The Great Inequality Debate

Is equality of income more important than equality of justice and authority?

Writing in Commentary not long ago, Seth Mandel drew out a nice point about the resurgence of the Democratic left: “Complaints over the last few years about the GOP being pulled to the right by conservatives,” he wrote, “were not about liberals’ desire to meet in the middle and compromise, no matter how much they might decry the supposed extremist drift of the right. What they wanted was their very own Tea Party.”

The Occupy movement briefly seemed to provide one, but it lacked the Tea Party’s staying power. Still, the passions that animated the Occupiers have breathed new life into the left, from the East Coast — where Bill de Blasio won election as New York’s new mayor on a promise to end economic inequalities — to the West, where Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative Party, won a seat on the Seattle City Council by campaigning for a $15 minimum wage.

Victories like those have inspired imitation: Several candidates in the Northeast have expropriated de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” theme for their own campaigns, and President Obama ended 2012 with a speech calling economic inequality “the defining issue of our time.”

All of this has the liberal commentariat rapturous. The abstract notion of equality is the lodestar of the American left, just as the abstract notion of liberty is the lodestar of the right. Or at least some liberty: Most conservatives care greatly about the economic kind, and the sight of an entrepreneur caught up in red tape enrages them. But certain conservatives care less about other kinds of liberty, such as the freedom of gays and lesbians to pursue their own happiness as they define it, or the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted.

Likewise, the left is selective in its ardor for equality. It is stirred by the cause of social equality for minority groups, and by economic equality for all. Other kinds of equality matter less — e.g., to evangelicals, the belief that we are all equal in the eyes of God is an immensely important social leveler. To at least the secular left, this solidarity of faith seems not only insignificant but potentially malignant — an “opiate of the masses,” as Marx called religion generally.

Even on the question of economic inequality, many on the left tend to focus only on one dimension: the gap between the rich and poor. Conventional liberal opinion holds that the gap is bad not only because of its consequences, but inherently — and the bigger the gap, the worse things are.

But that doesn’t follow. As self-described “liberaltarian” Will Wilkinson noted in a 2009 paper, U.S. inequality as measured by the Gini Coefficient (the most common measure of such inequality) is about the same as in Ghana. But being poor in the U.S. is much better than being poor – or for that matter rich – in Ghana. This raises another point Wilkinson makes, about consumption: When you look at how people actually live, what they have in the bank matters much less than their daily experience.

The difference between having a car of any kind or none at all is vastly greater than the difference between having a used Chevy and a new Porsche. And while the rich in the U.S. have gotten richer, so have the poor: Since 1979 the income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans has almost doubled, and market economics has provided them with riches, such as cellphones, once available only to the most well-off. This helps explain why the difference in happiness among income groups in the U.S. is vastly smaller than the difference in wealth. Which of those measures should matter more?

Focusing only on inequalities of result also ignores another important dimension to the question. Again, Wilkinson: “It’s not enough to identify a mechanism of rising inequality. An additional argument is required to show that there is some kind of injustice or wrongdoing involved.”

It is possible that inequality is rising because the system has grown more rigged. But as Mickey Kaus pointed out recently, while you would expect inequality in a rigged system, you also should expect it in a fair one: “Once the meritocratic centrifuge has sorted everyone out, there won’t be that many talented people at the bottom to rise in heartening success stories.” Divining how much truth there is in these competing narratives is vastly more complex than ideologues of any stripe would like to think.

Correcting inequalities caused by system-rigging is desirable, but “correcting” (as opposed to merely alleviating) inequalities caused by merit-sorting would actually be unjust. It also would require creating an inequality of a different sort: the inequality of authority.

Perpetual market interventions in the name of economic equality require a perpetual class of interveners who have the power to overrule the free choices made by everyone else.

Naturally, those coercive interventions require handing the levers of coercion over to progressives — which explains why this sort of inequality never seems to bother them in the slightest.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, we'll see in November if class warfare is the platform to pull the country or even just Democrats to the left.

  • Tony||

    The trick is not getting a majority of voters to agree with the particulars of the Dem populist platform, necessarily, but putting on display the complete inability of Republicans to make a coherent counterargument. You're seeing it with unemployment insurance right now.

  • ||

    Tony often confuses his inability to comprehend an argument for the lack of one.

  • Joao||

    I agree and disagree with Tony.

    We have the logical an moral high ground regarding the inevitability of inequality.

    It's a matter of convincing others in order to stop legislation.

    Regarding unemployment insurance extensions, Republican argue that it is not in the budget that was just passed. True. But better to give the larger reason of how it prolongs recessions, etc.

    On the other hand, that's probably because the MSM doesn't cover that sort of thing.

  • ||

    Are we sure this is the same tony?

    The trick is not getting a majority of voters to agree with the particulars of the Dem populist platform

    This does not seem like something the tony we know would say.

  • Brian||

    Tony's more anti-Republican than pro-democrat. Democrats don't go left far enough.

  • Free Society||

    "What what. Not pander to ethnic groups you say? Whats this blathering about the principles of individual liberty? Poppycock, I say! Harrrumpf."

    *Tony cleans monocle*

  • Mainer2||

    Did you get a harumph out of that guy ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN99jshaQbY

  • ||

    putting on display the complete inability of Republicans to make a coherent counterargument.

    Just in case anyone you know or love is tempted to take Tony Clifton's sock-puppeting as meritorious there is ample evidence of the damage perpetual unemployment benefits bring to everyone. Whether Republicans are capable of stringing together the necessary words to convey the argument is irrelevant.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    So, the entire issue of income inequality is nothing more than political bilgewater for Team Blue to score a point against Team Red. Well, thank you for at least admitting your side's complete disingenuousness about the matter.

  • wareagle||

    how long does unemployment last then? Obviously, 99 weeks is not enough so I guess it takes more time to render someone complete unemployable.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Justice cannot be constrained by petty irrelevancies such as math.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    How many people actually complain that their favorite celebrities make too much money?

  • From the Tundra||

    Celebrities never make too much money. Greedy business people do.

  • JWatts||

    And greedy politicians.

    Let me go on record and say just about the most un-American comment I can. I don't think the President of the US (VPs, Congressmen, SCOTUS, etc) are paid nearly enough.

    I'd be in favor of upping Senators to the $1 million per year range and the President to the $10 million range. It's a bit weird to have a Senators pay to be less than the money a second rate lawyer pulls in.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's a bit weird to have a Senators pay to be less than the money a second rate lawyer pulls in.

    Why is that weird? I mean, aren't most Senators third rate lawyers?

  • From the Tundra||

    I'm with sarc here. The first-rate lawyers are producing that income. I think making the job even more lucrative for pols is an exceptionally bad idea.

  • Count Negroni||

    I go back and forth on it. On one hand, higher pay would mean less incentive to take bribes. On the other, I don't think it would actually have a measurable impact on the amount/number of bribes.

    It is rather funny how many reps and senators come out of office with far more wealth than the sum of what they went in with and how much they were paid.

  • ||

    "Bribes" as such are really just a proxy for power and privilege, which is the entire purpose of public office in the eyes of the kind of parasitic vermin that would seek it. You could pay them all 50 billion dollars a week and their behavior wouldn't change.

  • R C Dean||

    Bingo, PM.

    Most of Our Masters are already pretty wealthy. Yet, they just can't seem to stop cronying. Its not the money, its the power.

  • Will4Freedom||

    Do you think having a say in the allocation of nearly 4 Trillion dollars is incentive to work for such meager pay?

    Insider trading... kick backs... war chests... family favors....

    Not to mention being the smartest guy in the room with the power of the FBI, IRS, NSA behing you...

    I can see the draw for people with no or low values.

  • Will4Freedom||

    don't know how "behind" became "behing". Sorry. My spelling is poor, but not THAT bad.

  • Killaz||

    The one upside is 1 million and 10 million are real numbers to the masses. It would produce envy in people. People's natural inclination will go from respecting politicians to thinking of them as lottery winners.

  • Ebriosa||

    I think I'd rather have them paid more and never let them expense a thing.

  • GW||

    Are you kidding? Senators and Reps would do that job for free. It isn't the salary that they're there for. It's the payoffs from interested parties that make them rich.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'd be in favor of upping Senators to the $1 million per year range and the President to the $10 million range. It's a bit weird to have a Senators pay to be less than the money a second rate lawyer pulls in.

    Most of the lawyers in politics are second-rate lawyers. They are the C-students. And they get their real money on the back-end of politics (graft, jobs after politics, campaign contributions, insider trading tips).

  • mgd||

    What problem are you trying to solve by throwing more money at these positions?

  • JWatts||

    The basic incentive problem. If a politician has a relatively low income, he's going to be influenced by others with money to a much larger degree.

    I suspect that a Senator making $175K a year is much more prone to corruption than a Senator that was paid $1 million would be. Sure there would always be some corrupt bastards, but humans respond to incentives. Currently we pay our high officials very little and give a wink and a nod when they then pad their pockets with a lucrative contracting job a few years later. This is ridiculous considering the vast amount of money the Federal government spends every year.

    Honestly, it reminds me of the ancient Chinese court system, where public officials were paid very little but then demanded large bribes for governmental access. It's inherently corrupt.

  • ||

    The basic incentive problem. If a politician has a relatively low income, he's going to be influenced by others with money to a much larger degree.

    It's not an incentive problem, it's a fiscal and demand effect problem. That is, there is a system to game and wealth is how you game it. Paying them nothing and shooting them if they do a ignoble job takes care of the demand effect.

  • JWatts||

    Hmm, well shooting them all might have other adverse side effects, but I will admit that my approach is more carrot than stick.

  • Ballz||

    Pay them more BECAUSE they are corrupt?

  • sarcasmic||

    Most celebrities have correct political views, so it's OK that they make tons of money.

  • Redmanfms||

    I see it all the time when it is juxtaposed to some martyr group of the Left, especially teachers.

    It usually goes something like; X celebrity made Y millions this year but teachers are only paid Z, isn't this a tragedy?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Yeah, but celebrities are special.

  • Vincent Milburn||

    One reason people don't complain about celebrities because they like their movies. They can explicitly understand how the celebrity benefits them.

    When Warren Buffet gets rich, it's a little more complicated how that benefits me.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Even on the question of economic inequality, many on the left tend to focus only on one dimension: the gap between the rich and poor."

    I suspect there's plenty of inequality between the people who support a $15 minimum wage and people who are working for minimum wage, too.

    The white, middle-class, progressives in the suburbs won't be the ones being priced right out of their jobs, and when those higher labor costs push up the price of some really basic stuff, they won't be the ones hurt most by that either.

