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Comments about ‘Income inequality and the minimum wage’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 23 2014 11:55 a.m. MST

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Thinkin\' Man
Rexburg, ID

The idea of "income equality" is strange. It has never existed, nor do we have reason to believe it ever will. It's frightening to consider that income equality is a central tenet of Marxism, and we all know how that turns out.

People are unequal; therefore, incomes are unequal. So what? A billionaire takes nothing from me or you. In fact, I'd like to become a billionaire! Wouldn't you? Billionaires employ others, many of them donate huge sums to charity, and some of them are actually nice people. Oh, and they're constitutionally free to accomplish and earn whatever they can legally, just like you and me. That's the heart of "the American dream," and is our constitutional right.

Discussion of an "income gap" is ridiculous. There is no gap, there is a bell-curve spectrum of incomes. Picking two random spots and comparing them is meaningless. And of course the top and bottom of the bell curve consist of very few people -- so what?

I'm afraid these discussions are an attempt to break the American capitalist economic system that has made America great. Don't be fooled -- don't let it happen!

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

What I would like to see both sides focus on is the declining share of the national income going to workers. The share of income that has been shifted away from workers and into profits is equal to the entire amount of taxes collected by the U.S. government. That is the real crux of the problem, and one that is rarely addressed.

Kenngo1969
Tooele, UT

Well said, Mr. Raymond. Google my screen name, Kenngo1969, along with the query, "Of Jobs and Math" for my thoughts on the matter.

souptwins
Lindon, UT

Guess what? There's also a intelligence gap. Just look at IQ scores and how they are distributed. There will always going to be people at the top and bottom. Go figure!

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Hate to break it to you but... minimum wage laws wont FIX the income-inequality gap. It would take a LOT more than that.

===

If you think you can legislate wages, and end the gap with legislation... you don't live in the America I grew up in.

A Free Market economy beats a Marxist economy any day. Compare the results.

The poorest person in America lives better than the middle-class in most countries. And yet we weep and whine that somebody still makes more than I do...

We have sunk to a new low in America.

We used to go to school... work harder... and longer... if we wanted to make what our neighbor makes. Now we just tell the government to take it from him... and give it to me.

===

Minimum wage is not meant to be an income-equalizer. It's a safety net. It's a minimum. It's not the goal. Nobody should EXPECT minimum wage to end inequality.

The only way to end income-inequality would be to guarantee that all people are equally skilled, equally hard working, and have exactly equal opportunities.... there's literally not way to guarantee that!

Thid Barker
Victor, ID

America's days of being a prosperous nation are over! America was once prosperous because we were so very productive. Now 20% of Americans are dependent on food stamps, the most in our history and we have the highest national debt in history with very high real unemployment and have very high taxes (all taxes included). Dependency and debt are the opposites of productivity and dependency and debt produces no prosperity, none, zero, zip, nada! Prosperity is produced by productivity. Think about this: If low productivity, high taxes, massive debt and high unemployment produced prosperity, there would be no poverty. Minimum wages are for low productive jobs and will not lift people out of poverty, in fact it practically guarantees that person will remain poor! The only real way to help people is to help them be more productive. Prove something to yourself. Next time you go to work, try not being productive and see what happens to your prosperity! America is losing her prosperity because she is not a productive country anymore and $17.2 trillion national debt, record high welfare dependency and high unemployment proves it! Instead of engaging in class warfare and screaming at prosperity we should embrace productivity.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

There have been two important economic articles in the last week on the Deseret News:

-A couple of days ago was an article about Indices of Economic Freedom, specifically a couple of them from conservative sources. The notable point is that the US is now considered "mostly free", and has been surpassed by Canada, in addition to a number of other nations.

-Now we're hearing more about economic inequality and people noting the various problems associated with an increasing economic divide. The CIA assesses nations around the world with various analyses, but one that is pertinent is the GINI index, which assesses economic inequality. On that index, the US also performs more poorly than Canada, in fact we're much closer to Mexico.

What do the Canadians do that we don't?

They have a single-payer healthcare system that covers more & costs far less than ours, they spend more money on social programs (which help narrow economic inequalities) and their financial markets are far more regulated - they really didn't suffer much in the Great Recession because big financial players didn't turn their markets into casinos.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Unemployment rises based on COLA adjustments.

Minimum wage does not - it is a fixed rate based on Congress.

Unemployment is more than minimum wage.

Republican response - No minimum wage increase, keep unemployment higher than working, and whine and complain about the high unemployment.
vs.
Democrat response - Raise Minimum wage above unemployment levels, people will have better incentive to find a job, ANY job, and get off of unemployment.

I see the Republicans and their dead end plan loosing again,
and Democrats and their win-win plan winning again.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Almost forget --
as for the inequality of the 1% vs. the 99%....

I can't give the web address,
but anyone can Youtube a video to see the charts for yourselves.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

@Thinkin' Man
Nobody is saying to make everything equal, they're saying that the top 10% owned around 30% of the wealth from the 50s through the 70s and then after Reagan got into office it's increased since then. Our economy was also a lot more steady in the 50s-70s. Now we lack the demand to fuel growth and the lack of spending power by the poor and middle class thanks to increasing income inequality is a large part of that.

