Cup of Joe Powell has a post up in which he meanders through the usual issues of the vast gulf between The Poor and The Rich (which, despite the pro forma hat tips toward the guys that bag our groceries, may usually be read as "the vast gulf between Myself and Bill Gates.") Quoting from a Bill Moyers speech, all the stations of the income redistribution cross are touched: Minimum wage, outsourcing, class distinctions, and Bill Jenkins' cowboy boots.
Pardon me if I think the windows in the ivory tower could use a little Windex.
Unless Mr. Cup of Joe's usual workplace attire includes a name tag or a hairnet, odds are good that he makes more money than I do. A lot more money than I do. So, with an appropriate amount of Dickensian forelock-tugging, permit me to offer some observations from the trenches of The Little People, about whom he is ostensibly so concerned.
For starters, drop the minimum wage hand-wringing, okay? Minimum wage doesn't apply anymore to anything but the most menial of jobs; jobs intended to be filled by schoolkids and by retirees looking to supplement their fixed incomes. If you're an adult parent of two and making minimum wage, you have made some pretty serious career errors in your life. Even such entry-level gigs as cashiering at the local convenience store or asking McDonald's patrons if they'd "like fries with that" are hiring at $8/hr these days, and merely showing up on time and displaying a minimum aptitude for completing all your assigned tasks at those jobs for six or eight months straight pretty much guarantees being awarded the polyester clip-on tie of an Assistant Manager. As Greg Swann wrote, you have got to be a pretty exotic flavor of stupid to starve to death in the land of milk and honey.
Is this what you wanted out of life? No? You wanted to be a nucyoolar physicist? Well, I wanted to be a lawyer. I also wanted a gold house and a rocket car. Instead, I dropped out of college when I was eighteen. So after twenty years of bootstrap-tugging, I'm making dick-oh-nine an hour and desperately seeking competent, responsible people to keep my schedule full at work, in the vain hope that maybe one out of every ten hires will show the kind of gumption, initiative, and responsibility that will allow me to talk my boss into giving them some keys so that I can take two days off in a row. (Don't screw up like Tam, kids; stay in school.)
Personally, I blame Bill Gates for my quandary. Well, actually I don't, but everybody else seems to, so I figure I should jump on the bandwagon. See, I've learned from reading the writings of the High-Strung Class that apparently prosperity is a zero-sum game. That, as P.J. O'Rourke put it, the economy is like a pizza, and if Bill has eight slices of pepperoni with extra cheese, all you and I get is the box. Pardon my French (or am I supposed to say "Pardon my FreedomSpeak"?), but that's just ever so much bullshit. Money is made. Wealth is created. Prosperity violates the First Law of Thermodynamics every friggin' day. Who cares how much money Billy Boy has? It didn't come out of your pocket unless you willingly gave it to him (unlike the IRS, Bill can't actually send guys in black outfits with battering rams and submachineguns to take stuff you don't want to give him, no matter what your Linux geek friends tell you.) There's money out there to be had, and new wealth just waiting to be created, but it requires you to actually set the remote control down and go do something to make it; it's not just going to find its way to your mailbox all by itself.