  • Tony||

    Except there's no hard evidence that raising the minimum wage will do any such thing.

  • sarcasmic||

    What makes unskilled labor so special that, unlike every single other commodity in existence without any exceptions at all, making it more expensive does not result in people purchasing less of it?

  • KDN||

    Forget it. Plotting a and understanding a demand curve involves some modicum of basic math skills and is therefore above t-dog's pay grade.

  • Free Society||

    magic

  • Tony||

    I don't know, but you're welcome to point to the definitive evidence of your claim, because libertarians applying econ 101 assumptions doesn't really cut it, given the research that's out there on this subject.

    One small difference between labor and widgets in terms of supply and demand is that another name for labor is "human beings." The price of a widget going down doesn't mean the widget goes hungry. It doesn't particularly care, being inanimate.

    If you're going to insist we have a capitalist economy, then I'm going to insist that we have a floor on the price of labor so that people are not forced into awful working conditions with little chance of upward mobility because they are busy trying not to starve. A bonus is that on a macroeconomic scale you just might get the Henry Ford phenomenon. Money in the pockets of low-wage workers obviously is more likely to be spent quickly, boosting overall demand, which helps overall employment.

    Considering overall employment rates seem not to correlate with the minimum wage in any way suggests that you're just not correct in your econ 101 assumption.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't know, but you're welcome to point to the definitive evidence of your claim

    The last time I went to a fast food restaurant, instead of paying a minimum wage employee to fill my drink, I filled it myself from a self-serve machine that must have cost many thousands of dollars. I wonder why they would spend many thousands of dollars on a self-serve machine instead of paying someone to fill the drink like back when I worked for a fast food restaurant in high school...?

    Considering overall employment rates seem not to correlate with the minimum wage in any way suggests that you're just not correct in your econ 101 assumption.

    Minimum wage affects the young and those without skills, which are a small percentage of the overall work force. Ironically, the very people the minimum wage is intended to help.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I can order for myself from a kiosk.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh yeah. Those very expensive looking machines in the self-checkout lanes I'm sure have nothing at all to do with saving labor costs and are not driven at all by the rising minimum wage. There is no definitive proof from a government study to prove it, so it can't possibly be so.

  • Tony||

    WTF? They're gonna need the drink machine regardless of who uses it to fill cups. Though you're failing, you're trying to talk about how increasing the minimum wage increases automation. But how is that a bad thing? You're actually arguing that raising the minimum wage increases innovation. Since raising the minimum wage doesn't seem to significantly affect overall employment levels, that's just an argument in its favor.

  • R C Dean||

    Though you're failing, you're trying to talk about how increasing the minimum wage increases automation. But how is that a bad thing?

    More automation of low-skill jobs = fewer low-skill jobs.

    Which seems contrary to the point of the minimum wage, which is to allow people to support entire families on low-skill jobs. You do understand that a low-skill job that has been disappeared doesn't support anyone, regardless of the minimum wage it doesn't pay?

  • wareagle||

    Which seems contrary to the point of the minimum wage, which is to allow people to support entire families on low-skill jobs.

    was minimum really meant to allow for supporting families or was it the artificially-mandated floor for entry level jobs? There is a mass pretense that millions are supporting families on minimum, but the reality of who earns has not changed over time.

  • KDN||

    There is a mass pretense that millions are supporting families on minimum, but the reality of who earns has not changed over time.

    Correct, and the constant raising of this barrier to entry for sole proprietors of labor is serving to help destroy both the intangible capital of the youngest generation and its ability to make the leap from employee to entrepreneur.

    Aside from the fact that the minimum wage is morally abhorrent, its effects are almost entirely negative. Yes, the short-term effects are comparatively minor since they are focused on a marginal segment of the population, but those effects snowball over time, especially with the way the labor cartels use it to drive their own price upwards.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "More automation of low-skill jobs = fewer low-skill jobs."

    Being unemployed has a minimum wage of zero.

  • AlexInCT||

    "Which seems contrary to the point of the minimum wage, which is to allow people to support entire families on low-skill jobs."

    No, the left's fascination with minimum wage increases has more to do with providing pay-offs to their union buddies - a lot of union pay is tied to minimum wage and will automatically go up if the wage goes up - which can then kick back money to them. It's got squat to do with allowing anyone to earn a decent wage or any other such nonsense the collectivist idiots pass off as "social justice" or whatever other catchy bullshit du jour they are shoveling down the throats of the uninformed dweebs that they can always count to vote for them.

  • sarcasmic||

    Since raising the minimum wage doesn't seem to significantly affect overall employment levels

    No one said it did, you moron. Over and over people have said that those affected are the young and the unskilled. Those are a small percentage of the total workforce. Even a large effect on a small percentage of the total will be an insignificant percentage of the total. That's basic math, you idiot. Though I imagine the effect isn't insignificant to the unemployed young or unskilled worker, which makes you a heartless piece of shit who would rather these people be unemployed than have a job below some arbitrary hourly wage decided upon by piece of shit politicians.

  • Jordan||

    You're actually arguing that raising the minimum wage increases innovation.

    I run a business.
    Laborer Bob produces $10 in value per hour.
    I pay Bob 9$ per hour.
    Machine X costs $9.50 per hour.
    That gives me $1 surplus to invest in improving efficiency and giving my customers more value.

    Suddenly, politicians increase the cost of Laborer Bob to $9.75 per hour.
    I fire Bob and buy Machine X. My surplus has been cut in half. That's not an increase in efficiency.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    Though you're failing, you're trying to talk about how increasing the minimum wage increases automation. But how is that a bad thing? You're actually arguing that raising the minimum wage increases innovation. Since raising the minimum wage doesn't seem to significantly affect overall employment levels, that's just an argument in its favor.

    You just keep straw manning. No one's arguing against innovation. They're point out that forcing inefficient resource allocation is just going to result in adjustments by the people you're regulating, and that those adjustments have effects that can run counter to your stated goal of helping the poor. Making labor more expensive and less attractive doesn't help poor people in the presence of alternatives.

    Actually, if you want to hear people whining their heads of about how innovation kills jobs, go talk to the progressives at wonkblog. They'll be the first to tell you that we need to scale back all this technology business, fast, for the sake of the jerbs.

    I wonder if they feel the same way about agricultural jobs. Maybe we should all go back to farming.

  • Tony||

    You won't find me making that argument. I believe in maximum innovation at the maximum rate. But since I also believe in deliberate collective action to ensure people are able to meet basic needs, that's not a problem for me.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    You won't find me making that argument. I believe in maximum innovation at the maximum rate. But since I also believe in deliberate collective action to ensure people are able to meet basic needs, that's not a problem for me.

    Really, let me summarize your technological argument:

    "I really like innovation and technology. So, if a new minimum wage law inspires producers to get more efficient and automate simple tasks like burger flipping and screw turning, why, I think that's amazing! Yeah, sure, some poor people might not get hired. But, I like giving raises to poor people with other people's money, and unemployment doesn't really bother me. What? You don't like that? You must be some sort of technophobe! Because I love innovation, and I think automatic burger flipping is absolutely awesome. If someone's gotta go unemployed for me to get it, then, well, that's the price I'm willing for them to pay so that I can have me a robotic Big Mac."

    Your like a person really impressed that you've found a way to reach around your ass to get to your elbow. That's not innovation.

  • ||

    What's the difference between higher wages and higher cost of living and plain old inflation? Because there's plenty of hard evidence that inflation collapses economies and generally shits on the poor.

    I mean, isn't the definition of economic collapse along the lines of; lots of bankruptcy, lots of joblessness, and lots of inflation?

  • Procrastinatus||

    Go look at the labor force participation rate over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, and contrast it with historical minimum wage increases. Specifically the minimum wage feeezes between 81-90 and 97-07, and the drop in labor force participation after the 07-09 minimum wage increases.

    But hey, like Tony said there's absolutely no (government approved) evidence that minimum wage increases adversly affects employment. And that being the case I don't see why we don't just hike that fucker up to $100 an hour.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The last time I went to a fast food restaurant, instead of paying a minimum wage employee to fill my drink, I filled it myself from a self-serve machine that must have cost many thousands of dollars

    Hell, I went to a Jack in the Box a few months ago and put my order right into a terminal.

    So basically, that's one or more fewer potential employment spots eliminated by technology.

    Leaving that aside though, the empirical evidence shows that minimum wage increases are always reactionary to inflation. Tony wants to cure a symptom without touching the disease.

  • GregMax||

    You're so full of shit it barely requires response . . . but I just had to :)

  • Mainer2||

    Did you ? Did you really ?

  • GregMax||

    No, but it felt momentarily pleasant. Sorry.

  • ||

    If you're going to insist we have a capitalist economy, then I'm going to insist that we have a floor on the price of labor so that people are not forced into awful working conditions with little chance of upward mobility because they are busy trying not to starve.

    This is not only not right, it isn't even wrong.

    Notice how the burden of proof is never on Tony to provide a shred of evidence for an argument that defies about a century of both theoretical and applied economics that goes unquestioned by every serious academic, including neo Keynesians. You can expect, at best, a link to the whitehouse.gov press release pointing to 2 recently published economic papers suggesting that raising the minimum wage extremely modestly will likely have little or no consequences to current employment. A contentious claim, even in the extremely limited context in which it was originally presented, which is so far outside the scope in which the white house press team (serving also in its capacity as the stunt double for Tony's brain), have tried to apply it that they may almost said to exist in different galaxies.

  • Tony||

    You are welcome to go to Google and research the issue. I'm not the one behaving as if anecdote and simplistic common sense count as evidence. I realize that's what libertarians do, since actual data so often contradict them.

  • ||

    Lol. The irony here is that every shred of academic research for at least the past 70 years or so contradicts your position (you can find links downthread), and the research you are relying on (of which you are so woefully ignorant that you couldn't even take the time to provide a link to it) is a sole outlier which is, at best, extremely contentious in the world of academic economics. You are, in point of fact, relying on nothing but anecdote, and your understanding of economics is so painfully simplistic that you'd get run out on a rail even by the few silly Marxists left in European academia. It's cute when you try to be condescending though.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    You are welcome to go to Google

    "Google it." The last refuge of people who don't know what the fuck it is they are arguing.

  • ||

    I'm not the one behaving as if anecdote and simplistic common sense count as evidence.

    No, I guess you're not. Instead you're using empty objection and unrealistic logic as your evidence.

  • ||

    If I Google "inflation-adjusted minimum wage over time" and "income inequality over time", it's pretty obvious that, over the last four decades minimum wage has gone up while over the last three decades income disparity has too.

