Erick Erickson and St. Peter

Erick Erickson and St. Peter September 6, 2014

Erick Erickson Declares Minimum Wage Workers are “Mostly People Who Failed At Life”

No.  Really.
And then he doubles down here.

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig remarks:

Remember when it used to be good enough for conservatives that people were doing honest work? Not anymore. You have now “failed at life” if you work for minimum wage and try to secure better working conditions for yourself. The devil owns Erickson’s tongue, but I’ve said that for a long time.

For a sense of what Abraham, in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man called the “great chasm” between this gospel of mammon and the actual gospel of Jesus Christ, consider this:

A thirty year old manual laborer, unmarried, living at home with his mom till he started wandering around talking about religion, with no place to lay his head, and so poor he has to borrow a coin when somebody asks him a question about paying taxes. Hangs around with whores and parasitic government bureaucrats who bleed hardworking people dry. Demands productive commandment-obeying citizens give away their hard-earned money to “the poor”. Yet when one of his own female groupies wastes a bunch of ointment on him and flatters his vanity, this limousine liberal has no use for their plight. Preaches dangerous kumbayah turn-the-other cheek garbage that would leave the people of his country prostrate before illegal alien invaders, instead of calling for second amendment rights and strong military budget. Yet he hypocritically goes on some kind of violent rampage against distinguished business leaders in the community while respectable people are trying to pray. Says class war stuff like “Blessed are you poor” and “woe to you who are rich” and tells nasty stories about shiftless street people going to heaven and Job Creators going to hell. This peace-and-lovenik gins up a mob of Takers against the Makers by calling them “blind guides” and “whited sepulchres”. Is it any surprise this dodgy loser then runs afoul of the law, poses as some kind of revolutionary leader and suffers capital punishment for treason as good conservatives demand he should? Total failure in life.

Tying somebody’s value and worthiness to live to their economic productivity (which is what “minimum wage workers are failures in life” means) is *precisely* what undergirds the whole “life unworthy of being lived” ethos that authorizes everything from exterminations of “useless eaters” to the abortion of “unwanted” children to the euthanasia of people who “no longer have a place in this life”. I don’t use language like “satanic” lightly, but I do here without hesitation. Erickson, of course, is not a Catholic and therefore cannot be held to the standards of the fullness of the gospel. But Catholics are Catholic and *must* be held to the standards of the full gospel. And I have already been instructed by “faithful conservative Catholics” that Erickson’s language is all perfectly compatible with “conservative Catholicism”.

That may be so. But it is not in the slightest compatible with Catholic faith. I used to be a convert from Evangelicalism to conservative Catholicism. Now I consider myself a convert from conservative Catholicism to the Catholic faith. I’m sick of cafeteria Catholicism, both left and right. I prefer All You Can Eat Catholicism–including “blessed are you poor” and “woe to you who are rich”.

And I regard it as my duty to say so:

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman; and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; then if any one who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes, and takes any one of them; that man is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way; he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life. (Eze 33:1–9).

On the bright side, Erickson’s conscience does appear to be pricking him:

In the past several months there have been three incidents that have solidified for me that my faith and my politics are starting to collide. While I am a firm believer in the idea of a conservative populism, I see a dangerous trend within the mix of unfortunate shrillness and hostility. That trend is playing out in the comments here at RedState and on social media.

To start, Christian conservatives were roundly assailed by other conservatives for daring to provide aid and comfort to children whose parents had shipped them across the border. Some could not distinguish between giving a child a teddy bear and supporting Mexican drug cartels. It was all one or all the other. In fact, many Christians, myself included, want expedited deportations and a secure border. But we also want to make sure the children, some victims of human trafficking, were taken care of, fed, and comforted.

But to some on the right, that is aiding law breakers. The anger and hysteria directed at conservativesengaged in private charity had all the makings of a leftist police state making us care about how wechoose to spend our own money.

The second was bringing Dr. Brantly and his co-worker back to the United States. The number of angry calls into my radio program from well meaning conservatives, comments across social media, opinion columns, agreement thereto, etc. really boggled my mind. Here are two Americans risking their lives to help others and we are supposed to turn our back on them, leave them there, or criticize their decision to go in the first place? That’s not the America I know or love. The level of outright anger, fear, and bitterness over the decision to take care of American citizens and the lack of knowledge and understanding that formed the foundation for the anger, fear, and bitterness really left me wondering what is going on.

The last is the present situation in Ferguson, MO. The rush to win a fight and lay blame instead of mourning a loss and praying for a situation just leaves me perplexed. The rush to “change the narrative” with bad facts to replace bad facts by some folks who keep the ichthys on their car unsettles me.

I’m a conservative before I’m a Republican. I was once even an elected Republican. But before I’m a father or husband, I am a Christian.

That Erickson must increase and Social Darwinist Erickson must decrease.  Not many in the conservative commentariat have had the moxie to stick their head this far outside the bubble. If Peter can go from speaking divine revelation to uttering the words of Satan, this guy can certainly ride the same whipsaw. So I think we owe him our prayers that he continue to listen to his conscience and stop mouthing the inhuman platitudes of the prince of this world. If he’s in the EIB bubble, he’s under enormous pressure to conform and will require a lot of grace to break with the inhuman cult of the Thing That Used to be Conservatism in its Limbavian manifestations to find the freedom of the gospel. Let us pray he find the grace to not go away sad, having many possessions, but rather to embace the fullness of the revelation of Christ and defy this inhuman philosophy of men that seeks to supplant the gospel.

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  • Dan13

    “I don’t use language like “satanic” lightly, but I do here without hesitation.”

    I think that’s actually the apt term. When Jesus went out to the desert and fasted, the devil presented him with three temptations. I think they can be summed as money, power, and pride. If one tries to live by bread alone and judges another’s worth on bread alone then isn’t that person’s thinking–on strictest terms–satanic?

    Oh, would you mind linking to Ms. Breunig’s remarks? (I like her writing).

    • chezami

      It was on Facebook.

      • Dan13

        Thanks.

  • Peggy

    Only 6% of hourly wage earners earn wages as low as minimum wage, according to BLS stats from 2010, cited by Charles Murray in “Coming Apart.”

    These 30 year olds still at McDonalds that Erickson writes about are often unskilled adult immigrants. Also, they are likely unmarried mothers. Marriage would solve a lot of poverty and low-income problems in the U.S. One might argue these adults are taking teens’ jobs. Further, many won’t take promotions to mgr b/c they will lose public aid benefits, it has been reported. Poor people are not necessarily saints, even if they may be seen as victims of greedy corporate America.

    There are problems of (1) lack of better jobs for adults as (skilled) laborers in the economy and (2) too many immigrants, legal and illegal, taking the unskilled jobs and accepting lower wages than Americans would. Increasing the burden on employers won’t help in this economy right now. Curtailing immigration, legal and illegal, would help a great deal.

    We are not understanding that min wage jobs are for unskilled “first job” people, teens. Those kids don’t need to support a family or pay a mortgage or rent too often. The IL gov whom I don’t like (pro-gay and pro-abort Cath) had an idea of a “living wage” for adults…Interesting….It is better than raising min wage for teens too. They don’t need it.

    • Elaine S.

      “Marriage would solve a lot of poverty and low-income problems in the U.S.”

