Prayer at government functions-9: The reasoning of the Appeals Court in the Greece case »« Disturbing finding about the middle class

Aren’t they worried about the tumbrils?

Samantha Bee of The Daily Show interviews various people about raising the minimum wage. The rich person she speaks to displays the arrogance, callousness, and cluelessness that have come to typify that class. These people seem to have no sense of the growing anger against them. They seem to feel secure that the power of the state can protect them. They don’t seem to realize that all societies, even the US, have a breaking point.

(This clip aired on January 28, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Comments

  1. Randomfactor says

    Someone noted that the appropriate model for what’s coming is not Nazi Germany but Revolutionary France.

  2. says

    The US is not anywhere close to being in the kind of condition pre-revolutionary France was in, nor has there been as long a history of abuse. To get that kind of anger, to that level of violence, is practically a work of art.

  3. Francisco Bacopa says

    I think the response to the Occupy movement showed pretty clearly that the rich can count on the media and police to protect them.

    I never saw the hardcore Oakland brutality in any Occupy Houston action, but we still got ground down by a Federal grand jury on terrorism charges for the D12 Houston action even though the judge initially wanted to drop the charges.

    You’ve never lived until you’ve faced charging horses and seen the menacing red tents. I’ve been on the barricades. it’s awesome. I’d love to do it again. Search on youtube for “red tent occupy houston” and you can see what I mean.

  4. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Two alternative points of views from (mostly/relatively) progressive liberal sources:

    1. Bill Gates suggesting that raising the minimum wage can cause jobs to flee to lower wage areas AND cause jobs to be destroyed by giving automation a higher return.

    So for instance a company might find an automated burger conveyor belt broiler like the ones used (or used to be used?) at Wendy’s is more affordable than the people that McDonald’s employs.

    http://www.ijreview.com/2014/01/110131-answer-msnbc-host-looking-bill-gates-raising-minimum-wage/

    In the end Gates suggests it’s a complex issue that needs to be studied to determine who will gain and who will lose.

    2. Then in the Atlantic, Venture Capitalist Bill Davidow

    The Internet Is the Greatest Legal Facilitator of Inequality in Human History

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-internet-is-the-greatest-legal-facilitator-of-inequality-in-human-history/283422/

    Ford’s success trickled down, as other companies followed his lead. Automotive companies not only employed numerous well paid workers but they created a large demand for other product and services that employed millions more—steel, glass, machine tools, auto dealers and dealerships, gas stations, mechanics, bridges, roads, and construction equipment. The workers in those industries purchased homes, appliances, and clothes creating still more jobs.

    One reason we are failing to create a vibrant middle class is that the Internet affects the economy differently than the new businesses of the past did., forcing businesses and their workers to face increased global competition. It reduces the barriers for moving jobs overseas. It has a smaller economic trickle-down effect.

    Doing some of the obvious things like raising the minimum wage to fight the effects of the Internet will probably worsen the problem. For example, it will make it more difficult for bricks-and-mortar retailers to compete with online retailers.

    Surprisingly, the much-vilified Walmart probably does more to help middle class families raise their median income than the more productive Amazon. Walmart hires about one employee for every $200,000 in sales, which translates to roughly three times more jobs per dollar of sales than Amazon. Raising the minimum wage will also make it more difficult to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. The Internet is not the sole force driving income inequality in the U.S. Our languishing education system is a major contributor to the problem. But two things are certain: the Internet is creating many of those in the ultra-wealthy 1%; and it forces businesses to compete with capable international competitors while providing the tools so that businessmen can squeeze inefficiency out of the system in order to remain competitive.

    If the government is going to be in the business of redistributing wealth, a better approach would be to raise the earned income tax credit and increase taxes to pay for it. Not only would this raise the income of low paid workers, but also it would subsidize businesses so they would be more competitive in world markets and encourage them to create jobs. Since the minimum wage would not go up, moving jobs overseas would be a less attractive alternative.

  5. raven says

    1. As economic inequality goes up, political instability goes up. This is poly sci 101.

    2. US economic inequality has been increasing for half a century.

    3. Guess what? We are becoming more and more politically unstable. The attempted coup d’etat by the Tea Party to keep a few million people from accessing a private insurance exchange was just the latest obvious example.

    4. And the solution is? Got me. Got everyone. Nobody knows.

    This increasing inequality is a long term trend and is bipartisan. Can’t blame the GOP or the Democrats.

  6. raven says

    Every society does have its breaking point. The French revolution, the commie takeover of Russia (October revolution), any nunber of liberation wars in the third world.

    But there is a huge distance between stable and all out revolution. Political instability covers a wide range and can go on for decades. It wouldn’t surprise me if this becomes the norm in the USA.

    Aren’t they worried about the tumbrils?

    Naw. The ultrarich could care less. When the tumbrils come, they will be in their private jets, going elsewhere. Much of their money is already offshore. Romney has a $100 million IRA in Bermuda. I want one of those too.

