The high cost of low taxes: Americans don’t want to maintain America

Welcome to the future of “small government.” America’s infrastructure was once the best in the world. But we didn’t want to pay to maintain it.

David Cay Johnston: “America’s Coming Infrastructure Disaster”

For decades, America has scrimped on taking care of the public furniture, endangering people and weakening the economy as bridges rust, roads crumble, dams weaken, and water mains leak. The sudden collapse of an Interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, killing 13, and the cracks that shut down the Sherman Minton Bridge connecting Indiana and Kentucky last year (it reopened in February) are warning signs of widespread, but hidden, dangers lurking all around us.

Even greater threats can be found among the decrepit corporate-owned infrastructure, including high-pressure oil and natural-gas pipelines that can explode without warning, electric power poles long past their replacement dates, and a telecommunications system that is far less reliable today than it was two decades ago — despite customers paying more than a half-trillion dollars for upgrades.

America’s infrastructure gets a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which recommends that we spend $2.2 trillion on repairs and maintenance.

… Under the banner of deregulation, the monopolies that supply electricity, water, gasoline, natural gas, and Internet access have been hollowing out the privately owned infrastructure on which modern life and economic activity depend. Instead of putting more into maintenance, they have slashed budgets. At the same time, they earn phenomenal profits: up to 55 percent on their assets, eight times the average for all corporations.

Corporate monopolies that own railroad bridges, hydroelectric dams, and high-pressure pipelines have skimped on taking care of this infrastructure, putting lives and property across America at unnecessary risk from blackouts, collisions, and explosions, even the threat of entire towns being washed away by bursting dams.

Photo by Leon Tucker, The (Cherry Hill, NJ) Courier-Post.

KYW/CBS Philly: “Freight Train Derails, Spills Chemicals in Paulsboro, NJ; Evacuations Ordered”

Officials say a freight train derailed over the Mantua Creek, leaking a chemical called vinyl chloride, which is considered toxic and highly flammable. Hazmat crews are currently on scene.

It appears the five cars derailed when a bridge they were traveling over collapsed. Some of the trains are currently submerged in the Mantua Creek.

Rescue units have been dispatched to the scene after numerous people complained of respiratory problems. A number of people in the immediate area have been evacuated.

The U.S. Coast Guard has also been notified because the chemical might be leaking into the Delaware River.

Travis Waldron: “How Increasing Infrastructure Spending Provides a Major Boost to Our Economy”

The United States has a massive infrastructure deficit, with independent analysts finding that the country could need as much as $2 trillion in immediate investments just to bring its infrastructure up to date. With the economy recovering slowly and our nation’s roads and bridges crumbling, a new paper from the San Francisco Federal Reserve found that making investments into infrastructure has substantial short- and medium-term benefits for the economy.

Each dollar invested into infrastructure boosts state economies by at least two dollars, the paper found:

Federal highway grants to states appear to boost economic activity in the short and medium term. The short-term effects appear to be due largely to increases in aggregate demand. Medium-term effects apparently reflect the increased productive capacity brought by improved roads. Overall, each dollar of federal highway grants received by a state raises that state’s annual economic output by at least two dollars, a relatively large multiplier. […]

In other words, for each dollar of federal highway grants received by a state, that state’s GSP rises by at least two dollars.

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

I don't have any right to pick the Republican nominee
OotGOism: 'Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it ...'
Relitigating the Golden Rule
The Bond villain running Donald Trump's campaign
  • AnonaMiss

    Hooray, an infrastructure post!

    (No sarcasm – while it was the Left Behind posts that brought me here, it was the infrastructure posts that convinced me to subscribe.)

  • Lori

    Dispite their patriotic rhetoric, many people don’t treat the US as a home to be cared about and for, they treat it as a resource to be strip-mined for profit. 

  • Magic_Cracker

    Let the free market do it. Then we can be a fully efficient economy, just like Ireland circa 1850.

  • VJBinCT

     But who will take in our infrastructure refugees?  Is there a new America starting up somewhere?

  • Magic_Cracker

    Well, there’s the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Who sez they’re not making any more real estate?

  • LL

    See, Fred, this is where your commie tendencies really come out. Because the answer, is to privatize infrastructure. Duh. All the roads will be toll roads. All the schools, corporate owned. All the power infrastructure, ditto. The market will make everything all right. When has it ever steered us wrong? Just ask Grover Norquist and Paul Ryan. They’re the real brains of the Republican outfit, they’ve got it all figured out.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Indeed. Failed state : free market paradise :: tomato : to-mah-to

  • Lonespark

    Aw yeah.  Sing the infrastructure!

  • Buck Eschaton

    The way I understand it, and this may sound crazy, but I think it’s a central insight of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory, see New Economic Perspectives and Naked Capitalism) is that taxes do not fund federal govt. spending. The Fed Gov can spend money into existence.  They don’t want to fund these projects because they would rather sell them off, sell off the functions of Govt. so that they’re buddies can collect rents, so that private entities can essentially tax the public.

  • Vermic

    Infrastructure?  America doesn’t need an infrastructure anymore, the Nazis surrendered like 70 years ago.

    They don’t want to fund these projects because they would rather sell them off, sell off the functions of Govt. so that they’re buddies can collect rents, so that private entities can essentially tax the public.

    I got extremely cynical after Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.  Nowadays, I assume that behind every privatization effort stands some rich scumbag scheming to make a mint at our expense.

  • Buck Eschaton

    We’re perfectly able to fund infrastructure projects. The only reason why there’s a “shortage” of money is that the rich want to starve us so that they can buy up our assets and our labor for cheap. It’s curious that money becomes no object when we want to fight wars or bail out the rich.  It’s only programs that benefit society at large that “we just can’t afford”. 
    We’re not that far away from a 2nd Great Depression, the Fed Gov. should be creating/spending money like a madman, spending into the economy and providing jobs to the middle class.  Either by spending it on infrastructure or just giving it to the middle class the same way they have just given it to Wall Street and the rich since 2008.

  • Magic_Cracker

    The only reason why there’s a “shortage” of money is that the rich want to starve us so that they can buy up our assets and our labor for cheap.

    Yup. I’m pretty sure that what the 1%, or perhaps more accurately the 0.01%, is gunning for a  globalized, techno-feudal society. (That 0.99% of the 1% would correspond to lower nobility, knights, and competent courtiers … who are granted wealth and power in exchange for doing the day-to-day dirty work for the 0.01%.) There’s no need to invest in roads when you have an armored Range Rover. You don’t need police when you have Blackwater or whatever the fuck they’re calling themselves today. You don’t need a power grid when your gated community has its own generators. You don’t need a civil society when you can jet from undisclosed location to undisclosed location when things go tits-up and the teeming hordes finally breech the gates. Etc. Etc.

    Sometimes I think the only thing that will stop it will be the looming ecological catastrophe. After all, you can’t eat gold*.

    *Short story idea, free to the talented people: Post-cataclysm, right-wing, gold-bug survivalist finally runs out of canned goods after 30-years in the hills. Thinks he’s going to make out like a bandit what with his Goldline coinage only to discover a post-industrial, gift economy and bolo-based society (small autonomous communities/tribes that agree to (a) non-aggression and (b) free movement (of those not happy with their current bolo)) in which gold is valued inasmuch it is useful (not very). He does have guns and ammo. Take it from there.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Bolo-based economy? I think a civilization run by artificially intelligent cybertanks would be sort of awesome, myself. 
    http://iislands.com/hermit/pictures/bolo/BOLO1_.JPG

  • Magic_Cracker

    Only if I get to be a cybertank! Wait — wasn’t that the plot of the horrendous Dune prequels?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    What Dune prequels?

    Ahem… What Dune prequels?  No such thing.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Sorry. That information must have been slipped into my mind from an alternate timestream. Carry on.

  • rizzo

     Don’t worry, he’s just messing with you, there are no Dune prequels…it’s all good.  If you’d like, Chapterhouse didn’t exist either, though I’m fond of it myself;)

  • Tricksterson

    I rather liked the Dune prequels, they were no worse than and in some cases *cough*God Emperor of Dune*cough* better than the originals after Children of Dune.  Not crazy about the current lot though.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Chaperhouse didn’t make much sense to me. After all that stuff about Paul being unique, The One, etc. etc. it turns out that Duncan Idaho could have been the One too?  I mean, I’m sure there was some hand-waving of the whys and hows, I don’t remember offhand, but it undermined the plot and premise of the first book, which I really wish was the only one I read. (Dune Messiah was okay, could have been much better, but was clearly setting itself up for a sequel … and Children of Dune I simply didn’t like. I thought it would have been more interesting (and creepier) if Leto sort of evolved/mutated into a Sandworm (or Sandworm-esque monstrosity) over time, “naturally,” rather than slapping Sandtrout on his body like so many nicotine patches.)

    My Dune Dream Trilogy:

    Dune: Leave as is
    Dune Messiah: Jihad, conquest and court intrigue
    Dune 3: Keep Paul Atreides as primary protagonist; return of the machines; Golden Path revealed. The End.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    I’ve always thought God Emperor was great for its ideas but fell short on action.  Brian’s “imagined histories” are (so I have gathered) action-heavy and idea-thin.

  • Rowen

     I think you need to define the term “better” here. ^_^ God Emperor was confusing and plodding, but at least it had things like plot and structure. Brian Herbert’s books lack. . . Well, let’s just say that listing the things that are GOOD about them is much easier.

  • P J Evans

    they
    were no worse than and in some cases *cough* God Emperor of Dune
    *cough* better than the originals after
    Children of Dune

    I figure everything before Dune and after Dune Messiah is from some alternate universe, because the premises being used changedfrom the first two.

  • stardreamer42

     Heh. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought about that.

  • P J Evans

    There’s no need to invest in roads when you have an armored Range Rover.

    Right up until you get stuck in the middle of nowhere because there’s no road and the creek is just a bit deeper than it looked (having more sand than rocks). And the locals have good bows and throwing spears and even home-brewed black powder for mortars.
    Or until you run out of parts or fuel for said vehicle – which is a lot more likely.

    I don’t think a lot of the 0.01percent (or the0.99 percent just below them) are capable of keeping anything going when it requires actual work and planning.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Wait, so that’s why Mitt Romney was pumping his own gas?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Or he just couldn’t pay a minion to pump his gas for him.

