From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
People can't live on $5.15

January 15, 2006 11:35 AM

On the eve of Martin Luther King Day, the New York Times Magazine puts the living wage on the cover.

The best quote comes from Carol Oppenheimer from the Santa Fe Living Wage Network: "What really got the other side was when we said, 'It's just immoral to pay people $5.15, they can't live on that.' It made the businesspeople furious. And we realized then that we had something there, so we said it over and over again. Forget the economic argument. This was a moral one. It made them crazy. And we knew that was our issue."

More from the archive in Business, Economy, Wal-Mart.

People can't live on $5.15 (01.15.2006)

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Read the 37 comments.


NEWS FLASH You’re right you’re NOT supposed to live on $5.15 per hr. Who ever said you had to? Who said that $5.15 was a “living wage” to begin with?

Minimum wage is a way for people (entering the work force) to “get-there-foot-in-the-door” – it’s a baseline nothing more, it’s mainly meant for high schoolers to put money in their pockets, college students to help pay for books/expenses, for people to have a part time job, and so on.

Do you think people should wait to have the government give them a raise? If so why not $10.00 per hr, why not $50.000 per year and how long B4 you all cry: “No one can live on 50K per yr – it’s not a living wage”

Tue Jan 17 2006 7:17 AM

Tom from Madison:


First of all, there must be some minimum wage in a civilized society. Exploiting desperate people for near slave wages is morally wrong.

Are you familiar with Ed Murrow's 1960 CBS documentary "Harvest of Shame"? This is an important reality check for anyone who is inclined to turn a blind eye to the consequences of unchecked employer power.

There are important MORAL principles at play here:
1) Employers have moral obligations to their employees.
2) The government has a moral obligation to protect the "least of our brethren--i.e. the most unfortunate among us who would be exploited by unregulated business owners.

There is an obvious conclusion. We need some kind of minimum wage law. Surely we all can agree on that!

Given that we need a minimum wage law, the question is at what level.

Tue Jan 17 2006 9:46 AM


"First of all, there must be some minimum wage in a civilized society."

Really? According to whom? And is there a minimum productivity level as well? Forgive me if I don't just drink the kool-aid without asking some tough questions.

How does your model deal with would-be workers whose productivity falls below the minimum wage...?

Wed Jan 18 2006 10:00 AM

Tom from Madison:

I'm telling you there is a moral consensus in this country that certain labor practices are per se illegal and should remain that way. Slavery is an obvious example. Child labor is another.

Many 3rd world countries have permanent underclasses where working people can never hope to achieve upward mobility. America has succeded in creating a vibrant middle class. Having a minimum wage is a key to maintaining it. The neocon agenda is pushing the country in that direction.

We don't need to return to the conditions that predominated in England at the time of Charles Dickens--i.e. early 19th century.

Wed Jan 18 2006 11:41 AM


"Many 3rd world countries have permanent underclasses where working people can never hope to achieve upward mobility. America has succeded in creating a vibrant middle class. Having a minimum wage is a key to maintaining it."

You're smoking crack. Minimum wages are used in third-world countries to protect organized labor from having to compete with the impoverished masses willing to work for next to nothing.

Of course, our economy here must work on an entirely different principle, or that would mean all these pro-minimun-wage liberals are unwitting shills for labor unions...

Wed Jan 18 2006 12:14 PM

Tom from Madison:


why the personal attack? Do you have any facts to back up your bombast? I suggest we have a civilized debate and dispense with the name calling.

Real wages in this country have been falling. Jobs are being exported to foreign countries. We can lower the cost of labor RESPONSIBLY by putting universal health care coverage in place and getting employers out of the health care business.

We can and should protect American workers by raising the minimum wage for all Americans. There are many cases where raising the minimum wage reduces welfare and contributes to economic vitality. Would you like to see some sources?

Thu Jan 19 2006 4:24 PM


Right. Let's remove the patch-quilt of costly third-party payer programs and replace them all with the mother of all third-party payers.

Like the man said, if you think healthcare's expensive now, wait till it's free.

How about if everyone who needs to take up a doctor's valuable time makes their own arrangements to pay for it, instead of trying to send the bill to somebody else? Sounds revolutionary, I know.

I am an American worker, and I am both secure and adequately protected without a minimum wage.

