I’m no Adam Smith — which is good since otherwise I’d be really, really old — and I thought until recently that most human beings understood where money came from, how it was earned, and what it was necessary for. Also, of course, what it was. I.e. a symbol that allows free trade between individuals.
I thought this, arguably because when in 6th grade my younger son had to do a paper on the history of one of the inventions that made modern civilization possible, he did it on money, complete with a retrospective history of money and trade and an explanation on why money was a good thing because it facilitated trade between humans.
I should have known better. At 12 my son was virgin of most higher learning, ignorant of the great theories of economics, and flying by the seat of his pants because a project was due.
The evidence from politicians, “economists” and social theorists starting with Marx is that there is a VAST group of people out there who have studied carefully in order to deny the function, use and utility of money and to substitute for it the raving lunacy of a street person, like the Occupy member who told us the government should just print money and give everyone a million or some such. See, at the time I assumed this was just a street person and that other people understood LOGICALLY that money is a symbol for wealth and that money uncoupled from that symbolism has in fact no value.
But apparently there are adults (I’ll assume, it’s entirely possible the commenter below is a 4th grader who hangs out at Vile 770 from whence he came, but I sort of kind of doubt it) who believe that money is sort of a free bene produced by the government and the only reason you wouldn’t give more of it to everyone is that you were an evil greedy capitalist. (Moustaches to twirl, optional.)
For the win, on the Post Ca Ira is a comment by Zander Nyrond (I noticed he misspelled Nymrod, too.)
“These are the people who favor raising the minimum wage because in their world this means that poor people will have more money, completely missing the fact that most poor people will lose their jobs…”
Correction. Most poor people will not “lose” their jobs. A job is not a thing you can misplace, or that can fall through a hole in your pocket and vanish down the back of the sofa. What you mean to say is “if the government orders employers to pay their workers barely enough to live on, those employers will take away their workers’ jobs out of spite and to show the government who’s boss,” and that you approve this course of action as right and proper. And once you’ve said that, you’ve pretty much said enough.
I confess I had to read that about ten times. If it wasn’t written by a fourth grader, I’m at a loss about the mind behind it.
It starts with this:
Correction. Most poor people will not “lose” their jobs. A job is not a thing you can misplace, or that can fall through a hole in your pocket and vanish down the back of the sofa.
I’m not 100 percent sure what he thinks a job is. Yeah, sure you can’t MISPLACE a job, but you sure can lose it in the sense of no longer having it.
As I mentioned before, I don’t come from the most hardscrabble background I can think of. Not only was my parents’ childhood worse (dad could only attend high school because the Stone Mason’s union allowed two promising working class students a year to become members and get a card. This allowed him to get soup for free at noon. Otherwise he would have gone all day without eating, and while I presume he could still have passed, maybe, it’s really hard to conceptualize. More on that later*) but many people in the village I grew up in had it worse. However, we lived “close to the bone” and both my mother and my paternal grandfather, in whose house we lived, lived from “job” to “job” because they worked, as do I, as contractors. That means when you turned in a job and got paid, you had to look for the other.
Of course, both of them worked for the highest price they could get the “boss” to agree on, but my grandfather did at least one set of cabinets in exchange for a chicken a week and other considerations, because the person who had the need for the cabinets had no cash. And mom, as I’ve mentioned, bought a knitting machine and would undertake unraveling and re-dying really old sweaters before remaking them for what you must understand was a pittance (consider the wealth of people who couldn’t afford to buy yarn) so she could keep (quite often literally) bread and soup on the table every day. One of my earliest memories is of going to sleep with the sound of the knitting machine, which was metallic and heavy and sounded like a little train. She set it up in the kitchen and I slept next door in the hallway. (My brother slept in the living room on a pull-out. The “apartment” cut out of my grandparents’ house — and yes, we paid rent — was a shot gun with only one bedroom and no bathroom, because the bathroom was outside grandma’s back door. Curious fact, should I ever become important enough anyone cares, the bedroom in which I was born is now a fancy bathroom with textured tiles, since new owners remodeled the house.) Mom used to listen to the radio and knit till two or three in the morning. She favored educational programs. (Possibly because FORMALLY her schooling stopped at 4th grade, though she served an apprenticeship after that.) I suppose my first interest in mythology comes from listening to those programs underlying the steady drone of the machine.
