The "living wage" is bullshit

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The idea that every wage needs to be a "living wage" is stupid. Has anyone ever considered that there might exist people that want to make money who don't need to pay for things like food and rent? Like children, for instance. When I was ten years-old, and my dad was providing me with food and shelter, I would have loved to have worked a low-maintenance job for two dollars an hour[1]. But I couldn't, because it was against the law for a business to employ me at that rate (and that age). I could have saved money and bought tickets to basketball games and Monday Night Raw. I could have bought better games for Nintendo 64 as opposed to settling for bargain bin used games at my local video store. But instead, I sat around and watched TV every day after school and got fat. Thanks a lot, assholes.

[1]I actually did work a job for under two dollars and hour every summer for three years. It was a local fireworks tent, the lady who runs the operation would let me have $10 worth of fireworks for helping them set up and shut down every day. It usually took 3-5 hours to set up, and two hours to shut down. And I GLADLY showed up, because I really wanted fireworks and had no other means of making money at age eleven. However, people who honestly believe that every job needs to pay employees a "living wage" would rather see me not work, because the lady that runs the fireworks tent is exploiting me for a profit. What a load of garbage.

As I stated in my post about job creation, people claim to really care about creating jobs - Whether it's praising a government policy for creating jobs, or criticizing a business for not creating enough of them. I make that point that people (particularly on the left) don't really care about creating jobs. They only use the idea of job creation to justify their outrageous policies, i.e. to make people feel good. But if they really cared about creating jobs, then they would stop with their bullshit propaganda about the living wage. Who even decides what a "living wage" is? For that, I present Wikipdeia's definition.

"In public policy, a living wage is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their needs that are considered to be basic. This is not necessarily the same as subsistence, which refers to a biological minimum, though the two terms are commonly confused. These needs include shelter (housing) and other incidentals such as clothing and nutrition. In some nations such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland, this standard generally means that a person working forty hours a week, with no additional income, should be able to afford the basics for quality of life, food, utilities, transport, health care, and minimal recreation, one course a year to upgrade their education and childcare. However, in many cases education, saving for retirement, and less commonly legal fees and insurance, or taking care of a sick or elderly family member are not included. It also does not allow for debt repayment of any kind. In addition to this definition, living wage activists further define a living wage as the wage equivalent to the poverty line for a family of four. This is two adults working full-time with one child age 9 and another of age 4."

The problem with this definition is that it's vague, and I'm sure that's not unintentional. By having an open-ended definition of what a living wage is, advocates of such an idea (particularly scholars, activists, lobbyists, and politicians) can continuously redefine the terms and conditions. Recently I've heard people claim that internet access, a luxury that has existed in commercial use for about 20-30 years, is now a necessity. "OMG! HOW ON EARTH DID HUMAN BEINGS SURVIVE BEFORE AMERICA ONLINE???" Today we might have to factor in internet access when pondering what the living wage should be, tomorrow we might have to toss in flying cars and robot assistants. In other words, the "living wage" is an idea conceived by entitled bitches, for entitled bitches. I constantly see people sharing articles and infographics from various sources that try to redefine the terms of what a reasonable living wage should be. Take this one for example:

I can tell right off the bat that it's bullshit because I currently own a three bedroom house in Michigan that I rent out for $900. In Michigan (as of 2015), 40 hours per week on the minimum wage will earn roughly $1300 per month. That's not to mention the numerous other places that I found on Craigslist whose rates are well-below mine. What the creator of this infographic (National Low Income Housing Coalition) doesn't mention is that they assume that everyone will only be willing to spend 30% of their income on rent. But what if some people are willing to spend more on rent? What if people are willing to work more than 40 hours per week, or work more than one job? This brings me to my next point -

Not everybody is going to have the same standard of living. Which is why advocates of these terms (particularly leftists) turn me off. When people set, define, and advocate for such terms as a "living wage", what they're really telling me is that they wish to control everyone. They want to set a standard for everyone, and they want to determine what is appropriate for everyone. They want to control society. I disagree with that line of thinking. I think individuals should determine their own standard of living, and control their own lives. An aspiring model will have a different standard of diet than an aspiring body builder. Someone who writes books for a living won't need as much land as someone who wishes to farm for a living. The environmentalist hippie may find as much joy in riding a bike to their job at an organic food market as the materialistic playboy who commutes to a corporate job in a fancy sports car. Some people will find more comfort working low-skilled jobs and living minimalist lifestyles in small apartments than have to deal with the pressure and anxiety that comes with well-paid, mentally-draining management careers. With that said, I want to suggest you watch the Ted Talks with Leslie T. Chang, who discusses the huge misconceptions about factory work in China. TL;DR - Despite the horror stories about Foxconn and harsh working conditions, many of the factory workers in China voluntarily embrace these jobs, love the opportunity to learn and make money, think little about where the products are going and how much they cost, spin the skills and money earned at their jobs into promising careers, and would never wish to return to a pre-Industrial China.

Is there any logical reason to not let people make iPhones in America? Even if it's children. I know that one could argue that children shouldn't work because parents should be able to provide a comfortable living for their kids. But that's just not the case for everyone in America. And would parents even be opposed? People spend money all the time on signing their kids up to knock the shit out of each other on football fields and hockey rinks, yet working a job is so outrageous? As I pointed out with my own personal anecdote about working for a fireworks tent[1], some children might be willing to work even if they don't have to work. I wasn't starving, and my dad never struggled to feed and shelter me. But I still wanted nice things: A new bike, video games, Magic the Gathering cards, CDs, etc. I really wanted to make money as a kid. I wanted to mow lawns, but I did not have the confidence or wherewithal to market myself to prospective customers. What if a business owner did though? What if someone was willing to pay me less than the minimum wage to cut grass? Shit, I didn't even know that the minimum wage was a thing when I was a kid. I would have been glad to work, because I wanted money, and had nothing better to do with my spare time. Who knows? I might have learned a few things from working early on in life. In his book "How to Win at the Sport of Business", Mark Cuban discusses the idea of working as a method of getting paid to learn.

"I worked jobs I didn't like. I worked jobs I loved but that had no chance of becoming a career. I worked jobs that barely paid the rent. I had so many jobs my parents wondered if I would ever be stable. In every job, I would justify it in my mind, whether I loved it or hated it, that I was getting paid to learn and every experience would be of value when I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up."

Even if you work a shitty job, chances are you're learning certain skills that you wouldn't have otherwise learned in school or on your own. It makes me think about Henry Ford, and how he entered the workforce at age 16 as a machinist, eventually becoming an engineer for Thomas Edison, which undoubtedly gave him the knowledge to build his first automobile. Even Andrew Carnegie entered the workforce at age 12 with a starting wage of $1.20 (approximately $35-40 in 2015) per week, eventually landing a gig for a railroad company where he learned valuable leadership and management skills that can't be taught from a textbook. Imagine these to-be industrial giants growing up in America today, and being told they can't work because their employers aren't paying them enough, thus preventing them from gaining the knowledge and skills that propelled them to greatness.

Actually, don't imagine that. An America without Bessemer-produced steel, assembly lines, and automobiles is frightening.

Imagine being an ambitious child wanting to learn more about electronics, but getting declined the opportunity to manufacture iPhones because a handful of activists won't let you. Does this sound fair? Imagine how much more money people who produce toys, bikes, music, and video games could make if ambitious children and teenagers were allowed to compete for jobs. Honestly ask yourself what's better: An ambitious American child getting paid $3000 a year to learn how electronics are made, or denying that child the right to work only to encourage them to take on tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt chasing a worthless degree for five years so that they can end up making coffee for a living?

On second thought, don't ask yourself that, because it's none of your fucking business what people do with their lives.

Does everyone need a living wage? Should the standard for a wage be whether or not one can afford to pay for a two bedroom apartment (what's wrong with studio apartments, and one bedroom apartments?) if they work 40 hours per week? I mentioned how children, teens, and perhaps young adults generally don't have to worry about rent, but what about retirees? What about the senior citizen who has paid off their house, has savings to live off of, but wants to pick up part time work out of boredom? Or for extra cash? The reason for working a job for less than the "living wage" is really irrelevant to this issue, people should have the right to work any job they wish so long as they are not hurting anyone else. It's completely unfair to deny someone the right to work simply because a handful of people believe that workers are entitled to a certain standard of living.

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