  • Veylon

    They’d import it. The Range Rovers would gradually downgrade from Martin Aston to Daimler to Toyota to Shanghai Motors, but the parts and fuel would keep coming in.

    Also, keep in mind that luxury is relative. The 0.99% in North Korea only live good compared to the peasants. The gated communities would crumble an inch at a time, the generators would only operate on even-numbered days, and the swimming pools would turn to muck as chlorine becomes unavailable, but they’d still be heaven compared to the Outer Darkness.

    Of course, this would be after the corporate vultures have fled to places where the wheels still turn and green grass still grows, leaving us with what amounts to a Cargo Cult of Randians determined to bring back the planes if they can just reduce taxes a little more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cphlewis Chloe P. H. Lewis

     (This is a teeny tiny quibble, but gold is actually tremendously useful in making things; the only reason it isn’t common is that it’s so expensive. Ductile enough to be worked and repaired at home, inert so it needs hardly any maintenance, second-most conductive material — there’s a good reason all our clever little phone bits and smart cards are golden.)

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Yup. I’m pretty sure that what the 1%, or perhaps more accurately the
    0.01%, is gunning for a  globalized, techno-feudal society. (That 0.99%
    of the 1% would correspond to lower nobility, knights, and competent
    courtiers … who are granted wealth and power in exchange for doing the
    day-to-day dirty work for the 0.01%.) There’s no need to invest in
    roads when you have an armored Range Rover. You don’t need police when
    you have Blackwater or whatever the fuck they’re calling themselves today.
    You don’t need a power grid when your gated community has its own
    generators. You don’t need a civil society when you can jet from
    undisclosed location to undisclosed location when things go tits-up and
    the teeming hordes finally breech the gates. Etc. Etc.</blockquote

    Extending the speculation about what a mostly-fully-privatized country might look like a little…

    Some of these gated communities might be ultra-technological communities defended by private paramilitary contractors.  Others might be more like someone's idea of a historical theme park where the rich can live a perfectly idyllic, idealized version of plantation life from the 1850s onward or whatever…probably ALSO guarded by private paramilitary contractors.   Depending on how dystopic it is, there might be trained staff who are paid to cater to their employer's fantasies of being Southern gentry or whatever, or actual honest-to-"Bob" indentured servants who aren't free to leave whether they want to or not.   

    But outside these enclaves of the rich and well-to-do most everything would be falling to bits.  Larger and larger parts of the country would no longer have a functional power grid or water or roads that are safe to drive.   There's no postal system, that's been privatized too.  There's either no functional public school system, or it's in the same sorry shape as everything else.  Hospitals are places where you go to die, assuming you can scrape together the funds to go and there's one within reach.  Law enforcement fares better because they NEED it to–they're going to be suppressing everything from riots to full-blown rebellions, so the private contractors have to regularly work alongside and reinforce police to put down violent insurrection.  Otherwise, you get whatever justice you can scrape together the money to buy.  The exclusive gated communities of the rich have their own private law enforcement, of course. Things would be somewhat better closer to some of the largest cities, but the further away you go, the worse it gets.    It looks like a film of the 20th Century running in reverse with large parts of the country going, and staying, dark.  Many vital national arteries are still repaired, since those are required for transport of the essential goods and services the wealthy need, but if you happen to be living in a more remote area, you're no longer guaranteed of them providing services and power.   The rich and powerful don't come any closer to you except by the occasional plane or luxury airship you see passing far overhead.  

    Feel free to add more.   Or change.  Or whatever.  

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Okay, I had an actual POST there AFTER the quote from Magic_Cracker where I speculated about what a fully-privatized nation might look like, with these little gated enclaves of rich people living like feudal lords and southern gentry with what amounts to Neo-Flint, Michigan stretching for hundreds of miles between them, but Disqus apparently hungered for a sacrifice and picked THAT. 

    So I’ll just cut to the primary quick and say this:  it would look like a film of the entire 20th Century running in reverse. 

  • Magic_Cracker

    I think you might get something out of Michael Hudson as well. He’s not an MMTist, and can be critical of them, but he’s even more critical of the Neoclassical and Neoliberal guys who, he points out, are neither Classical, Liberal, nor Neo. 

  • Buck Eschaton

    Michael Hudson is great. I love how discussions of the Bible are coming up from the Kansas City school and other places.
    See this from Michael:
    http://michael-hudson.com/1992/03/the-lost-tradition-of-biblical-debt-cancellations/

    Also David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years is awesome for a beginning understanding of debt and Jubilee in the Bible.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Thanks for the link! I’ve only read his more recent articles.

  • VMink

    but he’s even more critical of the Neoclassical and Neoliberal guys who, he points out, are neither Classical, Liberal, nor Neo.

    Like, whoa.  So they aren’t the One(s).

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. …. I’ll get my coat.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Liked out of spite.

  • J_Enigma32

    Ah, yes. Infrastructure, the one area where I can get even the most ardent libertarian to admit that yes, government is necessary (not).

    This is a problem that I saw and incorporated in the Blue Pimpernel. Throughout the book there are references to a number of outdated infrastructures: the trains are commented on (which are using worn, outdated 1980ish technology that’s held together by shoestring and bubble gum… in the 2040s), and the roads are described as cratered like the surface of the Moon. Rolling blackouts are very common, because the power-grid like all of the other infrastructure elements, are over 80 years old and are falling apart. The United States is a blend of the Rust Belt, the Soviet Union, and North Korea, with matching infrastructure and matching political and economic issues.

    The rest of the world, by comparison, has moved well beyond us. For instance, there are maglev trains that can break the speed of sound and India has established at least on functioning moon colony. Diseases have been almost eradicated, cancer HAS been eradicated, humans life has been extended up over the 200 year mark for everyone, and people are stronger, faster, better, and healthier than they were even 30 years before. Meanwhile, the United States still continues to debate over whether or not the world was created 6,000 years ago, while the country burns to the ground.

    But we’re A-number-one, and don’t let those liberals tell you any different. We’re going to go right back to leading the world again as soon as the rest of the world realizes just how screwed they are without us there. Yes we will.

    (You can find the book here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/joshua-kilburn/the-blue-pimpernel/paperback/product-20051241.html;jsessionid=8E1F0D37985C939874D7CDFCCD1072A2)

  • rizzo

    Thank you Grover Norquist.  Raise my taxes damnit, I don’t want this country completely falling apart:(

  • Magic_Cracker

    Apropos of something, here is Pithecanthropus Erectus written, arranged, and performed by the great Charles Mingus.

    Per Wikipedia:

    According to Mingus’ liner notes, [“Pithecanthropus Erectus”] is a ten-minute tone poem, depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots (Pithecanthropus erectus) to an eventual downfall due to “his own failure to realize the inevitable emancipation of those he sought to enslave, and his greed in attempting to stand on a false security.”

    And here’s an afro-cuban rendition arranged by Fred Hoadley

  • Carstonio

    From the Every Problem Looks Like a Nail department, how likely is it that the anti-government attitude that helped lead to this neglect is simply an outgrowth of the Southern Strategy? Where white voters have increasingly thought of government in general in wefare terms?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, back in the early 1990s, people in Canada used to bemoan the tendency of the Bank of Canada to relentlessly push unemployment up to keep inflation down. Since then that tendency has receded, but it did spawn literature making the case that a government cannot shrink its way to permanent solvency without damaging aspects of a country which are needed to keep it going.

    I can’t find the reference here, but I had an interesting book from 1992/1993 that made the case that the federal government should have, at hand, low-priority, “off the shelf” projects it can put into motion whenever an economic downturn hits, so that it can put people back to work quickly and cut the recession short.

    Also, I highly recommend (even to non-Canadians) the book Paper Boom, which makes a very good case for de-emphasizing the stock market and other rentier vehicles as a measure of a nation’s overall financial health. Indeed, one thing Jim Stanford brought up was the need to upgrade Canadian infrastructure to put in place the kind of road, rail, travel and telecommunications network we need for the next century.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Also, I highly recommend (even to non-Canadians) the book Paper Boom, which makes a very good case for de-emphasizing the stock market and other rentier vehicles as a measure of a nation’s overall financial health.

    There was an episode of Spooks where [SPOILERZ!1!!1!] a currency manipulator who’s been tanking economy after economy (and making a fortune doing so) has come to Britain and it’s up to MI5 to stop him. It turns out he’s really a die-hard, capital-C Communist whose father was a great Soviet hero.  Post-collapse of the Soviet Union, he became a hedge-fund billionaire so that he could use capitalism to destroy capitalism. Sometimes I wonder if there aren’t a few guys like that on Wall Street ’cause sometimes it sure seems like it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You have to marvel at that kind of economic judo. The premise makes more sense than that of “Salt”, TBH. :)

  • Turcano

    If you disregard the part about him being a deep-cover Communist operative (although wingnuts would tell you not to), that guy actually exists.

  • PorlockJunior

     You sure about that not-a-Communist-operative bit? OK, so am I. But you can get a lot of dissent on the point.

    And must I mention that he’s a Jew? The alert folks have noticed.

  • Carstonio

    Molly Ivins made the same point about the US Federal Reserve, saying that adjusting rates upward to control inflation means many people lose their jobs. I’ve wondered if a better alternative for the economy’s throttle would be adjusting margins on stock purchases up or down, but that might affect only wealthy investors.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Adjusting the margins would have at best an indirect effect, but it would definitely cut down on episodes of “irrational exuberance”.

  • Turcano

    They had the perfect opportunity to lengthen their title to It’s Only a Paper Boom and they squandered it.   Laaaaaaaaaaaame.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Now, be nice. The book came out in 1999. :P

  • Turcano

    What do you mean?  The song came out in 1933 and was popularized in 1973.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Since I’ve never heard of the reference before it’s safe to say Jim Stanford either didn’t, or couldn’t slip it past his editor.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    America’s infrastructure gets a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which recommends that we spend $2.2 trillion on repairs and maintenance.

    Some will surely say that we can’t afford this. To those people, I say: “…We’re the wealthiest nation in history.”

    An alternative take on the specific matter of deficit spending on infrastructure, using Samuel Vimes’s case of $10 boots that last a year versus $50 boots that last ten years or more. Suppose Vimes could borrow $50 at 1% annual interest (more than the current bond rate), paying it back over the course of six years. That’s $8.54/year, assuming I’ve calculated it right, then no need to spend any money at all on boots for several years more. So taking out that loan is a sound investment — regardless of how much debt he already has. (Of course, you could use that loan for other things, like paying off a loan with higher interest or buying something else that saves you more money in the long run, but even if none of those are available, the boots make the loan worthwhile.)