  7. raven says

    The Romans knew how to keep a society from reaching the breaking point.

    Bread and circuses.

    These days we have cable TV, the internet, and food stamps.

    Oddly enough, the GOP/Tea Party wants to abolish food stamps and have already made some cuts. They haven’t thought it through very well. Abolishing food stamps could result in millions of desperate, starving people down the road. At that point, I wouldn’t want to be a GOP politician. My head does not want to be stuck on a pike.

  8. lanir says

    Not sure pikes or tumbrils are on anyone’s radar. And they probably shouldn’t be. I’m not sure the mechanics of representation appear to be broken enough yet (whether they are in practice or not is immaterial, mobs form based on immediate perceptions not carefully researched facts). And honestly there’s the convenient “terrorism” label for anyone who takes a stand, even one that is non-violent and subject to police state brutality. And as amazing as it sounds, police brutality actually appears to add support to the idea that the group they’re targeting is violent when the media reports on it.

    It would take quite a bit of work to get everyone who wanted change organized. I would expect several more movements like the fast food workers and occupy to spark and fade before they begin to network together. The immediately relevant segments of the government do not appear to recognize many rules or limitations when engaging sizeable populist movements. So the movements will have to get quite large and deal with a considerable amount of persecution (actual persecution, not the made-up BS some religious groups seem to think is in fashion) before any results start to pop up.

    I don’t think we’re in a spot where that can happen right now. Maybe in a few years if we have a Republican president with House and Senate majorities. Or if another Wallstreet looting spree kicks off another economic collapse.

  9. hyphenman says

    Good morning Mano,

    I fear that neither tumbrils nor torches are in our near future because people don’t resort to those extremes until their children are starving.

    Do all you can to make today a good day,

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  10. doublereed says

    Oh Peter Schiff.

    Oh god, he’s actually pretty well known for hawking Austrian Economics and nonsense like the Gold Standard at people. People say he’s intelligent because he predicted the Housing Crisis. But Austrian Economics is essentially all about constantly predicting crisis after crisis without fail, so it’s really just a matter of a “broken clock being right twice a day.”

    For instance, like many Austrians, he has constantly predicted that hyperinflation is just around the corner. You’d think after being wrong so often would make him stop, but Austrian Economics is not falsifiable, so realistically he never will.

  11. flex says

    @ wtfwhateverd00d at comment 5,

    In the end Gates suggests it’s a complex issue that needs to be studied to determine who will gain and who will lose.

    The studies have been done, and the results are that the elasticity of employment , i.e. how many jobs are lost, when the minimum wage has changed is around zero.

    Here is a link to a discussion of a recent meta-study of the affects:

    http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/raising-the-minimum-wage-the-debate-begins-again/

    Bill Gates has been laughably wrong with many of his predictions; read his book, “The Road Ahead” for examples. Bill Gates is also not an economist and may not be familiar with the economic studies which have been done on this issue. Gates dissembled, and I don’t blame him, but I wouldn’t rely on his opinion. Why do you?

  12. Wylann says

    Surprisingly, the much-vilified Walmart probably does more to help middle class families raise their median income than the more productive Amazon. Walmart hires about one employee for every $200,000 in sales, which translates to roughly three times more jobs per dollar of sales than Amazon.
    This is an ironic comment after saying it’s a complex subject that needs to be studied (it has, and every study I’ve seen that uses real world data shows that the gains from decreasing income inequality always outweight the small drawbacks). The number of people one’s company employs/revenue is not a good metric in and of itself, especially in the case of Walmart, where they pay their employees so little that many of them still need government assistance. Compare the average wages at Amazon vs. Walmart, plus all the secondary benefits of Amazon’s business/business model (for instance, all the shipping) and it is complicated, but I would guess which one is better for the overall local economy where they are located.
    raven:

    Abolishing food stamps could result in millions of desperate, starving people down the road. At that point, I wouldn’t want to be a GOP politician. My head does not want to be stuck on a pike.

    The GOP isn’t so good at the ‘bread’ part of that equation, but they put the Romans to shame with the ‘circus’ part. So well in fact that they seem to easily get the proles to vote against their own interest time and time again.

    flex: Thanks for the link. Off to read.

  13. Nick Gotts says

    Hilarious,

    wtfwhateverd00d@5 refers us to articles by a multi-billionaire and a venture capitalist to tell us why raising the minimum wage is a bad idea. Gates and Davidow may be among the more thoughtful members of the 1%, but that socio-economic stratum is still where their fundamental assumptions come from and where their allegiance lies. They are not about to entertain the idea that there might be anything fundamentally wrong with the capitalism that has given them such rich rewards.

  14. wtfwhateverd00d says

    @13 Gates is referring to minimum wage hikes leading to more automation, especially in a world of an internet of things and robots. Jared Bernstein didn’t touch on that at all.

    Much of your comment is ad hominem, but for what it’s worth, I am not relying on Bill Gates, I am offering you a different perspective from an intelligent, progressive voice that has done absolutely remarkable things in the past 20 years to dig the world out of poverty and illness.