      Ironically, however, it’s the poor and working class who are least likely to marry, even when they have children, because they believe they “can’t afford” it. That can be interpreted several ways: they “can’t afford” to have a big formal wedding (a problem that can be easily overcome, even with a Church wedding); they “can’t afford” to combine two individual households into a single one (even though many are already doing so because they are cohabiting); or they “can’t afford” to take the risk of a future divorce and child custody dispute (a big concern for men, and not without reason).

      Of course, it’s good to have completed your education and have a reasonably stable job before marrying and starting a family, but sometimes I think our culture places such relentless emphasis on having EVERYTHING perfectly in place and planned for before you even consider marriage, that it’s come to be seen as a privilege or luxury reserved for the well-off. The notion that two young 20-somethings could marry while attending college and live in a one-room apartment is seen as totally insane and foolish today, but it was common in the era of the Greatest Generation and early Baby Boomers.

      • Peggy

        This is largely a failure of Catholic and other Christian (or general moral) formation in our society. Raising children alone is more costly financially, emotionally, psychologically and culturally, etc., than in a marriage. We need to raise our children to expect to marry. One need not obtain a college degree to support a family. A skilled laborer position can pay decently.

        All that said, I guess I should say I don’t endorse Erickson’s words here re: adults at retail or restaurant jobs.

        • Marthe Lépine

          I wonder… Would the exploitation of workers at slave wages also be be blamed on a failure of Catholic and other Christian (moral) formation in your society? The term “morality” does cover more than sexual matters.

          • Benjamin2.0

            All hail the proletariat! Praise him with your substance-free, mindless assertions!

            • Marthe Lépine

              Thank you for the insult. Recourse to name-calling is not a valid argument. I will pray for you too.

              • Benjamin2.0

                Sooooo, telling Peggy that “”morality” does cover more than sexual matters” was wrong, too, right? If I’m going down, I’m takin’ you with me. That’s why I said what I said to begin with. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then a trap of letters is more dangerous than a trap of iron.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  I don’t get your meaning here… And I’ll get back to an earlier reply of yours later. but I an “feel” now that you are losing your temper, just go for a walk and relax a little, it’s bad for your heart.

                • Peggy

                  Ben, it is best to move on. We are not on the same page as Marthe.

                  Godspeed Marthe. Please consider reading some of the documentation I mentioned or other economic literature to inform further. It is not against Catholic teaching to consult economic literature. We are not anti-science or research. Yes, though, we are called to act morally in all areas of our lives.

      • HornOrSilk

        Of course, back then, one person could have a job which would pay them enough to live off of. Not anymore.

        • Benjamin2.0

          Oy! My wife and I just finished doing that. We haven’t exactly been eating caviar, mind you.

        • AquinasMan

          What we’ve gained in hyper-productivity, we’ve lost in our human relationships … all of our cheap toys are a Pyrrhic victory in the reality of broken families, scant religious faith, and the idolatry of all things “me”.

      • IRVCath

        The problem is our commercial society tells young working people that a wedding MUST be all big and expensive and formal (to keep wedding planners In business). Can you blame them for being misled and acting according to their ignorance?

        • Marthe Lépine

          Oe of the nicest wedding receptions I attended took place in the bride and groom’s backyard patio, with a summer buffet and one of their friends playing the accordion… Cost next to nothing, no fancy clothes, just good friends, a bit of wine and pleasant conversations.

        • Peggy

          So, demand for weddings drops when the price of weddings increases. Econ 101 at work.

          Actually, I think that’s a poor excuse not to marry and do the right thing. Where are their parents, clergy, schools, other society leaders/adults teaching the importance fo mariage to society and their own personal lives….Ok. I know.

          I don’t think it’s the cost of weddings. It’s the lack of teaching of marriage and family.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Interestig… Now you claim Economics 101 in order to support an argument against something you disagree with. Suppose I said that Econ 101 is a poor excuse not to pay a living wage and/or to support the so-called right (maybe a legal right, but not a moral right, by the way) of corporations to pay slave wages?

            • Peggy

              Well, I didn’t say that people were not getting married b/c weddings are too expensive. If that is true, it is demand response to an increase in price. I say people are not getting married b/c it’s not being taught to them as their responsibility. Further, the welfare state discourages marriage and encourages out of wedlock births. It lets men off the hook.

              • Marthe Lépine

                True, but don’t blame the victims..

                • Peggy

                  Are lower income people victims? Do they have no responsibility for themselves? The children they create? When do people have to take responsibility for themselves? When? Do you think they’re too stupid? Incapable of making life decisions and thinking through consequences? So we don’t judge them? The poor are as responsible for themselves as any one else is for himself.

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    Sure, but this is not a reason to maintain that they should remain poor, if the main cause of their poverty is the absence of a living wage. Plus: Even if some people are poor because of bad decisions, their children are not yet responsible for those choices. If you keep pushing that argument, the conclusion could easily become an argument in favour of abortion. Many lower income people are victims, whether you want to accept it or not. Of course, some are not. I know that you like to argue that the main cause of poverty is lack of marriage, but there still are a lot of other reasons, many of which are not because of a lack of responsibility on the part of the poor. So, again, we are going to have to agree to the fact that we totally disagree…

                    • Peggy

                      Stop. Really. No one has advocated that poor people must remain poor. Public aid, however, ensures that. Thus, I oppose the extended safety net. I have suggested many ways a man (or woman) could increase his wages by working his way into higher skilled work. I haven’t discussed their children…???

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Sorry, but none of what you just said does justify not advocating a just, living wage, whatever the actual task done. Not everyone can work their way into higher skilled work while, for example, working long hours at slave wages that are insufficient to simply survive, and some even have to work at 2 jobs just to survive. In addition, there is a tendency, for example at Walmart, to keep people working part time so they cannot get any benefits. In theory, that should allow a person to do things such as apprentice in another field, or go to school part time, etc. But maybe it is too costly for what they can earn at a part time. And that is only a few examples among other. And I am sure that it would not be difficult to find more. Some of your claims do sound as if you are actually blaming the poor for not doing enough to get themselves out of poverty.

                    • Peggy

                      You are welcome to advocate a “living wage”. Employers’ needs and the impact on overall employment and the price level must be considered, however. True, not every one can improve their position. But, I don’t think most people are incapable of learning. It is a matter of proper use of our God given talents, etc. We all have to face externals we can’t control such as good or bad economy. We all have to work with the skills and opportunites we’re given. We all have a responsibility to make the most of our lives. (I’m not into self-actualization here, but being productive). So, to some extent, yes, people bear responsibility for the conditions of their lives, given the externals. Not every one would be rich.

                      I’ve got a family to tend to. Sayanara.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Yes, there are many ways for people to work their ways into higher skilled and paid work. But there are also many obstacles and hurdles, and people have different levels of skills and capacity to learn and change. True, you are making good suggestions, but by always insisting that people should pull themselves by their own bootstraps, you sound as you are blaming the poor for being poor. Maybe it is not what you actually want to say, but it just sounds like it.

      • jroberts548

        In fact, a lot of them can’t afford it because of the way we means test programs. Two unmarried parents are eligible for more benefits (EITC, WIC, SNAP) than two married parents. The government is literally paying the poor not to get married.