  • flat

    There is a reason we pay taxes in the Netherlands: half of the country lies beneath the sea.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    The frothing, tribalist “love for America” espoused by a certain percentage of the population is perplexing.  It doesn’t seem to extend to anything concrete.

    They certainly don’t love Americans.  They cast aspersion on any member of the majority of us who isn’t independently wealthy and benefits from government services (not that the rich don’t benefit from the government, mind you).

    And they certainly don’t love what made America the model for the world 60 years ago: science, technology, modern infrastructure, education, expanding opportunities.

    What they seems to care about, in the end, is American money, given their desire to acquire it and reluctance to spend it on anything meaningful.  

    It’s like someone bought a Cadillac in 1983, never put any money into maintaining it, and still insists it’s the nicest car on the block despite the fact it’s got four flat tires and the engine’s rusted out.  “It rides like a dream … and look at all this money I’m saving!”

  • Michael Pullmann

    “We could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not to mention too convinced that doing nothing or doing exactly what got us into this mess is what will get us out of it. With a side of believing a whole bunch more things that ain’t so, such as it’s Obama’s fault that that one company laid off a bunch of folks right after the election when the truth is that the company owner was just having a tantrum, and such as it was not in fact unions who brought us the minimum wage and the forty-hour work week with (in many cases) time-and-a-half pay for time over forty hours.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    I haven’t done any calculations, (denial?), but I doubt my taxes cover the costs of 80+ ski/bicycle trips a year onto National Forest lands.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    The priorities of the government are the problem. We spend way way more than we did when we had the best infrastructure in the world. 

    2013 United States federal budget – $3.8 trillion (submitted 2012 by President Obama)[122]
    2012 United States federal budget – $3.7 trillion (submitted 2011 by President Obama)
    2011 United States federal budget – $3.8 trillion (submitted 2010 by President Obama)
    2010 United States federal budget – $3.6 trillion (submitted 2009 by President Obama)
    2009 United States federal budget – $3.1 trillion (submitted 2008 by President Bush)
    2008 United States federal budget – $2.9 trillion (submitted 2007 by President Bush)
    2007 United States federal budget – $2.8 trillion (submitted 2006 by President Bush)
    2006 United States federal budget – $2.7 trillion (submitted 2005 by President Bush)
    2005 United States federal budget – $2.4 trillion (submitted 2004 by President Bush)
    2004 United States federal budget – $2.3 trillion (submitted 2003 by President Bush)
    2003 United States federal budget – $2.2 trillion (submitted 2002 by President Bush)
    2002 United States federal budget – $2.0 trillion (submitted 2001 by President Bush)
    2001 United States federal budget – $1.9 trillion (submitted 2000 by President Clinton)
    2000 United States federal budget – $1.8 trillion (submitted 1999 by President Clinton)
    1999 United States federal budget – $1.7 trillion (submitted 1998 by President Clinton)
    1998 United States federal budget – $1.7 trillion (submitted 1997 by President Clinton)
    1997 United States federal budget – $1.6 trillion (submitted 1996 by President Clinton)
    1996 United States federal budget – $1.6 trillion (submitted 1995 by President Clinton)

    and here’s the#1 culprit

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States 2012 total budget:1.030–$1.415 trillionout of a total budget of 3.7 trillion 

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    Those numbers, tossed out in reference to nothing, have relatively little meaning.

    The word ‘trillion’ isn’t scary in an of itself.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    JCLOR- As I explained in the post, our budgets go UP every year and are in fact twice what they were in the 90’s.  Our crumbling infrastructure has NOTHING to do with lower taxes. zero.  If they raised taxes, the infrastructure would still be crumbling. The government doesn’t care about it, that’s why it’s like that. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “Hello! What is this ‘inflation’ and ‘population growth’ thing people speak of?”
    -Chris Hadrick.

    Hint: Try showing us inflation-adjusted spending per capita.

  • Dan Audy

    Why here Chris Let me Google that for you.

    Now admittedly the bulk of the years you reference aren’t available in the first page I looked at from that (http://oregonstate.edu/cla/polisci/faculty-research/sahr/sumpercap.pdf) but from it we can tell that the inflation adjusted per capita spending remainded relatively flat between 1986 and 2002.  Given the growth rate remains fairly steady in the other years listed we can tell (or you could chart it yourself, your a big boy you shouldn’t need us to show you this stuff) that government spending per capita should remain close to flat for the remaining years with the exception of 2010 where the is a significant spike as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are moved into the budget instead of hiding in magic fairy land where Bush thought he could avoid the consequences of paying for them.

    What I came across however that was really, really interesting while Googling that for you was this Inflation Adjusted Public Debt Chart.  I think overlaying that chart with presidential terms would perhaps be the best illustration of the impact of economic policy I can think of.   It shows a MASSIVE increase starting in 1981 (Reagan’s first budget) and continuing to rise throughout the Bush 1 years and the leveling off and starting to drop during Clinton and resuming the climb under Bush 2.  Supply-side economics don’t work.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    The priorities of the government are the problem.

    Agreed.  This is the gist of Fred’s post.  We don’t spend enough money on infrastructure.

    We spend way way more than we did when we had the best infrastructure in the world.

    Now, you’re undermining your own argument.  It’s spending priorities that matter most.  You then proceed to try and scare everyone with big numbers.  

    As I explained in the post, our budgets go UP every year and are in fact twice what they were in the 90’s.

    … and?  If a greater percentage of that money were spent on infrastructure, our bridges wouldn’t be falling down.

    Our crumbling infrastructure has NOTHING to do with lower taxes. zero.  If they raised taxes, the infrastructure would still be crumbling.

    So … all those spending numbers you quote are meaningless?

    The government doesn’t care about it, that’s why it’s like that.

    Luckily, you finished with some overly simplistic pedantry.  The government, as you conveniently forget, is us.  They don’t care because we don’t care.  Government’s priorities are messed up because ours are.

  • J_Enigma32

     “The government, as you conveniently forget, is us.”

    THANK YOU.

    I repeat this *so* many times a day, and yet, it. never. sinks. in.

    A democracy is a government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people. When the PEOPLE start getting screwed up priorities, when the PEOPLE start ignoring the problems, and when the PEOPLE stop caring, things fall apart*.

    Keeping up a democracy is hard work. It’s extremely hard work; it requires a lot of things for a lot of people, and it’s just easier to pretend sometimes that it’s every man for himself, because it’s easier (and more infantile) to believe you just need to take care of yourself rather than realize you need to help take care of others, too.

    * to be fair to the vast majority of people, they’re either too poor (financially) or too poor (educationally) or too poor (both ways) to be the type of citizens that a democracy requires. The vast majority of Libertarians are both, and lazy to boot. Democracies don’t die because Emperor Palpatine declares himself emperor – by the time that’s happened, the democracy has been well and truly dead for a while. Democracies die when inequality rips them apart, by destroying the middle class they need to thrive, and when misinformation and a transparent media becomes dominated by one side – the corporate side.

  • J_Enigma32

     That should be “every person for themselves”. Cursed English gendered cliches.

  • reynard61

    If’n ya wanna *git* ta Galt’s Gulch, ya might wanna thin’ ’bout fillin’ all them potholes in th’ road so’s ya don’t bust all them tars on yer purty li’l li-mo-zeen…

  • PorlockJunior

    Bash your fancy car on the potholes you don’t fix?

    No kidding. My rommate in college, decades ago, grew up in Ann Arbor, where, he said, the rich people all drove crummy old junker cars. Didn’t want to break the springs of something shiny on the lousy roads that they chose to have rather than spend money.

    Probably some hyperbole there, and this was long before the invention of the SUV. But the principle was already there.

  • Tricksterson

    Just to be annoying:  Galt’s Guklch was only accesible by plane.

  • P J Evans

    Just to be annoying:  Galt’s Guklch was only accesible by plane.

    Helicopter, I should think. Less work clearing space for it to land. Not that any of those guys would know how to fly one. Or clear the space.

  • Tricksterson

    Nope, plane.  Dagney discovers GG when pursuing Galt, both in planes and she crashes into the combination mirage/EMP forcefield protecting it.  Then later when Galt is being held captive and tortured a aerial fllet is prepped to rescue them if the smaller group sent ahead fails.

  • reynard61

    “Just to be annoying:  Galt’s Guklch was only accesible by plane.”
    Then mebbe ya needs ta git that thar runway fixed so’s ya don’t go a-breakin’ that thar fancy air-o-playne…

    (Airports is in-fer-struk-shur too, ain’t they?)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “Yes, it’s a marvelous network,” said Hummin, “but you don’t see it at its peak. When I was younger, it was quieter than it is now and there are those who say that there wasnt as much as a whisper fifty years ago–though I suppose we might make allowance for the idealization of nostalgia.”

    “Why isnt it that way now?”

    “Because it isnt maintained properly. I told you about decay.”

    Seldon frowned. “Surely, people dont sit around and say, We’re decaying. Lets let the Expressways fall apart. ”

    “No, they don’t. It’s not a purposeful thing. Bad spots are patched, decrepit coaches refurbished, magnets replaced. However, it’s done in more slapdash fashion, more carelessly, and at greater intervals. There just aren’t enough credits available.”

    “Where have the credits gone?”

    “Into other things. We’ve had centuries of unrest. The navy is much larger and many times more expensive than it once was. The armed forces are much better-paid, in order to keep them quiet. Unrest, revolts, and minor blazes of civil war all take their toll.”

    “But it’s been quiet under Cleon. And we’ve had fifty years of peace.”

    “Yes, but soldiers who are well-paid would resent having that pay reduced just because there is peace. Admirals resist mothballing ships and having themselves reduced in rank simply because there is less for them to do. So the credits still go–unproductively–to the armed forces and vital areas of the social good are allowed to deteriorate. Thats what I call decay. Dont you? Dont you think that eventually you would fit that sort of view into your psychohistorical notions?”

    From Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    JCLOR- You’re repeating what I said as an attempt to refute what I said.

