One of the interesting things that I learned while teaching is that you can’t teach intelligence. Of the kids in my classes (which were untracked, i.e., all levels of students), roughly 20% really didn’t need me there — they could just flip through the book and “get it” without me. Another 50% could “get it”, with enough hard work and enough help from me and others. And then there was the bottom 30%….
Oh my, the bottom 30%. They were, by and large, dumber than a box of rocks, and no more capable of learning Algebra (or any other advanced subject) than my idiot cats. Okay, so this isn’t politically correct to say that 30% of Americans are dumber than a box of rocks. But fuck political correctness. Reality simply is, and doesn’t give a shit about political correctness.
Now, in this great new economy we’ve built, that 30% is basically relegated to low-paid manual labor in the service industry. Think Wal-Mart. You don’t have to be a fucking genius to work at Wal-Mart. In fact, if you have half a brain you won’t work at Wal-Mart for long, because they’re the scummiest of the scum, doing illegal shit like making employees work off the clock and so on and so forth. (Yes, they were sued for it. Yes, they agreed they wouldn’t do it again. Yeah, right, maybe they wouldn’t do that scummy thing again, but if they do one scummy thing you know they’re doing other scummy things). In fact, if you have half a brain Wal-Mart probably isn’t interested in hiring you, unless you’re wanting to be a manager. So: there’s a bunch of people who are stupid out there, so Wal-Mart has no shortage of hiring pool. They can hire all the dumbasses they need to run their stores — and not one more — without budging the pay rate off minimum wage. In fact, the “natural” pay rate that they could get away with paying would probably be around $10 per day, because there’s a surplus of stupid people and a shortage of places for stupid people to work.
Now, back in 1968 the minimum wage was set at what would be $10.75/hour today. So, how many people would Wal-Mart hire if the minimum wage was $10.75/hour today?
Hint: The exact same number. Because they already cut their payroll to the bone. They’re not a charity. They’re a business. They’re in business to make money, and you do that by cutting costs as much as you can. That’s just reality, you aren’t going to hire one more person than you need, regardless of whether that person is $1 per hour or $10 per hour. If they could operate their stores with fewer people, they would. They can’t. Or they would. So all that happens if you raise the minimum wage to the $10.75/hour that it was in 1968 and then inflation-index it so that it rises with inflation is that you allow people making minimum wage to make a decent living on two incomes, at the cost of people like me having to pay a bit more for cheap shit from China that we don’t need. Big fucking deal.
So what’s the right-wing Bible say about the minimum wage? “It’s evil”. Of course. They would let the minimum wage lower itself to its “natural” level, the level that the market sets. Which, as I noted, is around $1 per hour for people who are stupid. Because they’re stupid. They can’t do much. They can’t learn much. It’s just reality, some people are too stupid to be much in our current economy. You can’t make a rocket scientist out of someone who’s dumber than a box of rocks. It just ain’t happenin’.
So I point out that $1/hour won’t be enough to pay for food and housing. “Well they should learn some advanced skills then!” “But there’s a significant percentage who can’t learn advanced skills”, I point out. “Well… it’s not my problem.” “But then they’ll just die.” “Not my problem.”
At which point I point out that Hitler did the same thing — he condemned all the “morons and cretins” to death. Sent’em to the gas chambers. Except he did it fast, instead of the slow way of starving and shivering to death that right wingers are proposing.
“Quit playing the Hitler card!” they cry.
“I will when you quit proposing the policies of Hitler,” I reply.
At which point they start ranting about how it is morally offensive that they have to pay to keep cretins alive yada yada yada, at which point I tune out. Because if your entire argument is now about defending the policies of Hitler when it comes to the untermenschen (i.e., that they should all be exterminated or at least allowed to die slowly), you’re wrong. I’m sorry. It’s just that simple. There is no more argument to be had at that point, once you start defending the policies of Hitler.
And that’s today’s argument with a right-wing zealot.
- Badtux the Not-Hitler-Channeling Penguin