Major Dad 1984

Cursed By A Classical Education

Let's just say that I intend to use this blog to blow off some steam that I might be feeling with the International/National media, my work situation, or maybe even to tee off on the family in a humorous way of course!

12/27/2004

The Saudiazation of America? I think not...

I'd heard some discussion again, about the minimum wage last week on my favorite medium, talk radio. I was waiting until I saw it appear in print to say something about it. Here's an opinion piece by Ellen Ratner. Give it a read and c'mon back...

The Saudiazation of America??? from the WorldNetDaily.com.

Ms. Ratner talks about nearly falling out of her chair upon hearing some of the things that President Bush has said about importing foreigners to do the work that is below the American workforce or simply shipping the jobs overseas. I don't know how to respond to that, but I do think that the American workforce has gotten to the point where they almost expect something for nothing. When you hear about some of the concessions that employers are forced to give their employees that have relatively low stress, "low impact" jobs...I almost want to hurl. As consumers of goods and products, if WE the consumers tell 'big business' what we want/expect...they should provide it. I guess it's not only the employees that want something for nothing...we consumers are part of the problem.

We are definitely in the position to force the market to employ Americans...but are we willing to bite the bullet in order to keep Americans employed or are we willing to forego full employment in this country in order to keep prices lower so that we can consume more goods and services for the same dollar we did 10 years ago? Before we start throwing rocks at the President...perhaps we should take a look at the companies we're throwing our support behind in the name of consumerism.

The second part of Ms. Ratner's piece speaks to the issue of the stagnant minimum wage...but she fails to make a very compelling argument. She and others point to the fact that a person making the minimum wage cannot afford to rent and pay the utilities for a two bedroom apartment. My question to her is...whoever said that someone that has the skills and knowledges to make minimum wage deserves to live in a two bedroom apartment? I know that will probably raise the hackles on a number of folks that wander in to read what I have to write, but let's be honest with ourselves. In America, if you make the minimum wage in this country, you're pretty much performing "unskilled" labor. You're performing menial tasks that free others with more skills from wasting time with:

1. Flipping burgers.
2. Answering the phone.
3. Filing paperwork. (Adams goes into the A folder, Barnes goes into the B folder.)
4. Pushing a lawnmower, blowing clippings, or raking leaves.
5. Washing cars.

Okay, we've established the fact that for the most part that if you're making the minimum wage, you're certainly not putting your education to work...you're putting your body and brawn to work. Based on that fact...you may be:

1. A teenager.
2. A college student.
3. In between jobs.
4. Working for the opportunity to work. (Retired folks that either "need" the money or simply enjoy the opportunity to get up and do "something" less stressful than during their retirement years. One day, I'll have to tell you what MajorDadDad does now that he's retired.)

I think that the bottom line here needs to be that we all should take a hard look at our own lifestyles and live within our means. Just because I'm a member of the workforce at the lowest rung on the ladder doesn't necessarily mean that I deserve or even need a two bedroom apartment.

Oh sure...I can hear it through the hidden microphones secretly built into your PCs, "MajorDad, what about families with kids?" If you can hear me through your speakers (I knew that it was a bad idea not to build this functionality in....) here's my answer:

If you're not able to support a family or will not be happy in supporting a family at a level commensurate with your income generating abilities...perhaps you shouldn't have one!

Life is full of choices and the rest of life is usually based upon the consequences of the decisions we make. I'm far from perfect...but I've always been able to live within my means and I've never found myself in a situation where I haven't been able to offer my family an above average standard of living.

Just because I have enough credit cards in my pocket to purchase a small 3 bedroom home, doesn't mean I'll do it! That goes for the huge screen televisions, the outrageous cars (although I do have a pretty sweet 2004 Expedition that MajorMom loves to drive), or super duper sound systems in either my home or my vehicles. Now why is that? It's because I feel that I should always live within my means...and with the exception of some high cost ticket items like homes and automobiles, if there's not money in the bank to pay for something, it needs to stay right on the shelf where it started. When it comes to "keeping up with the Joneses" I'd rather compare bank balances, stock holdings, and the ability to retire on my schedule...not some creditors.

Am I some sort of Warren Buffett investor? I can show you statements that would definitely refute that point. Is my family eating chili mac and mac & cheese 4-5 times a week? Absolutely not. No, we simply do what more Americans should probably start doing...and that's to take stock in how much we earn, realize that retirement must be planned for, and you cannot spend more than you take in. Everyone seems to be concerned about the deficit our federal government runs...why should your private deficit or surplus be any different?