    The government has the revenue it needs for us to have the best infrastructure on Earth, it just chooses to spend it on something else. If they had even more revenue they would spend it on what they are spending it on now: war, subsidies for the well connected,  spying on people, etc 

    “The government, as you conveniently forget, is us.  They don’t care because we don’t care. ”

    If you don’t care why are you talking about it? (kidding)  The government has it’s own interests. This is inevitable under all systems of government.  There is no mechanism by which voters can vote for individual policies that effect them. they select a person to represent them and hope for the best. You can’t fairly say “We” don’t care about infrastructure. We , our individual selves, are not up there on the Senate floor. 

    Dan- I have no doubt that  Reagan and co racked up huge deficits with their weird corporatized  DC /Wall Street version of the “free market”. 

    neutrino- the population didn’t DOUBLE between now and the 1990’s. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    http://oregonstate.edu/cla/polisci/faculty-research/sahr/sumpercap.pdf

    Fixed that for you because you can’t be arsed to troubleshoot basic problems with URLs.

    God, you’re like a student who wants to be spoon-fed every answer to every question instead of doing the work for yourself.

  • The_L1985

    Dude. INFLATION HAPPENED. The can of Coke that would have cost me 50 cents in 1990 now costs $1. Each dollar is worth substantially less than it was 20 years ago.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Incidentally, for the last 15 years or so it has been rather firmly lodged in my brain that a can of Coke costs $1.

    That’s a rather impressive lack of inflation, but Canadian Coke Classic has different components than US Coke Classic, so prices aren’t a 100% straight across comparison. (also: exchange rates)

  • The_L1985

    1990 was around the time I was first noticing how much vending-machine wares cost.  Gumballs were a quarter, unless you were at a bank or car dealership with one of the old penny or nickel machines; candy bars were 35 cents in some machines, but the price varied a bit; Coke was 50 cents in a can, and wasn’t commonly sold through vending machines in my area in plastic bottles yet.

    I hadn’t yet learned how much other things cost, though, because I was still only just aware of how much each coin was worth.  But when you’re first learning prices, that original number tends to stick with you for quite a while.  I remember noticing in college that vending-machine Cokes were twice the price I remembered, and being surprised.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Dan- I have no doubt that  Reagan and co racked up huge deficits with
    their weird corporatized  DC /Wall Street version of the “free market”. 

    Chris Hadrick actually says something BAD about Saint Ronald Reagan?

    WHERE IS MY FAINTING COUCH?

  • Tricksterson

    Although he’s hates the Democrats Chris H really isn’t that fond of the Republicans either.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    thank you tricksterson. I will say that relatatively speaking 80-2000 were good years. Reagan, Bush 1 and Clinton were self made men who had decent judgement and  managed to keep us out of prolonged conflicts, didn’t sabotage the economy and didn’t spy on people and whatnot.   They didn’t see the problems they were helping to createwith the greenspan style inflationist federal reserve and the neoconservative style foreign policy though. both of those massively blew up in our face. and deficits, Reagan more than Clinton. 

    Chloe-gold is value able in part because  it’s not common. I’ts relative scarcity is why it’s been used as a medium of exchange for so many years. It used to be used in other stuff like mainframe computers till it became so expensive. Anyone have an old mainframe computer I’ll give you 50 dollars for it haha

    j enigma “I repeat this *so* many times a day, and yet, it. never. sinks. in.” and it never will. 

    I explain it this way “Obama may be the man, but he’s still “the man” ”  No matter what style of government you have, powerful people are at the top making so any of the big calls. Democracy is no different. You can see how it breaks down with stuff like the military industrial complex and the various lobbies. What good does that huge base in Iraq do anyone outside of washington?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Reagan, Bush 1 and Clinton were self made men

    That would be the actor who made his political name by selling out his fellow actors during the communist witch-hunts; the son of the wealthy banker who made his fortune hiding gold for the Nazis; and Bill Clinton?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ross- That’s a slightly biased view. Bush1 maybe not so much as the other two, but in my defense he isn’t very interesting. and did keep the ship more or less afloat well enough.  Clinton had some issues too.  and I didn’t like any of them all that much, just relative to immediately before (Nixon, Carter) and after (Bush 2, Drone King).  If you’d like we can saw off DC and let it float into the ocean and call it even.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I would make the case that Bill Clinton is far more “self-made” than Bush I or II, or Reagan, for that matter.

  • Tricksterson

    Reagan and Clinton both had some similarities in their background.  Both came from the working class, both had fathers who were absent or distant (and also IIRC alchoholic) and yes, Reagan may have been an actor but to thextent he made it in the film industry (he never really rated more than the second tier) he earned it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think Reagan stopped being “self-made” around the time he started using race-baiting rhetoric. Then it was just manipulating the electorate and flattering other rich white guys so he could get lots of dough.

  • Turcano

    Bush fils shouldn’t even be on the list, seeing as he was about as “self-made” as Paris Hilton.

  • Tricksterson

    Ditto his father.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I know almost nothing about Bush 1. I think that’s why I like him relatively speaking. All the presidents should be like that. stop it with the fireside chats and rallies. keep us out of war, don’t spy on us, stay inside.

  • P J Evans

     You do realize he ran the CIA before he was president?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Being proud of your lack of knowledge is not a virtue.

  • Lori

    You’ve now been subjecting us to these displays of your ignorance for quite some time and I shouldn’t be surprised by them any more, yet I am. Your ignorance is quite Left Behindish in that way. I always think, “This has to be as low as it can go” and then it goes a litter lower.

    It’s morbidly fascinating in its own way.

  • Tricksterson

    Keep us out o war?  Helooo, Persian Gulf?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I know almost nothing about Bush 1. I think that’s why I like him
    relatively speaking. All the presidents should be like that. stop it
    with the fireside chats and rallies. keep us out of war, don’t spy on
    us, stay inside.

    FTFY.

    I like my leaders to do some actual *leading*.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    We’re about to find out what a fully corporatized nation will look like.  The 20th century running in reverse wold be fantastic. millions of global banker sacrifices from fruitless wars would come back to life and so would liberty.

    PJ- I did know that.Lori- Bush1 isn’t exactly Lincoln or Washington in terms of his prestige. again that’s kind of why I like him. I hate them all though

  • Turcano

     You honestly believe that there is less liberty now than 100 years ago?

    It has already been well documented that you don’t know jack shit about economics, history, or anything else for that matter.  You don’t need to keep giving people more evidence.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The 20th century running in reverse wold be fantastic. millions of global banker sacrifices from fruitless wars would come back to life and so would liberty.

    And women would lose the right to vote, and men of color would de facto lose the right to vote and gender/sexual minorities would lose the right to live (unless they could pass well enough for heterocis), and people of all flavors–INCLUDING YOU, CHRIS HADRICK–would lose the right to work in somewhere safer and better-paid than the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Not to mention the weekend, the forty-hour work week, and time-and-a-half overtime pay.

    To name only a few examples of what we would lose if we turned the clock back to 1900.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    I’m sure he probably regards voting and intact fingers as way overrated anyway.

  • Lori

     

    millions of global banker sacrifices from fruitless wars would come back to life   

    What does this even mean? Do you even know?

    Given that you don’t seem to know that you’re embarrassing yourself with your ongoing comments about Bush, I’m going to guess “no”.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    What does this even mean?

    I understood it to be an obscure way of saying that we would not yet have spent a lot of money on 20th-century wars.

    That said, the idea of that money “coming back to life” — even leaving aside the distasteful rhetoric of equating money with life in the context of wars — doesn’t really make sense. After all, we would also be rolling back all the actual work that people did to create the wealth which that money represented.

    But I can turn it into a kind of meaningful claim if I think in terms of debt incurred rather than wealth expended… the national deficit, for example, was many orders of magnitude lower in 1900 than in 2000.

  • Lori

    Because bankers didn’t have any part in 20th century wars. Their money was just sacrificed for politics.

    That’s quite ignorant. Which means that you probably understood it exactly as Chris meant it.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    The 20th century was literally “bloody awful”. 

    trickerston- The Persian Gulf war was totally wrong but it was over pretty fast. Bush did not go on to Baghdad. The 90’s would have been very different if he had. Clinton doesn’t get off the hook on that score either. remember Albright’s gross remarks about the sanctions.

    Dave- I meant all the people who died in the wars not money coming back to life. 

    ellie- Those things did not require millions of deaths to happen

  • EllieMurasaki

    Let’s double-check what you said earlier:

    We’re about to find out what a fully corporatized nation will look like. The 20th century running in reverse wold be fantastic. millions of global banker sacrifices from fruitless wars would come back to life and so would liberty.

    This implies that you want corporations to have the power that they have lost over the past hundred-odd years. You want corporations to be able to discriminate against applicants and customers on the basis of their sex, gender, skin tone, etc. You want corporations to be able to work people sixteen hours a day for a dollar an hour, maybe Sunday off, maybe not, certainly not Saturday off, no paid sick leave or vacation time. I do not see any possible way to read your first two sentences that does not carry that implication.

    Which means the ‘liberty’ bit of your third sentence is utter nonsense.

    The people who died in wars don’t actually have anything to do with this at all.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > Dave- I meant all the people who died in the wars not money coming back to life.

    Gotcha. I stand corrected, and apologize for mis-reading you.
    I’m curious: why stop at 1900, though? It’s not like we weren’t merrily slaughtering one another in the 1800s as well.

  • Lori

     

    I meant all the people who died in the wars not money coming back to life.  

    This is even more ridiculous than what Dave thought you meant. Did you flunk every single year of history when you were in school?

  • EllieMurasaki

    To be fair, I learned about the problems underlying “Sixteen Tons” from Dear America, not from school. (A Coal Miner’s Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminska, Lattimer, Pennsylvania, 1896)

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Dave- I like the industrial revolution. city dweller

    Lori- Corporations have gained, not lost , power.  They have all the power. They don’t even have to make better stuff anymore like Standard Oil and those companies did. They just need good connections

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And the kinds of policies you endorse would only exacerbate*, not diminish, that power.

    Take away the government – what countervailing power is there against corporations with sizable economic power from essentially dictating the conditions under which their employees work and live?


