Tag: poor

The Libertarian Case for a Minimum Wage Hike

Nate Galt | United States

The federal minimum wage has been a controversial issue ever since it was introduced by President Roosevelt in 1938. Proponents of raising it say that it will help job growth and reduce poverty. However, opponents believe that raising the federal minimum wage will lead to layoffs and closures of small businesses. In all, the current federal minimum wage of seven dollars and twenty-five cents per hour is not a wage that someone can afford basic necessities with. People who are paid the federal minimum wage should be able to afford things such as clothes, food, and a roof over their head.  Raising the minimum wage has been an issue adopted by “progressive” Democrats and the Green Party. 

Taxpayers are paying for the minimum wage, just indirectly. They subsidize programs such as Food Stamps while large corporations save money by not paying their workers a living wage. This is extreme inequality because that money should go to workers employed by these corporations, not into the pockets of billionaires who try to cut corners by paying their workers very low wages. 

Raising the minimum wage would help the economy. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour would make $22.1 billion flow into the economy and would create about 85,000 new jobs in three years. Further, economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago made a prediction that if the minimum wage were to rise by $1.75, household spending would increase by $48 billion in the next year.  While these are merely predictions and are imperfect, they show that household spending increases as the minimum wage is raised. This boosts the gross domestic product and spurs job growth. For example, in Snohomish County in Washington State, there were no local minimum wages higher than the state minimum of $9.47. The state then raised the minimum wage to eleven dollars per hour. The full weight of the $1.53 increase, or over 16%, was assumed by employers. Subsequently, sixteen thousand jobs were created in Snohomish County. 

Some people say that raising the minimum wage hurts small businesses. According to Think Progress, two-thirds of “low‐wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but rather by large corporations…” Also, the three largest employers of minimum wage workers are Walmart, Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC), and McDonald’s. A hike in the minimum wage will not make large corporations like Walmart shut their doors, and its workers will benefit from it. 

Another reason the minimum wage should be raised is that it is impossible to afford rent in every state if one is paid $7.25. The state with the lowest “living wage” is South Dakota at just over 14 dollars, which is nearly double the current federal minimum wage. The definition of “living wage” is the bare minimum salary one needs to be able to afford rent, basic clothing, and groceries without skipping meals or receiving aid from the federal government. People who work full-time and are paid the minimum wage cannot provide basic necessities for themselves and their family, let alone afford to pay rent. Right now, this is the case, and millions of Americans are in a dire financial situation because they live on around only fifteen thousand dollars per year if they work full time. These people receive benefits which are subsidized by taxpayers because their employers do not pay them an adequate wage. As a result, businesses are saving money while taxpayers have to pick up the burden. If people get a living wage, they do not need to rely on taxpayer-funded public assistance. Better pay would let the government cut a lot of taxpayers’ funding of the money that it currently spends on programs to help counter poverty.

Others say that if the current minimum wage were increased, the price of items would increase. However, researchers at Purdue University found that increasing the wages of fast food workers to $15 an hour would only result in a price increase of around 4 percent. 4 percent of the cost of a Big Mac is around 23 cents, which is not a significant amount of money. The workers will have their wages doubled and will be able to make ends meet. Despite the negligible increase in prices, workers would end up with more money in their pockets and would be affected positively by this positively.

Increasing the minimum wage to 15 dollars would benefit the economy. It helps boost the GDP and job growth, and it alleviates taxpayers’ burden of paying for welfare. $15 per hour will allow minimum wage workers to make ends meet and to afford housing, clothing, and food without having to rely on government programs such as food stamps. It would reduce the number of Americans living in poverty as well. All of the above benefits have no significant drawbacks, so the only logical thing to do is to support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour to help workers, the economy, and your tax rate. Should businesses get so-called “corporate welfare” while taxpayers have to foot the bill? Even though raising the minimum wage seems like a leftist, Bernie Sanders-type policy, all libertarians should support it. Taxes, welfare, and other benefits would be cut, leaving more money in Americans’ pockets. 


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Legalizing All Drugs is Morally and Practically Beneficial

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

Since the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the War on Drugs has destroyed countless lives. This campaign often oversteps constitutional restrictions to searches and seizures without warrants or probable cause. Worse than this, however, is the pain it inflicts upon families. For mere use of an illicit substance, the state takes people away from their loved ones.