When you work like that, from job to job and pay to pay, you become really conscious of the people who would pay you or would pay you more if they could. In the village it was very easy to see this. One of the things mom did was contract young women to clean the house/do the dishes, so she had more time to work (because time was money) but in case it’s not immediately obvious, we were often tighter than a boa constrictor’s embrace. So there often was no money to pay these young ladies.
What mom, that capitalist exploiter did, was make the girls’ clothes (often from leftovers, like my clothes were. You see wealthy clients would drop off lengths of fabric, and if she used less they told her to keep the leftovers.) It became known in the village that getting a wardrobe made by mom got you courted by men a class higher than yours (and don’t ask. You’d probably see no difference. Consider in her youth mom thought butchers were “upper class” and “select” and you’ll know everything you need to know.) So mom had a waiting list of girls willing to work for her, so she’d make them clothes. It will also tell you how these girls normally dressed/groomed that after lessons in the later and clothes made by mom they usually married in six months, so the list was handy.
Now mom being an evil capitalist TM was hiring these girls to MAXIMIZE her profit. Because — as any craftswoman — her profession dictated her time was money, she was freeing some of it to work more. (Something I’d dearly love to do and part of what The House Exploit TM is about though it doesn’t involve household help, just reducing housework.) For it she traded more time, (to make the girls’ clothes) but it was CONCENTRATED time as opposed to broken up bits. Spend a weekend making the girl a skirt suit, sure, but you don’t have to quit work after lunch to wash. Or after dinner to clean the kitchen. (I think our laundress was paid in a similar way, btw. The only time I remember mom paying in money was to the bread woman and the fish woman and of course at the shops.)
Now imagine the government looked at that iniquitous mode of payment and said “well, you get the fabric for free, and all you put in is time, and since you’re not paid by the hour, that’s worth nothing, which means you’re paying these girls nothing. You must pay $2 an hour and $1 towards social security.”
That job would have vanished. The girls would effectively have lost it. Sure, it wouldn’t have vanished behind the sofa (the only sofa we owned was brother’s pull out, which served for mom’s clients to sit on when leafing through fashion books and looking at mom’s sketches. It was pretty light and nothing could have vanished behind it.) it would still be gone, and the girls couldn’t have found it, no matter how much they looked.
It didn’t matter that mom would have liked them to cook lunch, do the marketing (we didn’t own a fridge until I was eight, so someone needed to shop for food every day, unless all we had that day was soup and corn bread which we could contrive from stores in the house), wash lunch dishes and come in after dinner to clean up while she worked on paying jobs that paid for our food and electricity and dad’s bus ticket to work. (Mom swears most months his earnings went to keep him in suits and shoes and pay for lunch away from home and hers ran the house. I don’t know. I know he turned all his money over and that to have money to have a coffee at the coffee shop was a red letter day.)
It didn’t matter that village girls fell over themselves to work for her in exchange for grooming tips (like, wash every week. No, seriously. And how to get rid of lice, which were endemic in the village) and nice clothes.
If the government dictated mom pay these girls “a living wage” ($2 was a bit more than that, actually) and something towards retirement, the job wouldn’t have existed. Mom would stay up till four in the morning working, instead. The house wouldn’t be clean to her exacting standards. AND the job would have been lost, having vanished up the government’s spout.
But Nymrod, the precious flower, if he’s an adult, has never run a business, not even a lemonade stand. I’m going to assume he’s either a trust fund baby or is one of those people educated in gender studies or race studies or other ways to “make money by intimidating others” and has no clue where money comes from and what it means.
Money is a short hand for value. Ask people to pay more for “value” than the value is worth to them (and often than they can) and there goes the job, which is the contracting of work for money.
If it weren’t so, why not simply mandate that minimum wage should be a million dollars? Then everyone could be millionaires, right? And this is probably how it works inside Nymrod’s head.
Notice also, his/her/its/sea animal’s ONLY understanding of why someone would be fired when the government interfered to mandate that a job provider pay more for an employee’s services:
What you mean to say is “if the government orders employers to pay their workers barely enough to live on, those employers will take away their workers’ jobs out of spite and to show the government who’s boss,”
First of all I want to approve of Precious Flower’s understanding of government. Yes, indeed, we are in fact the boss of government as laid out in our constitution, and I’m glad you know that at least, even if you seem to inhabit an imaginary world where the sky is made of lard and butter in all other respects.