    Your assertion is that increasing the minimum wage again will reverse this trend?

  • Tony||

    That would be a flimsy causal claim even if it weren't counterintuitive.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    That would be a flimsy causal claim even if it weren't counterintuitive.

    It's not counter-intuitive if you assume raising the minimum wage reduces the number of lower wages workers.

    Additionally, raising the minimum wage will generally increase prices - so wages will go up for people with higher paying jobs.

    So in the future - you still have people with relatively high paying jobs and now people, with higher minimum wages, but less of them.

    Average that out and voila - more inequality as the rich keep getting richer, and thanks to policies you endorse, the poor keep getting screwed.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "Considering overall employment rates seem not to correlate with the minimum wage..."
    First of all, Tony, you're a complete and utter imbecile if you try to judge the consequences of minimum wage hikes using overall employment rates. The segment of the labor market you should look at is low skilled employment. And that is where the actual dent in employment demand takes place.

    Secondly, this statement is just plain wrong.

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w12663

    Our review indicates that there is a wide range of existing estimates and, accordingly, a lack of consensus about the overall effects on low-wage employment of an increase in the minimum wage. However, the oft-stated assertion that recent research fails to support the traditional view that the minimum wage reduces the employment of low-wage workers is clearly incorrect. A sizable majority of the studies surveyed in this monograph give a relatively consistent (although not always statistically significant) indication of negative employment effects of minimum wages.

    Neumark-Wascher, NBER

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    I don't know, but you're welcome to point to the definitive evidence of your claim, because libertarians applying econ 101 assumptions doesn't really cut it, given the research that's out there on this subject.

    Actually, that's completely ridiculous.

    Laws like supply and demand are called "laws" for a reason: they're fundamental ideas that describe how economics works.

    You want to deem labor immune to the law of supply and demand. Since it's a well understood principle with lots of experimental and historical understanding, then the burden of proof is on you. And, I'm sorry, but silly studies comparing a 10 cent increase to minimum wage over 2 years in three states doesn't satisfy the burden of proof necessary to deem labor immune to the law of supply and demand. You can claim a 10 cent increase in minimum wage doesn't produce measurable effects, but that doesn't say anything about minimum wages in general (i.e., doubling it, halving it, or eliminating it).

  • Brian||

    A bonus is that on a macroeconomic scale you just might get the Henry Ford phenomenon. Money in the pockets of low-wage workers obviously is more likely to be spent quickly, boosting overall demand, which helps overall employment.

    It's funny you say that: you know, back in the day, people worried that the manufacturing in plants would reduce employment and wages and result in people who couldn't afford cars.

    Turns out that reducing the requirement for labor is part of efficiency, just like everything else is. Sure, Ford employs less people, and doesn't need to play them as much, but cars are cheaper, making them easier to purchase with limited resources.

    Efficiently producing goods and services helps people with limited incomes. Sorry, but that's reality, and it's a large reason why the standard of living of the poor has continued to climb since the industrial revolution. Cheap goods and services has helped them more historically than wealth transfers.

    But, hey, if you want to make labor really valuable, ban all automated machinery, ban chemicals in agriculture, and ban imports. No one will be unemployed who isn't dead, at that point, but labor will be very valuable. So valuable that no one can afford it.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Was that you on NPR this morning stating the the reason people can't work their way out of poverty is because the minimum wage is too low?
    ----------------

    Is their any doubt that if the minimum wage were doubled, then the poverty level (22k for a family of 4) would be doubled.
    ----------------------

    Back to the idiot:

    Is there any doubt that if you could make $15 an hour working at low skilled jobs, then college grads would be doing these jobs and the low skilled/inexperienced people would be shit out of luck?

    And what would happen to the salaries of skilled workers currently making $20 an hour?

  • ||

    because they are busy trying not to starve.

    Nobody starves in the US Tony.

  • Tony||

    Yes they are, and they sure as hell would if you guys got the feudalistic system you want.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Except there's no hard evidence that raising the minimum wage will do any such thing."

    Raising costs has consequences, and over time a rise in the cost of labor--across an entire market--will mean higher prices.

    Sometimes those consequences are only opportunities for jobs--that never materialize. Certainly, raising the costs of labor makes it less attractive for employers to hire more labor.

    And it's worse for minorities. Black kids with no education and white kids with no education are on an equal playing field for employment--other than race. But the unemployment rate among black teens is much higher because of discrimination. Now you're bringing a bunch of white suburban kids into the labor force, who didn't care about minimum wage jobs before?

    You dirty racist, Tony.

    And you're a dipshit!

  • Tony||

    I said evidence, not basic econ assumptions that treat people as commodities and ignores the macroeconomic picture completely.

    Employers do not hand out jobs as charity, so raising the cost of labor will first mean either raising prices for customers or cutting into profit. The trick is making sure it's the latter.

  • sarcasmic||

    Employers do not hand out jobs as charity, so raising the cost of labor will first mean either raising prices for customers or cutting into profit.

    Or automation like a self-serve drink machine or self-checkout lane, or laying someone off and distributing their duties to other workers.

    The trick is making sure it's the latter.

    Some trick indeed.

  • Tony||

    The country houses of early 20th century England resisted adopting things like electric appliances and other innovations because, in part, service was such a huge portion of the workforce, and adopting the new technologies would mean needing fewer servants.

    Of course, it was inevitable that eventually houses would get washing machines. What a strange, technophobic argument you're making. You're a libertarian, you should be the first to acknowledge that employment isn't charity.

    The funny and ironic thing is you're basically arguing for a Keynesian approach--making policy to ensure people are employed despite the overall economic circumstances. Because you can't be saying that technological innovation is a bad thing.

  • ||

    That whooshing sound was the point flying over your head. Jesus Christ but you're stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    What a strange, technophobic argument you're making.

    Uh, no. I'm responding to your simplistic and false assertion that the only ways to react to being forced to pay employees more than they produce in value is to raise prices or cut profits.

  • Jordan||

    Because you can't be saying that technological innovation is a bad thing.

    Forcing people to buy technology that they otherwise wouldn't have is indeed a bad thing. Artificially increasing labor costs does not improve efficiency. See my example above.

  • Free Society||

    What a strange, technophobic argument you're making. You're a libertarian, you should be the first to acknowledge that employment isn't charity.

    Equivocation fallacy, again. Technological innovations phasing old jobs because it is generally time saving, effort saving and wealth producing is much different that phasing out jobs by artificially constructed political means. Forcing automation because of a politically created cost is destructive of wealth. Though I know it's hard for you to separate the concepts of 'the economy' and 'the government budget'.

  • Tony||

    Putting a floor on the cost of labor--or the cost of anything really--does not destroy capitalism. It just fiddles with the equation and makes it so that you can't make a profit if you can only do so by paying workers below the minimum wage. There may be economies that can't handle it, and there is certainly a minimum wage that is too high for our own economy, but I feel we can do at least well enough to ensure a living wage for all workers, and we can do without any industry that can't handle that. It's what being an advanced economy is about.

  • sarcasmic||

    It just fiddles with the equation and makes it so that you can't make a profit if you can only do so by paying workers below the minimum wage.

    Um, no. It fiddles with the equation and makes it so that if you are young and/or unskilled, and unable to sell you labor for less than the arbitrary wage set by politicians, that you are permanently unemployed. But I guess it's easier to lift yourself out of poverty with no job as opposed to one that pays below what's deemed acceptable by politicians.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    What a strange, technophobic argument you're making.

    Yeah, sure. Why don't we just ban all cars except Telsas? Sure, only the rich will afford cars, and we'll all have to start taking the bus, except the rich, but I wouldn't want Tony accusing me of being technophobic.

    Or tolerating inequality.

    While the rich drive around in Teslas.

  • ||

    The funny and ironic thing is you're basically arguing for a Keynesian approach--making policy to ensure people are employed despite the overall economic circumstances.

    Bull. Fucking. Shit. Mental disability or doublethink at it's finest.

    First, he's not making an argument but a point, that there are a billion other ways for employers to pay fewer employees more without cutting into profit you present a false dichotomy.

    Second, he's not arguing against innovation but government intervention. The two are about as different as using the letters l, i, and e and actually lying about something.

    Third, this was one of the fundamental defining differences between Keynes and Classical economists. They argued that wages priced people out of employment during the great and Keynes disagreed. He felt that increasing marginal income was the road to recovery.

    Seriously, you're response is so backwards, it's sad. It's like your brain read what was written and lied to you; you couldn't make sense of the lie so you attempted to fabricate a reality where it made sense. You're answer was marginally less nonsensical than, "Black are not purple!"

  • Jordan||

    I said evidence, not basic econ assumptions that treat people as commodities

    No wonder you're confused. You can't distinguish between people and their labor. If I go work for ACME Corp, I'm not selling myself to them.

    Here's a bibliography of dozens of studies. All but one find evidence of increased unemployment. The one which doesn't is the Card-Krueger study which has been soundly debunked.

  • Tony||

    Soundly debunked where? The most definite thing you can say about minimum wage and employment is that there is no clear consensus expert perhaps that raising it slightly increases unemployment among teenagers.

    But this is all missing the point. That is just one argument against raising the minimum wage. But the minimum wage is not an employment program. It's an anti-poverty program. Its effect on overall employment isn't the only relevant measure. You are very likely arguing for saving 2% of the jobs of teenagers at the cost of throwing millions into poverty.

    We've had a minimum wage at times of high unemployment and near-full employment. Whatever the immediate causal relationship, having a minimum wage doesn't seem to correlate in any way to the overall employment picture. We need to treat it as the anti-poverty program it is and judge it on those grounds. We can have other programs to increase employment if necessary.

  • sarcasmic||

    perhaps that raising it slightly increases unemployment among teenagers

    Why would it do that? Could it be because employers will not pay employees more than the employees can produce in value? Hmm.

    Interesting.

    So if someone is young or unskilled, raising the minimum wage above what they can produce in value basically guarantees their permanent unemployment.

    Interesting.

    Yet raising the minimum wage is suppose to bring these very same people out of poverty, while at the same time pricing them out of a job.

    Interesting.

  • Jordan||

    Here.

    A team of researchers from the Employment Policies Institute (where I’m now research director) collected actual payroll data from 25 percent of the franchised restaurant locations that Card and Krueger had telephoned — and found that the hard info had little resemblance to what the economists (actually, students working for them) had gathered via phone interviews that used an ambiguous set of questions.

    [...]