    • HornOrSilk

      Just more spin. There are more and more people being pushed to those min wage jobs, or barely above min wage (which your “analysis” ignores). And they often do have skills. But they might have had things like a work force which fires older people, looking for jobs in a market which only hires younger people. The skills are ignored, seen as “old.” Out with the old, in with the new, making older people with skills seen as “worthless.”

      Also there is the fact that jobs used to hire and train people. Now you are expected to train yourself, taking a lot of risk with expenses, hoping to get a job only to find many others did the same training, so making for greater competition and lower paying jobs (yet with more debts). You really have no clue to the real world, and the struggles people have due to the greed of the employers and rhetoric like yours just finds a way to ignore that reality.

      • Peggy

        I am a woman with 3 degrees, 2 special needs kids, working at subst teaching to bring in extra money and remain available to my kids. Crap ass money. My huz IT field is flooded with H1B visa labor who will work for much less, with just enough skill. Employers don’t want to pay for experience. His nominal salary is what it was 10 years ago. Our costs have gone up dramatically. Cheap immigrant labor is hurting Americans at all skill levels.

        I did say that adults are taking low skill work b/c of the dearth of higher skill jobs and competition from immiigrants. Read my post.

        And of course the new Obamacare regs and many little regs here and there on businesses inhibit their ability to employ more people.

        What I did not post is that it is basic Econ 101 that, when the min wage rises, employment level drops. If the level of employment is to be maintained or losses mitigated, retail prices must go up. They may anyway. Fast food will no longer be cheap food. Even high priced restaurants will increase prices as they run on similar wage schedules. Businesses will fold. No one will be working.

        Additionally, many markets, ie, NYC or DC, in higher cost regions of the country demand that workers earn much more than min wage in order to accept the positions. These people employed at McD’s etc are obviously living somewhere and getting meals somewhere.

        We have a terrible unemployment situation. Raising the min wage will only exacerbate it. It will also cause skilled labor to demand wage increases to maintain the gap between skilled and unskilled wages. It is a vicious cycle. Obama is good at riling up the “malcontents” and creating new ones.

        • HornOrSilk

          Always nice to see people who think slave labor jobs is the answer. Seriously, you still have it all so wrong. Yes, we have a terrible unemployment situation, but the answer is not a downward spiral of competition for the few jobs, making employers capable of paying less because of the number of people needing jobs. The whole problem is systematic, from the greed of the employers, to technological changes which make the 19th century ideology of work incapable of working.

          • IRVCath

            And how do you know that the immigrant laborers are unskilled? My father was one of those H1B visa IT laborers, and he has an engineering degree, and years of IT experience before coming to this country. Many immigrants of that sort are skilled in their field, it’s just that there are not enough jobs in the old country commensurate with their skill level.

            • Peggy

              Not all immigrants are unskilled. I think I said at all skill levels they are harming American wages and employment..

              • Marthe Lépine

                And you blame them? They are just trying to make a living, like anyone else. It is the people who choose to hire them at lower wages who are harming American wages and employment…

                • Peggy

                  I blame govt for letting them in depressing US wages and increasing unemployment.

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    Again, you should blame the people who choose to employ them at lower wages. My personal opinion is that, instead of blaming the immigrants, who are actually our brothers and sisters in Christ, we should bring back support for unions, since then it would re-balance the power between employers and workers and help correct some of those injustices without the need of bringing more government regulations… Since our Church teaches both, that workers have a right to get together to improve their lot, and, second, that it is a function of government to ensure justice…

                    • Peggy

                      Have at it. I won’t be joining you. Unions caused much manufacturing to leave the US.

                      I did not blame the immigrants. Please read. Immigrants are very happy to get the lower end of a US salary range given where many come from.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      No, it is not unions that caused much manufacturing to leave the US.The greed of manufacturers caused manufacturing to leave the US. Manufacturers who did not want to pay living wages, and preferred slave wages, chose to leave the US, all for the sake of their already wealthy shareholders. AS I have often said, human beings are the ones who chose to not pay living wages to their employees, and there is no valid reason to support their decisions.

                    • Peggy

                      That’s your opinion. Unions obtained greater than “slave wages” for their members. Families were being supported on union wages. Unions got greedy. Leadership failed the membership. Today it’s all about lining leadership’s pockets. US auto industry is text book story. Ford did a good job of reigning in unions and did not need bailout that GM and Chrysler begged for a few years back…what a mess that turned into. Obama gave the farm to unions. Another topic for another day.

                      Average Americans are shareholders in many companies. They’re not rich. They are middle class people (and union members at some companies) with 401ks or retirement plans invested in traded companies or mutual funds and the like.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Then we can agree to disagree. Sure, unions are not perfect. But neither are corporations. Both types of organizations are led by human beings. But of course, the employers will have more respect, therefore the flaws of the unions are going to be emphasized… Never forget one thing: workers have a right to form associations, that we now call unions, according to teaching from the Catholic church that goes back more than a century ago. The first unions in Quebec were inn fact founded with the encouragement of Catholic bishops. Union-bashing is of course an important weapon of the political right, but it does go against our Church’s teaching…

                    • Peggy

                      You only see things through a particular political lens. I have not objected to Catholic social teaching, which does not require particular policy prescriptions to aid the poor by a government. We are as individuals and church members to help the poor–and perform the other works of mercy to those around us. I think we need to understand the teaching of economics before we go full boar into policy ideas that are often these days shown to have been ineffective in the US.

                      I have not said corporations are always good or better than unions. I have little beef with the working man. Yes, their ability to organize helped establish many now accepted standards for employees’ rights. The union leadership today are a different story. (Union leadership has always been suspect what with possible communist and organized crime links and influences.)

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      The Pope himself has said that private charity is not enough,even if it is the part of the social teaching that you would prefer to emphasize. Workers are entitled to justice, and governments have a responsibility to work at ensuring the common good, e.g. justice for all. The Church social teaching requires more than charity and the works of mercy, it requires justice. Yes, we are, as individuals and church members, to help the poor, but that is not the same thing as working for justice, which we are at least supposed to support, if we are not in a position to do it directly. And to support the work for justice means that we cannot always support and agree with unfair economic situations to the detriment of a just wage for workers.

          • Peggy

            How did I say this: “Always nice to see people who think slave labor jobs is the answer.”

            I would like a more robust economy with growing businesses freed from pointless regulations (not all regulation, some are important of course), free to grow, hire staff and serve customers. Such businesses will need people with a variety of skills and education. McDs does employ accountants, lawyers, marketing experts, mgrs, efficiency experts and so forth, as well.

            Apparently, the natural gas industry is booming on private lands in spite of Obama’s restrictions of public land use. These businesses are booming like crazy in North Dakota, & TX among other places.. They’re hiring people with all kinds of skills to get their businesses going. People are making big salaries. I wish I could get in on it somehow, frankly. Here’s a good article about it from USA Today.

            http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/04/03/oil-gas-united-states-jobs-energy-boom-column/7273289/

            • Marthe Lépine

              Sure, McDonald does employs some professionals… But the people who actually do the work, who deal with the public and prepare what they call “food”, are the slave labour without which none of the professional jobs, the executives and the shareholders would be needed…The whole “edifice” rests on the labour of those considered lowest in the company, those who, unfortunately, don’t have any power.

              • Peggy

                And don’t have much skill, unless we’re talking about people frozen out of higher skill jobs by bad economy and too much immigration, etc.