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Collectivism Targets the Weak

Nickolas Roberson | United States

The world as we know it has countless different ideologies and belief systems, each with its own stance on religion, politics, economics, social systems, and numerous other categories and theories. All of these systems provide instructions as to how to live your life, how to treat others, how to think and develop your own ideas and rhetoric. Ideologies provide a sense of order to your existence. However, these creeds and outlooks on human life are not always positive. A great number of these systems are nihilistic, bleak, pessimistic, deceptive, ignorant, spineless, or are downright evil. Some of these villainous philosophies include, but are most certainly not limited to, nihilism, institutionalism, authoritarianism, and possibly the most heinous of them all, collectivism. How is this economic, political, and life-guiding philosophy and its corresponding philosophies so malignant? There are a multitude of reasons, such as the devaluation of the individual and the destruction of natural rights and liberties, but one of the most important notions of collectivism is this: it targets the weak.

What exactly is collectivism? As defined by Merriam-Webster, it is “a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution; emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity.” It is broken down into a plethora of sub-categories, such as socialism, communism, Marxism, Maoism, Leninism, and a myriad of other such collectivist and totalitarian systems. All of these ideologies and dogmas despise the individual, deeming it as the core determinant of nearly all problems in human society and history, such as poverty, war, inequality, etc. The existence of the collectivist theories is accredited to the poor and weak in society becoming envious towards those who were of higher power and standing than them. They lead to major human catastrophes, such as genocide, great purges, mass man-made famines, and disease. Examples of these catastrophes include the Great Purge in the Soviet Union, the Holodomor, the Great Leap Forward in Maoist China, and many more. In total, collectivism, specifically totalitarian collectivism, has killed at least 50 million people in the past 150 years.

Who are these weak individuals who are targeted by collectivism? They are the feeble-minded, the lying and duplicitous, the bottom-feeders, and those who lack the determination, willpower, and strength to live their lives as true individuals. The only way they can live their lives is to depend on the production and work of others. That is what collectivism offers: instead of being an individual and working to better your own life, you will be a member of the group which will do the work for you instead; you become another cog in the machine.

How does collectivism accomplish this? First, of course, by destroying individualism and the wills of the people in whatever land or nation it wishes to conquer. Once that objective is fulfilled, the collectivist government implements programs and policies that make the people dependent on government, such as social welfare programs and general equality of outcome. These people lose what drives them in life, as they are brainwashed into believing that government, a gluttonous, parasitic mother, will fulfill their every need. The collectivist government takes away all that these people produce, utilizing it for what government needs and wants and then distributing the leftovers to the hungry masses. Unfortunately, these weak people buy into this brainwashing. Instead of defeating the dragon of collectivism, the weak attempt to appease and feed the dragon, believing it will ignore or even protect them. In reality, they’re on the path to their own demise, when the voracious dragon will grow in strength and eventually consume and burn the village, the people, and society as a whole. 


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Does Capitalism Unite or Divide People?

Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Capitalism is an economic system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. More specifically, capitalism is the free and voluntary exchange of goods and services.

Before the implementation of money, the differences between people was a matter of Nature or God. Some, by their own free will or by location, had more than others and created more than others. Some are stronger, some are smarter, some are more intelligent, some are better looking, some need less, some utilize what they have better, etc. It is the very nature of being human that we have differences between us before ever even initiating money or property, i.e. capital, into the equation. This is most likely why Marx and Engles do not provide an origin of ‘property’ or ‘property rights’ because to take away what is someone else’s is unjust and immoral, as well as least pragmatic or least utilitarian.

Prior to the introduction of capitalism in the world, much fewer people had wealth, and all struggled to get by aside from those wealthy few. A world GINI coefficient would clearly show a lopsided distribution of wealth, in the words of Communists and Socialists, and provide evidence of the daily struggles once suffered while unknown in most parts of the world today.

We live far better lives today thanks to capitalism. Abject poverty since the implementation of capitalism in the world, especially after 1980, is nearing its very end. Prior to capitalism, people had to work longer hours, work harder, children worked more, and people married for practical reasons more than for love. It can be easily and confidently declared that capitalism made way for more love and individualism, simultaneously, more than any other approach prior.

Actual Capitalism does not infringe on the rights of others, because the philosophy of it is based on free and voluntary exchange. Typically, this also implies that there is a legal system that ensures the negative Liberties, Natural Rights, of everyone. Some economists and philosophers differ on the need of a State in order for capitalism to exist.

What most people criticize as being ‘capitalism’ today, as many Communists and Socialists have espoused, is in fact NOT CAPITALISM. A State that allows the infringement of rights while protecting a company that wishes to exploit is CRONYISM, or CRONY CAPITALISM, not capitalism itself.

Remember, government, by its definition, has the sole monopoly on coercion and initiation of force. A coercive monopoly, crony capitalism, coercion through labor unions, involuntary redistribution, taxes, etc. are only continually possible through a government, not a free and voluntary market.