    Economists David Neumark (then at Michigan State University) and William Wascher (Federal Reserve Board) followed up with a detailed independent analysis of the real restaurant payroll data, and published their findings in the same journal where the Card-Krueger study first ran.
    Far from boosting employment, they found, the mandated wage increase in New Jersey decreased employment — just as economic theory would predict.
  • Bill Dalasio||

    "It's an anti-poverty program."

    Because throwing people out of work is the surest possible way to alleviate poverty.

  • ||

    But the minimum wage is not an employment program. It's an anti-poverty program.

    Wow. You really don't understand how price controls work. It's kinda sad. I mean, as a fascist asshole you could still support them even if you understood how they work. You just don't.

  • mr simple||

    Why do you people insist on engaging it when it clearly shows no desire or even ability to argue in good faith?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Why do you people insist on engaging it when it clearly shows no desire or even ability to argue in good faith?"

    Batting practice.

    He's all talking points, but this is what people like him really think.

    It's important to stay on top of our game. If we can't squash his arguments like a bug during batting practice, how are we gonna do in a real game?

  • sarcasmic||

    Batting practice.

    He's all talking points, but this is what people like him really think.

    It's important to stay on top of our game. If we can't squash his arguments like a bug during batting practice, how are we gonna do in a real game?

    Exactly.

  • Rufus J. Fisk||

    because engaging it helps us newcomers learn how to engage others like it outside of our warm little bathouse here at H+R....a bathouse full of some beauties!!! Vava Vava Voom!

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    That is just one argument against raising the minimum wage. But the minimum wage is not an employment program. It's an anti-poverty program.

    This is the part where you concede failure on your claim that minimum wages have no effect on unemployment, and now go about explaining to us that we really shouldn't care about it's effects on unemployment, because it's all about reducing poverty.

    Sorry, but unemployment and poverty and correlated.

    You are very likely arguing for saving 2% of the jobs of teenagers at the cost of throwing millions into poverty.

    You think this is likely? That's ridiculous.

    Let me break it to you: anyone on minimum wage is probably in poverty, and raising it isn't going to lift them out of poverty. Keeping the minimum wage where it is isn't forcing people into poverty.

    In reality, you're just likely effecting the employability of low skilled workers everywhere, at the expense of giving those who are employed a modest bump in income, not very much to effect anything, except one more bit of inefficient BS that we all have to deal with, when busy body progressives want to go around pretending to solve social problems by pointing guns and people and demanding they do this and that. Bravo.

  • sarcasmic||

    giving those who are employed a modest bump in income

    Or a pink slip when the self-service machines are plugged in.

  • JWatts||

    Tony: "Except there's no hard evidence that raising the minimum wage will do any such thing."

    When confronted with multitude of such hard evidence:

    "there is no clear consensus expert perhaps that raising it slightly increases unemployment among teenagers."

    How far can you push that goal post down the field, Tony?

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    You are very likely arguing for saving 2% of the jobs of teenagers at the cost of throwing millions into poverty.

    You are going to have to prove that not raising the min wage is going to throw millions into poverty. Either that or shut the fuck up.

  • Tony||

    So are you against raising it or against having one altogether? How would reducing the minimum wage to 0 not have a depressing effect on wages?

  • ||

    We need to treat it as the anti-poverty program it is and judge it on those grounds.

    As I've repeatedly pointed out. The correlation between wages and income disparity in this country over time is positive. Additionally, when looked at as a state function internationally, there's no clear trend that says countries like Luxembourg with high minimum wages enjoy any less proportional poverty than the countries like the Czech Republic with low minimum wages.

    Also, given government interventions, lots of minimum wage comparisons are relatively moot. For instance, minimum wage in Australia is $15+(US) for experienced workers but their healthcare is shittier and employers don't pay for it.

    Keynes did argue this last point, that minimum wage laws make it more complicated to steer the economy as you lose the ability to differentiate marginal and absolute income. Milton Friedman made a career and won the Nobel on the naivety of Keynes and has some useful tidbits about why spending other people's money is hard(er) to predict.

  • ||

    I said evidence, not basic econ assumptions that treat people as commodities and ignores the macroeconomic picture completely.

    Start here. There's extensive footnotes if you want to check out the actual academic papers, although they would be so far over your head you might just as well copy and paste the text into Google Translate and read it after it's been converted to Swahili and back.

  • Tony||

    The claim that most economists believe minimum wages aren't worth it is not cited or true. Here's another link on the subject.

    You cannot make very definitive claims on the effect of the minimum wage on employment. This is probably because of the macroeconomic strangeness that happens as a result of people being active participants in the economy and not just cogs in it.

  • ||

    But you can make very definitive claims about the effect of minimum wage on income disparity, poverty, and income redistribution.

    You keep acting like Joe-blow shooting screws in the bottom of a radio is some phenomenally-transformative economic engine when in reality he is a cog (shooting 8-10 screws per second). And the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Sergey Brins (creating one Microsoft, Apple, and Google every lifetime) that are really steering and accelerating the economy (for better or worse) are the exception rather than the norm.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The unemployment rate for whites of both sexes between the ages of 16 and 19 is 18.6%.

    The unemployment rate for blacks of both sexes between the ages of 16 and 19 is 35.8%.

    Those numbers are from the Department of Labor. Look at the stat lines yourself here:

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm

    People between the ages of 16 and 19 are the ones making minimum wage--and they have no distinguishing education to speak of. The reason people hire one over the other is mostly because of racism--and there has been a similar gap between those numbers since they first started publishing these survey. Actually, the gap gets a lot worse during recessions.

    And when you flood the job market with suburban white kids, who would just stay home and play with the Xbox otherwise--because you're suddenly offering them $15 an hour? You might as well be specifically prohibiting businesses from hiring blacks--because that's what the consequences are going to be.

    If employers can't differentiate between new hires on the basis of labor cost--because of a high minimum wage--then they're going to discriminate against those blacks because of their race even worse than they are already.

    Your minimum wage policy is fundamentally racist, Tony. AND you're a dipshit!

  • Tony||

    So have nondiscrimination laws in addition to a minimum wage. The purpose of a minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels. It's an antipoverty program.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The purpose of a minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels. It's an antipoverty program.

    Anti-poverty for white males, extra heavy-duty poverty for non-whites and women, but that's okay. We have some welfare programs we'll be happy to sign you up for when you get priced out of the unskilled labor market.

  • Free Society||

    The guy who's labor is worth less than your arbitrary price floor thanks you.

  • sarcasmic||

    The purpose of a minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels.

    You're starting to understand that minimum wage creates unemployment. There's a start.

    It's an antipoverty program.

    Yet you still insist that unemployment raises people out of poverty.

  • wareagle||

    It's an antipoverty program.
    ------------

    no no no fuck, no. If it's anything, it's a union contract-seeding program. As with most things prog, follow the money trail to see which constituency stands to benefit from an action that does nothing to the purported beneficiaries.

  • ||

    The purpose of a minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels. It's an antipoverty program.

    Goalposts go ZOOOOOOOM!

    This one's a lot easier to address than your previous one though; it's pre-101 level stuff:

    http://www.csun.edu/~hceco008/c5c.doc

  • Ken Shultz||

    We already have nondiscrimination laws, you idiot! Those statistics are WITH the nondiscrimination laws.

    The only reason people CAN discriminate is because you've flooded the market with white suburban kids--who wouldn't even want those jobs at the market wage.

    "The purpose of a minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels. It's an antipoverty program."

    Actually, not being able to get a minimum wage job when you're young does a lot to make sure you'll be in poverty for the rest of your life.

    I didn't get my first office job until I'd had a minimum wage job first. They want to see that you can show up on time for a year or more, didn't steal anything, and can get along with your boss and coworkers before they give you an office job. If you don't have a minimum wage job on your resume by the time you're twenty, then when are you going to get that reference?

    You're destroying the future prospects of millions of African-Americans--and you don't care--because in your monumental ignorance you think the minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels?

    You're objectively racist, Tony. You're also an ignoramus, AND you're a dipshit!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "You're destroying the future prospects of millions of African-Americans--and you don't care--because in your monumental ignorance you think the minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels?"

    I'm personally beginning to wonder if it is ignorance or malice. We've put the evidence directly in front of him and he still acts like there's no evidence. And let's face it, an increase in the unemployable would favor the Democrats (which Tony started off by acknowledging was his goal).

  • KDN||

    Actually, not being able to get a minimum wage job when you're young does a lot to make sure you'll be in poverty for the rest of your life.

    I got my start as a child laborer making sub-minimum wage. I believe every man should have the same opportunity I did.

  • Tony||

    Some have proposed sub-minimum wages for young people. Fine, whatever. Your crocodile tears are truly inspiring.

    I believe that most people should be in school until at least age 22. When we start subsidizing college for all, we won't have this problem, will we?

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    The purpose of a minimum wage doesn't have anything to do with employment levels. It's an antipoverty program.

    Do you really think there's no connection between employment and poverty?

    Why the hell do you think progressives whine about jobs all the time?

    That's pretty dense.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If some ingenious libertarian stayed up all night trying to think of a great way to make progressives look stupid, he could hardly have come up with a better idea than creating Tony, in all his magnificence, to go around espousing the progressive line--steeped in stupidity, intellectual dishonesty, and monumental ignorance.

    The only thing that makes me think Tony isn't a creation of an ingenious libertarian is that he comes here to make progressives look stupid. If he were a libertarian agent provocateur, he'd be doing this at an MSM website.

  • sarcasmic||

    The only thing that makes me think Tony isn't a creation of an ingenious libertarian is that he comes here to make progressives look stupid.

    Sadly, I'm sure he believes that he's scoring brilliant points against simple minded libertarians when he spouts his ignorant drivel.

  • Ken Shultz||

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    Raising the minimum wage will of course decrease employment rates over the long term according to the law of demand.

    Tony claims there is no empirical evidence of this (even though there is). How can this be?

    The simple answer is that the federal government actively hides the unemployment effect by getting the Fed to inflate the currency. Therefore, nominal wages have the appearance of increasing while real wages stagnate or even go down. This, of course, affects all workers negatively as it is essentially an invisible tax, but as the electorate is highly uninformed and economically illiterate, there is a strong incentive fro politicians to perpetuate the illusion of the minimum wage to curry political favor.

  • Brian||

    Employers do not hand out jobs as charity, so raising the cost of labor will first mean either raising prices for customers or cutting into profit. The trick is making sure it's the latter.

    When you figure out how to do that trick, let us know.

  • Tony||

    Actually the former isn't so bad either--when people are paid more, they can afford more. If you can make it so that a meaningful increase in wages more than makes up for an insignificant increase in prices, then you've succeeded.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    If half of the canaries are flying in the delivery truck, then we can carry twice as many canaries. Can you comprehend the fallacy of your argument yet?

