Marx on the Minimum Wage

January 29, 2014

posted by Bernard Avishai

read the worthy full article at:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2014/01/obama-marx-and-the-minimum-wage.html

Obama, Marx, and the Minimum Wage

The President announced on Tuesday, in his State of the Union address, that he will increase the minimum wage for federal contractors to ten dollars and ten cents. He wants, he said, to “give America a raise.” Raising the minimum wage appeals to those who “do not understand economics,” the former Representative Ron Paul argued recently: if you make it costlier for companies to employ each person, you lower the demand for workers and kill jobs. Representative Paul Ryan offered another view: “I think it’s inflationary,” he said. If you raise wages, companies’ costs go up, and then they raise prices to compensate.

These two arguments—which, combined, suggest that raising wages for the poorest winds up hurting the poorest—are very old. So old that in June of 1865, in London, Karl Marx interrupted work on “Das Kapital” to refute them

Marx delivered two lectures to the International, in June. They were eventually published as a pamphlet, “Value, Price, and Profit”—a polemic so succinct and sharp that it makes you wish that Marx could return as a blogger.

Raise wages, and we might see (as one contemporary economic writer has shown) a slight rise in the price of a Big Mac. But we should also see a boost in demand for lower-cost restaurants—and that, ultimately, is good for fast-food businesses and their employees. We should also see a marginal drop in demand for, say, yachts.

Walmart Supply Chain Workers Protest Freezing Workplace: Hammond Indiana

hamm

HAMMOND | Warehouse workers marched through a local Walmart Supercenter on Tuesday to protest frigid working conditions.

Contractors at the Walmart Consolidation Center on 141st Street in Hammond marched into the store on Fifth Avenue to notify the public about freezing weather conditions at the warehouse

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/walmart-warehouse-workers-protest-freezing-conditions/article_6d535901-46e8-5626-9fbb-7e2ccf927692.html

http://www.wbiw.com/state/archive/2014/01/walmart-employees-protest-freezing-work-conditions.php

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024409615

Its Expensive to be Poor – Barbara Ehrenreich

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson made a move that was unprecedented at the time and remains unmatched by succeeding administrations. He announced a War on Poverty, saying that its “chief weapons” would be “better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities.”

So starting in 1964 and for almost a decade, the federal government poured at least some of its resources in the direction they should have been going all along: toward those who were most in need. Longstanding programs like Head Start, Legal Services, and the Job Corps were created. Medicaid was established. Poverty among seniors was significantly reduced by improvements in Social Security.

Johnson seemed to have established the principle that it is the responsibility of government to intervene on behalf of the disadvantaged and deprived. But there was never enough money for the fight against poverty, and Johnson found himself increasingly distracted by another and deadlier war—the one in Vietnam. Although underfunded, the War on Poverty still managed to provoke an intense backlash from conservative intellectuals and politicians.
The original welfare reform bill—a bill, it should be recalled, which was signed by President Bill Clinton—included an allocation of $100 million for “chastity training” for low-income women.

In their view, government programs could do nothing to help the poor because poverty arises from the twisted psychology of the poor themselves. By the Reagan era, it had become a cornerstone of conservative ideology that poverty is caused not by low wages or a lack of jobs and education, but by the bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles of the poor.

{….snip….}

It’s time to revive the notion of a collective national responsibility to the poorest among us, who are disproportionately women and especially women of color. Until that happens, we need to wake up to the fact that the underpaid women who clean our homes and offices, prepare and serve our meals, and care for our elderly—earning wages that do not provide enough to live on—are the true philanthropists of our society.

Barbara Ehrenreich, “Its Expensive to be Poor”

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/it-is-expensive-to-be-poor/282979/

Pete Seeger – Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Aired on CBS at the height of the Vietnam War, this song holds just as much truth today…

It was back in 1941.
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in Lou’siana one night
By the light of the moon.
The Captain told us to ford a river.
That’s how it all begun.
We were knee deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, “Sir, are you sure
This is the best way back to the base?”
“Sergeant, go on, I’ve forded this river
About a mile above this place.
It’ll be a little soggy, but just keep sloggin’.
We’ll soon be on dry ground.”
We were waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, “Sir, with all this equipment,
No man will be able to swim.”
“Sergeant, don’t be a Nervous Nelly,”
The Captain said to him.
“All we need is a little determination.
Men, follow me. I’ll lead on.”
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once the moon clouded over.
We heard a gurglin’ cry.
A few seconds later the Captain’s helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, “Turn around, men.
I’m in charge from now on.”
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the Captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn’t know that the water was deeper
Then the place he’d once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
About a half mile from where we’d gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Now I’m not going to point any moral —
I’ll leave that for yourself.
Maybe you’re still walking, you’re still talking,
You’d like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers, that old feeling comes on,
We’re waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy,
The big fool says to push on.
Waist deep, neck deep,
Soon even a tall man will be over his head.
We’re waist deep in the Big Muddy,
And the big fool says to push on.

People’s Democracy Moves Forward in Michigan

Michigan Coalition Working to Get Minimum Wage Raise on Ballot

By: Josh Sidorowicz

If given the chance, would you vote to raise the minimum wage?

A coalition made up of civil rights and labor groups called “Raise Michigan” announced Monday it’s exploring the option for a ballot campaign, but has not yet started collecting signatures.

A formal decision on whether to move forward with the campaign is expected in the next few weeks.

“This is a big issue and we know public support is definitely on our side,” said Danielle Atkinson, the director of Mothering Justice, which is one of the members of the coalition.

Atkinson said she and the rest of the committee feel confident it’s the right time to take the issue to voters.

Recent legislation from Democratic lawmakers has proposed raising the rate to $10 or more an hour. The ballot campaign hasn’t named a specific figure yet.

The coalition would need to collect about 200,000 signatures to place the initiative on the Nov. 2014 ballot.

Members of the coalition include the Center for Progressive Leadership, Michigan United, MOSES, the Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) Michigan, and Mothering Justice.

http://www.wilx.com/news/headlines/Michigan-Coalition-Working-to-Get-Minimum-Wage-Raise-on-Ballot-242319591.html

Attention Sam’s Club Employees: You Are Not Working Hard Enough

New York, Jan 26:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it is eliminating 2,300 workers at its Sam’s Club division as it reduces the ranks of middle managers in a bid to be more nimble.

The layoffs, which cut 2 per cent of the membership club’s US employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010 when the Sam’s Club unit laid off 10,000 workers as it moved to outsource food demonstrations at its stores.

Google News https://news.google.com/news/story?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=sams+club&ncl=dRR_syHvSBJrWHMTLCSXFXXIdqqYM&cf=all