Saturday, June 28, 2014

Minimum Wage Should Be Relative Wage

As with most great failures to solve problems, many people focus on all the wrong things for solving the economic crisis. We've got a dial for minimum wage so people tend to think it might be useful to tweak it. It's like having fuzzy reception on an old tube TV and turning the volume knob to solve the problem just because the knob is there. Raising minimum wage to $15 isn't going to solve anything. It may have some positive effects and likely some negative effects to boot, but it's not going to be a huge game-changer for closing the income gap.

The fact is, the rich enjoy being rich. In 2009, people started losing their jobs. Of the companies laying off workers, how many of the CEOs first took a wage cut so that they could sustain the jobs they "created" by their wealth? I don't know the answer but I'm willing to bet very few if any. The 1% doesn't make jobs with their wealth. Their money has extremely little to do with job creation. If it did, 2009 would not have yielded a reduction in jobs seeing as the rich were richer than ever before and yet still they canned people. The rich are not in it for job creation. They're in it for running their business as lean as possible to bring them the most money. Creating jobs is their last resort to demand that they can't fulfill--not their first resort because they have money laying around.

Now I won't say that minimum wage won't help at all. In some cases it very well might. Perhaps demand will be high enough that the CEOs can't fire people and they might be forced to reduce their own paycheck. I doubt many will experience that, but it's possible. In these cases, the workers might better be able to become participants of the economy and it will thrive a little better. But this is likely to be very limited successes. I might venture that many minimum wage workers are in smaller companies that truly can't afford higher minimum wages. So while raising the minimum wage on Walmart might be useful, raising it on a Mom and Pop shop might just doom them. So now we're taking from the poor and giving to the poor. Further, raising minimum wage often raises prices which then harms the middle-class as well. It more often than not distributes wealth among the poor and middle-class rather than affecting the 1% much at all.

The rich will not part with their personal wage so easily such that minimum wage alone will lower their paycheck. So instead of focusing on minimum wages which harm and perhaps help simultaneously, maybe we should focus on relative wages. I'm no economist so I won't suggest my own percentages or exact wording of laws, but imagine signing into law that within every company any one person cannot make X% more than Y% of others. Or perhaps X% above the next highest paid employee. Or X% above the average of the next highest Y% of employees. It's a law that requires the company to more fairly share the wealth while still rewarding talent and hard work. A lot of thought may need to go into it, but a more even distribution per company would yield much greater economic results than merely raising the minimum wage.

In the short term, companies may try to release workers in order to keep a larger percent, but those with significantly increased wages will begin increasing the demand such that they have no choice but to hire them back. Imagine all the poor and middle-class suddenly demanding twice as much and we'll note that the money going to them will simply come right back to the companies shelling out the higher wages. With higher wages, people can afford to go to college and become even more productive in companies to make even better products that the people with the greater wages can now demand. The whole concept of economy is that the money must fluctuate and go around from person to person so that everyone has everything they need. The goal is not for 1% of the people to shove all their money in a bank account and extort the poor by giving them loans with high interest rates just so they can store even more in their banks where it grows stagnant and moldy just because they earned it and "deserve" it. They need to spend it. And what better way to spend it than on their employees who can't seem to make ends meet?

I propose we stop tuning the minimum wage knob and start creating new dials of relative wages to close the gap. It will be better for everyone even if the 1% is reduced to only a few million dollars in their bank accounts. They may have less cash on hand, but their companies will show higher income and be that much more successful which is far more rewarding than an untouched number sitting in a bank account.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Impatience Is a Virtue Too

Last Saturday, I waited over and hour and a half in a line to play a video game for 2 minutes. While this may sound like an exercise in patience, the only reason I was there along with everyone else was, in essence, impatience. The game was new. This was the first time any of us could possibly play it. It's still not released and won't be for a few more months. Our impatience to wait those few months led us to a line in which we waited for the sole purpose of waiting significantly less time to play a game.

Like any sane adult, I could have simply avoided the line and waited a few months to buy the game and play it at home. But I chose not to. My son and I both went and we made a memory together. A memory that was significant because we DIDN'T wait. A memory that will last because we braved the line to be amongst the pioneers of Best Buy to play that new game which all the rest of the world would have to wait. We can proudly proclaim that we have already played Super Smash Bros for Wii U long before it has arrived.

