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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 09:21 AM   #161
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LKH
Assuming your stats are true, the fact is there is a HUGE amount of space between minimum wage and poverty level. So maybe only 1% make minimum wage. But minimum wage plus 50 cents is still poverty.

Here's an article about the working poor that might be interesting to some.

L

So.. are you advocating that we bring everybody over the poverty line Raising the minimum wage will not do that...

BTW.. the articles don't say how much these families get in govmt payments... and all do.. there are tax breaks that are refundable credits such as the earned income credit... so these people probably get food stamps, other 'dole' and the EIC... this probably lifts a number over the line..
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 09:45 AM   #162
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lets-retire
It looks like the big difference between the numbers you posted and the ones I linked, is that yours breaks net worth down to age groups.
lets-retire, I broke it down by age intentionally. It was meant to demonstrate the idea that 'average' people were capable of accumulating some wealth (the $190,000 number you provided earlier). But with all these numbers flowing, apparently LKH had misread 'net worth' in your post as 'salary', so - never mind.

So it was not meant as a straight 'who has the wealth' statement, but rather, 'could the average person accumulate wealth over their lifetime'. Answer appears to be 'yes' and they could probably do a lot better with some minor changes to their lifestyle and a little investment education.

-ERD50
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 09:49 AM   #163
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50
lets-retire, I broke it down by age intentionally. It was meant to demonstrate the idea that 'average' people were capable of accumulating some wealth (the $190,000 number you provided earlier). But with all these numbers flowing, apparently LKH had misread 'net worth' in your post as 'salary', so - never mind.

So it was not meant as a straight 'who has the wealth' statement, but rather, 'could the average person accumulate wealth over their lifetime'. Answer appears to be 'yes' and they could probably do a lot better with some minor changes to their lifestyle and a little investment education.

-ERD50
I was actually responding to the numbers posted by LKH.
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 10:46 AM   #164
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50
Well, I think we agree that we would like to see the condition of the lower classes improved.

I guess where I *do* get confused is that you say :

A) "I have not been arguing for a redistribution of wealth", and then you say
B) "If that means that the rich have to give up a little bit of that fat, I'm OK with that."

That sounds like re-distribution to me. I don't see any way mathematically to get more wealth in the hands of one group, without taking it from another. Sure, you can grow the pie, but it is not clear to me that providing higher minimum wages will grow the pie. I suppose it is possible, but I don't think you can assume it. So that is redistribution.
By redistribution, I generally mean some kind of arbitrary, socialist kind of idea. But I don't think it's socialist to protect the working lower class, to assure that they are justly and equitably compensated for the work they do. They should be able to afford the necessities. If they want luxuries beyond that, then they need to work to advance themselves. But if they work at all (full-time, anyway), they should be able to afford the necessities.

Quote:
Maybe, what I am hearing you say is that going forward, the lower class should have higher incomes. This should grow their share over time. So you are not taking away anything from the top group as a lump sum. The top group would just be getting something less going forward. Is that a better interpretation of what you are saying?
Precisely.

Quote:
But it still comes down to slicing up that pie. Only so much 'pie' is produced each year. Getting back to my 100 people in town sample, I think you will have trouble slicing the pie up so that you assure a minimum 'comfortable living wage' to all, an average wage to the middle, and enough to compensate and motivate the brilliant people to take risks and create jobs.
Do you honestly think that Bill Gates or Donald Trump would be less motivated if they could only get half as wealthy? Making 10,000 times more than you could humanly spend in a lifetime is the only thing that could prompt them to innovate, and if they could only make 5,000 times more, they'd just pitch their endeavors and go work for the government?

I'm not saying businesses shouldn't be able to make money. But they should pay their employees fairly. They should, if they reach a point where they have a profit margin over some specified percent, start getting serious encouragement, probably in the form of tax breaks, for profit-sharing. I actually think that's good for business, anyway. If the kid at McDonalds understands that, if her branch makes good money, she gets a little piece, maybe the kid will be invested in making customers happy, making sure they come back. Maybe she'll be a little more motivated to provide service with a smile, to get that order right, to make sure the fries she serves aren't baked dry under the lamp, so that customers want to come again and again. Maybe she'll learn in that place what her parents, living on the dole, could never teacher because they don't know - what it takes to succeed in business.

