California is the Progressive Model

Here’s what California’s leadership is up to these days while drought, degrading infrastructure and economic malaise proceed apace – from Joel Kotkin:

In a state ruled by a former Jesuit, perhaps we should not be shocked to find ourselves in the grip of an incipient state religion. Of course, this religion is not actually Christianity, or even anything close to the dogma of Catholicism, but something that increasingly resembles the former Soviet Union, or present-day Iran and Saudi Arabia, than the supposed world center of free, untrammeled expression.

Two pieces of legislation introduced in the Legislature last session, but not yet enacted, show the power of the new religion. One is Senate Bill 1146, which seeks to limit the historically broad exemptions the state and federal governments have provided religious schools to, well, be religious.

Under the rubric of official “tolerance,” the bill would only allow religiously focused schools to deviate from the secular orthodoxy required at nonreligious schools, including support for transgender bathrooms or limitations on expressions of faith by students and even Christian university presidents, in a much narrower range of educational activity than ever before. Many schools believe the bill would needlessly risk their mission and funding to “solve” gender and social equity problems on their campuses that currently don’t exist.

The second piece of legislation, thankfully temporarily tabled, Senate Bill 1161, the Orwellian-named “California Climate Science Truth and Accountability Act of 2016,” would have dramatically extended the period of time that state officials could prosecute anyone who dared challenge the climate orthodoxy, including statements made decades ago…

You might think that the people of California would revolt against this – but, they won’t. This November, California’s voters will retain the massive, Democrat majority in their State legislature, will award their Electoral Votes to Hillary Clinton and in 2018 will elect another far-left kook to replace Jerry Brown as Governor. California will get more laws and regulations designed to make it ever harder for poor and middle class people to work and thrive. Infrastructure will continue to get worse (don’t even think about building new power plants or water reservoirs!), education will continue to get worse, it will get ever more expensive to buy a house, gasoline prices will continue to get higher…and the people will just take it and take it and take it. Why?

Because after all this time of Progressive control of government, a permanent, Progressive majority has been created. You see, the very rich can afford the freight. It doesn’t matter to people living in San Francisco and Santa Monica if gas prices are high, or electric rates are high, or that new houses can’t be built. They’ve got the money to afford all that – and by voting for Progressives who talk of Social Justice, they get to feel good about themselves. Meanwhile, the poor are bribed with welfare – scraps from the table, to be sure, but so far no one has been able to convince them (or even try to convince them), that they’d be better off under a system which pays them less welfare but allows them to gain property. A combination of poor and rich ensures a permanent Progressive majority in California. And this is precisely what Progressives want for all of the United States…because it best ensures control for themselves.

Can this really continue for an indefinite amount of time? That remains to be seen – but it might well continue long enough until anti-Progressive forces are so atrophied that there is no alternative available. Britain is about to have a vote on Brexit and my bet is that they will vote to remain. I hope I’m wrong – but Britain has been down the Progressive route even longer than California…there is even more fear among the rich of being out of step with Progressive ideology than even in California; the poor are even more awash in welfare there than America’s poor. To step out of the EU is the act of a free and independent people who know that they want to work very hard to advance themselves and their community. I don’t see much prospect of that being the case; I think Britain is too far gone to reclaim self-rule. In the minds of most, I think, is this idea that without Progressive rulers to take care of them, things will get bad (never mind that they are bad because Progressive rulers…at least the welfare check comes each month, right?).

Of course, a vote to leave would be a grand and great thing. And I do believe the Progressive stranglehold can be broken, even in California. But that will take us on the right explaining to people we don’t want to talk to (ie, poor people), just how they are being shafted…how they are living on scraps while the Progressive dispensers of the scraps are living swell lives. It will take an all out attack on the basic ideas of the Progressive State…which will take courage, a thing notably lacking on the right since Reagan left office.

23 thoughts on “California is the Progressive Model

  1. Amazona June 22, 2016 / 12:03 pm

    “But that will take us on the right explaining to people we don’t want to talk to (ie, poor people), just how they are being shafted…how they are living on scraps while the Progressive dispensers of the scraps are living swell lives. “

    Any ideas on how to do this? Paid ads? Street evangelists? Mailers? Loudspeaker trucks trolling the streets? ????????????? Not to mention that this could easily devolve into the same class warfare we on the Right are decrying as demagoguery.

    No, California has to topple the same way the USSR toppled, by the weight of its own fatally flawed structure. More businesses have to leave, taxes have to continue to climb, the poor have to suffer more, and the whole thing has to collapse on its own. Maybe during elections some conservatives can keep telling people if they don’t like things the way they are they can leave or they can vote in new people, but things are not going to change in California starting with an ideological shift. The shift will have to be social, leading to a different ideology.