I have other similar memories as well. My wife and I camped-out inside a Walmart back in layaway to purchase one of a few Nintendo Wii's that were being released at that time. Sure, we could have waited patiently for a release when there would be extras to go around, but then we would not have a solid memory about our purchase! We waited in line at midnight outside a GameStop for the release of The Lich King. We've braved the freezing weather of Black Friday and waited hours outside way earlier than we would ever deem worthy of awakening any other day. In fact, we did this multiple times. All for the sole purpose of getting a deal on an item that would likely be cheaper later anyway. But what did we really get out of it? Not just an item--we got a memory. Something fun. Something exciting. Something that will last longer than the items we purchased. We had an adventure.

While most of these acts of impatience led to even greater acts of patience, they are things that adults tend to forego as they get older. They become more patient as to await things to be easier. Laziness overcomes impatience. It may not be prudent to harbor resentment whilst awaiting in a line (i.e. the common construct of impatience), but I say we ought to embrace our impatience in order to create adventures and memories. Why wait to see a movie when you can camp out the night before? It's fun! Stop being so old! Get off your lazy rump and be impatient about something! At least then you'll have something more than your prudence to remember!

Monday, June 2, 2014

I Love The Westboro Baptist Church

For many, stating, "I Love the Westboro Baptist Church" is almost akin to saying, "I Love Hitler." They've become synonymous with hate, bigotry, and intolerance. The church has certainly made a name for itself. A name revered by few and hated by most. Of course, this won't come as a shock to the Westboro Baptist Church. I'm sure they're quite proud of such accusations. For them, it's a positive sign; it just goes to show that standing up for what's "right" will cause persecution just as was foretold and even uplifted by Jesus, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." The position of the Westboro Baptist Church is that they're standing up for morals and that people hate them for it. Seems simple enough.

What everyone else sees, however, is not the uplifting of morals. They don't stop and think, "Oh, they believe homosexuality is wrong." Rather people think, "Wow, they're full of all kinds of hate." So the name they've made is not one of morals, but rather just the opposite--they're known for hate. Jesus was never known for hate. In fact, he was accused of being too lenient and even "associating" with sinful people. He was most harsh on the religious leaders who were willing to throw stones. You see, Jesus was promoting love toward others even if the others were sinful. This doesn't mean he uplifted the sin, however, but rather that he could take a stance against it while still promoting love for the individuals. As is often quipped, "Hate the sin, love the sinner."

For the Westboro Baptist Church, however, they're very focused on the obedience to Jesus. He did indeed say, "Not all those who say Lord, Lord shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those that do the will of my father who is in Heaven." It's clear that Jesus took obedience to be a necessary artifact. He said it's better for a man to have a millstone tied around his neck and cast into a lake than to cause someone to sin. He was very adamantly opposed to sin. And yet, still, he was loving to the sinners as was demonstrated with the woman caught in adultery. He didn't stone her. He didn't accuse her. Instead, he merely said, "Go and sin no more." He recognized that all people have failings and have done wrong. Thus he stopped the Pharisees and Sadducees from judging her and implored her to sin no more.

This is often tough for people to grasp. The Westboro Baptist Church, like myself, sees a whole lot of Christians saying, "Lord, Lord" and caring naught for moral behavior. They still live life for themselves and their own selfish ambitions and many are quite foul and crude. They think their belief alone will transcend them into an eternity of heaven with God while obedience means nothing. I agree with the Westboro Baptist Church in that morals and actions are an important facet of a person's faith. Of course, that's about where the agreements end.

I understand the position though. I've been there myself. I've fought the same fight and I was very much "falsely" accused. For me, it was never that I hated the people, but I wanted them to start being obedient. So I put my effort into teaching the true message of Jesus: "Love and Behave." What I later realized, however, was that such efforts ultimately tie one up such that they're too busy trying to get others to love and behave that one stops loving and behaving themselves.

The Westboro Baptist Church, for their own sake, needs to take the advice of Paul and stop judging those outside the church and to let God do that. They need to follow the example of Jesus and let people work out their own morals while loving them despite not agreeing with them. Jesus' entire modus operandi was that of demonstrating one's own moral standard of living in full tolerance and acceptance of others in hopes that such a light would shine the way. Followers of Jesus are to be a beacon of hope and love in order to draw people in. They're not supposed to be a beacon of fire that forces people to obey or burn.

The rest of us can learn from their example, however. It's best to follow our own way and uplift it rather than condemning others who don't do likewise lest we label ourselves with the opposite of our intentions as well. If we force our own beliefs, it has been scientifically proven to have a negative effect. Even arguing with sound evidence has been shown to make people stronger in their own fallacious beliefs. It's best to state an opinion and live by it rather than forcing and coercing others. We should answer questions when asked in ernest rather than shoving our opinions. The Westboro Baptist Church is great evidence that forcing your belief is useless and is thus a great negative example to learn from. Thanks Westboro Baptist!