However, I also want to point out that anyone born in the twentieth century has long since gotten used to government being not just a bad servant, but a truly despicable one. Our right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness is so regularly infringed that I can’t remember anyone doing much of anything to show government who’s boss.
Most of us, as most people in the West, try to live as best the government allows it and keep the tzar as far away from us as possible.
I find it salutary in these circumstances that he/she/it/fruitbat realizes we’re the boss of government. Good on you mate. There are vestiges of sanity in that addled egg you use for a head.
HOWEVER the bizarrely insane idea that someone would fire an employee to show “government who is boss” much less that this would be the only reason one would do it when the government arbitrarily interferes in your contract with your employee to dictate what you should pay your employee is mind boggling.
How can a person, living in the world for a number of years (if he/she/it/fruitcake isn’t 10) haven’s spotted the fact that you don’t hire people out of the benevolence of your heart but TO DO SOMETHING YOU NEED DONE is quite beyond me. And how they can’t think from that that if you fire someone “to show the government who’s boss” you’re going to have to do that work, buy a machine to do it or (and a lot of restaurants, fruit pickers and other low-margin people HAVE to do this to survive) hire someone illegally to do it is beyond me.
In fact, I can’t imagine anyone who has the money to hire work done that they need done and chooses not to do so to “show the government who’s boss” or indeed to “be a big meany capitalist” or to “play it again Sam” or whatever the heck other motives the powerful mind that came up with that theory can conjure.
If my mom had been forced to pay in money, no matter how convenient it was for her to have someone else do the cleaning, she’d have had to do it herself and rob more hours from sleep. (Possibly any amount of money. I don’t know the exchange at the time, but I know the escudo — Portuguese currency then — was worth pretty much nothing in the world stage, and our daily bread bill was so small that it was calculated in cruzados, the currency that had been hyperinflated and superseeded when mom was little. (* A note I promised above. The Portuguese government went bankrupt during mom’s and dad’s childhood. This meant that you couldn’t guy things at any price people could command so there was a lot of in-kind trade. Dad’s family was all right because they grew vegetables and had eggs they could trade for bread. The least said about mom’s childhood the best. If I’m to believe her, gleaner rights helped their survival. ) I suspect it would translate to something like 5c a day. We were the equivalent of Obama’s brother living on $1 a day, only at the time I suspect it was more like 25c. Even then, some of the sweater re-knitting mom did was for the farmer across the street who in turn supplied us with two cups of milk daily and about 3 lbs of heavy, dark corn-rye peasant bread a week. And that later in various forms was the staple of our diet, so we could save on the expensive wheat bread. I don’t complain, mind, I love broa, that dark, heavy bread which as made by the farmer had the consistency of a brick. In fact Caldo Verde (broth with tiny bits of meat and a lot of julliened greens) and broa would be my last meal if I got a request.)
Then there’s the “living wage.” Let’s not go there, or into the fact that most minimum wage earners are indeed young people NOT LIVING FROM IT or not staying stuck in it very long. At one time I worked retail for minimum wage. I no longer remember how much it was, but I know that a full day’s work netted me $20. I know this, because my now late brother in law came to visit and wanted me to go with him somewhere (weirdly, I think an SF con) and I couldn’t because I had to work. He offered to pay me $20 if I called in sick, but I wanted to keep the job and couldn’t miss it.
Anyway, the money was risible, particularly after social security took its cut. BUT at the time it paid Dan’s student loans a bit faster, and I judged that a worthy goal. (Since the one thing I promised dad when I got married was that we wouldn’t live on credit nor run up loans.) It also meant we had fewer of those months when we had a week to go till paycheck and only $6 in the bank. That too was a worthy goal, as I liked to eat every day.
Living wage? In the late eighties? Not hardly. Not unless you had three roommates and ate a meal a day. BUT it was what we needed, which is why I agreed to work for it. And, btw, I had no work history in this country and translator jobs are hard to come by without that, so that was the best I could do. Once I had that I could get a multilingual translator job.
I’m going to presume anyone trying to live from minimum wage qualifies for medicaid and a host of other services. (I could be wrong.)