  • sarcasmic||

    When people are paid nothing because they don't produce enough value to justify hiring them at the arbitrary minimum wage, then they buy nothing.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    Actually the former isn't so bad either--when people are paid more, they can afford more.

    Right, but by the same token, when people are paid less, they can afford less. This implies that people who want to sell to them have to get more efficient and lower prices if they want to do business with them.

    That part of efficiency is why the poor have it so good, even though they're still in the bottom 15% or so of income: there is so much you can buy at the poverty level that simply couldn't be afforded 20, 50, 100 years ago.

    There's a reason poor people haven't been priced out of everything, and it's not wealth transfer programs.

    If you can make it so that a meaningful increase in wages more than makes up for an insignificant increase in prices, then you've succeeded.

    Can you show us where any politician who is proposing the minimum wage increase is estimating this? I know it's fun to believe that you're possibly succeeding in some grand, central planning strategy to improve the lives of the poor.

    The reality, however, is that politicians are going to raise the minimum wage to the level they think is best for their political careers, which is a function of business interests, unions, and other special interests screaming loudly.

    That's not exactly the recipe for reaching the utilitarian ideal.

  • Juice||

    I said evidence, not basic econ assumptions that treat people as commodities and ignores the macroeconomic picture completely.

    Keynesian economics treats people like aggregates. Austrian economics treats people like people.

  • ||

    Depends which Krugman you ask: 1984 or 2014.

  • JWatts||

    The Krugman of 1984 was a pretty smart guy.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Ahem

    Until the mid-1990s, labor economists had a consensus that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduced employment of impacted groups (like teenagers) by about 2 percent.[30] Research by David Card of the University of California-Berkeley challenged this conclusion.[31] His research, focusing on case studies of states that raised the minimum wage and states that did not, concluded the minimum wage had no adverse effect on employment. This spurred an explosion of research on the topic. This research coincided with a significant number of states raising their minimum wages above the federal level in the 1990s and 2000s....

    Two-thirds of the studies in this “new minimum wage research” utilizing state variation in minimum wages came to the same conclusion that previous economists had: higher minimum wages reduce the employment of less-skilled workers.[32] Among the most methodologically rigorous studies, 85 percent came to this conclusion.

    And in case you forget the historical perspective, remember that the minimum wage was originally intended by progressives to put the "unemployable" (blacks, immigrants, women) out of work.

  • JWatts||

    "Except there's no hard evidence that raising the minimum wage will do any such thing."

    That's bullshit. Read the actual literature, instead of the comments from left wing sites.

    "Are the Effects of Minimum
    Wage Increases Always Small?
    New Evidence from a Case Study of New York State"

    "Using data drawn from the Current Population Survey, we estimate the effect of the2004-2006 New York State (NYS) minimum wage increase from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour on the employment rates of 16-to-29 year-olds without a high school diploma.
    Difference-in-difference estimates show that the NYS minimum wage increase is
    associated with a 20.2 to 21.8 percent reduction in the employment of younger less-educated individuals, with the largest effects for those ages 16-to-24."

    http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~jsa.....LR2012.pdf

    The general consensus among Economists is that raising the minimum wage has a minimal effect as long as it's still lower than the local effective minimum wage. Once it climbs above the local effective rate, there is a drop in employment, primarily concentrated among young, unskilled workers.

    Raising the current national minimum wage to $10.10 will have virtually no effect in NYC, but it will effect employment in Tupelo, MS.

  • JWatts||

    "or the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted."

    Seriously? Does anyone still think that Trayvon Martin was innocent in what happened? Furthermore, the issue had no political dimensions until the Left decided Trayvon was a cause celebre. In what universe is the Right responsible for a Hispanic pseudo-security guards actions?

    The comment about Gay rights was a fair criticism of the Right, but the second point on Trayvon Martin is ridiculous.

  • dantheserene||

    I had the same thought. Martin was the one doing the real accousting, and bringing him into it potentially derails the whole discussion. Poor choice of examples.

  • Ebriosa||

    He was initially innocent. Then he seems to have turned violent against a creepy dude. It's not fair he died for that, but both participants escalated when either one could have made it a safe confrontation.

  • R C Dean||

    both participants escalated when either one could have made it a safe confrontation.

    Actually, no. When a confrontation escalates to physical violence, the one who is aggressed against cannot make it a "safe" confrontation.

    I started out pretty skeptical of the White Hispanic, but as the investigation and trial unfolded, I got pretty comfortable with (a) the verdict and (b) the idea that Trayvon initiated the physical confrontation.

    I still have a problem with the way the self-defense law is drafted (it seems to allow the initial aggressor to claim self-defense once they lose the upper hand), but as applied in this case, I'm good.

  • GregMax||

    People don't have a right to walk down the street unaccosted anyway. Where to people get these ideas. You probably have a right to walk down your hall without being accosted but not on a public street.

  • CAB||

    Seriously. I watched about 70% of the pathetic excuse of what was considered a trial and anybody who saw what I saw and still thinks that Trayvon was just an innocent child already had their mind made up by the media and had no interest in the facts, truth, or justice.

  • c5c5||

    My thoughts exactly JWatts. What the hell was that statement supposed to mean?

    Who ever argued that Martin was innocently walking down the street?????? He was suspiciously peeping in on houses for goodness sake.

    I lost a lot of respect for the author of this article because of this line.

  • creech||

    One can make some headway against "equality" by pointing out that, in a non-rigged system, the money one has is a result of millions of people casting their voting dollars for what they think is valuable to them. "Don't you support this kind of democracy?" Unfortunately, the bottom line for many is that a system of private property is a guarantee that the system is rigged!

  • Tony||

    Democracy means one person, one vote. You're talking about one dollar, one vote. Do you see why this isn't the same as democracy?

  • Ken Shultz||

    It isn't one person, one vote; it's one politician, one vote. There are only 535 votes that matter, and the other 300 million don't count for shit except once every four years.

    Do you understand why representative democracy is insufficiently democratic?

    Markets aren't like that. Markets are far more democratic than representative democracy. With my dollar, I get to represent myself, and I get to vote many times a day--on the issues that really matter.

    AND you're a dipshit, Tony!

  • Tony||

    But every person in a given district gets to vote for the representative of that district, and each vote counts the same. In a market, a guy with a million dollars gets a million votes and a guy with one dollar gets one vote. That is the opposite of democracy. You are taking market fetishism to an absurd level here.

  • From the Tundra||

    In a market, a guy with a million dollars gets a million votes and a guy with one dollar gets one vote.

    Mind. Blown.

    Gotta give you credit, Tony. I got nothin' after that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "In a market, a guy with a million dollars gets a million votes and a guy with one dollar gets one vote."

    The consumer market for people with less than a million dollars dwarfs the consumer market for people who have more.

    Go to McDonalds. Stand in line, but a delicious breakfast sandwich and a great cup of coffee. See if they care how many millions you have in the bank.

    Besides, it isn't just how whole classes are treated that markets are better at--it's how individuals are treated. Who treats me better? McDonalds or the DMV?

    The answer is obvious, Tony. You're a dipshit!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    In a market, a guy with a million dollars gets a million votes and a guy with one dollar gets one vote.

    This assumes that the guy with a million dollars will be using his million to persue the exact same things as the man with one dollar.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    But every person in a given district gets to vote for the representative of that district, and each vote counts the same. In a market, a guy with a million dollars gets a million votes and a guy with one dollar gets one vote.

    Yes, but since their dollars are the same, their votes are the same. The voters might be different, but the votes aren't.

    In a market, a person with a million dollars can often collaborate with a person with no dollars and accomplish a goal.

    With government, it's just a zero sum game: we'll count the votes, and the majority will get their ruler, and the minority won't. And the rulers will confiscate wealth as they see fit, and spend it on others as they see fit, creating nothing. Zero sum.

    Whereas, in a market, rich people actually hire poor people, or sell products efficiently to poor people. People pool resources and labor into companies, produce products, solve problems, etc. It's not zero sum. You can create wealth and win-win scenarios.

  • Tony||

    Or you can create abuse and exploitation and win-lose. It really just depends on what the wealthy guy wants, right? Freedom!

  • Juice||

    Employees aren't slaves.

  • Juice||

    That was in response to Tony not Brian.

  • Tony||

    Thanks entirely to the progressive labor movement.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    Thanks entirely to the progressive labor movement.

    That might be believable, except for all the progress that was made before the progressive labor movement.

    I mean, I know you guys labelled it "progressive" (why not just call it the "awesome" labor movement?), but when you look at the trends that predate it, the progress is just the continuation of a theme already in place.

    That's why progressives always want fix the start date for policy analysis at the start of their policies. So you can pretend you have causality, when you really don't.

  • Brian||

    It really just depends on what the wealthy guy wants, right? Freedom!

    Tell me, Tony, who's abusing and exploiting you more? Republicans? Or all the companies and business you do business with?

    I'll worry about the small scale problems when you worry about the big ones.

  • Brian||

    tony:
    "Democracy means one person, one vote. You're talking about one dollar, one vote."

    I thought you said sloganeering was the sign of a bankrupt philosophy. Rules for thee, but not for me?

  • tarran||

    You're talking about one dollar, one vote.

    He's not. He's saying that people should be free to speak their minds, and spend money to spread their ideas.

    As an aside:
    For the idea that allowing people to freely try to persuade/convince others to accept their ideas is equivalent to
    one dollar, one vote" to be correct, the proposition that people are easily led sheep that think whatever they are told to think must be true.

    Which would imply that people shouldn't really be allowed to vote, since they are incapable of exercising the franchise responsibly.

  • Tony||

    There is nothing democratic or equitable about the market, so just stop. Nobody was talking about the money=speech bullshit, but the same argument applies. The more money you have, the more influence in the market you have, and when money=speech, that means the marketplace of ideas too. If it truly doesn't matter, then the entire advertising industry is pointless, and the vast sums spent in it are one giant market blind spot.

  • Free Society||

    There is nothing democratic or equitable about the market, so just stop.

    What about that whole mutually beneficial thingy that is the basis of this other thing called 'trade'? (let me know if you need me to define these apparently complicated words for you)

  • Tony||

    Some pigs are more equal than others.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You don't actually know what that book is about, do you? Wow.

  • ||

    Holy fucking dogshit.

  • ||

    For the record, this was in response to Tony quoting that line in this argument. "Holy fucking dogshit" is all there is to say.

  • ||

    There is nothing democratic or equitable about the market

    Where "democratic" is defined as mob violence and "equitable" is defined as theft by the mob.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    There is nothing democratic or equitable about the market, so just stop.


