Michael D. Higgins defending the minimum wage (and human dignity along with it).

He’s done it before, and apparently that was not a one-time shot.  Here’s another great clip of Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins.  Even his name is delightfully Irish.

Compare to Mitt Romney, or even our current President, to get a good glimpse at how politics in this country has lost any resemblance to humanity, and any of the passion that the privilege to govern should produce.  I want a candidate to be as angry as me.  I don’t want them talking about the suffering of anyone in calm, measured tones – I want them livid at the injustice.

Dear Ireland, what are the odds we could get your President in exchange for Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and a few draft picks?

  • http://timothy.green.name Timothy (TRiG)

    Now that was powerful stuff!

    TRiG.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com Enopoletus Harding

    I don’t see how price controls on labor can be (much less are) in any way helpful for economic growth.

    • MichaelD

      Directly they aren’t its about giving people a wage they can live off of support them selves and their families. To have money to spend on the economy, on houses, food, healthcare ( in some places), helping their children get an education, luxuries etc. Since when did economic growth become the only metric. If you could supercharge economic growth by turning the bottom 10% of your population into slaves with no salary and just the most basic necessities of life provided would that make it the right thing to do?

      • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com Enopoletus Harding

        But what about those who are insufficiently skilled to be hired by employers who pay such a wage? Will those workers be left in a state of unemployment? There’s a reason the chief executive of Wal-Mart supported an increase in the minimum wage (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/25/AR2005102501724_pf.html)-Wal-Mart could afford to pay the increased wage. Other employers could not.

        • MichaelD

          That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the company if it’s not making enough money to pay its employees a decent wage. I’m also not convinced its a zero sum gain where paying employees more doesn’t mean more money being spent at stores etc. I also hope that 2005 article is really out of date cause the minimum wage in my part of Canada is twice the $5.15 stated there.

    • John Horstman

      They combat the artificial oversupply that is necessarily the result of an unregulated labor market. Because profit is a function of revenue minus costs, because buying labor is a cost, because the cost of labor is a function of relative supply and demand of labor, it only makes sense to even approach 100% employment (or demand beyond 100%) in industries where other factors are limiting the supply or the end product such that it’s well below the demand for it (so the price is significantly higher than the cost of production – 100% employment in a segment of the labor market that serves the production of a given good or service will dramatically increase wages which will rapidly outstrip any increased profit from more goods being sold on anything where the profit margin isn’t well larger than the increased labor cost). This is generally not the case with most products and thus most labor pools, so establishing price controls for labor allows for market stability that wouldn’t exist otherwise, which is in turn necessary for a debt-driven market like the one we have (lending tightens up in periods of economic upheaval, like the past four years, often resulting in a vicious cycle for a debt-driven economy).

      In addition to the necessary stability, giving money to those with the least (establishing a minimum wage) stimulates growth more quickly as this group puts money right back into market circulation (and then some – a guaranteed, steady wage gives individual workers the stability they need to take out loans, further powering the debt-economy and expanding economic volume). That’s the short version, though I don’t think it really matters, since paying people a living wage is simply an ethical necessity.

      • John Horstman

        limiting the supply or the end product

        That should read, “…supply of the end product…”

      • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com Enopoletus Harding

        giving money to those with the least (establishing a minimum wage)

        -A minimum wage is a barrier against entry into the labor market for insufficiently-skilled workers. Welfare is giving money to those with the least.

        • Gingerbaker

          And child labor laws are a “barrier” against full family employment.

          And 40-hour work weeks are a “barrier” against full productivity.

          And anti-slavery laws are a “barrier” against states rights.

          And environmental protection laws are a “barrier” against entrepreneurial creativity.

        • Azkyroth

          Are you fucking serious?

          No one on earth is insufficiently skilled to EARN $10 an hour. Except maybe the spoiled spawn of robber-barons.

  • Baal

    @Enopoletus Harding, You’re also assuming that low wage workers have the ability to bargin for their wage. That’s not usually true. The poor have the hardest time moving, for example. This means they are over the barrel in negotiations. Employers often have additional powers that the could use to extract wage concessions.

    Also, economic growth isn’t necessarily the primary goal that will maximize human flourishing. Most European countries and the US have more than enough resources that noone should want for food, housing or health care. I’m far from convinced that mere econ growth can provide them. The economy doubled since 1980 but 80% of the amassed wealth went to the top 5%. In other words, rather than getting an equal share (in the 1980′s) the poor and middle classes got shafted.

    @ JT, excellent clip. I wholly agree with having passion. I can’t image such a strong liberal position be enunciated in the US. Notice that he didn’t use violent rhetoric (aside from a battering ram aimed at income).

  • iknklast

    Send ‘em Tim Tebow. And Michael Vick. We could do with a little less of both of ‘em.

    • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com Aoife

      If that’s all you have to offer, then no way are you getting our Michael D. I’m not sure there’s a price on getting to walk into a ballot box and vote for that guy.

  • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com Aoife

    Well, we claimed Obama years ago when we figured out he has family from Offaly. As for the others? You gotta be kidding me!

  • smrnda

    I’ve heard the idea that minimum wage is going to stop employers from hiring ‘the least skilled’ workers. However, seriously, how little should anyone doing useful work make? It doesn’t take much skill to bag groceries, and I’m sure if the store could pay those people less they would. Minimum wage keeps money in the pocket of the worker, where it will be spent on things that actually create jobs, instead of putting it into the pocket of the shareholder who is going to ship the jobs off to China or fire half the workforce and then demand the remaining half work twice as hard after a serious paycut. The people who are having trouble finding work are probably no less skilled than the people working.

    The idea that minimum wage is a barrier of entry is ignoring a few facts. First, employers don’t hire any more people than absolutely necessary. I’m working for a profitable business. In a year we hired one person – just because you’re making money doesn’t mean you are going to just go out and hire people, you only hire people when the extra person is going to help you make more money. Employers hire in response to consumer demand, and low wages produce lots of consumers with no money to spend. The other thing is that employers would always want to pay you less. I don’t think that employers paying minimum wage are paying their workers low wages because they’re unable to pay them more – plenty of them are pretty profitable – how much value does the minimum wage worker generate from working for their employer?

    If employers could drop wages, they would do it in a heartbeat. We’ve seen this happen since minimum wage is weaker than it used to be, and ‘middle class’ incomes aren’t what they use to be. As businesses gut wages, they’re cutting consumer demand, which in turn lowers more wages and guts more jobs since nobody is spending money. You get a 1% on top who own practically everything and then your economy goes nowhere since all the money is being made on consolidating ownership and squeezing the workers for even more concessions.

    • Azkyroth

      You get a 1% on top who own practically everything and then your economy goes nowhere since all the money is being made on consolidating ownership and squeezing the workers for even more concessions.

      But that’s the POINT.

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