But I do know that you will only be paid what you’re worth, because the people paying you CAN ONLY AFFORD TO PAY THAT MUCH or it’s only worth that much to them to have you do that stuff. Sometimes it’s one, sometimes the other, but in any case, if the government forces them to pay more, they either won’t be able to or will replace the job with a machine. Or hire someone more competent and have him do more work for the money.
The problem with this, as was noted in the comments yesterday is that that first job is an essential step. You’re not worth very much — I sucked as a retail clerk, frankly. Mostly because I got bored way too easily — but proving that you’ll be there on time and are trustworthy is necessary to get another job, even one you’re already trained for, if you have no other work history in this country. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to have the job that allowed us to buy a house. (Okay, in the long wrong this was futile as we lost money on that house, but we couldn’t know that at the time and it was a quirk of our personal history because we had to move due to lack of jobs and… yeah.)
And since he/she/it/marchpane likely has never actually had a real job, I should probably explain to the critter that most jobs are good for people. Being paid for something you did, earning your bread with the sweat of your brow, builds self confidence, a sense of self reliance and the reluctance to take handouts or be patronized in exchange for those. Of course, that’s possibly why Precious Flower would prefer government kill jobs and give people handouts instead. As the blogfather himself says “They’ll turn us all into beggars, because beggars are easy to please.”
And then we come to the end of the idiot’s screed:
and that you approve this course of action as right and proper. And once you’ve said that, you’ve pretty much said enough.
Let’s forget what he thinks I’m approving of and instead consider that I DISAPPROVE of the government making it impossible for people to contract for help and/or earn a living.
Yeah, you know why I have said enough, Cupcake?
Because I’m there right now. I work for a living.
I know in his/hers/its/Sanders Voter’s world, writing is something you do for self expression or to demonstrate how wonderful you are, or to feed your soul or whatever the cr*p it is people tell themselves when they’re too rich to be sensible.
In many ways I didn’t come very far from the village. Oh, I live way better. We have heating, cooling, and alas I’m in no danger of starving. But that’s because this society has a much lower “floor” and also because my husband works very hard to supply us with MOST of the necessities.
It’s not a necessity to help the boys with their professional training for instance, just fulfilling the promise we made them if they took STEM degrees. And a more reliable providing for our old age than the Social Security which we pay for but which won’t be there at all when we need it more than likely. And it’s not a necessity to be renting while we try to sell the other house, so we can reduce our living space, so we pay less in heating and I have less work cleaning, so I can write more.
BUT my money is necessary for such things. And I don’t get paid unless I finish work. And my work gets the money my employer thinks it’s worth.
I mean, there were years (the Musketeer Mysteries) when I was paid 5k a book. It was all the house was willing to pay and if the government had dictated they pay me 10k, then they simply wouldn’t buy my books. (Imagine my crying when I had to pay 14k that year in self employment tax. Almost 3 books for the privilege of working my fingers to the bone.)
Now if Baen offered me 5k for a book, I’d politely decline and go indie, because Witchfinder made me 3 times that so far. BUT that’s because I have other options. If I didn’t, I’d shut up and take it.
A living wage? I don’t know. I work weekends and evenings. I take two days off a year. I once — granted when I was paid less — costed out my time and cried because I made less than a dollar an hour. Now, writing is sitdown work and way easier than say cleaning hotel bathrooms (which I’ve done if anyone is keeping track.) So you could say I’m able to work long hours as I do it inside, and it’s not physical labor.
Perhaps. But a lot of the minimum wage jobs are fairly easy. My biggest problem with mine was being bored out of my gourd, because even if there was no one nearby, they didn’t allow me to read under the counter. And if someone worked those the hours I work they would probably make more than I do.
The problem is there aren’t that many jobs of the kind available, because there’s a minimum mandatory payment that’s often more than “warm body, standing by cash register” is worth.
So yes, I disapprove of the government making jobs disappear. Because after 15 years as a writer, I have no resume, and I’ve forgotten most of my foreign languages (I can’t even speak Portuguese grammatically anymore) and if things go upside down I might need a retail job. And I’m not sure I’m worth much more than minimum wage as is. Much less as the fantasists like Nymrod would wish it to be.
Nymrod too has said more than enough. Mostly that he/she/it/special snowflake has no concept of earning a living, or of a life where what you actually DO means something.
Bless his/hers/its/magical unicorn’s heart.