Okay...how do we fix things?

1. Young folks...set your goals to work for minimum wage for no more than 12 months. Even if you start out at minimum wage, you should be striving to do things better than your peers. Once you do that, the bosses will notice that you're not satisfied to do things to the minimum standard. This will likely put you into a different category...and your check should start getting bigger each week.

2. Young folks again...DO NOT START A FAMILY UNTIL YOU'RE ABLE TO SUPPORT IT. We all know what causes those "little bundles of joy" to arrive. Wrap those rascals or keep the feet and knees together until you're ready to be financially responsible for the results of your '15 minutes of fame.'

3. Young adults. Start saving NOW for your retirement. Go with a 27" television rather than the 54" television. Drive a Focus rather than an Explorer/Suburban/HUMMER. Start saving 10% of your take home pay and put it into a mutual fund with a decent track record. A 10-15% return isn't that hard to find.

4. Adults. Teach your kids financial responsibility early. You are the starting point if we're ever going to turn this around. I was reminded of this on Christmas Day when I watched the MajorBaby playing with the boxes that some of the gifts came in...rather than the contents. Kids can be happy with less than you think. Maybe it would be a better expenditure of your income by using birthdays and holidays to "spoil" them with gifts that will increase their smarts and abilities...rather than indulge the need to be entertained. When it comes to buying a computer or an X-box...choose the computer. I don't seem to recall too many educational titles for the new generation of gaming systems.

Wow...we've gone a long way on this post. I'm anxious to hear what you think.

From the high ground...with enough to keep him happy.

MajorDad

. And here is the rest of it.

Read the rest of the longer story!

4 Comments:

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Jim said...

MajorDad:
For once I buy nearly your whole spiel, hook- line and sinker. All except the objection to minimum wage raises. Inflation adjusted minimum wage increases aren't going to make the poor rich, but it may eliminate the temptaion to hire on loads of non English speaking foreigners to live in squalor. As I've seen where I work, the foreigners from Haiti, South and Central America, wherever...have gobs of kids who are by default American Citizens. One man from Haiti has seven kids from three women, and brags about it in the worst English imaginable. All those kiddies are most likely getting Federal Aid, food stamps, section eight housing...etc. My employer has enjoyed lots of cheap labor from him for the last 15yrs or so, but figure in the real costs he has accrued to the social systems and his labor has not been cheap at all.
A 2004 Explorer?! Get ready for MajorFuelcosts.
My eight year old Saturn is still getting 28mpg city, but it wouldn't work for a family I admit.
Great Post
Jim

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger MajorDad said...

Jim...

I didn't even address an increase in minimum wage, just that the fact that MOST people earning it are not in a position to need something like a 2 bedroom apartment. But your point is partially taken.

The "rich" aren't hurt by many of the cost increases that us "average Joes" are...however, an across the board raise in the minimum wage would probably accomplish a couple of things...

It would raise the price of goods and services. It's naive to think that it wouldn't. Whether you're talking about the football player that unloads trucks at Walmart after school with his weak mind and strong back or the little girl that runs my Sonic fix out to my window when I indulge myself, the increased cost in those wages will eventually show themselves in the cost to the consumer. While it won't be much, it will be more than I think we really need to do. The market can set the minimum wage.

The second thing that raising the minimum wage would probably do is...reward irresponsible behavior by magically making it a reality for a young couple too irresponsible to have a baby far too early to have their housing subsidized by the consumers paying higher prices. Let's face it, what makes you think that this young couple will become responsible at that point? Next thing you know people will say that people earning the minimum wage should be able to afford a three bedroom, four bedroom, etc. Where does it end?

I know that we all make mistakes and err in our judgement, but somewhere along the line there must be consequence to our actions. I believe that our society has made it far too easy for irresponsible people to get by. I'm not calling for the establishment of debtors prisons, but for crying out loud! I many times the minimum wage with a high school diploma and a degree from a little unaccredited college on the banks of the Hudson River coupled with 8 years of active duty serving my country. Based on the kind of logic that Ms. Ratner's using...I should probably be able to rent an entire apartment building (okay...a small one) on my salary.

Thanks for the post...

As always I remain on the high ground!

MajorDad1984

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger Insert-Name-Here said...

What's wrong with mac and cheese?

 
At 7:44 PM, Blogger mostly cajun said...

A very good post on a perennial subject. I'm gonna have to link this. And add you to my humble blogroll...

 

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