Nate
Pleasant Grove, UT

@10CC "What do the Canadians do that we don't?"

Top federal income tax rate:
Canada 29%
U.S. 39.6%

UtahBlueDevil
Durham, NC

"Firms will hire all the workers it makes sense to hire at prevailing wages, "

I know of no company that has a predetermined budget for HR - where wages is the key variable, and most importantly hire right up to that limit without there being some kind of demand side equation. Companies hire the bare minimum FTEs needed, at the lowest possible cost, to get a task done.... and not a person more. To presume otherwise shows the person has been hiding in academia way too long.

Wages don't determine number of people needed. Wages impact margin - yes. Demand determines number of people needed.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Minimum wage is not about income equality. It's a safety net. To insure a family isn't starving even though the parents are working.

It's not intended to be a 1% vs 99% equalizer.

===

Some evidently think the two topics need to be mixed (to encourage class-envy I guess). But they are not related. One doesn't fix the other. One doesn't cause the other. They are unrelated.

===

If anybody thought the minimum wage would help income inequality... they need to wake up.

The only way to end income inequality is something almost no American has the stomach to even propose (end Capitalism and have the State own all business and set all wages).

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

A few years ago, I designed and manufactured process control computers that increased the productivity of a worker from 250 items per hour to 1,500 items per hour. The worker did not buy that machine. That worker didn't have to learn more skills, in fact, the skill level of that worker was greatly reduced. All the worker had to do was to show up for work and pay attention to producing that item. The machine kept track of productive time vs idle time. It measured how many units that the worker actually produced against the number of units that the worker was could have produced. Not one worker lost his job. But when new workers were hired, they could be trained in a day or two to do what formerly took years to learn. Owners paid for the machines. Workers had easier working conditions. The customer paid less. The owners made more per hour because they risked capital. They tried something that had never been used before. Why shouldn't they make a profit? They could have closed their doors and fired everyone to conserve their capital.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Mike,

Your scenario works up to a point, after which increased productivity results in fewer workers being needed. Where does the surplus go? To executives and owners, of course. This fact has played itself out across the economy for some time now. Roland's point above, that less and less is going to workers and more and more to profit, leads to an unsustainable economy, which we are busily creating. If we fail to acknowledge this, we will reap the consequences. Well, we actually are already. We've had a nice recovery for Wall Street and corporations, but to Average Joe American, there has been very little recovery. It's called a jobless recovery, and that is going to be the norm in the future unless we deal with the root cause of the growing wealth gap.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

Nate:

There is more to the story on maximum tax rates in the US and Canada. For example, there is no mortgage interest deduction on income taxes in Canada, or as one Canadian told me "we don't subsidize the housing industry in Canada like you Americans do".

The other notable - which is related to the point above - is that Canadians don't have nearly the number tax loopholes that we do.

This explains how Mitt Romney paid just under 14% in federal taxes - while not claiming some deductions - instead of the 39% tax rate published. Any American who actually pays the 39% maximum rate has no tax accountant helping them, or they've decided to skip all the loopholes.

There are analyses that indicate that total taxation in Canada is about 38% of GDP, while in the US it is about 28%. So, if you're paying more than 28% of your total income in taxes, you're either not very adept at finding the loopholes, or you're not very wealthy.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

souptwins said: "There will always going to be people at the top and bottom. Go figure!"
True, but there used to be a large percentage in the middle that made America stronger, because millions of people paid fair wages buy far more than a few people who only need so many mansions and escalades.

Production is up
A survey of employed email users found:
22% are expected to respond to work email when they're not at work.
50% check work email on the weekends.
46% check work email on sick days.
34% check work email while on vacation.

Increase in real value of the minimum wage since 1990: 21%
Increase in cost of living since 1990: 67%

The government tried by asking them nicely and giving them the freedom to do the right thing and called it trickle down. They didn't do the right thing and proved beyond any doubt that greed unchecked leaves a widening gap where the middle class of America used to be.

Kaotic
USA, UT

The bottom line is that if wages remain stagnant and the cost of living increases substantially every year, then more middle class people will fall into poverty. Wages aren't keeping up with inflation and the difference gets bigger every year. Wages are stagnant because of the 1% and their profits have never been higher.

Christopher B
Ogden, UT

People will be paid what they are worth.

If you're worth more - go get a new job. A new employer who is rich and greedy will WANT to hire you and pay you more if you're going to increase his profits.

If you can't find a job that pays you what you want and what you think you deserve - its because you don't deserve it.

Stop crying about rich people. It's not Mitt's job to make you money. It's your job. Mitt doesn't owe you what he has earned. Go earn your own.

Getting Older
Riverton, UT

Another attempt of the Democrats to buy votes using other people's money.

I disagree with Mr. Alterman who is quoted in the article as saying that as the rich get richer it leads to government corruption. I believe government corruption is leading to the rich getting richer. The rich and large corporations use their money and influence to gain more power and control. Large corporations love regulation as they have lawyers and departments to enact them; small businesses do not. As the Democrats continue to wage war on the small business man, the money the small business man makes goes to the large corporations and the rich get richer.

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