    You're equivocating, thinking that democracy always means "balot box."

    The market is the most equitable system ever. You have the power to decide to exchange, or not to exchange. Nobody can take that power away from you without resorting to extra-market actions like aggression, violence, theft, which is what governments do.

    The more money you have, the more influence in the market you have,


    The only influence you have is in the delight of your customers, nothing else, and for that you have to continuously keep offering goods or services for which they are willing to exchange their money.

    and when money=speech, that means the marketplace of ideas too.


    This can only tell me that you have a very limited notion of how ideas are spread.

  • wareagle||

    You have the power to decide to exchange, or not to exchange.

    and that is a tremendous motivator for those who want your dollar to make their product/service more appealing, totally unlike the politician who expects you to sway toward him instead of the other way around.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    The more money you have, the more influence in the market you have, and when money=speech, that means the marketplace of ideas too.

    And, that's the sad part: your argument against inequality is really just an argument against property rights, disguised as an argument against inequality.

    If I exclusively own anything, then I control it, to the exclusion of others, and that's unequal.

    Sorry, but part of owning property is the exclusive right to it.

    And, you're solution is inherently unequal. How do you want to solve markets? With a set of rulers. Rulers are people who assume the legitimate use of violence in a geographic area to accomplish any goal they see fit. Everyone doesn't get to be a ruler, so that's unequal.

    Democracy is a process where majority rules. In this case, majority gets to choose the rulers. That's unequal, in favor of majorities, since they can now exclusively use violence to accomplish their goals. Sure, you can quibble about "Inequality for individuals, not groups", but that's arbitrary. If a person having power over another is bad, why is 1.00001 million people having power over 1.0 million people suddenly A-OK? Special pleading?

  • Tony||

    So what exactly do you want? Anarchy? Democratically elected rulers only being in charge of the really important things like keeping your property legitimate and safe?

  • Brian||

    Questions aren't arguments.

  • Tony||

    “It’s not enough to identify a mechanism of rising inequality. An additional argument is required to show that there is some kind of injustice or wrongdoing involved.”

    No there's not. Too much inequality is a social harm all by itself. It causes disparities in the application of justice. It causes injustice all by itself.

    You guys are never going to admit that a tax code that lavishes the wealthy with benefits at everyone else's expense is an injustice--otherwise you'd have said something by now. Too much economic inequality is something that has to be actively fought since the wealthy will always have more political and inherent power to arrange things for their own ends. Meritocratic centrifuge. What horseshit.

  • GW||

    So you'd support equality in the tax code?

    Like an across the board flat tax, no exceptions and exemptions?

  • Tony||

    ?

  • VicRattlehead||

    hes talking about the 17.9% flat tax on all incomes over 50,000 and an exemption for the first 50K earned, the only viable way wealth redistribution works is by not taxing the less financially stable's ability to earn an income. more earned wealth in their pockets means that less will be needed in assistance from the tyrants

  • wareagle||

    no, of course, not because that would require intellectual honesty.

    Too much inequality is a social harm all by itself

    Read it carefully. Tony is okay with a certain amount of inequality, just not "too much" of it, a standard to be determined by our betters.

  • Tony||

    That you struggle with the concept of spectra is why you have the political beliefs you do.

    There can always be too much of anything. Even such necessary things as water. Even carbon dioxide.

  • Juice||

    This thread really has you riled up. You had to come back hours later to argue with someone who will never read this.

  • Free Society||

    No there's not. Too much inequality is a social harm all by itself. It causes disparities in the application of justice. It causes injustice all by itself.

    1,2,3 unsubstantiated assumptions.

    You guys are never going to admit that a tax code that lavishes the wealthy with benefits at everyone else's expense is an injustice--otherwise you'd have said something by now.

    You can't lavish someone with something that was their's to begin with. And it's you who will never admit that the welfare state unfairly redistributes wealth to the wealthy with things like Medicare to name one shining (substantiated) example.

    Too much economic inequality is something that has to be actively fought since the wealthy will always have more political and inherent power to arrange things for their own ends.

    It's fascinating that your response to abuses of political power is a leap towards more power and plunder for the same political institutions you fear may be used against you.

  • sarcasmic||

    You guys are never going to admit that a tax code that lavishes the wealthy with benefits at everyone else's expense is an injustice

    Not taking is giving and not giving is taking.

    Too much economic inequality is something that has to be actively fought since the wealthy will always have more political and inherent power to arrange things for their own ends.

    Government is us and we are government. Except that the rich control the government that is us. So we need to give more power to the government that is us so we can control the rich people who control the government that is us. And if that doesn't work we need to give more power to the government that is us so we can control the rich people who control the government that is us. And if that doesn't work we need to give more power to the government that is us so we can control the rich people who control the government that is us. And if that doesn't work we need to give more power to the government that is us so we can control the rich people who control the government that is us.

  • triclops||

    Bravo. That last paragraph is brilliant.

  • JWatts||

    To be fair, David Brooks beat him to it.

  • VicRattlehead||

    The problem is we dont allow people to die off as a result of their own piss poor decisions, we create the mediocrity by diplacing a vast amount of wealth into the hands of the corrupt few who always seem to need more of it, just like the catholic church, the liberal church of government is just hosing everyone down for cash making false promises all the same, but at least the catholics have the decency to not stick a gun to your face to take your money

  • Free Society||

    the liberal church of government is just hosing everyone down for cash making false promises all the same, but at least the catholics have the decency to not stick a gun to your face to take your money

    They lost that power many years ago in most countries. I don't doubt that they would if they could.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Someone's been reading Chick Tracts again.

  • ||

    Too much inequality is a social harm all by itself. It causes disparities in the application of justice. It causes injustice all by itself.

    I like how Tony mindlessly repeats himself as if the echo of his thoughts bouncing off the hollow chamber between his ears will somehow serve as a suitable substitute for an argument.

    You guys are never going to admit that a tax code that lavishes the wealthy with benefits at everyone else's expense is an injustice--otherwise you'd have said something by now.

    We have an extremely progressive tax structure, and libertarians don't support it. Try and keep your talking points straight.

  • Tony||

    We do not have an extremely progressive tax structure, and libertarians want to make it regressive.

    Some day I must figure out how it doesn't bother you guys to be the simpering poodles of the wealthy class you will never, ever be a part of.

  • ||

    We do not have an extremely progressive tax structure

    Lol

    Yeah, I mean, just because tax rates are 4x higher for the top income bracket vs the bottom income bracket, and nearly 50% of taxpayers end up with no net tax burden after credits and deductions doesn't make it progressive.

    Some day I must figure out how it doesn't bother you to be the unironic parody of your own political ideology that even your fellow travelers hysterically laugh off as a caricature.

  • Tony||

    To be honest you must talk about the entire tax structure, not just the fucking federal income tax. Combine all taxes people pay and our system is barely progressive. It needs to be quite a bit more progressive. Any changes you guys would make would make it actually regressive.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Federal tax is the dominant fucking tax. And if you include transfer payments it goes WAY beyond progressive to outright theft. All payroll taxes combined do not cover welfare payments. That difference is made up by (*drum roll*) general fund dollars and borrowing. And who pays for the general fund? Why those that pay income tax...

    http://taxfoundation.org/blog/.....ds-much-us

  • Drake||

    A favorite leftist tactic - deny the meaning of a word, thus destroying the ability to debate. With no debate possible, it's just a name-calling contest.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Some day I must figure out how it doesn't bother you guys to be the simpering poodles of the wealthy class you will never, ever be a part of."

    Speak for yourself, dipshit!

  • Jordan||

    Our tax structure is more progressive than most of Europe's.

  • Jordan||

    Some day I must figure out how it doesn't bother you guys to be the simpering poodles of the wealthy class you will never, ever be a part of.

    Says the one guy on here who defends the Fed which explicitly funnels wealth from the poor and middle class to the already wealthy, the regulatory state which entrenches powerful companies and the wealthy, bailouts which make the wealthy whole at the expense of everyone else, and coporate subsidies.

  • AnonySmith||

    Jesus Christ son of God. I read Reason stroies every day. I enjoy the comments, mostly, especially when you chime in. This is mainly because I enjoy watching the others destroy you.

    “About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776 — that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance of the people of that day and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But, that reasoning cannot be applied to the great charter. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward a time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more "modern," but more ancient than those of our Revolutionary ancestors.” – Calvin Coolidge, 5 July 1926

    There is nothing "progressive" about your economic theory.

    God you are a mendacious, stupid fucking cunt.

  • Tony||

    I'm using progressive in the technical sense, and who the fuck are you anyway?

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    Some day I must figure out how it doesn't bother you guys to be the simpering poodles of the wealthy class you will never, ever be a part of.

    I think we understand what bothers you: class envy.

  • Tony||

    But what really bothers me is cheap psychobabble replacing coherent argument.

  • tarran||

    That's right Tony, no libertarian theorist has been saying that.

    Not one.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Too much inequality is a social harm all by itself. It causes disparities in the application of justice.


    Wouldn't that be more an indictment on the justice system than on society itself?

    You guys are never going to admit that a tax code that lavishes the wealthy with benefits at everyone else's expense is an injustice


    And you're right - I will never accept moralistic canards for valid economic arguments.

    The idea that letting people keep more of their own money is the same as depriving others from it, comes straight from the minds of thieves. It would be like me saying that letting you keep the few dollars in your wallet is depriving me of a few dollars to buy a snowcone so I can be happy. What an injustice!

  • sarcasmic||

    The idea that letting people keep more of their own money is the same as depriving others from it, comes straight from the minds of thieves.

    Not giving is taking and not taking is giving.

  • FreeToFear||

    I agree completey with most of this:

    the wealthy will always have more political and inherent power to arrange things for their own ends


    Darned tootin!

    a tax code that lavishes the wealthy with benefits at everyone else's expense is an injustice


    Sounds about right

    Too much economic inequality is something that has to be actively fought

    Since the rich are able to arrange the government as it exists for their own benefit, it naturally follows that you're advocating for a very small government that has little ability to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor, right?! Sounds like a plan to me - small government, less crony capitalism, less inequality. Who knew you could be such a libertarian?!

  • Tony||

    Government is the only institution known that has the ability to counteract the natural tendency of the wealthy to increase their share of the wealth and power at everyone else's expense. They do that without any help from government. That's what happens in a laissez-faire market, naturally. Government doesn't always work to combat this, but that's what you get for voting Republican.

  • Jordan||

    [Citation needed]

  • ||

    It's been said that the plural of anecdote is not data. Tony never even gets to the singular of anecdote.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Government is the only institution known that has the ability to counteract the natural tendency of the wealthy to increase their share of the wealth and power at everyone else's expense.