    • Retired Spook June 22, 2016 / 5:46 pm

      The whole purpose of making the poor comfortable is to lessen the likelihood that they will want change. Ben Franklin had it about right:

      “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

      • Amazona June 22, 2016 / 5:59 pm

        A few weeks ago I saw a video of a woman who had been taken in by Catholic Charities. It was a long and professionally presented video in which she went on and on about how grateful she is, how she and her little girl are no longer homeless, how they now have a safe and comfortable room in a lovely shelter where they can lock the door at night, how Catholic Charities has given them clothing and shoes, how wonderful it all is, and I kept waiting for her to say how it has given her a foundation upon which to build a new life, go out and find work and make a real home for herself and her daughter. But instead she talked about the joy of having all this time to spend with her daughter, and how Catholic Charities has given her everything she needed. There was video of her playing with her little girl.

        Never a word about this being a helping hand, one of those “safety nets” the Left loves to bleat about. No, it looked like she had pretty much settled in for the long haul, and I thought “why not?” Nice digs, private secure room, nice clothes, food prepared for you, and all you have to do is play with your little girl. I wondered how many working mothers watched that video and wished they, too, could just hang out with the kiddies and kick back.

        Perhaps if I look into it, do a little research, I will find that Catholic Charities has a program for short-term assistance and help in getting out into the world. I know the Samaritan House in Denver had a couple of rooms where people could look online for jobs, use their address in job applications, use their phone numbers in job applications, and sought good work clothing so people could go out on interviews. I just didn’t hear anything like that in the Catholic Charities video.

      • M. Noonan June 22, 2016 / 6:45 pm

        Catholic Charities is to widely varied in the services offered that you can find just about any sort of charity action in one place or another. The bit I’m personally familiar with is serving up a hot meal to street people – but that is just one in a thousand. And, yes, at times I’ve seen people going through the line with their smart phone…but, all who come are given the food, no questions asked. It’s an odd mix – from complete druggie burnouts to whole families.

      • M. Noonan June 22, 2016 / 6:48 pm

        That is why think our first effort should be directed at the working poor – those who do get government aid but who also put in a full day’s work. There are vast numbers of such people and they vote overwhelmingly Democrat because they are right on the edge and if they didn’t get that SNAP, they couldn’t make ends meet every month. But the fact that they are getting SNAP actually makes it more difficult for them to rise, because there is a fear among some of earning “too much” money and losing SNAP. These are the people we can work with, if we craft a plan to (a) show that they are being shafted by the Welfare State and (b) that we’re going to help them as they work hard to become fully independent.

      • Bob Eisenhower June 22, 2016 / 7:14 pm


        I agree and it is precisely that reason I think Conservatives should get on the pro side of a so-called “living wage.”

        Right now there is a class of people – the working poor – that cannot earn enough money with their skill sets to keep food on the table. So, We the People pay taxes which pay them Welfare, which we all hate.

        The argument against a minimum living wage is that if McDonald’s has to pay burger flippers more it will make the price of hamburgers go up.

        Whether we pay an extra $500 a year in tax or an extra quarter per burger that adds up to $500 a year, it is the same cost. But the difference is stark. Welfare = dependence on government. Living wage = hard workers.

        Living wage is a Conservative issue that we seem to cede to the Left every time. I don’t get it.

      • Amazona June 22, 2016 / 11:02 pm

        The argument that a higher minimum wage will just make a McDonald’s hamburger cost more is a gross oversimplification of the real argument. It is true, but it also true that every other position above the entry level minimum wage then has to go up as well. If Joe is making $15 an hour as a unit manager and suddenly Shirley, who is barely competent and needs constant supervision and correction of her mistakes, is suddenly making $15 an hour too, Joe is not going to tolerate working for the same money when he has paid his dues, has more responsibility and has earned the right to be compensated for it.

        Paying more than the value of the work done is not a solution. It actually just exacerbates the problem of people not getting work skills. There are certain jobs that are not intended to be permanent full time jobs. They are entry level jobs which require very little skill and therefore pay very little money. Anyone who takes one of these jobs with the idea that this is how he or she is going to support a family doesn’t just need a couple of dollars an hour more—-he or she needs to be educated about how the price paid for an hour of work has to be justified by the quality of the work.

        This is a completely alien concept to more people than you might believe. A few years ago I hired a 24 year old man and his friend to help me move my ranch operation from Wyoming to Colorado. Because we would get to Colorado late enough in the day to barely have time to unload, they would spend the night at my house and we would drive back up the next day. One night they started talking about low wages and I said something about some people just being worth more to an employer than others and they freaked out. “How can you say some people are worth more than other people?” They were truly offended and upset.

        So I sat down with them and told them the facts of life in the real world. If I hire two men and one does more work in a day than the other, he brings more value to my operation and therefore his hourly wage should be higher. If he does not wreck my equipment, if he gets things done right the first time, if he wants to learn more job skills, he is worth more to me as an employer. He brings more to the job, so he gets more compensation. If a slacker gets by with the minimum work he can, if some of his work has to be done over by someone else, the value of his work is less. As I said, “We are all equal in God’s eyes, but to an employer you get paid depending on the value you bring to the job.”

        It was a whole new world to them.

        If you pay more for a unit of work than than the value that unit of work brings to the job, you are only adding to the problem of people not being qualified to earn more money, because you are enabling them to stay at the low level where they started. You are encouraging them to stay there. This is not only economically unsound, it is a disservice to the worker, a workplace equivalent of a participation trophy. The entire concept of a capitalist society is upward mobility, which is earned by constantly improving job skills and being better at whatever you do so you are worth more.

        We don’t need to artificially raise the pay rate for poorly qualified workers—we need to motivate them to add to their job skills, and reward them for doing so. As someone who has hired people who often come in with little experience and job skill—restaurant work and ranch work, to name two—I know from experience that some people will never be worth more than their starting wage, some will not even be worth that, but those who are better at what they do, who want to improve and who learn and work hard are immediately rewarded. I have given a sizable raise after three days, because the girl learned so fast and tried so hard to be better every day. To this day she stands out as one of the best employees I ever had, and if I could have talked her out of falling in love, getting married and having beautiful children she would be running my place today.

        Shift managers, unit managers, regional managers and so on at McDonald’s have all flipped burgers. When they did just a little more than what was asked of them—-were never late, cleaned up messes without being asked, were extra nice to customers, filled in when someone got sick—they moved up in pay and in their work level. Those who didn’t put out the effort, those with the attitude of “I make 9 dollars an hour so they are only going to get 9 dollars of work out of me” will not only stay on the fryer, they won’t deserve a raise.

        Solving the problem of poverty can’t be done from the top down. We need schools that offer and insist on vocational training, we need a welfare system that only offers support to those who truly need it so there is motivation to get job skills, and we need a society that values hard work and rewards it.

      • Amazona June 22, 2016 / 11:22 pm

        Mark, if you can come up with a way to make working more attractive without first removing the crutch of welfare, you will be a hero.

        We talked about this a few years ago, talking about people choosing to stay on unemployment. I am going to completely invent figures here, because it is late and I don’t feel like looking anything up.

        Robert is on welfare. He gets $1200 a month in cash, a free apartment, and a SNAP card to pay for food. He gets free health care and a bus pass. He doesn’t have to work a day to get any of this. Let’s say the total value of his benefits is $3000 a month. If he makes $10.00 an hour, that is close to $1700 per month. Even if he gets to keep his other benefits, even if his pay level means he doesn’t pay taxes on his income, he is still working 40 hours a week for a net gain of about 3 bucks an hour. Yes, I know the math is rough, but it gives us an idea of how hard it is to motivate someone to get off welfare and get to work. And if his job skills keep him at $10.00 an hour he will not be able to pay rent or insurance or buy his own food.

        We’ve already talked about just raising the minimum wage and its overall effect on both the economy and motivation to get job skills. For some people, who are older or who just lack the capacity to learn, there will always have to be supplemental aid—but it should be dependent on at least trying, on at the very least having a job. And it should not, ever, EVER, be allowed for luxuries. No, a cell phone is not a necessity, much less a smart phone. Neither are tattoos, piercings, cigarettes, beer or other fripperies. Those things should be motivators, to work harder, get a second job (so many of us worked more than one job at times in our lives…) or get some job training or something.

      • Bob Eisenhower June 23, 2016 / 11:42 am


        Of course, when minimum wage is increased all wages at the low-end of the pay spectrum increase. That is why the burger costs a quarter more (or whatever amount).

        The fact is, right now there is a living wage in place. When Walmart pays an employee $7 an hour and then assists the employee get food stamps and etc. the employee is being paid $15/hr (or whatever), half from Walmart and half from the taxpayers.

        Were Walmart to pay the actual living wage prices would adjust up to reflect the true cost of goods, not the subsidized cost now used.

        Whether the living wage is paid through welfare or through prices that truly reflect costs, there is already a living wage being paid by the public.

      • Amazona June 23, 2016 / 6:39 pm

        And I still contend that replacing one kind of welfare with another is a bad idea, no matter what you call the second version. And I still contend that paying more for an hour of work than the actual value of that work is in a way worse than welfare, because it sends the message that job skills are not important, that the pay will be good even without skills or a good attitude or any of the other things that justify a higher wage.

        Solving the problem is a process, and it can’t be solved by telling Shirley “You are often late, you give the wrong change, you have bad personal hygiene and you are rude to customers but you don’t have to change any of these behaviors because you are going to get paid not based on what your work is worth to the company but because you need to pay the rent”. Validating poor job skills and bad performance is not the way to improve them, and failing to improve them is the recipe for ongoing poverty.

        Look at Maryland and its shift in policy on welfare. When people were told they had a finite time in which they could receive welfare, it was the kick in the donkey they needed to get out and find work. When people are working but not making much money it is not the responsibility of anyone to make up the difference between what their work is worth and what they need to get by. It is their responsibility to up their game and be worth more.

        I am for some degree of subsidizing education, whether it is academic in nature or trade schools, so people can become self sufficient. I am not for paying people more than they are worth.

        I also think that this whole “living wage” thing is deceptive. Sure, for a while you feel like you are in high cotton, because now the cost of everything is the same but you have more money. However, as the effect of trickle-up wage inflation continues, you quickly end up with the same proportion of wages to cost of living, it’s just that the numbers are higher.

        You dismiss this all by focusing on hamburgers. But when WalMart has to pay everyone more, the cost of everything in the store goes up, to a point where the market won’t bear it, and then people lose their jobs. So it’s not just hamburgers, it’s toasters and towels and Twizzlers.

        Yes, Twizzlers! Oh, the horror!

        But once wages hit a higher level it’s nearly impossible to bring them back down when it is shown that the experiment did not work, and in the meantime we have inflation across the board.

      • Bob Eisenhower June 23, 2016 / 7:03 pm

        People are already paying higher prices at Walmart. They just don’t realize it because part of the price is paid in taxes for welfare/EBT for Walmart staff. The prices at Walmart SHOULD go up, to accurately reflect what consumers are paying for the products sold.

        You are right, the whole “living wage” thing is deceptive because we are already paying that living wage, in a manner that hides true costs and demoralizes workers. A CPI-indexed living wage cuts out that nonsense.

        As far as training those workers for better jobs, I wonder who will be the clerks at Walmart, the burger flippers, the etc.? If everyone educates their way out of the crappy Walmart jobs, Walmart will go out of business. Or they will pay more to get workers, which leads right back to the notion that those jobs, crappy as they are, are actually worth $15 (or whatever the CPI-indexed wage turns out to be).

        Low-end wages are not being depressed by bad skills, they are depressed because government subsidies allow them to stay artificially below subsistence levels.

        Lastly, your example of Shirley-with-the-bad-attitude is wrong. It isn’t that Shirley would be paid the same as a good worker. Unless Walmart suddenly unionized, Shirley would be shit-canned by any reasonable manager and replaced with a good worker. That is what happens to bad employees, regardless of wages.

      • Bob Eisenhower June 23, 2016 / 7:17 pm

        Bringing it back to Mark’s thesis, I think it is important to show the working poor (and everyone) that Conservatives are on their side.

        I feel – and you obviously disagree – that a living wage is a Conservative ideal because it returns honesty to marketplace pricing and moves people off welfare dependency. It is a winning, conservative argument that can convince the hoi polloi they should be Conservatives, not Democrats.

      • Amazona June 23, 2016 / 10:08 pm

        I guess we just have very different ideas of the definition of “…honesty (in) marketplace pricing..” because to me paying an artificial and insupportable wage that is not justified by the quality of the work would result in a distortion of marketplace pricing. And this handout of unearned money does NOT remove people from welfare—it just changes the terminology and the payee. Instead of the government paying the unearned benefit, the employer does it, and then passes the cost on to us, so we pay it out of our own pockets, but it is still an unearned benefit and it is still charity. And it doesn’t take long for the higher costs to mean that “living wage” is no longer adequate, so it has to go up again. It is a vicious cycle.

        Just as there has to be a rational basis for the price of goods, there has to be a rational basis for the level of compensation for work.

        I suggested a structured weaning off welfare, one which does not penalize someone for earning but at the same time does not reward not working. Mine might not be the best way to do this—-I spent a few seconds on it and it is not my field of expertise—-but I think this is the way to move people away from dependence. Paying more than a job is worth might feel good to the person who thinks he is now responsible for a “living wage” and it might feel good to the guy getting paid more than he is contributing to his job, but deep down both parties know that this is charity, a handout, and demeaning in that it sends the message that the worker will never be any better than that and needs someone to compensate for his deficiencies. It’s a condescending pat on the head and a “now, Joe, we know you will never be more than a mediocre burger flipper who won’t even get promoted to the fryer, so we won’t ask you to try, we’ll just pay you more anyway.”

        Making people comfortable with dependence—and don’t fool yourself, an artificially high wage IS charity, IS dependence, just with a slightly more palatable name—will not end it.

        And I could not disagree more—-an entitlement, even one that masks itself as a “living wage” instead of an outright handout, is NOT a conservative value. It is not a Constitutional Conservative value and it is not a social issues value. It is just repackaged socialism, with the same result, of encouraging the dependent class to stay where it is instead of pushing it toward independence, using OPM. If your cousin with a BS starts at $15.00 an hour and so do you, with no education and no job skills, why should you strive to better yourself? If he starts at $15.00 and you’re at $8.50, you are more likely to say “Hmmm—that degree is already paying off.,” and you know his is just his STARTING salary. If you know a apprentice welder making $15 an hour to start knowing he will be making more as his job skills and experience increase, you are likely to think that looks pretty good. But why go to the trouble if you can be comfortable at your own $15.00 an hour without doing a thing? When the prices around you go up so you are right back where you started, just with different number, well then Uncle Sugar can just bump you up to $18.00, or even $20,00, so you can keep on having that “living wage”.

        The fact is, work has a level of value that establishes itself in proportion to everything around it no matter what number is attached to it, and that ratio will not change.

      • Amazona June 23, 2016 / 10:12 pm

        Conservatives do not believe that the federal government can,or should, expand to try to fill every need of every citizen. Conservatives are Tenthers—we believe that the Tenth Amendment is the summary of the Constitution, saying that if something is not specifically delegated to the federal government within the Constitution it is forbidden to the federal government and up to the states, or the people.

        Nowhere in the delegated duties of the Constitution is there a duty of charity. Nowhere is there a duty to take care of the needs of the citizens. That is seen as something that is up to the states, or to the people.

        So no, there is absolutely no way that a federally mandated charity scheme, no matter what it is called, can be called a Conservative value.

      • Bob Eisenhower June 24, 2016 / 6:24 pm

        I wonder if Walmart could add a parenthetical behind each price showing customers the true price. For example, Twizzlers $1.29 (+ 60 cents you pay in additional taxes for our employees food stamps).

        Keep your head in the sand. We the people are already paying a living wage.

      • Amazona June 24, 2016 / 8:24 pm

        Nice condescending sneer, Bob.

        Yes, I do know that we are paying out to people who don’t make enough to support themselves. It may soothe you to believe that I just lack comprehension of that simple and obvious fact, but I do get it.

        And yes, I have taken that understanding to the next level, which is that something must be done.

        So when we part ways on what that “something” is, please don’t fall back on that sad old Leftist tactic of claiming that the other side just doesn’t get it. When your “solution” is also Progressive in nature, it kind of puts you into a category where you might not want to be.

        You simply ignore the points I made because they are inconvenient to your emotion-based desire to JUST DO SOMETHING ! But they are valid, and they are much more consistent with rational economics than your proposal.

        There are so many flaws in your thinking, it is hard to know where to begin. Unlike you, I am going to begin at the beginning. The problem is not that people are not making the money they need to get by. The problem is that they lack the skills to make more. You can’t solve the secondary problem by ignoring the primary one. No matter how much you artificially manipulate the market, you can’t change that underlying fact, and that is what has to change. Simply slapping an inflated value onto work that does not justify it does nothing but contribute to inflation, and inflation hits the lower income classes first and hardest, so the quick fix that lets you feel good about yourself ends up hurting the people you want to help.

        It hurts them in several ways, from contributing to inflated prices necessary to compensate employers for inflated wages to the demeaning message that this is an underclass dependent on the charity of others because they lack the ability to better themselves.

        Skipping over the facts and figures, which you have heard and choose to find inconsequential, there is your strange concept of what “conservative” means. You propose a massive federal intervention in the American job market and define it as representing “conservative values”. I guess it might depend on how you define “conservative”. It can mean resistant to change. It can mean not wearing stripes with plaid. But in the political sense in the 21st Century United States it means a commitment to governing the nation according to its Constitution. Such an intrusion into the economy and job market by the federal government is the antithesis of political conservatism. It is, in fact, a wholly Progressive concept, and a wholly Progressive quick fix to a complicated problem, which—like all Progressive quick fixes—-creates more problems than it solves.

        Taking money from people who have earned it and giving to people who have not is welfare, whether you take that money via taxation and distribute it through the government or whether you use the force and power of government to force employers to give it in wages. It is still welfare. In a way it is worse than welfare paid for through taxes, as it depends on the value of work being determined by artificial means unrelated to the work itself or the skill required to do the work. Without the understanding that it takes increased job skills to make increased wages, there is no impetus to improve job skills, leading to stagnation as people just sit around waiting for the government to give them another (unearned) raise.

        You mean well, but then so do most Progressives, and sadly you have chosen to use their tactics of insulting the other side instead of debating the facts.

      • Amazona June 24, 2016 / 8:49 pm

        Nearly all WalMart managers, at every level, started out at the bottom with the company. Some Wal Mart employees stay there, because of lack of intelligence or lack of motivation, and some see opportunity and find out what the company wants from them to enable them to move up through the ranks.

        Ditto for McDonalds and other fast food chains.

        I have written here about a fleet manager at a big Ford dealership who told me he had made all his kids go to college and if he had it to do over again he would have let them go to trade schools—the top mechanic at his dealership made well over $100,000 a year and got offers every week from dealers trying to steal him away.

        Our top heavy equipment operators make more than the president of our company, and our welder comes close. The oil company middle management people we work with all started out on rigs, but made the extra effort and moved up.

        I once dated a guy who loved to ski. He started a lawn care business, worked from dawn till dusk and even later six months or so a year, and skied the rest of the year. He had a decent apartment and a nice enough car, and lived exactly the way he wanted to live. If he had wanted to make more money his clients would have loved it if he had decided to do snow removal as well. When I have someone come to my house to do repair work, I ask them how they happen to be doing what they do—-no kid ever goes into his third grade class and says his goal is to be an appliance repairman. Every one of them—most recently the guy who spent half a day fixing an evaporative cooler that had never worked right—started off as a low level foot soldier in his company and worked his way up. The swamp cooler guy said he loved the job because he had to be a detective to solve the problems and he likes the challenges. The refrigerator repairman last year started as a driver for the company and decided he liked meeting new people every day and leaving them happier than they were when he got there. The people I have mentioned come from pretty much every age and race. What they have in common is the realization they have to have the skills to earn a living and the will to do it.

        The variety of necessary job skills in this country is so vast, with such a range of education and experience required to do well, we need to encourage people to get out there and strive to participate in that market. We won’t do that if we just pat them on the head and give them handouts. And a fake wage is a handout.

      • Bob Eisenhower June 26, 2016 / 4:03 pm


        There was no condescension in my statement and I apologize if it came off that way. I used a pithy colloquialism – head in the sand – rather than the longer version – you seem to be willfully ignoring the point.

        The point is that the living wage already exists. You said it is obvious that Walmart’s prices are artificially lowered by moving that cost to taxpayers.

        The fact is, the true value of those low-end Walmart jobs is their pay plus their welfare/EBT.

        I have not heard you deny this fact. You just argue that it is harmful and wrong, but you do not deny it is already happening. That was what prompted the ostrich line you felt was offensive (and again, I do apologize for that offense).

        I want to legitimize the backwards way the living wage is CURRENTLY being paid. I firmly believe this is a Conservative value, one that may sway welfare Democrats to our cause.

      • Amazona June 26, 2016 / 5:23 pm

        It’s not lack of understanding of the problem. It’s not disagreement that there IS a problem. It is in how to resolve it.

        You want to continue to use OPM in an act of charity, giving people more money than they have earned, because to you if that money comes out of the pockets of employers it is not coming out of your pocket so you are good with that. Now instead of OPM being Other Peoples’ Money through taxes we all pay, it will be from wages paid somebody other than you.

        And to you it’s BOOM! Problem solved! You are ignoring the inevitable downstream problems created by this false “solution”.

        And you go farther by claiming that an expansion of federal intrusion into the marketplace is a conservative value.

        So you completely redefine conservatism and advocate a Progressive, top-down, short-range “solution” that expands government size, scope and power, manipulates the economy, and results in inflation that hits those low income people ostensibly helped by this “solution” first and hardest.

        I wonder if you have looked at the profit margins of the companies that depend on low-paid entry level jobs. If you have, you realize they will either have to go out of business or raise the cost of what they produce. You blithely say OK, you are fine with paying more, the sum total of what everyone has to pay more is the same as what we would have paid in taxes so it’s a wash but the terminology makes you happier. And then what? When $15.00 an hour buys what $10.00 an hour buys now, do we bump up to $20.00 an hour, which would be the new “living wage”? Where does it stop? Why not just go to $30.00 an hour now and get everyone into the middle class?

        The only way to solve the real problem is to first establish training programs and then tell people they have two years to get off welfare and support themselves, but in the meantime here are some subsidized programs that will give them job skills. If necessary, have a sliding scale so after two years someone making a base income that is enough to live on but not enough for rent can have subsidized rent for another year, or two, until income catches up.

        This changes the dynamic. Your plan only preserves the status quo, albeit with different terminology. It still caters to a dependent mentality that believes it is entitled to what it has not earned and does nothing to change the underlying problem. It’s kind of like saying if someone is 50 pounds overweight he can solve that problem by moving the dial on his scale. It reads 150 pounds now—problem solved!

        It’s a shell game, where the problem is the same but the name just changes to something some people find more palatable. It shows an alarming lack of understanding of basic economics and of conservative political ideology.

      • Bob Eisenhower June 26, 2016 / 9:45 pm

        You and I DO disagree on a point.

        I believe the marketplace has set a value for the work, that value being whatever Walmart pays plus whatever welfare their employees receive. You seem to believe the marketplace actually values the work at what Walmart pays, and the welfare is a gift.

        I do not advocate the Federal government getting more involved, I want them less. I want them to stop paying the welfare part of what the market assesses the job to be worth.

        You are absolutely correct when you say this is a shell game. Welfare is the pea. Remove the pea and let the market dictate wages and guess what? The market will find a living wage. Why? Because if workers cannot live on their earnings there will not be workers.

      • Amazona June 27, 2016 / 10:17 am

        Bob, you seem to be fixated on WalMart, yet WalMart accounts for only a small percentage of people who make less than what you call a “living wage”.

        I managed restaurants for many years. The dishwashers made minimum wage, the chefs made top dollar, other employees fell in the middle. There was an economic reason for that, and no, I don’t mean the economics of the restaurant—I mean the economics of the market.

        A dishwasher made minimum wage because he had minimum job skills. I could advertise for a dishwasher and have a dozen applications the first day. Anyone could do it. The primary qualification was the willingness to show up for work. I have promoted dishwashers who showed initiative and didn’t just stack dishes in a rack and send it through the machine but who checked to make sure everything was clean and ran dishes through again if they were not, who mopped the floor not just around their station but the whole kitchen, who showed a desire to advance—there is only a small range within the dishwashing job for more money, as the nature of the job itself dictates its worth, its value, and its compensation, but a willingness to work hard and learn meant that someone could be trained for the lower levels of kitchen work such as prep work, where he or she could continue to learn, acquire new skills, and advance. I promoted some busboys to waitstaff, and others remained where they were because they brought no additional value to the company.

        I have a farm, and I pay from $8.00 an hour to a compensation package of about $60,000 a year. The $8.00 an hour guy makes what he is worth to the farm. He has no job skills to speak of but he can paint fence, clean horse manure out of pens, and help stack hay if someone is there to remind him to turn bales to tie in the stack so it doesn’t fall down. My farm manager can use every piece of equipment on the property and repair most of it, he takes care of my equipment and doesn’t break it, he can tell when hay is ready to cut and knows the right moisture level for a hay bale, he is a skilled horseman, and so on. He knows how to do things and he is motivated to do them well. He has worked very hard to acquire skills, and he is paid for those skills. He remembers working for $5.00 an hour helping a neighbor build fence, and he worked his way up, constantly learning new things. He did have what might be called a social advantage: His parents worked hard and he was brought up with the expectation that he would be responsible for his own life, and he lived in a community where this was expected of everyone. He brought up his two children the same way, and they are both hardworking and productive.

        At no time do I stick my nose into anyone’s personal business and wonder if I am doing enough for him, if he can get by on what I pay him, because that is not my concern, as an employer. The guy making $13.00 an hour started at 8 and learned skills and proved himself to be reliable, and increased his value to me, and was rewarded for it.

        As a human being, not as an employer, I have given larger than usual bonuses, or helped out in other ways, when people have had needs. But this is not related to the value of the work they do. That value is set by the marketplace.

        Any job has an intrinsic value, which is based on the level of skill required to do the work and the number of people available to do the work. In South Dakota a couple of years ago, I would have had to pay more than $8.00 an hour for my unskilled labor because that market, at that time, paid more for unskilled labor because of circumstances: Although the work of an oil rig roughneck doesn’t require a lot of skill sets, it does require the willingness to work long hours in dangerous and often brutal working conditions, in heat and cold, and the higher pay reflected those working conditions. Because so many unskilled laborers were willing to work under those conditions, for more money, there were fewer unskilled laborers to do farm and ranch work, and in those areas at that time ag workers got paid more than usual because the pool of unskilled labor was smaller.

        It is an odd belief that a company like WalMart decides what to pay its people based on the assumption that it can pay less because the government will pick up the slack. I can assure you that no such calculation takes place. The money paid for a job is directly related to the value of that job, to what the employee brings to the company in exchange for the work done.

        I know someone whose daughter works at WalMart, and I doubt that she will ever proceed more than one or maybe two steps up the income ladder there. She resents having to work nights and weekends because it cuts into her social life, she never volunteers to fill in when someone else doesn’t show up, and based on what I know of her and what her mother says about her I am pretty sure she only does the absolute minimum required of her. We’ve all seen the minimum work people, slowly stocking shelves while chatting with their friends, blocking the aisles because they are not thinking of customers but of themselves, and so on. They get paid what they are worth, and if they want to get paid more they have to be worth more.

        Minimum effort = minimum wage
        Minimum job skills = minimum wage
        Minimum motivation = minimum wage

        The only reasonable way to change the last half of each of these equations is to change the first half. In a cause-and-effect equation you can’t just manipulate the effect—you have to change the cause.

        Minimum wage jobs are the broad foundation of an economy. They are not intended to be “living wage” jobs but are entry level jobs, where unskilled workers can get paid what they are worth at that time while learning the skills they need to earn their way up the income ladder. What you want to do is make people so comfortable at that level they are not motivated to put out the extra time and effort and energy to learn additional skills so they can EARN more money. You just want to give it to them whether or not they have earned it and whether or not this damages them in the long run by removing the motivation to improve themselves.

        And yes, you DO want to expand the federal government and its role in the day to day lives of the people, by having it assume the role of Wage Police, imposing someone’s concept of social justice on employers across the country. That was tried in the early part of the century when it was decided that everyone should be able to own his own home, and the government stepped in and forced lenders to act against their own best interests, and we all saw the results of that effort to manipulate the market.

        Evidently welfare is a burr under your saddle, as it is for so many of us. But the short-sighted “solution “of throwing more money at it is not the way to address it. It took a long time to get to where we are now, and it will take a long time to fix it. Creating an upheaval in the entire economy to “fix” part of it is not the way to go, especially when the ”fix” fixes nothing but merely exchanges one category of welfare for another and shifts its source from one source to another, creating a whole new set of problems along the way.

        I am not defending welfare. On the contrary, I think it is as bad an idea as arbitrarily forcing employers to pay more than jobs are worth. Both are examples of “social justice” paid for by those who do work and earn, and enforced by an overly large, overly powerful, Central Authority.

      • Amazona June 27, 2016 / 10:37 am

        “Remove the pea (welfare) and let the market dictate wages and guess what? The market will find a living wage. Why? Because if workers cannot live on their earnings there will not be workers.”

        I have no idea why you think “the market will find a living wage”. No, the workers will find a way to be worth more IN the market, thereby earning a living wage. You have it turned around.

        If you are grossing $1600 a month, which is about what you would be grossing at $10.00 an hour for 40 hours, just above minimum wage now but a lot less than what is demanded as a “living wage” and you want to live in an apartment that costs $1500 a month, you have a problem. You don’t solve that problem by having someone pay you more money for the same job—-you downsize your expectations or you get a second job. You share your living quarters and split the costs. You don’t get tats and piercings and the latest smart phones. You don’t go clubbing. You take the bus.

        Basically, you do what EVERYONE has done, up until the last two or three decades. I did all of those things. I lived in cheap apartments and/or had roommates. I ate Ramen noodles a lot. I shopped for clothes on sale and didn’t have a lot of them. I had one small TV. Of course at that time tats were low class and for sailors and hookers, and piercings were for freaks, but there were plenty of luxuries I had to pass up. And I wanted more, so I worked harder and I learned job skills, and within a few years I could afford more. I found a way to live on my less-than-living wage, went back to school and paid my way there, got a job that included training, and moved onward and upward. Sure, my life would have been easier and more fun if someone had forced my employers to just pay me more, without me having to earn it by improving my job skills, but there is a chance I would have just coasted and not worked to improve myself and therefore the world in which I moved.

        “…if workers cannot live on their earnings there will not be workers.” Really? Where will they go? I suggest the opposite is true—that when welfare is gone, no matter what flag it is flying ( welfare, “living wage”, etc ) workers will be forced to figure out how to earn a living wage. And that is the only way the economy, and the character of the nation at large, can improve. Your employer-funded welfare, just like taxpayer-funded welfare, creates a lower level of incentive, motivation, industriousness and productivity, all of which drag the whole country down. Carrots work, sticks work, but comfy nests filled with unearned goodies do not do anything but encourage staying in them.

    • M. Noonan June 22, 2016 / 6:43 pm

      It is difficult, but I have been doing a few experiments and I do find that there is a desire for a message of hope rather than handouts. It is sometimes very difficult to get over that hill of Progressive fear, but it can be done. When I talk about how welfare is table scraps from the rich while a genuine free economy means eventually having enough personal wealth to be independent, people do take to the idea.

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