Interesting Congressional Joint Economic Committee point paper on minimum wages:

There is solid evidence that poor, unskilled workers are hurt by minimum wages. But feel free to break out your sources, and I'll see if I can look up the studies -- which have no doubt already been done -- debunking them as fraudulent or questioning their unorthodox methods.

Thu Jan 19 2006 5:44 PM

Tom from Madison:


thanks for the civil tone. Now let's get to the evidence.

This is from the Economic Policy Institute:
"An examination of the empirical evidence on low-wage workers and the effects of minimum wage increases reveals that:
• No evidence exists that teenagers or less-than-high-school-educated adults lost work as a result of the 1996-97 minimum wage increases.
• Historically, analyses of the minimum wage's impact on young workers have never shown the predicted large job-loss effects.
• The small negative employment effects found in past analyses diminish over time and are no longer statistically significant.
• Minimum wage increases are well targeted in the sense that 63% of the gains from a dollar increase in the minimum wage would be expected to accrue to working households in the bottom 40% of the income distribution.
• Of the 8.4 million workers (age 18 to 64) whose wages and incomes would increase with a one-dollar raise in the minimum wage, 2.7 million (32%) are the parents of 4.7 million children. Of the 2.7 million parents who earned at or near the current minimum wage in 1999, 63% had family incomes below $25,000.
• Most minimum wage workers are adults (71%), age 20 and up.[2] Women and minority workers are over-represented among the minimum wage workforce. Slightly less than half (48%) of the minimum wage workforce are full-time workers."


Also check out:

In additions there are numerous studies showing positive outcomes from State minimum wage increases.

Here's one on the Welfare to Work benfits in Oregon:

There are many more.

Fri Jan 20 2006 12:04 PM


Ah, yes, the Economic Policy Institute, a union-funded organization. Isn't it amazing what philanthropists those unions are, with regard to minimum wages, when you consider that all their members are already paid better than that as a result of collective bargaining? Can you honestly say that you never question their interest in the matter?

I prefer, the Employment Policies Institute -- a similar name with a completely different view. Here's what my epi says about your epi:
"The union-backed Economic Policy Institute has admitted that higher minimum wages will attract good workers, meaning less-skilled workers need not apply."

To those "less-skilled workers," that's a phenomenon known as "unemployment."

The Economic Policy Institute might want to re-examine its figures wrt the '96-97 increases:

Here's a good one from
"we calculate from official government employment data that the October 1, 1996, 50-cent minimum wage increase destroyed approximately 215,000 teen jobs, affecting about 3.5 percent of the 6.2 million teens that were working before the increase. In other words, employment does go down when the minimum wage goes up, and it went down after the 1996 increase despite strong performance in the economy as a whole."

How about this one from the Makinac Center for Public Policy:
"The recent 1996 hike in the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour had a similar effect: unemployment among black male teenagers jumped from 37 to 41 percent almost immediately, at a time when the economy was doing well for almost everyone else. That’s why Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, once called the minimum wage "the most anti-black law on the books.""

I love this garbage:
"The small negative employment effects found in past analyses diminish over time and are no longer statistically significant." Yeah right. I'm willing to bet it was pretty significant to the people who lost their jobs at the time. But since they're probably non-white, non-union and unskilled, how significant could they possibly be to the Economic Policy Institute or its sponsors???

Also I suspect a lot of your figures are manipulated. For example, "women ...are over-represented among the minimum wage workforce" easily translates to: "much of the benefit goes to low-wage spouses in households well above the poverty line."

Spare me. The fact is, there is an economic basis for my position. The (incredibly small minority of) unconventional economists who believe minimum wages don't hurt have been struggling for years to come up with one good theory to why all known laws of economics are suspended when it comes to raising wages. Meanwhile, decades of studies show that wages behave exactly like every other commodity when subjected to government price controls.

BTW, if you dig around long enough (assuming your liberal head doesn't explode) there's a great case study on a "living wage" program in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thought you'd like to compare that to your Oregon example. Maybe when I get time I'll do some research to find out how your Oregon info was manipulated as well.

Fri Jan 20 2006 2:24 PM

Tom from Madison:

Your rhetoric doesn’t match the facts:

Here’s a study from San Francisco when they raised their min wage in 2003
Among their key findings:

* The new policy did not affect employment growth in affected businesses -- primarily restaurants, where the fulltime employment increased and job tenure improved.
* Average prices for restaurant menu items increased slightly --approximately 3 cents on the dollar -- relative to their business counterparts on the east side of San Francisco Bay.
* The percentage of workers earning less than $8.50 an hour in restaurants affected by the law declined substantially, while health insurance coverage by those restaurant employers remained stable.
* The policy did not spur business closures.