Quote:
Now, it occurred to me that that sounds pretty depressing - it sounds as if I am saying we cannot have a 'comfortable' lower class, and still have money to motivate risk takers. Bummer. But it is not that bad. What it takes is to increase the *productivity* of the lower classes, which *will* grow the pie, and allow them to earn a higher standard of living. I guess my concern is that saying things like 'provide a living wage' do not address productivity, and will end up as just a redistribution scheme. Don't forget the further impact of those now earning a 'living wage' by working harder/smarter than minimum wage workers. If you bump up the minimum into their range, they rightfully want more to differentiate their abilities. It is not a static model.
See, I think my ideas do address productivity. You get a BASIC living if you work full time. If you suck and don't really commit to doing the job well, well then you don't work, and there goes the basic living. If you do well, if you find yourself a job with a company that does well, and you help them get there, then you do better than basic living - you start reaping a share of the harvest from that labor. You get a chance to participate in the rewards. The business owner, who took the risks, of course, still gets the lion's share. But maybe he doesn't get SIX retro sports cars for his collection. Maybe he only gets two, or has to work harder and longer to get that six. Or maybe - just maybe - he still gets six, because the employees are more motivated to help him build his business until it's even more successful than if he paid them poverty wages while he scraped off all the cream for himself.

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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 10:50 AM   #165
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lets-retire
It looks like the big difference between the numbers you posted and the ones I linked, is that yours breaks net worth down to age groups. That can have a tendency to skew the numbers, because we a talking about the top of ALL of American society, not just the age group. It would be a very inaccurate to say the median net worth of the top 20% of those aged 60-69 is also the top 20% of American society. You can't take a the median of the numbers you provided and say it is the median net worth of the American populace, without taking into consideration the total percentage of that age group in the general population. Your graph does not provide that information so it is of little use to the discussion. The more math that is applied to numbers the more likely they have been skewed, intentionally or not, by the presenter.

The lower amount makes perfect sense when you consider even the "affluent" are not saving much money. Most people spend everything they have on material things, some save and a very few save a lot. The main point is the typical American does not put a lot of money into savings. Look at the reports that come out on a yearly basis. Many have been linked from this forum by posters.
I agree that it makes sense that kids just starting out have much lower net worth. I guess I reckon, though, that when you factor in the number of people in each age group, you end up with way higher than $190k average, because a huge percentage of the population is caught up in the baby boom generation, 50 and up, and the top 20% of those guys have much higher net worths.
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 10:58 AM   #166
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Re: This is truly scary.

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud
Maybe this is where the problem is.... you talk about the people that are on the dole or people who visit charity as if they are 'average'... they are not.. they are the bottom percentages of our society. Raising the minimum wage might help SOME of them, but I doubt it would show up in the statistics.
You may be confused what I think of when I say "average person," as well. I'm not talking average economically. If I were, you'd be right. I'm talking about average intelligence. Average (high school) education. A great many people who are being helped by charities are indeed average in that sense.

Quote:
This is not true for everyone, but the 'poor' here has it better than 'ordinary' folks do in many other countries...
If they make less than $19k for a family of four, they probably don't have those things. If they do, then they are going without in some other way - and likely there are some skewed priorities. Did you know there is still a percentage of the population in the US that lives in homes with no plumbing? I have a friend, husband is disabled, and she lost her job, she and her family ended up in a tent for one summer.
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 12:29 PM   #167
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Re: This is truly scary.

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Originally Posted by LKH

Do you honestly think that Bill Gates or Donald Trump would be less motivated if they could only get half as wealthy? Making 10,000 times more than you could humanly spend in a lifetime is the only thing that could prompt them to innovate, and if they could only make 5,000 times more, they'd just pitch their endeavors and go work for the government?
Gates/Buffet/Trump are the extreme exceptions. Of course they would have have done what they did for much less. But look at the Forbes list, it drops off pretty sharply. And Gates/Buffet are giving most of their money to charity anyhow. But I will contend that the opportunity, the *dream* that someone can make money like that *does* motivate many, many people. Just look at the popularity of 'The Apprentice'. And those people go on to create small businesses that hire people and raise the standard of living for all. Very few probably ever get 'rich', but do well for themselves and others. I do get concerned that any attempt to take away that dream may have unintended consequences that end up doing more harm than good.

Recall the luxury tax on yachts? Hey, let's stick it to those stinkin' rich guys- they can afford it. It ended up causing layoffs in the boat industry and those average, hard working people lost their jobs. Score one for the 'socialists'!