              • Benjamin2.0

                All this talk of power without regard to justice and “””slaves””” who can quit at any time makes me think you’re borrowing too much of your economic thought from a certain Karl Marx. That prophesied uprising of the proletarian is running pretty late, now, isn’t it? If we’re going to condemn any economic scheme as heretical, it should be that one. Your failure to recognize supply and demand makes complete sense, now. Karl Marx’s work has about as much to do with economics as “Duck Soup.”

                • Peggy

                  Ha! Welcome to the battle for common sense.

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    Since I have your ear, I’m going to diagram my polyvalent humor. That always seems to make it funnier. “Duck Soup” is a movie by the Marx brothers in which they take part in a war between two states. While it has some economic undertones, it’s a work of comedic fiction and has no value as an informative economic work. Furthermore, the first time I heard Karl Marx’s name I asked “If Groucho was the one with the moustache and cigar, which one was Karl?” Thus, that final sentence was written with the sole purpose of amusing me.

                    • Peggy

                      Thanks! FunQ

                • Marthe Lépine

                  This “talk” you are objecting about happens to be a description of some aspects of contemporary economics. I suppose that the difference between you and me is that I have been educated by a truly Catholic university, by mostly Catholic fully qualified professors, as well as having considerable union experience. Leo XIII did bring the idea of justice into the discussion of workers’ rights. As well, I think that even some Popes, maybe even Francis, have said that it is unjust to consider workers’ wages as only subject to the so-called “law” of supply and demand, since the workers are not commodities to be discarded when no longer profitable (maybe not in those specific words, but it is the meaning many people understood) . And, by the way, the university that I attended (granted, it was half a century ago) even had among its textbooks the encyclical letters Quadragesimo Anno and Rerum Novarum. If you now have to accuse me of thinking like a communist, to me it suggests that you cannot find any more logical argument – some people also accused Pope Francis of being a marxist, so maybe I actually should be flattered…

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    This “talk” you are objecting about happens to be a description of some aspects of contemporary economics.

                    Is there a contemporary anything which is substantially better than its predecessors? I suppose you’d say ‘economics’.

                    Leo XIII did bring the idea of justice into the discussion of workers’ rights.

                    I’ve never seen a social encyclical yet which actually promotes the disregard of justice to the employer, too.

                    As well, I think that even some Popes, maybe even Francis, have said that it is unjust to consider workers’ wages as only subject to the so-called “law” of supply and demand, since the workers are not commodities to be discarded when no longer profitable (maybe not in those specific words, but it is the meaning many people understood).

                    This is an argument against a libertarian position. I don’t think anyone has made a libertarian argument. Nobody has said that the so-called “so-called ‘law'” of supply and demand is the only relevant factor. Peggy has said it’s a relevant factor. A pope who disagrees might as well say the earth is flat, but no pope has, has he?

                    If you now have to accuse me of thinking like a communist, to me it suggests that you cannot find any more logical argument – some people also accused Pope Francis of being a marxist, so maybe I actually should be flattered…

                    That you think I have no more logical argument for having called the complete denial of supply and demand a mystical fairydust superstitious wackyland Marx and Marx brothers comedic parody of reality tells me that you have no more logical argument. Some people have accused Popes of having no argument after having presented one of many, so I actually should be flattered…

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Wow! name-calling again! Beautiful!

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      To your various points:
                      1- Sure, there are aspects of the modern world that are better than in the past. However, human beings are still flawed by original sin, and will remain so until our final resurrection at the end of times. In the meantime, there are things that are wrong and need to be discusses, such as many aspects of modern economies.
                      2- Teaching about justice for workers does not imply teaching injustice towards employers, although I have to admit that there are people who think so, particularly when their interests appear threatened.
                      3- Maybe there is an argument there against libertarian positions, but in that case, libertarianism appears to have been infecting a large sector of the economy, as well as the way many conservatives express their economic opinions… However, the Church DOES teach that work exists for the workers, not the workers for the employers.
                      4- No, I was replying to the accusation you levelled against me of talking like Karl Marx. However, Marx actually had done a correct observation of the economic problems of his time. It’s his proposed corrective measures that are objectionable…

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      One more point I missed: I did not completely deny the theory of supply and demand, I only pointed out that it was just a model among other models that has been given the status of irrefutable truth. I was pointing out that it is only a theory about the way real human people are making their decisions, prices don’t just change automatically. If you care to go back to my real-life example of farmers and middlemen in Haiti, you would see that it was obvious that the prices did not just “happen” to go down when the harvests were good, thus keeping the farmers poor. The middlemen were able to get away with paying less to the farmers, and the supply and demand theory in such a case is a way of justifying the middlemen’s unjust behaviour instead of recognizing that they were taking unfair advantage of the farmers’ lack of means to take their own produce to the town and sell them themselves.

                    • Peggy

                      The theories of supply and demand did not FORCE the middle men to their actions. They did not consult text books. They instinctively did what they did. The econ theories explain human actions and decisions in the marketplace. Therefore, the econ theory was correct in predicting actual behavior of middle men.

                      Think about your own behavior and decisions. I have a friend who works at an ice cream factory here. With all food prices going up, ice cream novelty demand is going down. Her company has sold less this summer. (She is worried for her job. I pray with her that things stabilize.) Consumers at the super market are not buying as much with their limited budgets. They have to buy meat, vegetables, and other staples. Ice cream novelties are becoming a luxury in this bad economy, and her company and the workers are in danger.

                      Now, do you blame the consumers for NOT buying the ice cream which could put some people out of work? Why are these consumers NOT to blame for buying less ice cream, but the business owners would be to blame for buying less labor if the cost of labor increases?

                      Econ theories EXPLAIN decisions that consumers are making instinctively, given the market and budget conditions they face.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  What do you mean “power without regard to justice”? According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, justice would be a living wage. In this sense, power relates to the need – and the right – for workers to have the ability to negotiate for just wages … Since the workers need the jobs to survive, they find themselves in a situation of vulnerability, while the employers have the ability to go overseas to find cheaper labour. As well, using the expression “slave-wages” is a description of a particular kind of wages, not the literal meaning of slaves as persons who can be bought and sold. In addition, it is much too easy to say to people, if you are not satisfied with your job, you are “free” to leave, but it is not realistic.

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    Consider, then, that the minimum wage jobs weren’t meant to be living wages to begin with. Except for the managers, the people flipping and peddling burgers around me were teenagers and early twentysomethings earning spending money while in school. Even a manager or two were teenagers. I only recall one or two adults doing the job. One was retired and earning supplemental income. Turning non-management food employment into a career is to turn it into something it was never meant to be (and doesn’t even have to be — Peggy pegs the minimum wage employment at 6%, vide supra).

                    Management positions aren’t hard to get because nobody wants them. When somebody is presented with one (and one doesn’t have to work at a McDonald’s very long before one is) the idea of making fast food a career is usually what causes people to leave. Raising the minimum wage, in addition to destroying the fast food market, won’t actually help the people the proponents are trying to help.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Oh1 You mean that McDonald has created all those fast food joints in almost every corner of the world simply in order to provide teens with jobs? How generous of them!

          • AquinasMan

            Slave labor? Flipping burgers and punching buttons on a cash register? Did you really post that?

            • Marthe Lépine

              The tasks done by the worker do not matter. What matters is that the corporation is taking advantage of people’s desperate need to make a living in order to get away with paying insufficient and unjust wage and make its huge profits that will be going to already wealthy shareholders. Of course, the corporation does not buy and sell slaves, but “slave labour” is a perfectly appropriate way to describing this particular contemporary labour situation.

        • Marthe Lépine

          You say, as do many people, that when the minimum wage rises, employment level drops. Can you point to any specific source, other than an opinion, such as studies containing statistics about any particular area? Because I am not sure that this is true, it sounds to me like just one more right wing claim. On the other hand, there are other people who think that if there is more money available for consumer spending, such as would happen with a higher minimum wage, this increases the demand, and the increased demand leads to job creation. This position seems quite reasonable to me…

          • Peggy

            Marthe,

            This is an application of basic Econ 101, Supply and Demand for goods and services. Taught in all US universities in all texts. When the price of a good or service increases, demand for it decreases. Supply may increase as well, but the market will clear at a lower employment level. These are movements along the S and D curves. The extent of loss of labor is dependent upon the elasticity of supply and demand. I imagine a fair amount of elasticity on both sides.

            Here is a good presentation of micro theory.
            http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/reader/2992?e=coopermicro-ch10_s02

            CBO agrees as well. It may be underestimating the extent of impact. . http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44995

            Low-skilled laborers can be replaced by automated machines as well in these industries. I don’t know that CBO figured in that modeling.

            Boy, you folks would hate to read Fr Z’s combox on this.

            Marthe, re your post above in response to Edgewise. Is there any point at which you would think a person bears some responsibility for the conditions of his/her life?

            • Marthe Lépine

              I did not know you were a Calvinist. Sorry! There is no wuch thing as a “law”, in economics – says someone with 2 university degrees. I know, I know. They are taucht as such, but in fact they are nothing but useful models in order to try to explain how the world works. It remains that, in the end, human beings make the decisions whether they will pay living wages or not. Human beings make the decisions whether they will hire people or not. There is absolutely no point in working at a full-time job is the wages are not going to provide the worker with the means to support themselves, and ideally, as taught by our church, a family. But I see that blaming the slaves is easier… Human beings decide what prices they are going to pay for labour, and they will claim such “laws” in order to justify getting away with it. Therefore, claiming and teaching such “laws” is very useful for our ruling classes. And of course, in order to get away with using slave labour, either in your country or abroad, our ruling classes will do their utmost to prevent workers to form organizations (unions) in order to have some measure of an even playing field when dealing with employers, contrary to the Catholic Church teaching since Leo XIII. It is very unfortunate that people who claim to be Catholics think that they can pick and choose among Church teaching when it comes to their profits. However, it is not because a majority of people choose to sin in these matters that they are entitled to be consistently justified by calling on “laws” that are not even legislated, but created in order to explain what is going on. ANd before you once again claim that I don’t know economics, I will remind you that my graduate studies were in business and economics (and I obtained my first degree when I was only 18), but that the truly Catholic (then) university I attended even went as far as to dare to have both Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno among its textbooks. I prefer to follow the laws of the Church Christ gave us rather than the laws created by men.

              • Peggy

                I am not a “Calvinist.” All people, employers and employees, customers, etc., make decisions based on their own circumstances. A small businessman is not usually informed by an econ text book. It is his rational decision to let staff go or raise prices based on his own books and need to keep his business viable. He doesn’t say “I must do this b/c Econ 101 says so.” Yes, Econ models explain what is going on based on “rational” human behavior. THe business man’s actions inform econ theory, not the other way around.

                I did not use the word “law.” I would call them properties, I guess. What “should be” and what “is” are two different questions. Normative v positive econ. That would respond to your Haiti story. Haite may be “what is” but not what “should be.” That is why we have interventions in the market to address mkt failures or other outcomes that the society determines are unjust and should be addressed. Catholic teachign tells us what SHOULD be. Econ theory tells us WHAT IS and WHY. Once we understand how markets work we can propose effective solutions to various problems we see in markets. We can decry unattractive outcomes, but until we understand why and how we got there, our policy prescriptions will tend to worsen a situation.

                I want to get to a/m mass….

                • Benjamin2.0

                  In one of Mr. Shea’s fits of rhetoric, he changed the definition of ‘Calvinism’ from “a belief in TULIP, an expression of the theology of John Calvin or John Knox” to “believing in cause and effect in economics.” According to my patented animascope, this is an expression of his secret inner desire to condemn as heretics people who consider prudence when attempting to help poor people. The possibility of success is only a relevant principle when choosing to go to war and has no import regarding the meddling with others’ livelihoods.

                  • Peggy

                    That clears that up! The Shea Catholic dictionary.

                    I guess I am a Calvinist for suggesting that people–including myself–have a part to play in the circumstances of their lives.

                    That is not the same as saying EVERYTHING is a person’s own fault. There are uncontrollable external factors in all our lives. But we chose how we respond to them. The Church gives us guidance on how to do that.

                    • chezami

                      Um, how did I get involved in this? What are you talking about?

                    • Peggy

                      You’ll have to ask Benjamin….

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      Under the bus, again. This is my rightful place, I suppose.

                    • Peggy

                      Sorry ’bout that!

                      I didin’t attrbitute Calvinism to Shea.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Yes, but your argument did sound like you were claiming that having to make do with a job that did not provide enough to support oneself was the result of something people had done that they should be held responsible for… If you recognize that everything is not a person’s own fault, then you should recognize that poverty is not necessarily a result of a person’s wrong choices, and can be caused by some injustices, such as the choice made by someone else to not pay a living wage…

                    • Peggy

                      A low wage for low skill is not necessarily an injustice in my view. It is the job itself as well as a person’s skill level that dictates wages. A PhD, however, cannot expect to earn $50K or more flipping burgers if there is an oversupply of PhDs in his field. Maybe he should have studied something else. Maybe he can get into another related field sooner or later, but has to flip burgers for now. No shame in that. [Erickson was talking about people who have made no plan or attempt to move up the ladder in life/career beyond basic burger flipping; they have few options to increase their income as a result. But, they could do things. They could look at mgmt jobs, construction labor, etc. Never too late to start doing the right thing. No shame in hard work of any kind but don’t act like a victim of some one else, is the issue here.]

                      We all face external circumstance, but not all those circumstances are the result of unjust acts of others. We have to take responsibility for our lives. Can’t blame others, regardless of externals.

                      Marthe, you have taken a stance from my perspective that low-wage earners only earn low wages b/c evil corporations should pay them more.

                      Yes, Cath social teaching teaches us how we should act as economic agents (as members of society in general). The Catholic businessman, like any decent man, would try not to fire people. He may have to reduce hours or not hire more people, not expand operations. The burdens of Ocare have resulted in that, for example, for retailers/restauranteurs. Mandatory doubling of wages (eg, from $7 to $15 min wage) is an untenable proposition to most business owners. Something will have to give or the business closes up shop. A business of any size has the judgment to make. You won’t like the results, but there they are.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Of course, of course. And there are things that it is too late to change. In my country, there it not such an additional burden for medical care. And it is not my fault, I admit, that the US are about half a century behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to looking after the health of its citizens. I guess that individualism has its costs and people who have chosen it should be considered as responsible for their choice… However, who says that the value attributed to some kinds of work by corporations is always just? Leo XIII and his successors did not make any distinction between kinds of labour when they wrote that workers were entitled to a living wage, as well as showing in various ways that work existed for the workers, not the workers to serve the employers. It is a very hard principle to accept, I recognize. But why should Catholics in the US be afraid to apply Church teaching, when in other parts of the world people are being killed, probably right now, just for BEING Catholic?

