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Earlier this week, I posted Elizabeth Warren’s Eight-Point Plan. An associate from Texas wrote the following:

  1. Minimum wage is 0 – what is she going to do to encourage job growth so fewer people need to be dependent on government and government doesn’t create an unnecessary burden on businesses
  2. In unions, individual workers don’t have bargaining rights. Regardless of your ability, you are held to the same pay and seniority rules – you cannot excel if you are able to achieve deliver more
  3. The first part is obvious (and laws exist for this) but groups in the second part which is the problem – government pensions and guaranteed retirements are crippling municipalities (Detroit anyone?); moving to 401k savings needs to occur
  4. Is there any data on this to support the assertion…can someone show me people doing “equal work”
  5. Unfunded liability and will run out without changes – growing older population, growing disability claims
  6. Please stop repaving roads…my only issue with this is how inefficient money is spent
  7. What is the definition of “fair share” – can someone provide a % on this? Is 50% for some upper brackets (when factoring state for some brackets) not enough
  8. What does that mean – apply tariffs? embargo countries? Agree that we should encourage countries to adopt pollution/working condition standards – there has been some good reporting on private companies that has yielded some good results.

This is my response:

Let’s say you’re a single mother with a 3 year old, living in Austin. The only jobs you’re able to secure are two part-time jobs at Staples (24 hours/week), and McDonalds (24 hours/week), for a total of 48 hours per week. Neither one provides healthcare, but they both pay $8/hour. You therefore earn $1,536/week, which is $208 above the poverty line for the District of Columbia, and $124 less than the poverty line for Alaska. Here’s your monthly budget:

  • $600 rent (1 bedroom apartment, your child sleeps in your bed)
  • $50 utilities (electric mostly for air conditioning, sewer/water)
  • $84 gas (your car gets 24 miles per gallon, and you drive around 10 miles per day, 6 days per week between jobs and child care… 60 miles/24 mpg = 2.5 x $2.10/gallon x 4 weeks)
  • $100 auto insurance
  • $200 groceries ($50/week)
  • $400 child care (you have a relative watch your child in the afternoon and evenings, but you still need 20 hours of childcare per week at $5/hour)

Your expenses are $1,424, which leaves $112 per month for healthcare, clothing, car repairs, continuing education (community college), and unforeseen expenses like purchasing school supplies. If your rent increases or your car breaks down, you may not have enough money for food, and therefore sign up for food stamps… and according to Republicans, become a burden to society.

And recall in this scenario, the woman works 48 hours per week. Consider earning 20% less because you work a normal 40-hour week.

Poverty isn’t a choice, it’s a circumstance brought on by the unavailability of jobs that pay a living wage.

Here’s some more food for thought:

Unions help raise wages, protect people’s jobs (so they don’t end up unemployed), and ensure companies provides benefits.

Detroit didn’t fall apart because of entitlements. They had issues that their elected officials overlooked, coupled with a dramatic drop in tax collection (tax-payers and businesses) because of the decline of the auto industry.

401K’s are great, provided you earn enough money to save some of it, and your company matches. The introduction of 401K’s left business off the hook, and enabled companies like Enron, Washington Mutual, PGE, and others to simply say “Oh well” when the money their employees placed in their pension plans was lost.

As far as equal pay for equal work, dress up as a woman, go look for work, and see whether you’re offered the same amount of money as you did as a man. On the average, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Government doesn’t more than pave roads. They protect the environment and public safety, provide for schools, police, and fire, issues permits so buildings can be built, and much more.

And the definition of fair share…. In the 1950’s, the largest employer in America was General Motors. In today’s dollars, the average auto worker earned $50/hour. Today, the largest employer is America is Walmart where most people earn scarcely more than minimum wage. As a result, it’s estimated Walmart workers rely on $6.2 billion in public assistance, including food stamps, subsidized housing, and Medicaid.