    Wealth is not a zero-sum game, Tony w/o spaces. Politics is. Nice try trying to equate the two. Why don't tell me how concrete and apples are the same thing?

    They do that without any help from government.

    A statement so ignorant it hardly bears comment. The wealthy love Big Government, with its labyrinthine laws and regulations which protects them from the ugly necessity of competition or innovation, or even efficiency. (See Greyhound, Amtrak)

    That's what happens in a laissez-faire market, naturally.

    Does it hurt, being as stupid as you are?

    Government doesn't always work to combat this, but that's what you get for voting Republican.

    Hurr-durr, TEAM Blue R TEH WIN! TEAM RED R TEH SUX!

  • Tony||

    You guys keep trotting out the "not zero-sum" platitude but I'll be damned if the era of Reaganomics didn't try its hardest to disprove that little theory. I would say it doesn't have to be zero-sum, but it can easily be when there are no checks on greed.

    You don't need to convince me that the rich and powerful use government for their own ends. But without it they would simply take what they wanted without bothering with a middleman, right? This bullshit cannot seriously still sound convincing to you.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Government is the only institution known that has the ability to counteract the natural tendency of the wealthy to increase their share of the wealth


    There's no wealth to "share." Each person creates wealth by producing it.

    It doesn't matter how many times you repeat the same anti-economic canard, Tony. There's no finite amount of wealth from which to share; there's no free-for-all. EACH person creates wealth, creates value, then proceeds to exchange it for something of higher value. The more you exchange, the more value you can obtain for yourself. The more value you can offer, the more value you can obtain. That's called productivity.

  • Tony||

    You and your little golden book of economic fairy tales are cute and all, but come on man.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    Government is the only institution known that has the ability to counteract the natural tendency of the wealthy to increase their share of the wealth and power at everyone else's expense.

    How's that working out so far?

    Government doesn't always work to combat this, but that's what you get for voting Republican.

    Ah, that's the problem: Republicans.

    They're so different from Democrats, and their world view has definitely been ruling us. Democrats just haven't had any power in the last century, I guess.

    Tony views societies problems on the scale of decades, swinging in and out of existence in correlation to Republican political power.

    In the very social democratic system which he promises will solve all our problems in the best way possible.

    If your system is so easy to screw up, maybe you should question the system. Because crossing your fingers and voting harder isn't going to produce different results.

  • Tony||

    Neither is praying to the magical market fairy.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    Neither is praying to the magical market fairy.

    If you just believe pray vote enough, good enough, and tell all your family and friends about God voting, then you'll inherit the afterlife country we should all have.

    You have everything in common with religious people, so I wouldn't go around knocking their logic.

  • ||

    Our government is the largest in terms of spending the world has ever seen in the history of man.

    Yet income inequality is at an all time high.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    No there's not. Too much inequality is a social harm all by itself. It causes disparities in the application of justice. It causes injustice all by itself.

    So, in your case, the article is completely correct when it says:

    Conventional liberal opinion holds that the gap is bad not only because of its consequences, but inherently — and the bigger the gap, the worse things are.

    Inequality is just deemed bad.

    You know, unequal is just an adjective. It doesn't do or cause anything in a tangible sense. People do things. You don't want to regulate equality. You want to control people. And, your fundamental problem is with property rights.

    Historically, the places that have taken that ideal and put the full force of the government behind it, have resulted in hell holes. You think Somalia is a libertarian paradise, try the killing fields. Things were much more equal between more people in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge then in Somalia right now. Where would you like to live?

    Of course, it's BS: to solve inequality, we have to have a special class of rulers, and a system that gives voting majorities unequal ability to choose rulers, rulers who will confiscate wealth unequally, and spend it unequally, for the advantages of some, and the disadvantage of others.

    That's not equality. That's just violence on a massive scale, trying to pretend it produces outcomes it doesn't.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Too much inequality is a social harm all by itself.

    Ok - I'll take your word for this.

    To help me understand the goal here - please explain, in real terms, percentages, etc - what is currently inequality and how is it measured? What would be better? & what value do we gain by changing inequality (assuming we even can)? & lastly, what legislation could be proposed to effect changes in the inequality rate as measured?

    & to be fair - what are the costs of the legislation as proposed? & what are those costs as compared to the value of modifying current inequality?

    & assuming you don't want to do any of that - just answer the three things required for you to have an actual opinion on this topic:

    1. What the inequality rate is now?
    2. What should it be?
    3. What is the value we should gain due to changing inequality?

    Otherwise "too high" or "too low" is just irrelevant. Just like calling you too stupid (though to be fair, at least the last statement has some truth to it so it's not as irrelevant as "too high" or "too low" - Tony is welcome to prove me wrong by answering the questions of course).

  • Free Society||

    But certain conservatives care less about other kinds of liberty, such as the freedom of gays and lesbians to pursue their own happiness as they define it, or the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted.

    That tired old tome is back. And I see you even perpetuated the skittles+hoodie+black=victimhood myth.

  • VicRattlehead||

    "or the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted" what about the freedom for self defense? should ba a little higher in priorities than some thug getting what was coming to him

  • Ron||

    if you want to see real inequality in income look at Russia or China there only certain people are allowed to earn wealth at least here everyone can try to earn wealth.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Except there's no hard evidence that raising the minimum wage will do any such thing.

    Keep saying that.

  • Locke||

    the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles viciously beat a man unaccosted.

    FTFY

  • Free Society||

    No shit

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Senators and Reps would do that job for free. It isn't the salary that they're there for. It's the payoffs from interested parties that make them rich.

    Exactly. We're talking about people who are there for power and influence. They are drawn to Washington just as flies are drawn to a rotting carcass.

  • ||

    Well, we made it 8 entire days into 2014 before flogging the pulpy carcass of the Trayvon Martin case in service of a non-sequitur political analogy. Let's all give Hinkle a round of applause.

  • Eric Bana||

    Don't immediately take the burden of the discussion when somebody comes up to you talking about income inequality! Immediately ask them, "What do you propose to do about it?"

    And don't forget the fun fact that federal and state anti-poverty programs come to a whopping $927 billion per year. If you divided that spending among the poorest 15% of the U.S. population (about 46.5 million people), that's almost $20,000 per person. This doesn't even include Social Secutiry and Medicare (nor unemployment insurance and worker's compensation). How is more spending and more taxes the solution?

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Oh man, seeing that woman holding that "First they laugh at you..." sign brings me back to the glory ... month and a half ... of the OWS movement. Gawker commentors loved to throw out that quote whenever anyone asked what they stood for, or how they planned to achieve it, or whether the drum circles were going to continue. I'd reply that what they don't tell you is that very few movements make it past stage one, the stage where they laugh at you. "Oh yeah - just wait and see - we've already won because we have headlines on MSNBC!" Good times, good times.

  • ||

    The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

    - Carl Sagan

  • Drake||

    Columbus deserved to be laughed at. Mathematicians at the time knew he would have starved to death long before reaching China or India if he had not bumped into an undiscovered continent along the way.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Mathematicians don't know know there are fish in the ocean?

  • Calidissident||

    Seriously. He wasn't the first guy to think the world was round either. That had been known for thousands of years. While he was unarguably historically important, he was a lucky dumbass who, even by the low standards of his time, was a pretty awful person

  • Libertarius||

    Why was Columbus so awful?

    That's right, what was I thinking. The cult of postmodernism says so.

  • Calidissident||

    Read up any contemporary account of his treatment of the native peoples. He was a horrible human being, and even if you judge him by relativistic measures (it's really funny how conservatives hate modern cultural relativism, which I do as well, and would never use it to judge, say, the actions of Islamic terrorists, but are so fond of using it to defend dead people), he was a bad guy. The Spanish Crown, not exactly a PC institution of love, peace, and equal treatment of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, removed him as governor of Hispaniola largely due to his mistreatment of the natives there.

    The fact that hippie leftists (many of whom may turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by other historical figures) think he was a bad guy doesn't mean they're wrong.

  • Winston||

    You do know that Columbus's detractors thinking the world was flat was just a myth?

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, no shit, that's why I said it. People had known it was round for thousands of years.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    Bozo? BOZO!!? You're all hung up on some CLOWN from the 60s, man!!!!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except it's doubtful that they laughed at Fulton. Steamboats had already been deployed. Fulton was simply commercializing an existing technology. Similarly, I doubt many people laughed at the Wright brothers. Their research and testing was pretty well documented.

  • Homple||

    When you talk about the Gini coefficient and compare the USA to the rest of the world, please be sure you do your math consistently across nations.

    Most countries report income (for these purposes) based on total after tax income of individuals i.e. (market income + welfare benefits - taxes paid). Unless things have changed, the official US numbers are based only on market income, leaving out the taxes on the rich and help to the poorer and thus making us look worse than we are.

    Show that the calculation behind ranking the USA with Ghana is done on total after tax income before I believe you.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, I do have to ask again, why is it that the proggies want to limit their equality crusade to just economic inequality? I'll note, for example, that no supermodels are having sex with me. They're all going with guys who are younger, hipper and better looking than me. So, clearly, there's gross inequality in supermodel sex. I want to know what they're going to do to alleviate this obvious injustice.

  • Libertarius||

    Back in the 60's there were New Left intellectuals who seriously posited that the government should mandate a political right to orgasm.

  • PRX||

    personally, I think it's obscene for the government to take money from a minimum wage person's paycheck. yet they do, and with no reservations.

  • ||

    I think it's obscene for the government to take money from a minimum wage person's paycheck.

    Are people who are paid a minimum wage consuming services provided by "the government"?

  • ||

    The typical min wage worker gets it all back, often with a fairly substantial transfer payment as well, when they file. And then rejoice in the bounty of the government giving them back the money they loaned to it interest-free.

  • ||

    However, I agree that income tax withholding is obscene - regardless from whom the government takes it.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    If there weren't tax withholding, and people were required to pay all at once, there would be riots in the streets because it would all be spent by April 15.

  • ernieyeball||

    The scummiest thing the Feds did, IMHO, was to start taxing tips. Not just food service workers in diners (I drove a cab in a small town where tips were minimal to non existent).
    The only thing worse than waiting on a table and getting stiffed on a tip is having to pay taxes on the tip you never got!

  • OldMexican||

    But as Mickey Kaus pointed out recently, while you would expect inequality in a rigged system, you also should expect it in a fair one


    The problem with these arguments is that it gives the economically-ignorant left enough emotional ammunition to make false arguments in favor of leveling the playing field. Describing the process as a merit-driven sorting of people still leaves many questions lingering, like for instance: who determines what is deserved? Why would one person deserve more than another? Who or what is doing the sorting?