    * IT IS NOT “EXASPERATE”.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    corporations wouldn’t have any power without the government.  You wouldn’t have to work at a corporation if you didn’t want to, you could start your own business because there would be no restrictions barring entry the way there is now. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, of course, I can simply borrow twenty thousand dollars to start my own business. My creditworthiness isn’t a concern because banks and venture capital firms are itching to lend money to startups and don’t care that half of all businesses fail in the first five years, and in the wildly unlikely event that I can’t get a loan from such an entity, I have parents who make so much money that lending me twenty thousand is barely a blip on their bank statement and if I lose it all they’ll never miss it. And I won’t have to worry at all about a health catastrophe hitting me while I have no employer-provided health insurance and can’t afford to self-insure.
    (Notice how the word ‘government’ didn’t appear in that paragraph at all.)
    (Also, look up the lyrics to “Sixteen Tons” and do some research into the problems that inspired the song.)

  • Lori

     

    corporations wouldn’t have any power without the government.  

    You have said this before. It is not true. We have explained why it is not true. You keep saying it.

    Your willful ignorance renders you pointless to talk to.

     

    You wouldn’t have to work at a corporation if you didn’t want to, you
    could start your own business because there would be no restrictions
    barring entry the way there is now.  

    This is not ignorant, this is actually dumb.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- You’re missing the point. corporations LIKE regulations. the use the to keep out competition, that’s why there are like 5 banks. They are terrified of competition, not regulations.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which of course explains all the corporate lobbying against tighter safety standards and a higher minimum wage. And certainly no regulation could be put in place to prevent banks growing too large–Ma Bell broke up entirely off its own bat.
    (I thought you were a libertarian? What happened to the free market being king? A market that isn’t competitive is not in any meaningful sense free.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    He’s right to a certain extent. Larger businesses often support regulations that they can afford to adhere to but smaller businesses can’t. However, what he’s missing is that they usually prefer to not have any regulations at all; in an unregulated market, it’s not hard for them to use their greater financial clout to simply smash small businesses out of existence and drive out competition through monopolistic business practices like cartelization and other practices that might be illegal now but wouldn’t be in a world without regulation. But realistically they know that they have to have some regulation, so they’ll lobby for the ones that hurt their competitors more than they hurt them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    True enough.

  • P J Evans

    the use the to keep out competition

    That’s why we have the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It’s all about maintaining competition, and it isn’t a regulation, it’s a LAW. Which should have been enforced a lot more in the last 30 or so years.

    Beckwit.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Kmart is lobbying FOR a higher minimum wage.  

    If a company can make something cheaper and better I don’t care how big  or small they are.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Is it really? I’ll have to shop there more. You’ll want to provide a citation first, though. And Walmart’s bigger than Kmart and wants nothing to do with higher minimum wage and has more like-minded friends than Kmart.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Amazon is going to start lobbying for online income tax. you won’t know what hit you when that happens.

    This would be the same amazon who, when the state of california was considering requiring them to collect taxes, responded with “Hey, that’s a mighty nice set of cottage industries in california who rely on our infrastructure to do business. It’d be a real shame if something were to, ahem, “happen” to them…”?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZNNUWEXUPQUQAYGBFDHTEIJBUI Joshua

    The Kmart thing might be true, but I’d be surprised. Kmart is basically what Walmart would be if Walmart was barely clinging to life and operating at a net operating loss every year for the past… well, almost forever, even after it was rescued by Sears. It’s basically a shittier Walmart, since it treats its employees about as badly but doesn’t even turn a profit while doing so. 

    (Seriously, Kmart is basically a case study in a dying retailer. Capital spending is in the toilet, they appear to think that retrenchment is a long-term business strategy — as if cutting costs while slashing revenues works for private companies any better than it does for the government, and they’ve somehow managed to get it so that their brand image is below Walmart and Target in quality, which just beggars the imagination. I mean, what do you have to be doing where Walmart (!?!) seems more prestigious than you? I’d be surprised if they even have any money to spend on lobbying at all, much less actually have the resources to pay a higher minimum wage while they’re, you know, hemorrhaging money.)

    Amazon is going to start lobbying for online income tax. you won’t know what hit you when that happens.

    Is it worth asking what the Hell an “online income tax” is? Is Chris Hadrick just now discovering that Amazon.com sells TurboTax CDs?

  • EllieMurasaki

    My best guess is that Chris is talking about Etsy hiking its transaction fees to account for federal tax on the transactions, thus relieving me of the need to tally up my Etsy sales and account for that money on my 1040. Or some such thing.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It may also refer to uniform collection of state sales tax across states, which is something a lot of retailers have, so far, lobbied against in order to preserve the competitive advantage that comes with being “in that place with no state sales tax so even with shipping it’s cheaper”.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I meant Wal Mart not Kmart.

    and online sales tax!  I was drinking sorry.Amazon is lobbying for online sales tax because now that they have a presence in many states they will have to pay it, so they don’t want other companies who use UPS to not have to pay it. it’s not because they like local taxes and want to help.Also, They have developed a presence in so many states because they will make more money from it in the end.  Obviously that won’t help local retailers.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Walmart.

    Lobbying to pay more money to the people whose work hours they try to avoid letting become full-time (legally speaking) if at all possible in order to keep from paying them benefits.

    Yeah, you’re gonna need to cite the ever-living fuck out of that.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZNNUWEXUPQUQAYGBFDHTEIJBUI Joshua

    Ah, that actually makes it worse. I can sort of imagine a scenario where Kmart might want to position itself as a higher-end version of Walmart (about where Target is now, or even a little bit higher) with a package of strategies that includes pay-for-performance and an increased base salary to attract better employees. It’s not a believable scenario but it could sort of fit together kind of.

    But this crap? Is this guy seriously arguing that Walmart (!?!?!) wants to pay its employees more?

    (Has this guy ever run a business? Hell, has he ever held a job? I don’t get the impression that he’s done anything more advanced than introduction to macroeconomics, and I doubt that he even understood it.)

    Chris — do you know how colossal Walmart is? They dominate almost every single industry they enter — from grocery stores to home appliances to basically anything but electronics (they’re second to Amazon) and maybe one or two other things. They’re three times the size of the next two biggest retailers combined

    Do you think that, if it really wanted to raise the cost of labor in the retail sector, it would even need the government’s help? When you’re the largest single employer in the world, you pretty much set the minimum wage. If they decided that they were going to set their lowest wage bracket at $20 an hour, any retailer that didn’t follow suit or came up with some other way to attract employees wouldn’t be able to find good talent any more. Walmart would have its pick of anyone they wanted for their company. They could do that more or less at will.

    (Lobbying? Are you kidding me? Have you seen how dysfunctional and worthless our Congress is right now? Do you really think that if Walmart had a cunning strategy to increase their market share (presumably from gargantuan to Brobdingnagian) they would wait for Congress to get its shit together and pass a new labor reg? Really?!)

    Cripes.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The fact that your typing under the influence looks the same as when sober does not lend much credibility to your statements – especially your claims wrt Wal-Mart.

    Particularly when they’ve been sued regarding wage payments, and they don’t seem to much bother with employee safety either.

  • The_L1985

    Wal-Mart’s minimum-wage employees are striking for more pay. Wal-Mart’s CEOs and upper management would pay said workers fifty cents an hour if they thought they could get away with it.

  • David Peterson

    I’ll just leave this here: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2012/5/21/the-value-of-value-capture.html

    Just a different perspective on the value of investing in infrastructure. Question: Should we be widening highways to four lanes from two lanes when we can’t afford to maintain what we currently have? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    If the two lanes are consistently jammed, then yeah, probably we should do what we can to unjam them, and making more lanes is a generally reliable way to do that. Whether we can afford to maintain the new lanes, or the old ones, doesn’t actually come into it, though of course we need to figure a way to maintain all the infrastructure that exists at any given moment.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Agreed that if the existing system is consistently jammed, we should probably do what we can to unjam it.

    That said, I disagree that our ability to afford maintenance doesn’t come into it. Making more lanes may generally be a reliable way to unjam the existing
    system, but if we can’t maintain the new lanes it doesn’t seem like it would be reliable in this case… certainly not in the long run. If we can’t maintain the lanes, we should probably explore alternative ways of unjamming them rather than implement a generally reliable solution that we expect to fail in this case. 

    For example, we could investigate where all this traffic is coming from and how we could reduce it. Perhaps we should be investing in commuter rail instead, or providing incentives for businesses to relocate to somewhere less central, or some other approach.

  • Lori

     Obviously not all infrastructure is created equal. I strongly suspect that there’s a reason Fred’s infrastructure posts tend to focus on things like repairing bridges, modernizing the electric grid and internet delivery and rail, much more than on new road construction.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If anything, stimulating the “work at home” trend is a good idea, since decentralization of work would probably cut down 0n fuel consumption, cutting down on pollution, and improving the quality of life all around.

    In that respect, infrastructure doesn’t become moving more people around so much as it becomes improving the flexibility people have in moving around. If you can shift more traffic and travel into the night hours that takes pressure off the daytime traffic cycle.

    The USA was forging ahead of Canada in this respect back in 2005. I don’t know how things have changed but I can guess that the US government is expanding the telework program if only because it helps save on gasoline.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    L1985- no one would work for 50 cents an hour. You have to pay people what they are willing to work for. If my boss lowered my pay to half what I am making now I would leave. thus, he can’t cut my wages in half.  

    Ross- The President is the leader of the group of representatives we hire to do things for us.  He’s  their president really , not ours. We’re his boss.

  • EllieMurasaki

    no one would work for 50 cents an hour.

    “Look,” the young man said. “S’pose you got a job a work, an’ there’s jus’ one fella wants the job. You got to pay ‘im what he asts. But s’pose they’s a hunderd men.” He put down his tool. His eyes hardened and his voice sharpened. “S’pose they’s a hunderd men wants that job. S’pose them men got kids, an’ them kids is hungry. S’pose a lousy dime’ll buy a box a mush for them kids. S’pose a nickel’ll buy at leas’ somepin for them kids. An’ you got a hunderd men. Jus’ offer ’em a nickel—why, they’ll kill each other fightin’ for that nickel. Know what they was payin’ las’ job I had? Fifteen cents an hour. Ten hours for a dollar an’ a half, an’ ya can’t stay on the place. Got to burn gasoline gettin’ there.” He was panting with anger, and his eyes blazed with hate. “That’s why them han’bills was out. You can print a hell of a lot of han’bills with what ya save payin’ fifteen cents an hour for fiel’ work.”

    (Five cents went further in Steinbeck’s setting than today, but the same principle applies.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     L1985- no one would work for 50 cents an hour.

    You reeeeeeeeeeaallly don’t understand differential power relations, do you?

    If I have something you have got to have, I can set the price at whatever I want and you have to like it or lump it.

  • Beroli

     

    L1985- no one would work for 50 cents an hour. You have to pay people
    what they are willing to work for. If my boss lowered my pay to half
    what I am making now I would leave. thus, he can’t cut my wages in half. 

    And you would go where? To another company which pays at least the minimum wage, because, legally, it has to.

    In places where there is no minimum wage people work for far less than they can live on, so that they can starve a little slower. Lots and lots of people. They don’t “leave” because that’s what all businesses pay, because they can, and so there is nowhere they can go that pays more. This is reality. You’ve just looked at reality and actually said, “I reject you because you don’t match my theories!”

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    that’s life. There’s nothing you can do about it.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    Let’s recap.

    The_L1985: Big corporations that like a small payroll would pay their employees minuscule amounts if they could.

    Chris Hadrick: No one would work for that little money.

    EllieMurasaki: If the other option was even less money or none at all, yes they would.

    Chris Hadrick: That sucks but there’s nothing to be done about it.

    Nothing, Chris? Nothing whatsoever? Because it seems to me that this is what minimum-wage laws are MEANT for.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I think what he’s saying is that if you can’t get paid a living wage, the fault is not in the employers, who are just behaving rationally; the fault is in your fellow workers for accepting sub-living wages rather than all refusing to work.

    So, basically “Don’t blame the job creators, blame those Other Poor People who are Taking Yr Jrrbs.”

    Basically par for the course.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, blame people for wanting their kids to be a little hungry instead of desperately hungry, that makes complete sense.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I mean, I’m all in favor of worker strikes when necessary, but first make bloody sure they’re necessary, because loss of paycheck hurts, especially paycheck-to-paycheck types, even when a higher paycheck on the other end is guaranteed which with strikes it isn’t. And also I suspect Chris Hadrick opposes strikes and unions and other forms of worker collective action.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Also also, any such strike would have to have the cooperation of everyone who isn’t employed as well as everyone who is, because (in any state where it’s legal to fire someone with no stated cause, or not illegal to fire someone for going on strike) anyone who went on strike could simply be replaced by someone willing to work for the same crap money and unwilling to go on strike. Especially in this economic climate.

  • Beroli

    that’s life. There’s nothing you can do about it. 

    …Slight amendment, Mr. I Weep For Failing Businesses But Shrug At Starving People.

    There’s nothing in line with Chris Hadrick’s right-libertarian principles one can do about it, which is why those of us who want to live in a country that actually works observe that people like Hadrick are disgusting monsters, brush his deranged principles out of the way, and make rules like minimum wage laws without paying attention to the screams of, “BUT YOU’RE RESTRICTING CONSENSUAL ARRANGEMENTS!”

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    What if someone needs help in their store and only have 6 dollars an hour to spare because they are barely breaking even and someone says they would like to work there and 6 dollars an hour is fine?  Why is that wrong?

  • EllieMurasaki

    If the potential hire is looking for pocket money, nothing, though if the employer has that little margin then there’s probably something wrong that adding more labor is unlikely to fix. If the potential hire is looking for money to live on, everything.

    The difference involves a bunch of things that the employer should not be allowed to know. Not while making hiring decisions, and preferably not ever.

  • P J Evans

     If the store is barely breaking even, then they don’t have money to hire with. That’s what ‘breaking even’ is: they aren’t making money, but they aren’t losing money either.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And why do we allow legislation that restricts the rights of Unicorn-owners?

    Freedom is all well and good, but the freedom of an imaginary percentage of people do behave self-destructively is not a good enough reason to set up a system that can not avoid fucking over the vast majority of people.  Your freedom to save a few bucks by buying the tainted meat is not worth the rest of us living in a world where meat inspection is an optional expense no sane business owner would shell out for.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- How can the law possibly tell the difference between someone who is looking for work for pocket money or to make a living. Do you formally announce it somehow?

    PJ- anti trust sounds good in theory, but prices generally rise for other reasons.  Sherman himself was an avid protectionist which of course benefits certain companies at the expense of consumers. Wether or not THAT is a defendable position is another story.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How can the law possibly tell the difference between someone who is looking for work for pocket money or to make a living. Do you formally announce it somehow?

    Precisely my point, which is why the law should assume that everyone who is employed full time at minimum wage needs to get enough money in that forty hours a week for one adult to maintain a week’s worth of adequate if basic standard of living.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    That’s accurate. I don’t like unions. I can see if you work in a mine or something the need for one though.

    Ross-  What makes people pay a chef at a fancy restaurant a 6 figure salary? Why don’t they pay him 50 cents an hour? 

    Why do basketball players get paid tens of millions for shooting a ball? because that’s what it’s worth. If no one liked basketball their skill would be worth much less.

    Ellie- So I can’t agree to work for someone for 5 dollars an hour if I want? Why not, it’s a consensual agreement.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Can you live on forty hours a week of five dollars an hour?

    (Not in the US you can’t. Not unless you’re paying dramatically below market rate on housing and food.)

    Query: if the market wage for a job is not enough to live on, how, given that you’ve ruled out legislation and collective action and I seem to recall that you’re not fond of government antipoverty measures either, do you propose to ensure that everyone who does that job for a living can actually make a living?

  • Beroli

     

    Ellie- So I can’t agree to work for someone for 5 dollars an hour if I want? Why not, it’s a consensual agreement.

    Because minimum wage laws forbid it.

    I get that you mean something along the lines of, “There is no Libertarian justification for minimum wage laws and that means they’re bad!” but that doesn’t make your question a valid one anywhere that isn’t run by Libertarian principles (so, go to Somalia and ask it).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *cough*

    Slight nitpick about min wage and agreements etc

    Actually in British Columbia it is (or was in the 1990s at least) legal for companies and employees to, on a case by case basis, negotiate a wage lower than the minimum wage. I knew a guy whose sole job was to handle fire assay crucibles, not exactly a highly skilled job. The analytical lab paid him $6 an hour when the minimum wage was $7 an hour, and I asked, “How is this possible?” and the guy said he signed an agreement.

    Hadrick is technically correct, but very few companies would do this in practice, because the procedure would be fairly cumbersome, I think.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What’s your job, again?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie-  Maybe their spouse has a job.

    Joshua- do we have a problem with them paying people 20 dollars an hour? That would be great.  it would also result in a lot of over qualified people wondering what in the world was going on but they probably wouldn’t mind too much. The people who worked at wal mart who got driven out by the new faster 20 an hour ers would probably make their old wage someplace else.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The employer shouldn’t know marital status of potential employees either. And even if we suppose that it’s perfectly all right to pay someone five dollars an hour if their spouse is employed, that just leaves us with a married couple making five dollars an hour apiece. Ten dollars an hour isn’t a living wage for one person, let alone two, and what if there’s a kid that they need to pay childcare for while the parents work, or arrange their work schedule so that there’s always a parent with the kid but consequently the parents never actually see each other?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZNNUWEXUPQUQAYGBFDHTEIJBUI Joshua

    I… think you kind of missed my point. I wasn’t saying that Walmart will or would increase their starting pay to $20/hour. I’m saying that if they wanted to they could basically set the minimum acceptable wage for their industry almost at will, because they have such a colossal market share for retailers and they are also — literally — the world’s largest private employer. Do you understand what that means? 

    They set the bar for their industry, and they can move it wherever they want and the other gnats are helpless but to respond to it if they want to survive in the industry.
    I really think you have a fuzzy idea at best as to how the business world actually works. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s economics in general that he’s fuzzy on. He seems to forget that there’s real people with real needs behind all these numbers. And no one seems to have mentioned to him that money, like manure, does wonders at making things grow provided it’s spread around properly, but if stacked up and left there it’s just a stinking pile of crap.

  • Lori

    I’ve never had the impression that he forgets the real people. He simply doesn’t think about them because they aren’t important, which isn’t the same thing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that does seem like a more accurate summation of his behavior. Though I admit it is possible that I am biased and therefore I prefer yours to mine because yours appalls me more.

  • Lori

    If he forgot the existence of real people his statements would change when someone reminds him that his ideas have implications for actual human beings. That’s not what happens.

    I’m pretty sure that any desire you have to be appalled is not the issue.

  • Turcano

    He doesn’t understand what’s going on at all.  He thinks Walmart is trying to drive up labor costs for its competitors.  And even when he does accidentally get the facts right, like Amazon’s support for online sales tax legislation, he ascribes the most ass-backwards motives imaginable to those facts.

  • JoshuaS

     And he still doesn’t seem to get why I keep harping on Walmart’s size. Does he really not understand that Walmart’s size and power forces its competitors to respond to it? Does he really not get that, if Walmart wanted to affect the labor costs for its industry, it would even need the government’s help? I mean, I basically told him that, so he doesn’t have an excuse not to know, but it’s still pretty unnerving.

    Anyway, I give up. It’s not really fun debating with someone who doesn’t even understand the bare minimum of the topic. It’s like trying to discuss biology with someone who’s never even heard of cells, or discussing English literature with someone who has never opened any book before. It can be done, for a while, but eventually it’ll dawn on you that you’re just explaining elementary concepts over and over, which just isn’t good for one’s blood pressure.

  • Beroli

    I really think you have a fuzzy idea at best as to how the business world actually works.

    I know you said “at best,” but this is still too generous. With every post he makes, it becomes clearer that he has an idea as to how the business world actually works which is crystal-clear and has as much to do with reality as would an absolute conviction that fire is extremely cold.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Sgt – I deliver packages

    You guys are trying to shift the argument to my “ignorance” of economics instead of debating my economic arguments.  It’s totally transparent.

    Again, if companies only have to pay the minimum wage why do basketball players ake millions a year? 

    Why don’t chefs at fancy restaurants make minimum wage?

    People are paid what the market rate is for their services. 

    If I took out an ad for someone to clean my room and said I’d pay 50 cents no one would do it.  if i said I’d pay 500 dollars probably a lot of people would do it. 

    At that point in the process of price discovery I would lower the price till I found what the job was actually worth. If I went too low I may get someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. If I went to high yadda yadda yadda.

    Beroli- yeah western civilization would completely fall apart if we didn’t have the minimum wage which was established in the middle of the last century.

    I’m not interested in the minimum wage law or undoing it btw,  I just reject your arguments for how wages are determined. 