                    • Peggy

                      You enjoy your slams at the US, don’t you. Eg:

                      “And it is not my fault, I admit, that the US are about half a century behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to looking after the health of its citizens.”

                      Obamacare has been awful for US employment. That is one externality we can’t help in our lives. I pray we overturn it someday soon.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Sure, my love of my own country sometimes incites me to make comparisons… Particularly since our present government is so dangerously set towards following the US patterns.

                    • Peggy

                      I don’t have any dislike for your fine country. I may or may not agree with the political agenda of any particular govt, but I would not slam and insult your country gratuitously–or at all–as you do the US often on this blog.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      I am not slamming your country, I am just pointing out differences. If you consider this as “slamming” your country, you are admitting that there are problems…

                    • Peggy

                      You wrote it with snideness intended. You “can’t help it” if the US is “behind” in healthcare. Who said we were behind? Who said we have been wrong to have private insurance? That’s your opinion. I’ve said that Ocare is wrong and bad for America. It’s not the govt job to provide medical care for citizens in general. If I pay, I can make my own decisions. A treatise on appropriate medical insurance and medical pricing is too much for this thread. I won’t call your country names for having socialized medicine, but I don’t think it’s best for society. You and I have been conditioned to see things differently.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Here it is again – the “socialist” scarecrow! The reason I have been mentioning, not health care, but the cost of health care in the US, is because there are actually facts that show that medical expenses are one of, or the, main cause of personal bankruptcy in the US, and I sincerely think that it is unjust. Of course, what constitutes injustice can be a matter of opinion… But health care is a human right, so nobody should go bankrupt in order to obtain it.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  “Catholic teaching tells what should be. Econ. Theory tells us what is and why.” I disagree. Catholic teaching tells us what Catholic people should do. And I see a common trick in your reply: This discussion began because of the story of a McDonald employee complaining about her low wages. McDonald is definitely NOT a small business. Granted, various franchisees who run McDonald outlets can be called small businessmen, but they are probably bound to follow the corporation’s policies. But you decided to bring into the discussion some arguments about the circumstances of small businesses. On the other hand, I would still disagree with you when you just claim that the small businesses will make decisions based on their individual circumstances, thus they are allowed to prefer to pay a lower wage. Certainly, legally they are. But if the small business owner claims to be Catholic, his or her way to evaluate individual circumstances is supposed to include, among those circumstances, what the Church teaches… Then, if that small business cannot survive without using slave labour, it is probably not viable, and the owner should reevaluate his business plan. You could then say that if he decides that his business is not sustainable, that means that he will not create any job… But if it is not a job that provides a living wage, it is not a proper job!

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    No teenager will ever be able to own and insure a car again.

                    That’s bad enough without having to hear people repeatedly calling fast food employment “slave labor.” I’ve flipped burgers for a few franchises in my time, but I’ve never been a slave.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Why would there be anything wrong with paying minimum wage to a teen? And, the way you felt while you were flipping burgers was probably not that you were a slave. However when a corporation is basing its huge profits on paying very low wages, impartial observers like the rest of us are perfectly justified to consider that corporation as using “slave labour”… instead of paying living wages to their workers.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      … who can always leave to get a new job.

                      Slaves can’t do that.

                      And they aren’t paid.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      By the way, if teens were getting at least the minimum wage, it could help them paying a larger part of the costs of their educations instead of having to get so deeply in dept. Or it could help them to contribute to their families’ expenses. I am sure most teens don’t just flip burgers in order to get their own cars and pay for the car insurance.

                    • Peggy

                      I am guessing that teens are doing quite a bit of savings. I learned that teens are not allowed to have checking accounts. I don’t know if it’s state law or what. Something about them not being able to enter into contracts under 18. So, this means paychecks are being deposited at least in part in savings accounts or just cashed en toto.

                      Teens are getting at least the min wage in the US

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      So? Then why object to an increase in the minimum wage?

                    • Peggy

                      We’re talking about doubling it, not just raising it 50c or $1. If some markets such as NYC, people are probably earning more than legal min wage. I don’t know if it’s up to $15 however.

                      I meant that teens who started at min wage, after a year or two see their wages rise with raises in reward for good work. I don’t know that teens start above min wage. Many teens will do labor/construction work in the summers, which probably pay much higher than fast food. So, those kids do pretty well and probably save for college or cars. Adults with some skills/experience who get hired on at fast food do not start at the bottom min wage. That is the fallacy here.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Any data to support this? Or is it, once again, just an opinion? If so many people are already earning ore than the minimum wage, I cannot see why there is such a fight against increasing that minimum wage… And once again you are trying to turn the discussion around, away from was being discussed in Mark’s post: Fast-food workers being given wages that are too low to really make a living. I have been commenting on benjamin’s comment that no teen would be able to own and insure a car any more…

                    • Peggy

                      Common sense, dear. What justification would McD’s have to pay a 16 year old 50c or a $1 more than min wage if it is his first job? It would be that the market calls for higher wages b/c of shortage of labor, booming business, need to ramp up and get good talent.

                      Raising the min wage is generally believed to price kids out of this unskilled work. Businesses would prefer more experienced adults 20 yrs old, eg., than an untried teen at those prices. Wage is the price to the employer. That is what Benjamin is getting at.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Do you personally know some teens from whom you have learned all of those things? Have you talked to adults who are working in fast food places?

                    • Peggy

                      Personal experience. Worked retail and fast food as teen and college student. Common sense.

                      Is it ever “enough” for your Marthe? Is Canada really so different from the US that you don’t understand the things we are discussing?

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Contrary to your belief, I do understand the things we are discussing, but I just see them in a different light. Why assume that someone who totally disagrees with you is not knowledgeable enough?