As I said before, study after study shows the doomsday scenarios you claim don’t happen. Recent history is full of examples where raising the minimum wage improved local economies.

The inflexible dogma is on the right--AND IT'S WRONG!

Fri Jan 20 2006 2:41 PM


From an abstract of a similar report by the same authors:
"We find some limited evidence of worker-worker substitution, but no evidence of employment decline."

Allow me to translate: low-skilled workers lost their jobs to better applicants.

This is the great thing about populist liberals -- anything that only hurts a few people is still good. Go figure.

Decades of evidence to substantiate the completely explainable economics that say minimum wages cost jobs. Now suddenly in the last ten years liberals have learned to torture the figures to hide the truth. Only they forgot to come up with a theory to explain how the laws of supply and demand have suddenly changed.

This is the interesting part about minimum wage advocacy. *All* the supporting evidence is recent, and *every* bit of it can be debunked with a closer look at the raw data.

I guess it doesn't matter to you, since the only victims are non-white, non-union, unskilled low-paid minorities. Apparently the Democrats don't believe those people count.

Big surprise.

Fri Jan 20 2006 3:42 PM

Tom from Madison:


Your factsJUST don't match reality. Unemployment does not rise when the minimum rises--not for the majority and not for racial / ethnic minorities.

Minorities realize this too. Why do suppose were black and minority voters for Bush such a rare breed?

1990s case studies have shown minority gains when the minimum wage was increased.

Today's neocons are not gaining ground with minorities for the obvious reason. THEY HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER.

Fri Jan 20 2006 4:43 PM


From your link:
"The balance of statistical research over the past decade consistently shows that the job loss due to a moderate minimum wage increase is negligible."

Three points:
1. The relevant data is from the last ten years, as I predicted. In that time, the laws of economics have magically changed.

2. "Negligible" is not "none." Tell a person who's lost his job that he's "negligible." Ask him how many jobs he has and he'll tell you: "None."

Of course, I realize that from the organized labor perspective non-white, non-union unskilled people without jobs are not significant, so I guess you might call them "negligible..."

3. When low-skilled workers lose their jobs to better workers after a mandatory wage increase it does not automatically register as "unemployment." However, it's genuine unemployment for the uncounted person who's lost his job in the bargain. Fortunately, he's usually a marginally-employable minority anyway, and not likely to stop voting for Democrats simply because he's been fired.

Fri Jan 20 2006 5:37 PM


Here are some great excerpts from Cato (I'm not responsible for any strokes seizures suffered by liberals visiting Cato's site).

This is from a book review of the liberal minimum wage manifesto by Card and Krueger.

It's got some pretty advanced economics on it, but there's still plenty for the layman to understand.

Card and Krueger compiled their data from telephone interveiws. However:

"Studies using the official payroll records of fast-food firms in the relevant geographic areas had significantly different results and reached opposite conclusions. The major challenge has come from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), which issued a report titled, "New Evidence on the Minimum Wage: The Crippling Flaws in the New Jersey Fast Food Study,'' in April 1995. EPI made its data available to David Neumark and William Wascher. They found that the employment effects of the New Jersey minimum-wage increase were negative and quite consistent with the prevailing wisdom."

"In the case of the payroll data, employers and the tax-collecting agency have strong financial incentives to ensure that the total dollar volume of payrolls is accurately stated. There is no such incentive for accuracy in the telephone surveys...Until the questions concerning the Card-Krueger data are resolved, their natural experiment analysis must remain suspect."

"In chapter 6, ...They select only the 18 studies that examine the effect on employment, rather than unemployment. Next, they limit their analysis to studies that focus on "all teens," ignoring any analysis dealing with nonwhite, nonwhite male, or nonwhite female teens, groups where the effect of minimum-wage increases are much greater."

"However, an inspection of their regression results reveals that in no case is the relationship they observe statistically significant. Further, the scatter diagram they provide suggests quite strongly that without the inclusion of study number 15 (by Jacob Klerman [1992]), the last study inserted, not even the negative regression coefficients would have been obtained. There is nothing about their results that is statistically robust, despite frequent claims to the contrary."