    Joshua- Walmart is a big company thanks I didn’t realize that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No one is objecting to people making as much money as other people are willing to pay for their services. I find it absurd that professional players of popular sports make fucktons, but as long as they pay their fair share of taxes (which is part of ensuring that the general public has enough money left after paying for necessities to buy luxuries such as tickets to sports events), I’ve got no reason to complain about it.

    The problem arises when what other people are willing to pay for people’s services is not enough money to live on.

    Given a job where market wage is less than living wage, given that you have ruled out legislation (including but not limited to minimum-wage laws) and collective action and government antipoverty programs, and given that mass charity is a pipe dream, what measures do you propose to enact in order to ensure that everyone who works that job for a living can actually make a living?

  • Carstonio

    Given a job where market wage is less than living wage, given that you have ruled out legislation (including but not limited to minimum-wage laws) and collective action and government antipoverty programs, and given that mass charity is a pipe dream, what measures do you propose to enact in order to ensure that everyone who works that job for a living can actually make a living?

    That wouldn’t be fair. See, everyone starts out with the same amount of money, and everyone is under the same rules of chance. So everyone has the same opportunities to win or lose. You pass GO just as often as everyone else, and if you didn’t buy Boardwalk and Park Place when you had the chance, that’s your fault…

    …sorry, I must have board games on the brain.

  • Lori

     

    You guys are trying to shift the argument to my “ignorance” of economics
    instead of debating my economic arguments.  It’s totally transparent.

    No, it is not transparent. The fact that you think it is, or that you think you can distract us by saying that it is, is simply another example of your ignorance.

    We have discussed your economic “arguments” many, many times. People have discussed your economic “arguments” in this thread. The fact that people are pointing out that you are totally ignorant about economics is part of that discussion. Your economic “arguments”are terrible, in large part because you clearly don’t know anything about economics and continue actively resisting learning anything about it.

    If you want people to discuss your economic “arguments” while pretending that they have any basis in reality you’re going to need to go somewhere else.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Sgt – I deliver packages

    Gee, I thought you were a veterinarian. Or were you just lying about that?

  • Beroli

     

    Beroli- yeah western civilization would completely fall apart if we
    didn’t have the minimum wage which was established in the middle of the
    last century.

    No, it would just have a lot more starving people for you to shrug at.

    In other words, nothing important; abolishing the minimum wage would certainly not hurt businesses.

  • KevinC

     Baseball players make their absurd salaries in large part because municipal governments use tax dollars to build their stadiums.  Imagine how much more CEO’s could get paid, if governments built their skyscrapers for them!  *wistful sigh*  The term you’re looking for here is: Government Subsidy.

    In addition, the salaries of major league baseball players and fancy chefs are kept high by deliberately-induced scarcity of those jobs.  In the case of MLB, only large cities can afford to build stadiums, and getting them to do so requires a well-funded lobbying effort.  That’s not counting whatever hoops the leagues require a city to jump through before it can form a team and join.  IOW, you can’t have “startup” baseball teams composed of guys practicing on an elementary school field, all motivated and determined to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps climbing up to become a self-made World Series winner.  Can’t happen.  There will never be, say, a thousand major league baseball teams, no matter how many hard-working would-be professional baseball players there are.  So the “market” for baseball players isn’t “free.”  It’s a cartel.  Also, have you ever noticed that MLB players have a union?  And they strike (and not just by failing to hit a pitch over the plate)?  Yes.  Yes they do.

    Fancy chefs: this is a high-speed, high-stress job that requires an expensive education in culinary arts.  The barriers to entry are high.  The “fancy” here is not just quality cooking, it’s a vast array of refined art catering to wealthy people who can pay large amounts of money to get kobe style beef instead of an ordinary Angus steak.  The “market” here is, again, limited by design.  The customers pay a premium to get things most people can’t have, for that reason (status display).  It doesn’t matter if their $1000.00 glass of wine doesn’t taste as good as the $10.00 wine that comes out of a box.  What makes it special is that hoi polloi can’t afford it, and they can.  What this means is that fancy chef jobs are kept rare precisely so that the kind of food they produce can be reserved for “exclusive” restaurants. 

    The core libertarian premise is that “the market” automatically dispenses flawless justice, and if we only didn’t have a government in the way, then all would be for the best, in this best of all possible worlds.  It’s an appealing idea; wouldn’t it be nice if a just and happy society would just happen automatically, and we never had to work at it?  That, in fact the way to get the best possible society is to stop trying, and just let “the market” give it to us on a silver platter?  Sure–and if wishes were horses, everyone would need a barn.  We could just say to the migrant farm worker who can’t afford to give his daughter braces, “Well, it’s your own damn fault for not being a major league baseball player!” and to the fry cook who can’t send her son to college, “Well, you should have been a fancy chef.  You should have made smarter choices.”  Unfortunately, it’s just not the case that every virtuous person gets a high-paying job.  The jobs are “high-paying” precisely because not every virtuous person can do them.  If every virtuous person could do them, “market forces” would put downward pressure on the salaries.

    “The market” isn’t physics or the divine fiat of an omnibenevolent God–it’s a human-made game, played by rules we make up.  As with any other game, people will cheat if they can get away with it, and otherwise try to hack the system to give themselves an unfair advantage.  To return to the analogy of baseball, that’s why there are referees.  One important thing about games is, sooner or later somebody wins.  If a competitive “free market” is desirable (and it is, just not as an end-all, beat-all Supreme Value), there has to be a “reset button” and rules to prevent permanent winners from ending the game.  Imagine if the team that won the World Series got to start the next season with a five-game lead, and this was cumulative (so that two Series wins in a row produced a ten-game lead, and so on), and that the winning team also got to make one rule change each time it won a World Series.  It would not be long at all before one team made itself virtually unassailable, and major league baseball would be destroyed as a popular sport.  This sort of thing is prevented by giving all teams a blank slate at the start of each season, forbidding any team from unilaterally making rules, and other redistributive practices like (as I understand it) giving losing teams the first shot at draft picks.

    In the economic realm, the first advantage is called “inheritance;” the second is the political power that accrues to accumulated wealth in any society.  We keep “the market” “free” by having a referee called “government” that works to keep the players from cheating, and a “reset button” called “progressive taxation” that (ought to) work in a similar manner to the reset button that gets hit after the final game of each World Series.  In baseball, everybody’s record goes to 0 and 0.  We don’t go nearly that far in economics (and it would be undesirable to do so), but mechanisms like progressive taxation and inheritance taxes do serve (when actually used) to prevent the formation of an aristocracy of permanent economic winners positioned to grab all the marbles.     
     
    Is government-as-referee perfect?  No.  Neither are referees in baseball.  The thing about a good society is: we have to work at it.

  • Carstonio

    This, a thousand times. In the Monopoly board game there is no inheritance, or political power that accrues to wealth. Or health care costs. I keep wondering if some folks’ understanding of economics has never advanced beyond that game, and I say that as someone who has much to learn about the subject.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    if people really disliked monopolies they would  hate the government. Can anyone tell me why? Neutrino?

    Also would point out Somoa has been devastated by the application of America’s minimum wage to their economy. That’s a large and complicated topic for another day though. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    The problem with monopolies isn’t that they’re disliked. It’s that, as the only source of a thing, they can charge anything they’ve a mind to for the thing, and people can pay it or do without. This is doubly troublesome if the thing is an essential.

    What’s the government got a monopoly on, other than the legislative and judicial systems? Even national defense and prisons get partly outsourced to private entities.

    Also would point out Somoa has been devastated by the application of America’s minimum wage to their economy

    [citation needed]

  • Turcano

     You know that that’s only true because StarKist makes up a full third of the territory’s economy, right?  That gives the company monopsonistic* power over labor.

    *While a monopoly has disproportionate power over an economy due to the fact that it is the only seller of a given good or service and can dictate the price at which it is willing to sell, the reverse is also true; a single buyer also has disproportionate power, since it can dictate what price at which it is willing to buy.  This is called a monopsony.  In either case, the closer a company is to being a true monopoly/monopsony, the stronger this power is.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LaPGIIAyk4  

    Peter Schiff discusses it here. The comments are interesting. 

    Obama, to his credit, has signed into law a bill freezing the minimum wage there. They had been increasing it in 50 cent increments. 

    centralization of power leads to monopolies by the state on services,wether it is postal service (daily mail) or roads and whatnot. good job getting the correct answer though.

  • Lori

    centralization of power leads to monopolies by the state on
    services,wether it is postal service (daily mail) or roads and whatnot.
    good job getting the correct answer though.  

    You wouldn’t know the right answer on anything related to economics if it bit you on the ass. We’ve discussed the postal service and roads with you in the past, in detail. You clearly still don’t get it.

    You are of course free to go on congratulating yourself for how clever you are, but if you want anyone to agree with you, as opposed to laugh at your total lack of self-awareness, you need to find other folks to with whom to share your “insights”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino
  • EllieMurasaki

    $9.80/hr…still not a living wage. Better, but not good enough. And even if we assume that it is perfectly okay to pay someone under living wage if their spouse is also employed, all that’s gonna do is end up with couples where the household income is twice minimum wage, which, unsurprisingly, does not add up to a household income of enough for two people to live on.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    DINKs making a combined $19.60 an hour is not livable? That’s $3136 a month before taxes, equivalent to an annual income of $40,768.00

    I punched that into the tax calculator and
    found that equates to $3000 something take-home per month. Let’s assume that’s an
    overestimate and call it $2700 take-home.

    One bedroom: $500-1000 a month in most non-insane real estate markets
    Utilities: $300
    Car: $300
    Food: $500

    $2700 – $2100 = $600 left over.

    You’re telling me having $600 free and clear every month is living on the ragged edge of poverty? (-_-) I’d love to come out ahead that far of the game.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Gas, health insurance, car insurance, toilet paper, however the party who doesn’t have the car for the day gets to and from work…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Car insurance was factored into the car cost, as was gasoline and set-asides for maintenance.

    I keep forgetting about health insurance, but for the sake of argument assume it’s $100 a month in premiums for a married couple. Not exactly breakin’ the bank here.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My $6000 car has a payment of $252 a month, insurance $63 and I’m pretty sure it’s only that low because it’s my share of my family’s rather than mine alone. If you’re figuring that they own their car free and clear, and also they only need one car to get both people to both jobs, okay, you win. But I am not convinced that those are reasonable assumptions to make.