            • Marthe Lépine

              Further to my earlier reply, here is an illustration. It is a true story, heard at a Development and Peace meeting in Ottawa, where a speaker was a Caritas representative from Haiti. There was a village where the farmers were always poor. They seemed doomed by the “law” of supply and demand. On years when the harvest was poor, understandably, the farmer were not making much money because they did not have a lot of produce to sell.Some middlemen would purchase the little they had, maybe at a reasonable price, but there was not enough produce for the farmers to get much. Then the middlemen would go to the nearest towns and make a good profit, because since the supply was low, they could charge higher prices. On the other hand, on years when the harvest was good, the farmers still did not make much money. You see, the middlemen who owned the trucks to take the produce to town would, according to the law of supply and demand, pay less for the produce since the supply was higher. You would say that that was at it should be? Wrong!
              An local organization, partner with Caritas and Development and Peace (the Canadian section of Caritas) held discussions with the farmers and together found an answer. The farmers were helped to form a cooperative. Then, the cooperative was helped to purchase… a refrigerated truck to deliver the produce to the nearest towns! And voilà! The farmers started to improve their incomes by taking their own produce to town, while we can assume that the people in the towns maybe were able to purchase their food at a better price too. A win-win situation if there was ever any. As for the middlemen, it seems that they lost their golden-egg-producing geese…
              All this to explain that the so-called “law” of supply and demand is not a law at all, just a convenient economic model that has been raised to the level of an unavoidable fact. The same thing goes on with wages. In fact, I would think that a business that can only survive by paying slave wages is not really a viable business model, but, eh! might makes right. There is money to be made by taking advantage of a situation of unemployment, and even more money to be made by creating such unemployment by shipping the manufacturing jobs overseas. And it helps if it is possible to discredit the unions, of course.
              Another point is that you don’t seem to have learned anything about the “multiplier effect”. Of course, it is probably old-fashioned by now; it has been some half-century since I did my post-graduate studies. But it is probably still a fact that when people have more money to spend, that means more money in the economy because of more sales of goods and services, and an increase of demand. On the other hand, higher profits for corporations’ shareholders (when discussing businesses such as fast-food eateries, we are discussing rather large corporations) will not necessarily, or probably not, mean that much more consumer expenditures will be made in the areas where the workers happen to live (also called local markets). The money earned by shareholders has more chances to be hoarded in oversea accounts, or used to play the “casinos” that the financial markets have become, or other such uses that will have a limited impact on local economies.
              All this to demonstrate that if you stop at “Economics 101”, you might not have a very deep understanding of economics…

            • Marthe Lépine

              I have just taken a look at what you have linked. Of course I did not have the time to read everything carefully, but they do sound like theoretical exercises, one of them is full of “would” – possibilities, and graphs based on theoretical figures. That is fine, those people are entitled to their opinions. But can you point to actual statistics, based on actual situations? In my country, there is a government organization called Statistics Canada that keeps track of labour statistics. and I would assume that the same kind of thing exists in the US. Can you point to any actual study that proves the assertion that an increase in the minimum wage did in fact create an increase in unemployment in an actual physical area? When you do, I will be pleased to look at it. Unfortunately, I presently do not have the time and the resources to do a detailed analysis of labour statistics for the moment, but if there are some actual proofs of the theory being correct, I am sure that some economists must have gone through those statistics by now… If not, why? This is a very important aspect of a country’s economy. Would it be, by any chance, that some degree of ideology is making it difficult to produce such statistics, or making people reluctant to attempt it?

              • Peggy

                2nd link is recent empirical by CBO. This is pretty basic econ knowledge in the US, Marthe.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  Really? I just went back, looked at the charts, and only saw things like “estimated effects”. Sure, may these are based on actual statistics, but not statistics on an actual, proven effect in some real area of the country or some real sector of the economy, such as by how much % has unemployment increased in city “x” at the time of the latest increase in minimum wage, either federally or in a particular state. Of course it would still be a matter of correlation, since some effects might have totally different causes, but it would be a more solid starting point. Until then, such articles are nothing much than more attempts to support a right wing agenda.

                  • Peggy

                    I have done much research. A book from the 90s by David E Card purports to overturn standard belief about a reduction in employment. A critique of the book notes that the book really brings up other factors in the economy (expansion period, high cost market, booming business) that may be stronger and offset or mitigate job losses. As the critique notes, the studies are about small increases of min wage, under $1 or so. I can see where such results would be mixed. As I noted, the business owner will see what he can do. He may or may not avoid firing or raising prices. The models look at aggregate market outcomes, not individual businesses.

                    Book: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5632.html (I think it can be read at google books)

                    Critique opening page: (rest not avail): http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2729319?uid=3739744&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104137192851

                    And here Card seems to critique his own (or others?) time series (used in his book?) http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2117925?uid=3739744&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104137192851

                    All that said, the proposal on the table is to raise min wage substantially to $15, which would be a doubling of wages almost for many teens and other new workers. Some may already be earning $10 or so at retailers. That would be a sudden 33% increase in wages. That is a shock to employers who clearly could not absorb it, especially if implemented at once.

                    I even noticed that a local public school secretary earns less than $15. Surely, she’d be more skilled than a min wage earner. Her wage would have to go up to maintain the parity. That’s no evil profit-seeking employer she has. No secretary would settle for min wage. Neither would a construction or factory worker. It’s a vicious cycle. The min wage guy will remain in the same relative position as before. He is better off finding employment where he can learn new skills and grow into better positions and wages.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      There is no guarantee that the school secretary’s salary would have to up to maintain the parity. In fact, one could ask, is that parity just? I, for one, if I was in that situation, and was a Catholic, would not mind that someone else earned the same as I did. Why do you have to assume that a school secretary would object? Why should I assume that someone else earning the same salary as myself is not deserving of it? Here we are discussing Catholic principles, including “do as to others…”.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      About the minimum wage guy: Is there such employment available?

                    • Peggy

                      It depends on the overall health of the economy and his willingness to keep plugging away–whatever it takes. Maybe he gets some training. [There are public funded places, student loans for training. Some construction unions may apprentice on the job still.] People who put themselves into it will find work in a relatively decent economy. They will impress employers. He might still stay at the low wage job until he completes training or gets that next job. He needs to be a go-getter, especially in a high unemployment economy to distinguish himself. He might try to enter mgmt at the fast food or retailer where he works. He can enquire and find out what it takes and if it’s a feasible plan for himself. The point is to have a plan and work at it and pray for guidance and strength.

                      There ya go, some career counseling.

                    • Peggy

                      Depends on the person’s preferences. She might rather be at a school desk than flipping burgers for the same wage. But if she knows that unskilled burger flippers get $15, she will expect more b/c her job requires more skill, ie, computers, phone answering, scheduling, handling student issues, attendance records, and she has to wear appropriate clothing. She needs a wage to afford that attire. This is a different and more demanding job than flipping burgers or running a register at McDs.

                      Is she going to lose sleep over the McD’s employees? I guess not. That’s where her kid works when he’s a teen. She expects to earn more than her teen kid. Right?

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Yes, you have done research in books. But it does n ot really mean much. It is still research among theories that people use to prove their point. And that is the problem with economics, it is not and never will be a hard science. The idea of minimum wages has existed for a number of years by now, and there has been legislation on minimum wage. How come there does not seem to be any “real” data? Would it be because nobody really is interested in compiling them? Or that they actually might contradict some pre-conceived ideas instead of proving them? I am asking again: Is there any proof based on existing and measured results? Has anyone ever bothered to go and see, in any particular community, by what % unemployment has really increased after an increase of a minimum wage by how much? If not, all we have is opinions. A model is just that, a model. Not a real observation of real people. I do not believe it is actually very Christian, not just Catholic, to go on trying to prove that people should keep being denied a living wage just to confirm our economic theories. And please stop telling me that those theories are “elementary” economics: With my own experience and reflection, that followed my actual education in economics, I have grown to look further than mere models and mere hypothesis. Please give me actual facts, not what somebody thinks, no matter how well educated or how recognized in his or her field some academic “thinks” and has worked at finding theoretical proof to support. A calculation of probabilities based on models is not a fact, it is only some kind of prediction, usually chosen to confirm one’s predetermined opinion.

                    • Peggy

                      Marthe,

                      The research papers and that particular book were about empirical analyses. Card has conducted many empirical studies for specific state increases in min wage and the fed min wage, cross-sectional across states, time series. Please read the links. It was all empirical.

                      Econ research bumps up empirical data to theoretical models to see if the model holds true in real world conditions. This is generally how statistical studies work.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Sure, but I keep asking: What kind of empirical data? Ha anyone ever taken the time or made the effort to actually measure by what % unemployment has really been decreased by an increase of $ or of % of the minimum wage? All the studies you have linked so far are done with the intent of proving that the minimum wage should not be increased. There should be some observable and measurable effects, somewhere, by now. Models and projections established on the basis of another model are just speculation.
                      Another point: Although I am in no way claiming that you, yourself, have said anything of the sort, I cannot avoid noticing that, when conservatives on the right discuss the poor, they usually strongly object to social safety nets, claiming that you cannot correct poverty by throwing money at it. Then, whenever it is suggested that maybe minimum wages, or ways to pay workers, can be improved, they strongly object to that, in addition to, quite often, bringing out all kinds of arguments, with varying wordings, to the effect that the poor are probably poor because of their own bad decisions in one way or the other, including your often repeated argument that the lack of a marriage is a bigger reason for poverty than the lack of money. Thus it is beginning to look like there is a definite pattern there. Unfortunately, that pattern runs contrary to the Catholic Church Social teaching.

                    • Peggy

                      “What kind of empirical data?” I told you. The Card book purports to overturn accepted econ theory. His many studies (google his name) are not predictors, they are analyses of actual results in actual US states. I don’t know whether his book or any of this studies present the information as you desire. You will have to read further.

                      We have to look at the various ways we want to help the poor and figure out what methods are most effective. Do we want to keep them going week to week or do we want to help them become stable and one day prosperous on their own? I have described good ways to help people move forward in life. There are studies that indicate people have to do a few things to be stable–not necessarily rich. 1. Finish high school; 2. marry before having children; 3. have a job before marriage.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Actually, I have just recently been reading a relatively brief general summary of the research on the minimum wage (I don’t have direct access to the books themselves for lack of money, time and transportation to go to a university library in the next city for the moment) and it appears clear that opinions are quite divided on that matter, and that there are a number of authors who say things that rather seem to agree with what I think. And, as far as the study you mention by Card, sure, it has been criticized, but then other studies criticized those critics. It seems that the field does remain open for discussion. Another thing I have noticed in the summary I was looking at is that, depending on the source, their can obviously be a certain amount of bias, as it also appears that there might be some publication bias as well. As I have always known, it (too) often happens that research is being done to support a pre-established opinion rather than being really objective. However, I recognize that it would be difficult to be totally objective all of the time, since one usually needs to begin from some point. In the present case, my starting point of choice is the Catholic Church teaching on social justice.

            • Marthe Lépine

              This not a matter of a “point at which a person bears some responsibility for the conditions of her life”, but of fair living wages for workers. If then, after finally getting a living wage, a person remains poor, we maybe can look at personal responsibility matters. But the principle of a living wage comes first, with of course the understanding that a person actually does the work required (provided of course that that person’s right to a job has also been met). Even if a well-respected economist (and some court judgment ), popular with people on the right, claims that corporations have no other social duty than making money for their shareholders, it does not change the principle taught by the Catholic Church that workers are entitled to just wages and that not paying workers is a sin that calls to heaven for judgment.

        • chezami

          Given all that, why are you mad at me and not at Erick Erickson for calling somebody in your situation a “failure in life”. I deny flatly that these evil words are true, yet somehow your anger is directed at me and not at this insulting lie being told about you. I don’t get that.

          • Peggy

            People make choices, me included. I’m not earning min wage, though I think the money’s crap compared to what I’d make fulltime in my field. Kids come first. And I’m not flipping burgers either.

  • KM

    This is a great post, Mark, with some good commentary and links.

    I prefer the August 21st Erickson who laments the very discourse which he sadly engages in in his September “Minimum wage” insults. Here’s hoping and praying that the conservative sphere would start rooting out the beam from its own eyes. Many of us are completely fed up with what passes for conservative thought and ideas these days.

  • In my opinion, Erickson is “he who must never be linked to or quoted,” but that’s just me.

  • Edgewise

    “And then he doubles down here.”

    Did anyone actually bother to *read* that link? From beginning to end–and *especially* the last 3 paragraphs?

    Just wonderin’… Because it seems apparent that at least some (“some”? Not “most”? [Maybe “all”?]) of the pharisees enjoying their Two-Minute Hate in this combox haven’t.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Well, I just went and read the article a 2nd time… And to me it just seems like added spin in order to not look too bad, because his central argument remains.

  • ImTim

    Mark, more of this.

  • FormerRegularReader

    This post is the reason that I don’t come to this site very much anymore. Mark post’s two links, doesn’t excerpt anything, but does post from a different commentator blasting all conservatives. He follows it up so dramatized version of 30 year old Jesus as a counterpoint to Erickson’s example of the 30 year minimum wage protester. He ignores the teachings of Jesus about not judging. He couldn’t write a post dripping with judgement if he did. He also doesn’t ever discuss Erickson point. He fights against a straw man who thinks that all people on minimum wage are failures. He links to a clip that is 3.5 minutes long, out of a 30 minute conversation. He cherry picks 10% of the conversation. He ignores the parts where Erickson quite specifically talking about people who want the government to come in and take money from their employers and give it to them. There’s also some stuff that Jesus taught about not talking other people’s stuff…that didn’t make it in his post.

    Then Mark goes and writes “On the bright side, Erickson’s conscience does appear to be pricking him” which makes it seem like perhaps Erickson is walking back from his comments. But Mark links to an article written and posted 2 weeks before the radio segment that he is reacting to. It isn’t accurate to say that Erickson’s “conscience is pricking him”. It is, however, accurate to say that Mark had access to information that could have built some great context to his view of a 30 minute radio segment. This is just speculation, but it seems like Mark say a 3.5 minute radio clip on media matters (which is as far to the left as EIB is to the right, so probably not going to go out of their way to give full context) and writes an indignant post about satanic Erickson’s speech is.

    Mark acts as if he is above the left/right fray, that he is just speaking Catholic truth; but all he really does is crap on people he disagrees with. He doesn’t approach their arguments and show why they’re wrong and where his are correct, he attacks the person and dismisses what they have to say. He’s as churlish as the people he dismisses on the left and the right, but he does it while wrapping himself in the cloak of the church. He wraps it all up “so I think we owe him our prayers…”. After all his bible story and verse quoting he “think we owe him our prayers. The commenter Edgewise referenced the “pharisees enjoying their Two-Minute Hate”, he forgot to mention the guy who channeled his inner pharisee and wrote the blog post.

    • Marthe Lépine

      If you don’t come to Mark’s blog often because you don’t like it, why take the time to write such a long comment? Plus, talking about judging, you are doing as much of it as he does. And, how could anyone ever write any comment without making value judgements? Value judgements are in fact the essence of comments: one can agree or disagree, and it does not make much sense to be only allowed to write when one agrees with something and remain silent when one disagrees… As a matter of fact, in another subject area, many people do complain when perceived disagreement does not get clearly expressed, for example when moderate Muslims do not talk loudly enough for some people’s taste against the extremists among them. Then, why complain when, about a vastly discussed economic matter such as poverty, someone strongly disagrees with some things said by others does express himself just as loudly??