Now this next part is important, because it explains how Card-Krueger has become the bedrock of the new liberal argument that minimum wages don't cause unemployment:

"Despite the above mentioned shortcomings, the Card-Krueger findings have been seized upon, both in the United States and abroad, as providing support for increasing the minimum wage. Initially, there was a rush to judgment and a rush to celebrate and acclaim the results. With the emergence of major questions concerning the accuracy of the basic data in their major natural experiment, there has been some retreat from that position. We think this retreat is wise. Certainly, until some of the major questions are resolved, it might be well to accept the statement made by Krueger at a Milken Institute conference, where he stated, "I want to emphasize that my comments should not be interpreted as support for the position that increasing the minimum wage is sound public policy""

Fri Jan 20 2006 6:12 PM



Good stuff:

"The New Jersey study was wholly discredited more than a year ago when this new information came to light. The media reported on the study using terms such as "snake oil," "dubious numbers," "grossly inaccurate," and "plain wrong." For months, no public figure dared mention the study to support a higher minimum wage. Today, however, leading policymakers are again citing the New Jersey study as fact. These individuals have chosen to ignore reality, intentionally misleading the public and attempting to set public policy on the basis of discredited research."

"The data base used in the New Jersey fast food study is so bad that no credible conclusions can be drawn from the report."

"Advocates of a higher minimum wage latched onto this "new evidence" as a stunning refutation of conventional wisdom...unfortunately, nobody bothered to examine the data..."

"The truth about the New Jersey fast food study is clear and irrefutable. The data and the conclusions of the study are seriously flawed. It is unconscionable for those who set national minimum wage policy to ignore this evidence and mislead the American people."

Mislead the American people? To which party would they be referring, I wonder...?

"The data set used in the study has been proven to be horribly detached from reality, and the work has become a source of bemusement for many economists."

"the conflict over has nothing to do with "dueling economists." Even a casual observer can recognize the catastrophic must question the motives of anyone continuing to use the study as credible evidence in the minimum wage debate."

"The survey never asked how many hours were being worked in the restaurant, only how many employees were working. Yet hours worked is the most important measure of overall employment in a restaurant. In fact, it is the only accurate measure!"

"...a study doomed to become a textbook example of how not to collect data."

" has, unfortunately, worked its way into mainstream debates over the minimum wage. The statistical advanced and sophisticated, but the end result is clear: garbage in, garbage out...provides no "evidence" that would warrant throwing out decades of research measuring job loss after a mandated wage hike."

Fri Jan 20 2006 9:27 PM


Sat Jan 21 2006 11:39 PM

Dave E.:

More on EPI and its founder, a restaraunt industry lobbyist:

"In 1995, Berman and Brinker were identified as the special-interest lobbyists who donated the $25,000 that caused House Speaker Newt Gingrich to be hauled before the House Ethics Committee for influence peddling."

Quite the incestuous relationship for these so-called conservatives.

(and the above post was mine)

Sun Jan 22 2006 1:49 AM


Maybe, but that doesn't mean they're wrong.

Furthermore, EPI didn't do the research; they retained university economists to do it. Neumark and Wascher were quite up-front about EPI's potential conflicts of interest, and made it a point to collect their own data.

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee agreed with Neumark and Wascher; are you saying their economists were all on EPI's payroll, too?

I realize those pesky laws of supply and demand must be must be very annoying to you guys. But instead of trying to create a new reality -- one where the rules no longer apply to your chosen causes -- have you ever considered policies that reflect the way the world actually works???

Liberals have worked hard to discredit Neumark and Wascher's work. However, it's really hard to defent Card-Krueger's methods when you look at them. The foundation of the new justification ('excuse' is probably a better word for it) for minimum wages is a joke.

But you folks are deep in denial. You've been trying to get around reality on this front for a long time. It's tempting because it's not hard to show that a majority supports these measures and a minority is hurt by it: the epitome of Democratic policy.

Here's a suggestion -- google "minimum wage" and "better workers." Liberal doctrine boasts that minimum wages attracts better workers. Well where, exactly, do liberals think the "not-so-good" workers are supposed to go???

There's plenty of cognitive dissonance in the liberal position that really ought to be reconciled before we turn it into policy.

And before you dismiss the conservative pro-business position as anti-worker, you might want to consider that the people with all the money might actually know a thing or two about economics.