  • Daughter

     Are you thinking like a Canadian when it comes to health insurance premiums? Because I currently work at a job that pays the health insurance premiums  for only employees, not their family members, at 100%. You can buy into the policy for family members, but you have to pay 100%. The health insurer is a nonprofit, member-owned plan, so they’re one of the good guys on the market.

    My husband works as a contractor, and so is uninsured. For me to add him to my plan, paying 100% of the premium, it would cost me $960 a month. Plus, he’d still have $20 copays for doctor visits and a $500 a year annual deductible.   Plus, he is a diabetic, and he wouldn’t be able to get treated for his diabetes for the first nine months on the plan. Again, note that this is a good plan. Not surprisingly, he remains uninsured. (He qualifies for the ACA high-risk pool in our state, but that’s at $579 a month premiums, with a $4000 annual deductible. Still too much for our budget).

    So basically, my husband visits a clinic that has sliding scale payments, and pays out of pocket for his medications. And we pray nothing bad happens to him.

    To add my healthy 7-year-old daughter (who is currently covered by SCHIP, but that will end in a few months) will cost me an additional $230 a month.  And she’s a child. $100 a month for an adult? Are you kidding?

  • Daughter

    Re-reading your post, I see you allotted about $100 for health insurance for the couple, not just for one adult. That’s even more preposterous.

    Not picking on you, Neutrino. Just pointing out that the costs you estimate are way off base.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I should have caught that. My monthly health insurance expense is $26, which probably explains why I didn’t. (But then I am on the state health plan, which is fabulous and also not available to your generic minimum wage worker.)

  • Daughter

     Wow, lucky you! Even when I was single, my health insurance premiums were a couple hundred a month, and since I’ve been married 11 years, that was more than a decade ago – costs have gone up a lot since then.

    At my last job, I could cover my family, but even then, our health insurance was $10,000 a year, of which my company paid $4000; the other $6000 came out of my paycheck.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You’re seriously telling me a healthy young working couple is going to pay $200 a month in health insurance premiums? Without any employer-provided insurance? Come on. The guy I knew of who paid $310 a month for himself was a guy in his 50s with one heart attack behind him already.

  • Daughter

    Yes, I’m telling you that. I’ve already told you what my family has paid. When I was health, single, in my 20’s, during the prosperous 1990’s, I paid $180 a month for health insurance. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I just poked ehealthinsurance.com for me married to me in my current zip code, nonsmoker, not college student, no other questions asked by this estimator, and the cheapest plan for this couple is $167 a month. I’m not bothering looking into how much it does (or, more likely, doesn’t) cover.

  • Daughter

     Do you think there would be so many uninsured people in the U.S. if people could obtain insurance for $50/month? Yes, that would still be too steep for some, but many currently uninsured people could afford it.

  • P J Evans

     Yes. It runs about $400 a month at my place, if you sign up for Major Non-Profit Less-Evil plan. The other is less expensive, but it’s Evil. And that’swithoutchildren.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Turcano- The point is Somoa is screwed up now because of that decision made in Washington. The marianas islands are all but abandoned as well. 

    If we were to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour different things happen here, we don’t all work at tuna canning places, but the results would be similar.  it’s not to say we need to have people making 10 cents an hour, just that if you alter the prices too much there are generally bad consequences. 

    I doubt anyone who worked at Sun Kist in Somoa cares abuot the “monopsony” the company had. They certainly don’t now. If you read the coments in that thread, they are practically calling for secession.
      
    Kevinc- “The jobs are “high-paying” precisely because not every virtuous person can do them.  If every virtuous person could do them, “market forces” would put downward pressure on the salaries.”

    I totally agree with that. yay! 

    “We keep “the market” “free” by having a referee called “government” that works to keep the players from cheating, and a “reset button” called “progressive taxation” that (ought to) work in a similar manner to the reset button that gets hit after the final game of each World Series.”

    I don’t agree with that. Yes the government exists to prosecute fraud and enforce contracts and whatnot.  What kind of referee is allowed to take bribes from the teas owners to give them a guy pitching underhand to them at the World Series? Or what referee would last 5 seconds if he decided to consult the manager on one of the teams to make a call? So the analogy breaks down. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you saying that jobs that everyone can hypothetically do ought to be paid so little that no one can live on the money from that full-time job alone, because anyone can do that job?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Note: My post was edited since it landed in your inbox.

  • Turcano

    The results of raising the minimum wage here would not have similar effects than in Samoa because one company does not employ one third of our work force.  To have the same power that StarKist (not Sun Kist,  my mistake) has in Samoa, there would need to be a single company that employs 50 million people.  If that were the case, the HR decisions from an increase in the minimum wage would indeed wreak havoc on the national economy, but it isn’t.  No company comes even close to that, certainly not one in any position to outsource or downsize to any significant degree (at least any more than they already have).

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Turcano – I said the dislocations would be different here than in Somoa because of the nature of the two economies.  The unemployment rate would go up though.  If you raised theMin wage to 15 dollars wal MArt could afford it probably but most other places couldn’t. Wal Marts prices would likely go up too, which isn’t too good for the people who shop there.

    Ellie- Yes there are jobs that are not worth enough that the person doing them can live off them. I pretty much have one of them. Luckily most full time jobs pay better but OUTLAWING my job wouldn’t help me any.

    KevinC-  Also, baseball players don’t command high salaries because baseball stadiums are often built with taxpayer dollars.  The taxpayers or their representitives agree to build the stadium because they feel it’s mutually beneficial.  There is some debate on wether it really is. The rate is based on the guys performance and the ticket sales and whatnot. and people eat at really good restaurant because they are good, not because the chef went to an expensive school. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    No one’s talking about outlawing your job, fuckwit. We’re talking about making sure that anyone who works forty hours a week at your job can live for a week on that week’s pay without going short on any of the necessities. (You deliver packages, right? That is a job without which commerce would shut the fuck down, and even if we exclude from consideration the fact that you deserve to make a living at what you do for a living, you deserve more than you’re getting precisely because what you do is so necessary. The fact that anybody with a driver’s license can do what you do shouldn’t matter.)

  • Turcano

    The modern “consensus” of academic literature on the subject is that increasing the minimum wage has, at worst, a very minor negative impact on employment.  And this negative impact can be offset with initiatives like better unemployment insurance.  This also assumes that costs aren’t passed on to the consumer, and under that scenario, costs go up less than half as much as wages do.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Probably not safe to assume costs won’t be passed on to the consumer. Which is why I want to peg minimum wage to the consumer price index, such that if prices go up then minimum wage will follow, and minimum wage will always be enough to live on given the prices of everything at last recalculation, which will never be more than a year ago. Hopefully businesses will realize that lower profits are better than an inflationary spiral, and any that start by passing costs to the consumer will therefore stop.

  • P J Evans

     Actually, businesses might discover that they do better when people are paid enough to live on – people will be able to buy stuff new, or go out to dinner at a restaurant instead of a fast-food place.
    I hate the assumption that money vanishes from the economy when the paycheck is delivered.

  • Carstonio

     I hate that assumption as well, as well as the related assumption that money disappears from the economy when the government collects and spends it. I get the impression that recessions are simply reduced mobility of money.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think that’s the definition of ‘recession’, actually.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s the case, but it wouldn’t be instantaneous, and (assuming most debtors use the additional money to pay off debts first) probably wouldn’t even show up in the same quarter as the rules change. You know businesses are all about the quarterly reports.

  • Turcano

    In fairness, I did go over both, and the most likely scenario is a combination of the two.  But again, this is a response to the notion that minimum wage irreparably damages the economy with its dreaded socialism.

  • Daughter

    And speaking of cars: my husband and I both need our cars to get to and from work. Our cars are 19 years and 10 years old, respectively. We no longer have car payments (thank God), but given the age of our cars, they require frequent maintenance. We usually spend about $200 a month on maintenance.

    Add to that gas (about $200/month for my husband, who has a long commute, and about $80/month for me); $153 for insurance ($9o for the newer car, $63 for the older); and about $120/year for registration fees/excise taxes.  That’s  $643 a month we’re paying for transportation.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    We usually spend about $200 a month on maintenance.

    Unless you mean amortizing the cost of a yearly $1000 repair, if your mechanic is hitting you up for this much every oil change, you’re probably being seriously ripped off.

    I am a little bit agog at the notion that healthy young people have to pay as much or more than the cost of car insurance for their health insurance. O_O

  • Daughter

     I don’t mean we spend $200 every month, but when we need repairs, they’re expensive, so yes, that’s the average of what we spend over the year. Our cars are old, and both cars have more than 168,000 miles on them (among other thing, the newer car carried us cross country).

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    The whole reason my job exists is because I can work cheaper than the guys at other places who have uniforms, vans, health insurance etc.  

    Even if it were  just sheer greed on their part, if they can live with themselves theres nothing we can do. You can’t legistlate morality.  

    and what I do or they do isn’t neccesary. If people couldn’t order cheap stuff online they could get it in stores. It’s just products. A special toaster for hot dogs isn’t neccesary I can bring you one of those though.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    And how would the products get to the stores without people driving around trucks full of boxes?

    You are a person. You are alive. You deserve, at the absolute bare minimum, enough to keep you alive without struggle. This includes sufficient food, shelter, health care, toilet paper, it’s a long list. (For clarity’s sake, the list of things you need includes an allowance–it can be tiny but it must be there–for things that you enjoy doing.) We do not as a culture like the idea of people who are able to work being able to live without working (though oddly this applies more to poor folk than folk who can live off their investments); therefore the job you do for a living needs to pay you enough for you to live on. Whatever the job is.

    It happens that the job you do, though simple, is vital; your pay should include your fair share of the profit that your work brings your company, instead of being calculated only by the intersection between the least you’ll take and the most they want to give, with the fact that you are easily replaced by someone less demanding used to force you to accept less than you need.

    (I seem to have a higher opinion of Chris Hadrick than Chris Hadrick does. There is something wrong with this picture.)

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “(I seem to have a higher opinion of Chris Hadrick than Chris Hadrick does. There is something wrong with this picture.)”

    haha  

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m dead serious. I’m arguing on two fronts that you deserve enough money to live on, and you’re arguing on both fronts that you don’t. I must think more of you than you do. It doesn’t make sense but it’s the only explanation that fits the facts.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X