    The reason there are people that have more money than others is not because they deserve it more or because of a merit-driven process but because they can exchange goods or services of much higher value for more money than other people. In other words, people who make more money are more productive. There's nothing abstract about this: you make more because you exchanged something that was highly-sought after by someone else. This is the real process.

    People who make less money than others are exchanging goods of lesser value. They're thus less productive. That doens't mean they don't deserve more, only that they cannot get more if what they offer to others has less value. As a person becomes more productive, that person will be able to exchange for goods of higher value. There's no other way around this.

  • NDme||

    "But certain conservatives care less about other kinds of liberty, such as the freedom of gays and lesbians to pursue their own happiness as they define it, or the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted."

    Why does this piece portray George Zimmerman as a conservative or his actions as representative of conservative views? Zimmerman was a registered democrat, not? Some conservatives did support the view (and the jury decided) that Zimmerman acted in self defense. Stand your ground laws are favored by the right as opposed to the left, but that law did not come into play in the defense or ruling.

  • Deli-bro||

    I've spent the last 2+ years working a minimum wage job at 25-35 hours a week because my store wouldn't give me full time(check my handle to figure out where I worked). And this whole "minimum wage isn't a living wage" argument is complete bullshit. If someone is starving on minimum wage, they are either doing something very wrong or have made some horrible life choices. And no, I'm not on food stamps, or use an Obamaphone, or Medicaid.

    Just recently, I got a new job that pays $12/hour, $3.50 more per hour than the Massachusetts minimum wage. Something tells me that if this $15 dollar minimum wage thing goes into effect, my new employers won't bump up my wages to what they would be post-inflation, and I'll be back to where I started 2 years ago.

  • KDN||

    You have to actively try to starve in this country. Anyone stating the "but people will starve!" argument demonstrates their total lack of seriousness.

  • RightNut||

    I love the epic intellectual smackdown of Tony in this thread.

    1. Tony says minimum wage doesn't affect unemployment.

    2. When disputed, Tony accuses others of using common sense instead of scientifically rigorous studies, challenging others to "go google it"

    3. When presented by numerous studies proving he's wrong, Tony dumps science and reverts to his usual fall back position, "markets treat people like commodities and don't care if they starve!"

    I might reread the thread just to see it again.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: RightNut,

    Tony says minimum wage doesn't affect unemployment


    Even the uber-lefty new Seattle councilwoman conceded that some jobs would be lost by the mandatory wage increases, so Tony is being contradicted by someone of his own ilk, and an economics professor to boot.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    It was pretty good. I actually like when Tony pops up because he shakes things up a bit and we get to counter typical prog arguments for any 3rd party to read.

    We all know Tony won't change, but there is still value to engaging him. People who don't know what to think and have just wondered onto this website may read the back and forth and be motivated towards a more liberty loving, free market viewpoint after seeing the typical prog argument torn to shreds.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    ...have just wondered wandered onto this...

  • sarcasmic||

    He eventually conceded that raising minimum wage could hurt job prospects for the young and unskilled, but then moved the goalposts by claiming its purpose is antipoverty. As if unemployment lifts people out of poverty. He's a fucking idiot.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    A few shining Tony moments. I enjoyed every bit of it.

  • Tony||

    The minimum wage probably doesn't significantly affect overall employment. Link to all the biased collections of studies you want, but we have had full employment in this country while a minimum wage was in place. Same goes for subfederal jurisdictions and jurisdictions around the world. Minimum wage cannot logically have that big of an effect on overall employment, though it's certainly possible that it does have minor ones. Employment rate is simply the result of much larger factors.

    And libertarians bitching about it increasing unemployment are just pulling the one reasonable-sounding excuse they can find out of their ass. As if you guys actually give a shit about employment rates. There is nothing so obvious and ridiculous as the bleeding heart you guys pin on whenever it's convenient.

    You don't like the minimum wage because you think it distorts the purity of the supply and demand equation. As if such a thing could even exist, and as if such a thing would be the best possible world if it did. The only thing libertarians care about is checking their OCD market purity boxes. If the well-being of humans doesn't align, then you just make shit up so that it seems as if it does--but only whenever someone is in the room for whom you need to pretend that human well-being is on your radar at all.

  • Malkavian||

    You don't like the minimum wage because you think it distorts the purity of the supply and demand equation

    Don't know about the rest of the crowd, but i hate minimum wage wage because it outlaws my labor. I don't need government to tell me how much my labor is worth - if i think it's worth $9/hour, i'll demand it myself, no government intervention needed. If there are no takers, it's really stupid for me to sit on the couch all day unemployed, if there are takers for $6/hour. And yet government will ruin my my by depriving me of job opportunities and work experience because some politician decided i'm too stupid to adjust to my economic situation.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Babble babble. Go hug your Krugman plushie and have it whisper sweet nothings in your ear. You've been shown multiple studies that disprove your precious belief that a higher minimum wage improves overall utility. Facts are stubborn and bothersome things. Emotions are much more comfortable to you, aren't they?

    Yes, we don't like the minimum wage because it distorts markets and by distorting markets it generates less overall utility in addition to less overall freedom. The only thing you care about is pretending to DO SOMETHING, regardless of whether that something has any rational basis in fact. And that is why you continue to simply make shit up and deny reality.

  • sarcasmic||

    Minimum wage cannot logically have that big of an effect on overall employment

    No one said it did.

    Now that it looks like you've finally admitted that minimum wage does indeed cause some unemployment, however small it may be, it's time to take the next step.

    Let's think about who it is who becomes unemployed.

    Is it the banker? No.

    Is it the software developer? No.

    Is it the car salesman? No.

    Is it the person with experience and skills? No.

    Hm. Well, who is it who becomes unemployed or unable to find a job as a result of the minimum wage?

    Is it, is it the unskilled laborer living in poverty or the young person who has never had a job? Bingo!

    The very people this kind of legislation is supposed to help are the very people it hurts!

    Tell me Tony. What is better for someone in poverty. Is it better to have a job that provides a small income, or is it better to have no job at all?

    What about young people. Is it better to have experience at a crappy paying job, or no job experience at all?

    Those are the real choices when employees are prohibited from selling their labor for less than an arbitrary wage determined by politicians.

  • Brian||

    Tony:

    The minimum wage probably doesn't significantly affect overall employment.

    The only way the minimum wage doesn't significantly effect unemployment is if it's so small, and effecting so insignificant a segment of the population, that it doesn't matter.

    In which case, you can suspense with the "Oh, you brutish libertarian's want to smash human well-being for the sake of markets!" guilt trip right there. Because, if all you're doing is twiddling a little with the wages of a few people, you're not exactly saving the planet. So you can get off your high horse and stop masturbating yourself for saving the poor.

  • Tony||

    I think you're missing the point. The minimum wage prevents large-scale low-wage serflike conditions. That's the human well-being piece. Even if it affects the employment rate, the effect is small and can be overcome by larger factors. Thus, it's worth it.

  • Brian||

    The minimum wage prevents large-scale low-wage serflike conditions. That's the human well-being piece.

    I told you to stop masturbating and pretending to save the poor. Ah, well. Go ahead and get your rocks off before your next crusade to save the poor (the same poor you apparently saved last time).

    Anyway, I thought the big deal for the really left-leaning democrats was to whine and plead about the horrors of long-term employment in this country (and I think you brought it up yourself). So now you say:

    Even if it affects the employment rate, the effect is small and can be overcome by larger factors.

    Like, what? Extended unemployment benefits forever? Those can help laid off people, but they don't help people who've never had a job. And it misses the point that long-term unemployment destroys a worker's value, while unemployment insurance just makes them more comfortable as they decline. That's not exactly "overcoming" the issue.

    About 1-2 million people earn minimum wage in this country. That's less than one percent. Meanwhile, unemployment is at 7%, and about half of them are long-term unemployed.

    Therefore, it's highly likely that your minimum wage effects more unemployed people than employed people. You don't appreciate any of the negative consequences of any of the policies you advocate. That's unrealistic.

  • Libertarius||

    I like the way that Yaron Brook (Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute) brings the "equality" narrative back to earth. In his speeches, he often uses the analogy of himself vs. Michael Jordan on the basketball court.

    "In order to make me equal to Michael Jordan, there's nothing you can do for my skills; all you can do is break Michael Jordan's legs, and you'd probably have to cut his arms off while you're at it."

    But then you've just got a non-contest between a guy who doesn't possess any b-ball skills and a cripple laying on the ground. The analogy fits: you can't raise up the poor man by tearing down the rich (or the middle class) man.

    Don't the leftoids fool you; egalitarianism is silly enough on its own, but it serves as a rationalization for the hideous, nihilistic evil of hating the good for being the good, hating success for being success. They use the poor as scapegoats to help them hide from the fact that they just want to destroy all that is noble and good in the world.

  • sarcasmic||

    Equality means the lowest common denominator.

  • Mainer2||

    A long thread is either interesting, or Tony baiting the commentariat.

  • ernieyeball||

    Work Work Work Save Save Save Invest Invest Invest. Whatever.
    I sure hope the college age Citizens I know have the opportunity to MAKE AS MUCH $$$$ AS THEY CAN when they enter their chosen fields. If they want to give some of their hard earned cash to others to "level the playing field", whatever that means, they can do it on their own. Or they can start businesses that pay other Citizens $100/hr to flip burgers.
    I just hope they can generate enough contributions to FICA to keep sending me money every month.

  • XM||

    "the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted."

    I thought this issue was settled already. The guy was a hothead who assaulted a guy who was chasing him.

  • The Knarf Yenrab||

    Are you seriously denying the positive right to confront and then batter someone who's walking on the street behind you?

    I smell a neoconfederate.

  • Juice||

    They were both hotheads. One was in a place he probably shouldn't have been, but he had a gun so he won.

  • Response||

    Income inequality occurs when output is not equal. Risk (in the form of someone starting up a new business or investing in a business) is a form of output. Progressives have almost no concept of the value of such a thing.

  • JPyrate||

  • PaulinePhelpsmee||

    up to I saw the check of $8495, I did not believe ...that...my best friend actualy earning money part time from their computer.. there friend brother started doing this 4 only fourteen months and as of now cleared the dept on there appartment and got a top of the range Ariel Atom. website here
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    http://www.tec30.com
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • Ballz||

    Why are the skills of the low wage group so low that they cannot even compete with an expensive but ignorant robot?

    Tony should push for higher skills training opportunities rather than this "trickle down" solution.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement