Saturday, December 7

Liberal thinker: People aren't working because they'd lose money. Uh...wait...

Even when liberals spot problematical facts, far too many seem unable to make the obvious connections.  For example, here's liberal icon Norm Ornstein, in an article titled "The moral and economic imperative to raise the minimum wage":
A couple of weeks ago when I wrote about the war on food stamps I mentioned a D.C. woman who is struggling to feed herself and her daughter, but calculated that she would need a job paying $15 an hour to do better. That is an artifact of poorly constructed, patchwork policies. Liberal cant notwithstanding, there is a culture of dependency that can discourage work among many. But the fact is most people out of work want to work—it defines their self-worth.

How about a new approach:  Let’s change the incentive structure to make work pay, while maintaining devices like [Earned Income Tax Credit], rent subsidies and the health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act so that those who are working can support their families and live decent lives.  Let’s offer a tax credit when two people in a family want to work, so that their work pays.  And let’s raise the minimum wage to make it easier to reform the process and ultimately reduce the subsidies for those who do as we ask and fulfill their part of the social contract.
Readers are presumably saddened by the author's example of a woman "struggling to feed herself and her daughter"-- struggling but not working, apparently.  One inference is that she can't find a job--something all too common when the government penalizes businesses for hiring, eh?  But this woman doesn't *want* a job even if it pays $10 or $12 an hour, as she's calculated that she'd lose money unless she found a job paying $15 an hour.

Fair enough.  Who would expect anyone to take a job if they'd end up with less money overall?  Smart gal.

The author blames this result on "an artifact of poorly constructed, patchwork policies," but that phrase is carefully designed to mislead--because the policies were carefully crafted and passed by liberals.  He didn't complain that they were "poorly constructed" when they were being crafted and passed.  But now, faced with the utterly predictable (and indeed, predicted) result of these policies, he can't bring himself to admit that these very policies produced exactly the result that he's bemoaning.

How can any rational person possibly be surprised to discover that when government devises and installs a system that supports people who aren't working, ever-growing numbers of people decide they'd rather not work, thanks? 

The author candidly admits that "there is a culture of dependency that can discourage work among many."  Wow, bingo!  So does he then propose reducing the benefits of not working?  Of course not--at least not seriously.  (More on this later.)  Instead his solution is...more government decrees:  He wants the federal government to raise the minimum wage.

And honestly, I'm fine with this--as long as liberals know and admit all the predictable results of that decision. Which of course they won't do, and will be shocked--shocked!--when those results become apparent.

The author goes on to assert that "most people out of work want to work—it defines their self-worth."  While there's plenty of evidence that loafing on the taxpayer's dime gives people a warped sense of...almost everything, I think there's abundant evidence that given a choice between loafing and working at a job that pays exactly the same amount, most people would rather relax and collect checks.  I think the author is just claiming that most people want to work because that's what has to be true to support his conclusion that "we need" to raise the minimum wage.

Of course the guy also has other proposals:
Let’s change the incentive structure to make work pay, while maintaining devices like [Earned Income Tax Credit], rent subsidies and the health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act so that those who are working can support their families and live decent lives.
Like all "progressives" he avoids the obvious conclusion that the way to incentivize work is to reduce some of the benefits of not working.  And note the oh-so-subtle plug for Obamacare's "subsidies" (i.e. more government freebies).  And there's no denying that cutting even a single one of the numerous welfare benefits would reduce the income of some people.  Rather than allow that, or compensate in non-government ways, the author wants to maintain exactly the same system that already makes getting a job a net loser for far too many people.

Oh, wait:  He actually does at least pay lip-service to cutting at least one or two of the web of "subsidies" (don't call 'em welfare benefits) that have produced this effect.  It's the very last line of his proposals:
And let’s raise the minimum wage to make it easier to reform the process and ultimately reduce the subsidies for those who do as we ask and fulfill their part of the social contract.
Is there anyone on the planet who believes he (or any other "progressive") would ever agree to "reduce the subsidies," even if the government raised the minimum wage to $100 an hour?  He includes the line simply to remove conservative objections to raising the minimum wage:  'Doing that would let us reduce welfare.'  In theory it would, but progs would never allow it.  He just adds the line to win votes in congress.

Of course he didn't need to do this, because there's nothing to prevent our exalted emperor from simply raising the minimum wage by decree.

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