Envy, jealousy, theft, coerced redistribution schemes through government, etc. are what keep people apart by force. Capitalism betters the lives of everyone in the end, generally speaking. In fact, this principle of capitalism that encourages free trade, as in laissez-faire capitalism, is one point that more economists agree on than anything else, no matter the economist’s political affiliation.

  • Isn’t it ironic that Communists and Socialists always complain about so-called “bourgeoisie” living easy lives while exploiting the “proletariat,” but Communists and Socialists want everyone to live like the “bourgeoisie” by forcefully stealing with threat of murdering the “bourgeoisie?”

Capitalism has done more to unite people than divide them. The fact that we can sit here reading and writing on the internet in the middle of the day rather than hunting, farming, collecting water, or making things to live day-to-day, etc. attests to the benefits brought by capitalism. The fact that a writer such as Marx could have existed while freely and voluntarily living off the dime of Engels, a “bourgeoisie,” is further proof that capitalism has done more to unite us than divide us. Without capitalism, our focus and worry is more on the immediate rather than the philosophy brought on by leisure for the masses which is only a result of capitalism.

When people begin making copious amounts of money more than others, sure their status and quality of life differs than the layman, but the wealthy must still spend or store their money somewhere that benefits those in lesser positions. This is a key principle, as living in a wealthier society is far superior to that of living in one where only a few are wealthy. But if everyone is forced to be the same, nothing has the same worth as it does now. When everyone has the same wealth, the cost of things becomes more expensive, subjectively and comparably speaking. If all we looked at was the GINI of two countries in order to compare wealth distribution, we could compare Morocco and the US. I am confident that more people would rather live in the US than in Morocco, aside from political and social differences, and simply based on economic reasons for equality and unity. Nevertheless, the two countries have pretty similar distributions of income as seen below:

Or we can compare the US with the Czech Republic, where the average person makes more like that of their neighbor than in the US.

I can still confidently say that more people would rather live in the US than in the Czech Republic. Not only does this suggest that there is more to living a good life than the balanced distribution of wealth, but also that when we get closer to actual capitalism we live better lives.

I will admit that Socialism and Communism in their truest forms have never been successfully attempted. Likewise, Capitalism in its purest form has never been successfully attempted. However, the near-Capitalism has done more to help unify and better humankind more than near-Socialism or near-Communism. While, near-Communism and near-Socialism have done more to destroy and divide people than any other system, records that suggest close to 100,000,000 (one hundred million) deaths from the two.

Capitalism provides solutions for people, as there is an incentive to provide these solutions in the market, and working with the marketplace. Such things as technology, medicine, art, transportation, architecture, clothing, food, etc. all help to better our lives and unify us, while more competition drives down costs of production and makes things better for most if not all, in the immediate. Capitalism does more to unify us rather than divide us, while other systems, such as Communism or Socialism, do more to divide us.


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A Healthy Dose of Collectivism is in Our Individual Interest

Craig Axford | Canada

During the summer of the 2012 presidential campaign, President Barack Obama asserted that America was the product of a lot of collective hard work.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires. ~ President Obama, Roanoke, Virginia, July 2012

This lack of deference to the American myth of the rugged individual able to overcome virtually any obstacle through a combination of hard work and perseverance was duly noted by Obama’s 2012 opponent, Mitt Romney. The key phrase from Obama’s speech used by the GOP in their counterattack was “you didn’t build that.” Romney replied personally, arguing that “What he’s [Obama] saying is that if someone has succeeded, if they built something, he’s saying they didn’t really build it — no, it was the government, it was the government that takes responsibility.”

Well, of course, government research is responsible for a great many of the things that Americans currently enjoy, but that wasn’t really Obama’s point. His reference to government involvement in the creation of the Internet aside, his larger argument was that without a lot of collective effort on the part of countless fellow citizens, all the things we like to think of as our own individual accomplishments wouldn’t be possible.

Barack Obama was hardly the first president to recognize that civilization is a group endeavor for which no single person can take credit. Our individual successes are made possible by these collective exertions. Given Mitt Romney had made his fortune in finance rather than swinging a sledgehammer or on the assembly line, Abraham Lincoln might have reminded him that his wealth was largely the product of other people’s hard work:

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation.~ Abraham Lincoln, First Annual Message to Congress [December 3, 1861]

The controversy surrounding Obama’s 2012 comments are reminiscent of the earlier attacks leveled against Hillary Clinton for her 1996 book It Takes A Village. In a stunning example of judging a book by its title, conservatives attacked then-First Lady Hillary Clinton for promoting the state as a substitute for parents and family.

Mrs. Clinton’s book title was derived from an African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” No doubt the former first lady thought it would be uncontroversial to suggest that communities, as well as families, play a critical role in a child’s wellbeing and happiness. She, like others before and since, underestimated American resistance to anything that challenges its cult of individuality.

