like the idea of these murky mixes - in my view, government should simply collect taxes and provide public services, not be involved with partnering with businesses in the way you suggest.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Do you not see the obvious inconsistency with your own statements. You distain the murky mix, but that's exactly what a government mandated living wage is. It's not a tax and it's not providing a service.

I'm not an example of a person who wants to privatize profits and socialize risk. However, if we are going to socialize profits through increased taxes, then it's equally acceptable to socialize risk, through tax abatements. In this case, I'd be opposed to both. I ask for no abatement. Just don't ask me to enforce a too burdensome risk.

If you were consistent in your philosophy, and you believed people simply needed more support, then tax us all and provide that support.

Capitalism is brutal, you say. I'd say this, capitalism is the worse form of economics man has ever devised. Except for all the others.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

You're right. I forgot to include regulation, which I also consider an appropriate activity of government. But all of my examples are nothing like the murky sort of "investment" you think government should be involved in with private businesses.

We weren't discussing increased taxes, we were discussing raising the minimum wage - those are very different things.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

You're the one who said the role of government should be limited to taxing and providing services. Now you're advocating for murkying up the waters by having government intervene. And why? To implement social policies you happen to agree with. That's fine, but then I can as well, right? You can't argue it's not the role of government when I want something done but then make the arguments that it is the role of government when it's things you want. You can argue the wisdom of the decision, as I am doing in this case. But your principle is what is muddy here.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

No.

Regulation of business is also an acceptable and appropriate thing for government to do, in my view.

Investing in your business by offering you tax abatements is not.

You can believe whatever you like, of course. I'm just clarifying my beliefs.

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Jeff Kilgore 1 year, 4 months ago

Robotic labor in the next 10-20 years will date every argument here. That is what we should be focused on.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

My business receives no tax abatements. But the principle of government doing that, for the purposes of a desired outcome that is considered a public good is the same as government imposing a minimum wage, also done to provide a public benefit. I believe government can and should have a role in both, if there is an overall benefit. You're arguing that one is fine and one is the not and then arguing the principle of the issue. There's an inherent contradiction in your argument.

The fact is that while you're accusing me of wanting to privatize profits while socializing risk, the opposite is true. You're wanting to privatize my risk while socializing my profits. Make up your mind.

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

No.

This has forced me to examine and clarify why I believe as I do, which is one of the reasons I post on here, so thanks.

Here's the distinction for me: Government has a legitimate role in protecting one person and preventing them from being hurt by another. So, to use an extreme example, men aren't allowed to beat their wives - that's illegal. If that makes the wife beater's life more difficult, that's just too bad. If/when they argue "You should compensate me for making my life more difficult", we don't go along with that. And, it probably does make his life more difficult - he has to find other ways of dealing with his anger, restrain his natural impulse to hit his wife, etc.

Minimum wages are an example, in my view, of preventing one from harming another - when you pay somebody so little that they can't afford to support themselves, even while working full time, that harms them (or abuses/exploits, etc.). The fact that it makes a business owners task a bit more difficult to pay them a bit more is like the wife beater's difficulty. And, I would reject the argument that we owe you something for stopping you from abusing others in the same way.

This doesn't apply for those just working for a little extra money, which is why I would exempt students who are doing that from the increased minimum wage - employing them at lower wages isn't hurting them. Even there, though, there's some limit beneath which the worker is being exploited, but it may be harder to define.

You may disagree - it's a judgement call, like the definition of greed, but that's the underlying principle at work for me.

We don't "socialize" your profits, unless you're referring to taxes. If we did, we'd take them and distribute them among the rest of us, which isn't the case. As far as I know, you get to keep most of them, and pay a bit in taxes, just like everybody else does.

Do you think that means we owe you something? Does the fact that I pay income tax mean that I'm owed something in return, other than infrastructure, social safety nets, and all the other things that taxes fund?

I think not - you get what we all get from taxes.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 4 months ago

Here's a very simple question for you, Jafs. You've presenting this proposal as an opportunity for businesses such as mine to expand our customers base. We pay them more, they can then spend more. Why do you suppose I'm taking my position in opposition to your proposal. Why do you suppose other businesses would take such a position? Surely we're acting in our own best interests. Surely other businesses would do the same. Then why do you think there would be such opposition from the very people you claim would benefit?

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jafs 1 year, 4 months ago

No I haven't - I've presented it as a way so as not to abuse folks making minimum wage who have to support themselves.

A side benefit is that when those folks have more money, businesses like yours will very likely have more customers.

You don't believe that's the case, so you oppose it. Other businesses may oppose it simply because it may cut into their profits, even if they're making record high profits with millionaire CEO's. Others may have other reasons.

Many in our society have a very narrow view, and can't see the bigger picture. That's the difference between "self interest" and "enlightened self interest" as I understand it. If all operated from enlightened self interest, things would work out well. When they operate from the narrow self interest, not so well (in the bigger picture).

Given my basic principle at work, it doesn't really matter why business owners might oppose it, just as it doesn't matter why the wife beater opposes being prevented from beating his wife.

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