    You can choose to be comfortable with your well known sources restating the same old talking points and shibboleths

    And you can also speech police as you do, not bothering to read the articles, and trying to ad hom and shame alternative points of view.

    Or you can try to understand what others are saying and encourage conversation, dialog, and end up with an enriched understanding of the world.

    @15 Davidow isn’t saying stiff the poor and isn’t saying take away the social nets, Davidow is talking about increasing the EITC, improving education and accessibility to education, helping us realize that sometimes what we need are more Walmarts and less Amazons and Whole Foods, and explaining how increasing minimum wage can create perverse incentives and other road blocks that will help no one.

    He certainly is a member of the 1%, but I don’t see much in his piece that isn’t first about trying to support the middle class.

    You should probably also look at Jeremy Rifkin’s The End of Work which describes how our economy is losing jobs completely and how we should organize for that.

    It is difficult for me to read Davidow’s article where he calls for increased EITC, and better education, and how we are failing our middle class and why that is so important to address and then understand how you can write that he cannot entertain the idea that there might be anything fundamentally wrong with capitalism.

  15. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Peter Schiff defends himself and explains why it is good to remember the Daily Show is on Comedy Central.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/02/peter-schiff/i-knew-i-was-walking-into-a-trap/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    When asked the $2 per hour question, I responded that very few individuals would take a job at that pay, even if it were legal. In a free market, businesses compete for customers by keeping prices down, and for labor by keeping wages up. Any employer offering even low-skilled workers just $2 per hour would be outbid by others offering to pay more.

    However I did suggest two groups of people who might be willing to work for $2 per hour. The first group — which was edited out — was the unpaid interns who tend to value work experience and connections more than pay. (In fact, “The Daily Show” staffer who booked me, and who was present during the interview, had been thrilled to start there as an unpaid intern). Since many interns work for free, $2 per hour would be an improvement. Some interns are even willing to pay to work. Since employers are afraid to hire them without pay for fear of violating labor laws or inviting lawsuits, they often hire young people working for college credit. These individuals are forced to pay college tuition to get a job they could have had for free had there been no minimum wage.

    The other group was the intellectually disabled, who are in fact already exempt from the current minimum wage law by federal regulation. Although many have taken my support for this exemption as some sort of advocacy for modern slavery, I offered good reasons for the rule. While saying nothing about any person’s value as an individual or a human being, it is undeniable that the intellectually disabled have, in general, fewer marketable skills than the general population. Anyone arguing otherwise is just speaking from emotion. If an intellectually disabled person can’t perform work that produces a minimum wage level of output, then no employer seeking to make a profit could afford to pay that person the official minimum wage.

    I further explained that since such individuals typically live with their parents or other caretakers, they are not working to support themselves or anyone else. They are working for the self-esteem associated with having a job — the pride of working and making a contribution. Many of the jobs they perform may seem mundane to those of normal intelligence, but they are often the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. I pointed out that if the federal minimum wages were to apply to them, a great many of those opportunities would vanish. Others may disagree, but I believe a job for such a person at $2 per hour is better than no job at all.When asked the $2 per hour question, I responded that very few individuals would take a job at that pay, even if it were legal. In a free market, businesses compete for customers by keeping prices down, and for labor by keeping wages up. Any employer offering even low-skilled workers just $2 per hour would be outbid by others offering to pay more.

    However I did suggest two groups of people who might be willing to work for $2 per hour. The first group — which was edited out — was the unpaid interns who tend to value work experience and connections more than pay. (In fact, “The Daily Show” staffer who booked me, and who was present during the interview, had been thrilled to start there as an unpaid intern). Since many interns work for free, $2 per hour would be an improvement. Some interns are even willing to pay to work. Since employers are afraid to hire them without pay for fear of violating labor laws or inviting lawsuits, they often hire young people working for college credit. These individuals are forced to pay college tuition to get a job they could have had for free had there been no minimum wage.

    The other group was the intellectually disabled, who are in fact already exempt from the current minimum wage law by federal regulation. Although many have taken my support for this exemption as some sort of advocacy for modern slavery, I offered good reasons for the rule. While saying nothing about any person’s value as an individual or a human being, it is undeniable that the intellectually disabled have, in general, fewer marketable skills than the general population. Anyone arguing otherwise is just speaking from emotion. If an intellectually disabled person can’t perform work that produces a minimum wage level of output, then no employer seeking to make a profit could afford to pay that person the official minimum wage.

    I further explained that since such individuals typically live with their parents or other caretakers, they are not working to support themselves or anyone else. They are working for the self-esteem associated with having a job — the pride of working and making a contribution. Many of the jobs they perform may seem mundane to those of normal intelligence, but they are often the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. I pointed out that if the federal minimum wages were to apply to them, a great many of those opportunities would vanish. Others may disagree, but I believe a job for such a person at $2 per hour is better than no job at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>