A willingness to work hard is a valuable attribute for an individual to possess. Certainly, it increases their chances of reaching and maintaining at least some degree of comfort and status. But, as has been pointed out many times before, if hard work alone guaranteed success every poor mother who has to haul their family’s daily water supply in buckets from distant wells or watering holes would be a millionaire. Both social and physical infrastructure matter and nobody can build or maintain them on their own. That’s as true in the so-called “advanced” nations of the planet as it is in the least developed.

Americans are fond of thinking of the poor as lazy. Unfortunately, that the data shows most of them do work and work hard represents another assault to the myth that it’s their work ethic that makes the successful worthy of their relative wealth and status. “Today, 41.7 million laborers — nearly a third of the American workforce — earn less than $12 an hour,” according to one recent New York Times article, “and almost none of their employers offer health insurance.”

So if it wasn’t all their hard work that made the rich and famous rich and famous, or even made the middle-class, what was it? Showing up, punching the clock, putting in a solid eight hours or maybe a little overtime is, perhaps, arguably necessary but has proven over and over again to be far from sufficient.

If we live anywhere in the developed world we should count ourselves fortunate to have been born in or to have successfully immigrated to a country where hauling our drinking water in buckets is no longer required for our survival. For those of us born in such a nation, it’s pure luck that landed us in a place where we had access to things such as safe drinking water and a public education system. In the US, the only developed country without universal healthcare, being born into a family covered by health insurance provided us with another lucky break. To paraphrase Barack Obama, as children we certainly had nothing to do with building any of those advantages and the many more we inherited.

It should be obvious that being randomly selected by an indifferent universe to begin life in a place with well-paved roads, educational opportunities, healthcare, supermarkets and, more recently, the Internet, gives certain individuals a huge headstart from day one. If you happen to have been driven home from the hospital by a chauffeur and had a trust fund established for you before your first birthday, your odds of success rise much further still. If anyone thinks, upon graduating from Harvard or Yale, that this sort of headstart had nothing to do with their degree or the school they received it from it is, to be frank, an indication that their Ivy League education was probably wasted on them.

Try for a moment to imagine sustaining any of these benefits of civilization without the labor of the “nearly a third of the American workforce” currently scraping by on $12 an hour or less. Many of them are in the healthcare industry. Others clean the homes of far wealthier families so both parents can work without either having to worry much about housecleaning or the other basic chores that are daily routines for their poorer neighbors on the other side of town. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of these workers are in the construction trade busy building the homes, schools, and roads of tomorrow. Yes, some are fast-food workers, of which a rapidly shrinking minority are teenagers, but why should that matter? Work is work and even the president is rather fond of KFC.

By now some readers will no doubt be mumbling furiously to themselves about all the effort doctors, lawyers, scientists, and business executives put into their education. Doesn’t this effort deserve to be rewarded? If you’re one of them, you aren’t wrong; you’re just not looking at the big picture.

Picture yourself earning a diploma or degree under the following conditions: To begin with, you must hunt and gather all the food it takes to sustain yourself as you complete your studies. Then there’s the small matter of making the clothes you must wear each day. Before you can even begin to think about studying for your finals you will need to build yourself a shelter, dig a latrine (or invent indoor plumbing complete with a steady water supply and a reliable sewage system), dig a well, build a kiln to fire all your plates and cups in, mine the minerals you’ll need for your utensils (to say nothing of your laptop, which you’ll need to build from scratch). Of course, you’ll also need to cut down a few trees and convert them into paper so you can hand copy all your textbooks (or perhaps you can barter a copy from some earlier student who somehow made it this far).

Hopefully, you get the picture. An awful lot of people make their living taking care of all the necessities for us so we can focus on pursuing our aspirations. Pride is the wrong response given this reality. We didn’t single-handedly overcome the challenges life throws in our way to get where we are today. None of us “pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps.” We all stand upon the shoulders of millions of others, both living and dead, who sacrificed themselves to make it possible for us to pursue our dreams — dreams they believed would ultimately benefit them and their posterity as much or more as it would you or I. The proper attitude in this light is one of gratitude and humility.

When companies like Amazon and Walmart fail to pay the men and women that show up to work each day a living wage and when politicians stand before the cameras to defend their “right” to do so, they aren’t just being unjust; they’re actively undermining the very social contract that made our world possible. When people dismiss the working poor as lazy they aren’t merely wrong; they’re lying to themselves in order to justify their own privileged place in our social hierarchy.

Such narratives may be self-serving in the short-term but in the long run, they’re deadly myths that can undo entire nations. In light of current events, one is forced to wonder just how many more Americans need to be driven into poverty before the ideology of the self-made man (or woman) is finally recognized for the civil society killing cancer that it is.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com

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