Tuesday, January 28, 2014

American Victimology 101

My discussion with Matt to a strange turn yesterday that I thought may be interesting to discuss. Another John had raised a valid issue regarding how were people to live on minimum wage.

MinnPost Minimum Wages

"Back when I was a college student I seemed to have a fair amount of money, however my choices were severly limited.

I ended up living with multiple room mates in a cheap apartment or home.
My car was a piece of junk and I carried minimal insurance.
I ate a lot of carbs and watched for bargains.
I got real good at maintaining and/or fixing my property.
And I was really motivated to learn, improve, work and escape that reality.

What life do you expect for these low skill, low academics, low effort, very safe positions/personnel?

Do you want them to be able to rent their own apartment, buy nicer stuff, own homes, etc? If they could, wouldn't this reduce the extrinsic motivators to work hard and improve themselves. And with the earned income credit and other programs in place, I am not sure what you want.  (Taxation Family Graphs) " G2A

"It would give them the freedom to pursue those things as opposed to every minute of every day being filled with basic survival techniques. You struggled in college by choice, you could have easily postponed your studies, or attended a lower cost institution. You had an option. The people we are talking about aren't students slumming until they land that first real job, they are the product of years of grinding poverty, brought about by the intentional disinvestment in American society by the moneyed class. They are the product if a decades long assault on public education by those who would see it abolished, they are in many cases the product of discrimination toward their skin color, ethnicity, or socioeconomic position. While the old myth of "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps" makes for great rhetorical theater, it still (as its always been) isn't based on reality" Matt

"You would turn all of those people into helpless victims. That is sad.

A good friend of mine who came here from Ethiopia, who is very black, and came here at age 19 would find your perceptions disturbing and disrespectful. He had little money, didn't speak English and yet he worked hard, took advantage of every program we American's provide to minorities, attended Normandale community college until he could get into the U of MN's engineering school. He graduated as a Mechanical Engineer and makes a whole lot more than minimum wage as one of my co-workers.

He had fellow black people trying to hold him back and fellow white people who were frustrated that he qualified for so many more programs than they could. Yet he persisted and succeeded.

I hope some day you can help to cheer and motivate these folks rather than keep demeaning them." G2A



jerrye92002 said...

well, you got that one right.

The only people out to destroy the public schools are the public school systems, and they're doing a great job. That means perpetuating poverty instead of giving people the means of escape. Likewise, the "welfare trap" continues to ensnare new generations of victims, while politicians throw ever more money at creating the dependency. I keep coming back to the lesson of Wisconsin, which pioneered a work requirement for welfare and found that the rolls of recipients dropped 20% almost immediately-- people who were happy to collect welfare but could do without if it involved (ugh!) work.

I'll give you the counterexample. I shared supper and a chat with a middle-aged gent at the shelter, and learned that he is a skilled machinist ($20-30/hour). Yet here he is homeless. Well, it turns out he has a little alcohol problem and can't hold a job, and chooses to live on the street or in shelters rather than give up the booze. I wouldn't have turned him away, not even from a welfare check right away, but do we really want to subsidize such irresponsible behavior rather than offering a way out? It's the same with minimum wage earners. If you just raise it, how have they advanced by their own merits, and what have they offered "back to society" in return?

John said...

A response from the other John...

"I know Ethiopians! I know people from China! I count them as friends but most had an advantage when they came over here that most minorities who grew up here didn't have. If they needed help it was easier for them to get it, but you also have to remember that when many fled their countries it was because they could afford to. Many already had educations, some owned businesses. Most Mexicans have it worse however. I know one Ethiopian Engineer who works for a lot less than I made, he makes more than minimum wage, works on contract and will probably be stuck working contract jobs for years (if he's lucky it'll just be a few more years). He works for a company that makes automated systems. He should be making double what he makes. He and his family live in a one bedroom apartment and his older car won't start and they are expecting their second child. They can't afford to move. He agrees with my assessment by the way. Wages aren't keeping up with the cost of living period!

Nothing changes the fact that $750 a month is a poverty wage. Minimum wage has fallen over the years so it doesn't buy what it did even back, say, 20 years ago, certainly not 40 years ago. Most people living on a minimum wage won't be able to get training because they simply can't afford it and living at the same time. The older a person becomes the harder it is to get grants. Loans will be crushing. That's the reality. Exceptions only proof the rule. The reason for that is that they 'are' exceptions.

There is nothing about making more than the current minimum wage that is demeaning in any way I can think of? Cheering someone on who is making minimum wage doesn't do anything for them and it doesn't motivate them or make them glad they are living in poverty. Most will curse you (behind your back of course). No one in this country, the richest country in the world, should work for poverty wages. Make exclusions for high school students if they are living at home perhaps, but working shouldn't mean poverty for adults.

In most minimum wage jobs, there is very little in the way of moving up the ladder also. They are dead-end jobs for most part. There's a choke point when it comes to moving up the ladder just because of the numbers involved if it's at all possible to 'move up the ladder'. The minimum wage should be tied to the average wage in this country in a way that simply insures a living wage. Better yet, let's tie it to the top salaries and let's make sure we can close the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor. Making more than the current minimum wage won't make them helpless victims, just the reverse. Giving people a living wage isn't demeaning either. I don't understand why you would think it would be?"

John said...

Matt's response:

"Mr. Lord stole a portion of my thunder so I will try to keep this brief. What is demeaning about pointing out reality as it actually stands, warts, challenges, and all, and stating that people facing these challenges need and deserve aid? Conversely, what are we to make of the unspoken implications of the story you shared? Do you really mean to imply that every person who doesn't succeed at the level your colleague has failed because of laziness? That the millions upon millions of folks who don't pull down six figures are simply unwilling to work hard enough to do so? What a cynical view towards the vast majority of your fellow citizens."

John said...

I am waiting for my replies to clear MinnPost's moderator, however they went some thing like this...

In my opinion, Matt's comments paint a whole lot of people as hopeless victims, and I find it insulting to all the people who work hard, take advantage of America's free education system and other programs, and get ahead.

"The people we are talking about aren't students slumming until they land that first real job, they are the product of years of grinding poverty, brought about by the intentional disinvestment in American society by the moneyed class. They are the product if a decades long assault on public education by those who would see it abolished, they are in many cases the product of discrimination toward their skin color, ethnicity, or socioeconomic position."

As for cynical, Matt would have us belief there are a lot of American citizens who are actively focused on oppressing other Americans. I disagree because most people focus on themselves, their family and their friends. I am not sure who these "villains" are that make time in their life to try to oppress the masses...

Most capitalists I know want individuals to succeed so that they can sell products or services to them. They see no profit in keeping others poor.

jerrye92002 said...

Ever get a job working for a poor guy? We need rich people, and the vast majority got there by working hard so if you want to get there, you have to work just as hard. If somebody offers you a job for $5 an hour and it is $5 an hour more than you are making now, should the government tell you you cannot have the job? Sorry, but there is no magic pot of money out there that politicians can dole out to their favored few (or downtrodden or whatever). It all comes from someplace and if you make it more expensive to give out a job, there will be fewer jobs. It's just the way reality works.

jerrye92002 said...

We all have our disadvantages. Successful people overcome them. Those who give up do not, and then want to blame someone or something else so they can be the victim. Boo hoo.

And for all those anecdotes about people not doing as well as somebody else, I want to know what you have done to help them, other than demand that government step in and coerce equality of result at the expense of others? Government coercion IS a "zero sum game," with winners and losers. Free markets make winners all around.

"Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth; socialism is the equal distribution of misery."