Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's Arithmetic

I heard today that the geniuses in Columbia might agree to raise the state minimum wage to $10 an hour, but not $15.  Not that that would happen for a few years anyway, and $10 an hour today is still a joke.  I can't imagine how a person can assume someone can live with health and dignity on $10 an hour.  I have to assume that it is the consequences of growing up in a state where the schools are so poor that they have graduated without math skills.

And nobody has sat them down to teach it to them.

When my daughter turned sixteen, she just couldn't understand how I could be so mean as to not get her a car.  One afternoon, I told her and my thirteen-year-old son to come to the kitchen table with a pencil and paper.  Then I told them to write this down... and proceeded to list all our monthly bills.  Then we listed my monthly income.  Before we had a chance to sum things up, my daughter threw down the pencil and ran out of the room.  Because the facts were tough.  We couldn't afford to get her a car.

Now our legislators are like the folks at MacDonald's that kindly wrote up a budget for their employees to follow, including helpful hints like, "get a second job."  They can't possibly assume that a person can live on $10 an hour unless, of course, they haven't done the math.  Because it would be just too cruel for these good Christian folks to know that people would have to live with inadequate housing, food, and heat, much less poor schools and little or no health care.  If they had to sit in their well heated (and air conditioned) offices up in the Statehouse, and try to figure out with a pencil and paper how to pay for the battered old car that needs a repair and requires insurance so that they can get to work (or to the doctor's office or to school to meet with a teacher), they would certainly not shrug and say that all an employer should have to pay their employees is $10 an hour.

We hear a lot from the republican side of reality about whiners.  Well, for an employer to whine about having to pay an employee a living wage just seems unconscionable.  I read somewhere recently that if an employer can't afford to pay a living wage, they had no business owning a business.  You can't be very good at what you do if you can't figure out how to do it without paying slave wages.

And yet we hear -- and have been hearing for many decades now -- about how paying people a living wage will cause the economy to collapse.  Meanwhile, folks like those who head up Walmart and MacDonald's are perfectly happy making millions of dollars and allowing the government to feed employees that live in poverty.  For that matter, the Trumps and the Kochs are delighted to take money from the government any way they can.  Have done for decades.  Apparently they believe that because they have wealth the government should give them more wealth.

And apparently, voters who are trying to stretch their dollars to cover college and home repairs and maybe a vacation, also believe that the Kochs and Trumps deserve that money more than those living on $7.25 an hour.  Because they keeping electing jackasses who keep whining about helping low wage workers, who refuse to make employers do the right thing by paying them a living wage, and who keep giving away the store to the largest and wealthiest among us.

Bill Clinton said it in 2012, and we need to apply it to everything every politician tries to tell us:

It's about arithmetic, and it's about values.

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