Sun Jan 22 2006 12:12 PM

Tom from Madison:

Despite business interest preferences to the contrary, raising the minimum wage is a popular idea. Pew and other polls have demonstrated this. It is the Republicans who are out of step with the will of the people!.

Why do you suppose even Republicans don't propose repealing the minimum wage? It would be political suicide as well as the antipathy of compassionate conservatism.

Instead Republicans play a stalling game, hoping working people will blame someone else for the erosion of their real buying power as inflation slowly takes its toll.

EPI, Cato and other "pro-business" groups are simply doing whatever they can to cheapen the cost of labor. Minimum wage laws in states and municipalies can be an effective counter. Locally empowered workers are stepping up where they can to check the intervention of corporate power. That's a good thing.

Tue Jan 24 2006 3:16 PM


"Despite business interest preferences to the contrary, raising the minimum wage is a popular idea. Pew and other polls have demonstrated this. It is the Republicans who are out of step with the will of the people!"

If the "will of the people" was the most important thing, we wouldn't need government -- and we certainly wouldn't have a representative government. We'd simply be a majoritarian democracy.

"The will of the people" is rooted in economic ignorance. It is the whole point of republican government that our elected leaders should do what's right rather than what's popular. So the question each leader must ask himself is whether he will exploit the public's ignorance for votes, or if he will defend what is right irrespective of what the masses think they want. I think it's obvious which path the majoritarian Democrats have chosen: economic ignorance.

"Why do you suppose even Republicans don't propose repealing the minimum wage? It would be political suicide as well as the antipathy of compassionate conservatism.
Instead Republicans play a stalling game, hoping working people will blame someone else for the erosion of their real buying power as inflation slowly takes its toll."

If it's politically unpopular, that's only because the left continues to deny the reality about minimum wages. As far as I know, the right's official position on minimum wages is consistent with the economic school of thought, which states that if you don't "do" anything about minimum wages inflation will take care of them automatically.

"EPI, Cato and other "pro-business" groups are simply doing whatever they can to cheapen the cost of labor. Minimum wage laws in states and municipalies can be an effective counter. Locally empowered workers are stepping up where they can to check the intervention of corporate power. That's a good thing."

Cato's not "pro-business." They have no stake in labor costs. And corporations are not "anti-worker." Corporations welcome value, and in my experience they reward truly productive workers quite generously. Of course, when you're a lonely fish in a sea of uneducated, unmotivated, unskilled grunts, it's admittedly hard to be recognized. But we all make our own conscious decision about jumping into that water.

Minimum wages may be effective in locales served by a single major employer, but outside of that context they are discriminatory and counterproductive.

Tue Jan 24 2006 6:22 PM

Tom from Madison:

How about cutting to the chase?

Cheap labor is good for consumers--until it's their own labor that becomes so cheap that working people can't live on their low wages.

Outsourcing is great for the economy--until we discover that our infra-structure is owned by foreign countries.

The worst part of the current economic environment is the killing of the American Dream. Low wages and the pursuit of cheap goods is resulting in a crushing debt load and bigger gulf between rich and poor.

The current backlash against Wal-mart and outsourcing is not the result of liberal propaganda. It's the result of people wanting to control their own communities. Why cede that to wealthy folks in Arkansas, companies employing cheap labor in China, or wealthy Saudis?

Better we pay a bit more for goods and services produced locally. We owe too much to too many foreign countries. America doesn't need that!

Thu Jan 26 2006 12:21 PM


I'm happy to cut to the chase:

Cheap labor results from not having enough skills to be more productive.

Limited skills translates to limited productivity, which translates to limited consumption.

There are increasingly more people in the world who can read and perform simple tasks. If you want to be paid a lot more than those people, you're going to need more skills than them.

Thu Jan 26 2006 7:04 PM

Tom from Madison:

Hey CPU:

You're telling half truths. It's not just about what workers do. It's about the morality of the people running the companies--[Duh!]

Cheap labor is also the result when companies exercise power and workers are not protected by their governments, their unions, or themselves.

Example: Garment workers in Saipan. Where laws don't protect workers, workers can and do get exploited. It's not because of any skill difference between these workers and other American garment workers. It's because the Saipan workers are weak and in no position to organize or act collectively for their own beneft.

Companies who look around the world for workers in these situations to exploit are doing wrong and should be stopped.

Fri Jan 27 2006 2:48 PM


"It's not just about what workers do. It's about the morality of the people running the companies"

There's nothing immoral about paying people market prices for common labor. There's something pathetically immoral about reaching adulthood in the workforce and being so poorly prepared for life that the market value of your labor is less than $5.15/hr. How does that fit into your morality?

How does your irrational morality deal with the undesirables of society? When you raise wages to $7 and it "attacts better workers" as liberals claim, how does your morality handle the lesser workers who are displaced, losing their jobs in the bargain?

"It's not because of any skill difference between these workers and other American garment workers."

You missed the whole point, Sherlock. It's not about the skills difference between American textile workers and Saipan textile workers. It's about the difference between developing high-paying skills to compete in the American job market or being an unskilled laborer who competes with half the third world for a job.

If you squander your opportunities and end up on the job market with skills no better than those of a Saipan factory worker, what entitles you to live better than him? Your patriotism? Please!

It takes a lot of specialized skills to bring all these goods and services to market. If you can't be bothered to get those skills, then you shouldn't expect a very big share of the pie.

"Companies who look around the world for workers in these situations to exploit are doing wrong and should be stopped."

Look again: American companies are the best thing that ever happened to those people. They line up ten deep to apply for those jobs. And you voice your silent approval every time you buy the goods they produce.

Fri Jan 27 2006 8:55 PM

Tom from Madison:


you keep missing the big picture. The market has no morality. People do. People created markets. When evil happens as a result of these markets being created, everyone connected has some responsibility for the outcome.

That said, the lion's share of the responsibility belongs to those who own the means of production. They can create tolerable or miserable lives for workers at their plants. If they are successful in creating slave labor conditions, they themselves immoral.

Importing cheap labor from completely destitute Asian countries to Saipan may strike you as "a market decision." However if you dig into the results of those decisions you will find that poor Saipan workers work for horrible wages because they were lied to and find themselves in circumstances that keep them virtually enslaved.

The idea that "the market" must be obeyed by American workers descending to the abuse level that exists in the rest of the world is simply immoral. Americans can and should do something about it. Holding corporations accountable by legal means is an outstanding way to make this happen!

Sat Jan 28 2006 4:20 PM


It is an unfortunate fact that the black teenage male is the least desirable of all job applicants. His one redeeming value, as a candidate for employment, is that he can be hired for less money than anyone else.

This is seen as a threat to the job security of other groups. As long as they seek jobs that can be done by black teenage males, they will always be competing with someone who would do the same work for less.

The whole point of the minimum wage is to prevent the young black male from negotiating wages below a certain level. It has nothing to do with convincing employers to pay employees more: it's all about controlling who the employer will hire. With the black teenager prohibited by law from under-bidding whites, he goes unemployed. With a price floor on labor that favors desirable employees, the young black male goes unemployed. And the jobs of whites are protected.

It is the official position of the left that higher minimum wages "attract better workers." They brag about it, holding it up as proof that the wages are beneficial. But ask the left where the "not-so-good" workers are supposed to go, and they fall strangely silent. Crickets chirp. And of course, the answer is: unemployment.

Minimum wages put the least desirable elements of society on the unemployment line. This is not an accident; it's by design. It is the reason that unions, whose members are guaranteed wages far greater than the minimum wage, are so active in support of minimum and living wages: to keep their members from having to compete with applicants who would work for less.

Sun Jan 29 2006 2:32 AM

Tom from Madison:

You made the following foolish statement:

"It is an unfortunate fact that the black teenage male is the least desirable of all job applicants. His one redeeming value, as a candidate for employment, is that he can be hired for less money than anyone else."

Your remarks are both bigoted and incorrect:
Black males may be the most unsuccessful in the labor market. They are not the "least desireable".

Your claim that black teenage males have "one redeeming value" is again racist, ignorant and foolishly stereotypical.

You need to acquaint yourself with some basic facts. Black workers are more likely to be union workers than whites. These workers know what's best for them far more than CPUrick does!

sources: [BLS]

Collective action is a powerful ally of all workers, not just Black workers. Raising the minimum wage and demanding universal health care would help not hurt the poorest workers. Hence the well funded opposition from those invested in cheap labor -- especially the neocons.

Mon Jan 30 2006 12:32 PM

Tom from Madison:

From the BLS website:

In 2005, 12.5 percent of wage and salary workers were union members, unchanged from 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The union membership rate has declined from a high of 20.1 percent in 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available.

Some highlights from the 2005 data are:
--Nearly 15.7 million wage and salary workers were union members in 2005.
--Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
--Men were more likely than women to be union members.
--Workers in the public sector had a union membership rate more than four times that of private-sector employees.

Mon Jan 30 2006 12:38 PM


I leave it up to you to reconcile your admission that black males are the least successful workers against your ridiculous suggestion that they are not less desirable employees. All other things being equal, business owners -- who are predominantly white -- do discriminate against black applicants, and I believe that's essentially a plank of your party's platform.

Also assuming that all other things are equal, any less-desirable employee can overcome his disadvantages through a willingness to discount his labor. That is basic economics.

For the umpteenth time, it is the official position of the minimum wage movement that higher minimum wages "attract better workers." These workers would therefore displace "less-good workers." You liberals are invited to explain your plans for these displaced "less-good workers."

A price floor on labor precludes any further discounting, so I'd love to hear you explain how they're supposed to get jobs after the wage goes up.

It is a fact that minimum wages have been supported in political actions designed specifically to prevent minorities from underbidding majority workers for employment.

Nearly everything labor unions do is oriented around protectionism for its membership. And suddenly you think their support for higher minimum wages is philanthropic? Are you a liar, or are you really that stupid?

It is basic economics that a rise in the price of labor causes less labor to be purchased. Reduced purchasing of labor is the textbook definition of unemployment.

Workers may feel that their labor is "special," but to the employer it's just another cost. It does not defy the laws of supply and demand. If the price goes up, applicants who cannot meet a minimum level of productivity will not find jobs.

Note that the law does not require business owners to operate at a loss, though I'm sure you guys are trying to change that.

Mon Jan 30 2006 4:46 PM

Tom from Madison:


you must get paid by the word, not by the thought. I'd like to hear you answer directly: Why do you suppose a disproportionate number of Black workers are in Unions?

There is clearly discrimination against minority workers, especially against Black men. That's a fact. YOU ARE THE ONE MAKING THE FURTHER CLAIM THAT BLACK WORKERS ARE UNDESIREABLE! That claim is racist and belies any other claims you try to make.

Despite your assertions, I am not a Democrat. That said, the Democrats have a whole lot more to offer any worker, especially those near the bottom of the wage scale, than the Republicans have to offer.

I have to ask you the same question I ask my Republican friends. Why are there so few Black Republicans? Republicans are still the party of the mostly white, wealthy elite who want to keep it that way. That's all.

Poor workers of all races generally favor raising the minimum wage, protecting their jobs, and enacting universal health insurance. It's been that way for years. It's still that way.

In Europe and Canada, they generally live better as a result of this kind of pro-labor policy.

Tue Jan 31 2006 9:51 AM


When I observe that business owners are more reluctant to hire blacks over whites (all other factors being equal), that observation applies to them -- not to me. It is not inherently "racist" for me to observe that business owners in general display a racial bias. The bias doesn't even have to be racially motivated as long as it happens to affect people who are disproportionately black -- it can be caused entirely by cultural factors, like education, language, etc.

You are parsing words over "desirability" of black workers as long as you agree that employers are more reluctant to hire them. Whether or not you wish to characterize it as "desirability," it seems pretty obvious that employers are generally more reluctant to hire blacks than whites. Apparently, you have a political correctness issue that prohibits you from discussing the phenomenon. Sounds like a personal problem to me.

"I have to ask you the same question I ask my Republican friends. Why are there so few Black Republicans?"

Because unlike the Democrats, Republicans don't offer any special privileges for simply being black. No signing bonus. Though I believe true bigots and racists are likely to be divided between both parties, I'm not personally familiar with anyone on the right who actually believes blacks are inferior. I know there's plenty of support, among Repubs, for a Condi Rice presidential run. OTOH, I can't imagine the Democrats ever nominating a black national candidate.

If necessary, I'd be happy to discuss the concept of "the Democrat plantation." I'm sure you've heard of it.

"Poor workers of all races generally favor raising the minimum wage, protecting their jobs, and enacting universal health insurance. It's been that way for years. It's still that way."

Of course, by definition the poor and the ignorant are not exactly experts at knowing what actually works, what's actually possible, and what's best for themselves. If I was going to form a party to cultivate that ignorance and feed on it, I would call it the Democrats. And whatever kind of leftist you are (Green, I suppose, but they're all commies to me either way) you're a part of it.

You STILL have not answered: what is your movement's plan for the "not-so-good" workers who are displaced by the "better workers" attracted by minimum wages??? Cat got your tongue?

Tue Jan 31 2006 4:27 PM

Dave E.:

"it seems pretty obvious that employers are generally more reluctant to hire blacks than whites"

You've got your mens rea completely misplaced. Tisk tisk. Maybe your intuitive enough to figure out your cell phone interface, but it's evident that no one should trust you to interpret data.

Finally, I'd be really interested to see our new Chicago Boys Cheerleader Club Leader compare major economic data under Democratic and Republican administrations to see who's market angle is more effective..let's bring in some empirical data to keep our idealogues honest, eh?

FAIR WARNING: That is the question I will continue to raise whenever our new resident wingnut spins his quixotic responses to legitimate, fact-based questions like: which party has the most successful stewardship of this nation's economy? I'm not disciplined enough to be a Democrat, but empiricism is more compelling to me than far-flung theory that I like because it makes me feel fuzzy when I repeat it to "the lefties" ad nauseum.

Wed Feb 1 2006 4:10 AM


"it's evident that no one should trust you to interpret data."

Perhaps you should take that up with Tom, who agreed with me:
"There is clearly discrimination against minority workers, especially against Black men. That's a fact."

"which party has the most successful stewardship of this nation's economy?"

Well, are you talking about when Kennedy lowered taxes? Or when a Republican Congress refused to fund Clinton's budget requests? Or are you hinting that it's the Democrats -- the party that fought for slavery and states' rights, and which opposed the civil rights movement? Either way it sounds like you're changing the subject.

Back to the topic, I see you're continuing to duck the question of what happens to "not-so-good" workers when they are displaced by the "better workers" who are supposedly attracted by higher minimum wages. Since this particular piece of cognitive dissonance is fundamental to the argument, would one of you liberals here like to address it?

Wed Feb 1 2006 7:51 AM

Dave E.:

Personally, and bluntly, your question is idiotic. It stems from a false premise. It deserves the silence it has received. You simply should not be surprised by a general refusal to answer a suggestive question that belongs on a push poll drawn up by a wingnut.

And as for my question, I shouldn't be surprised to see you've dusted off the highly attenuated talking points that impossibly paint the GOP as the minority-loving party of civil rights and strong economics.

Wrong. The GOP is the party of defecit spending, balance of payments blowing, pass the debt on to the kids, tax cuts during war without properly equipping the troops it hide behinds, and welfare for the wealthy political party (list most certainly not exclusive). The economy measurably suffers under GOP control. Consistently. This is measurable and recorded. Anybody can find this out within 5 minutes of google-bombing it.

That is not changing the subject, it is closing the issue.

Thu Feb 2 2006 2:00 AM


"your question...stems from a false premise."

Please identify the false premise:

1. Minimum wage advocacy holds that minimum wages "attract better workers." (Easily explained.)

2. The arrival of "better workers" would displace "not-so-good" workers on the labor market. (Also easily explained.)

The only false premise I see is the myth that the "not-so-good" workers will not lose their jobs. (Liberals can't explain this.)

C'mon: take it on. Explain how these policies defy the laws of supply and demand.

Stop trying to justify your irrational policies by claiming the other side is even more irrational. Let's see you defend your ridiculous position.

Thu Feb 2 2006 7:57 AM


thanks for your work here - you do make a difference

Thu Mar 16 2006 12:55 AM


The trouble with the American People is that we talk too much, but don't take action. We all, who get under paid should set a date across the nation and march. The rents are out of control, the pay is too low. Pass the word on. Maybe, just maybe us Americans will smarten up and do it. JUST DO IT. Go to the local paper and give a time and date and let's get going. That's what I say. Millions of people just get mad, well get mad and march for what it is right. People from other countries get treated better than we do. The government gives them everything they need. We want peace and to live happy. We're not going to get either one until we take action. If you can't take action, then we should keep our mouth shut and put up with it. Name when, where, and time, and I'll be the first one there with you. Just don't say tomorrow. Give a resonable notice time. You'll need a permit to give a peace march. Let's not kill our own country to make a statement. Start Marching. Terri

Sat Jun 30 2007 12:52 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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