Quote:
I'm not saying businesses shouldn't be able to make money. But they should pay their employees fairly. .... I actually think that's good for business, anyway. If the kid at McDonalds understands that, if her branch makes good money, she gets a little piece, maybe the kid will be invested in making customers happy, making sure they come back.
I totally agree, but I think I prefer to let the businesses themselves make those decisions. If you want a good very recent example, look at Best Buy and Circuit City. CC started cutting training and wages for its employees while BB was *investing* in its employees. The market spoke - customers prefer the BB experience to the CC experience and voted with their wallets. Guess what - CC learned a lesson and is responding. I think businesses can respond better, faster, and adjust to changing circumstances better than congress. Heck, half the time congress passes legislation that isn't even adjusted for inflation. I get nervous when we suggest that government can do this better. See Adam Smith's 'Invisible Hand of Commerce'.

I am starting to read the poverty links you provided, but a Spring day and sunshine is calling. More later - thanks,

-ERD50



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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 04:43 PM   #168
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Re: This is truly scary.

Donald Trump is and was a failure. He went Bankrupt. Yes he lost a ton BUT the darn banks were in so deep with his $hit that they had to bail him out. Plus he uses his arrogance as a tool. He is always on the offense.

I would have loved to see how he would have done without DADDYS MONEY!
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 10:28 PM   #169
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50
I do get concerned that any attempt to take away that dream may have unintended consequences that end up doing more harm than good.

Recall the luxury tax on yachts? Hey, let's stick it to those stinkin' rich guys- they can afford it. It ended up causing layoffs in the boat industry and those average, hard working people lost their jobs. Score one for the 'socialists'!
You do like to put words in a person's mouth.

Quote:
I totally agree, but I think I prefer to let the businesses themselves make those decisions. If you want a good very recent example, look at Best Buy and Circuit City. CC started cutting training and wages for its employees while BB was *investing* in its employees. The market spoke - customers prefer the BB experience to the CC experience and voted with their wallets. Guess what - CC learned a lesson and is responding. I think businesses can respond better, faster, and adjust to changing circumstances better than congress. Heck, half the time congress passes legislation that isn't even adjusted for inflation. I get nervous when we suggest that government can do this better. See Adam Smith's 'Invisible Hand of Commerce'.
I don't much like government running these things either. But we HAVE left it to the businesses, and we have a significant segment of the working population whose wages leave them below the poverty line. The record shows that when businesses get to decide, too many will screw the employees to bump that bottom line.

L
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 10:31 PM   #170
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Re: This is truly scary.

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Originally Posted by newguy888
Donald Trump is and was a failure. He went Bankrupt. Yes he lost a ton BUT the darn banks were in so deep with his $hit that they had to bail him out. Plus he uses his arrogance as a tool. He is always on the offense.

I would have loved to see how he would have done without DADDYS MONEY!
Watch it, you might get sued! He is infamous for suing people who talk about him like that. See, there's a big difference (according to him). IT was his casinos that went bankrupt, not him. All I know is he didn't make all that money by being charming. Probably the only time in history I've ever rooted for Rosie O'Donnell is this last year in her bicker-fest with him.
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 11:04 PM   #171
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LKH
I don't much like government running these things either. But we HAVE left it to the businesses, and we have a significant segment of the working population whose wages leave them below the poverty line. The record shows that when businesses get to decide, too many will screw the employees to bump that bottom line.

L
I will still warn about the 'unintended consequences'.

What will happen if companies are required to pay wages/benefits for low-level jobs that are significantly higher than what they pay today to fill those jobs? They will move more jobs off-shore, or automate those jobs. Or move away from businesses that require low-level workers. We have already seen it happening.

Would the increased wages to some offset the overall loss of jobs? I don't know, but it a serious concern.

Of course, that might might be the best thing we could do to fight poverty. The people that are willing to work for a fraction of US wages experience a poverty that is much worse than most of the poverty seen in the US. Maybe the most compassionate thing we could do is to help them rather than those within our own borders?

Sure, many jobs cannot be outsourced or automated. But US companies could get very creative if pushed. You've heard the stories that the drive up windows at some fast-food places are staffed at an off-site location through phone/internet connections? Today, that off-site location could be anywhere in the world.

-ERD50
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-28-2007, 11:30 PM   #172
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Re: This is truly scary.

Which brings up another point. Businesses that take jobs out of country to avoid having to pay decent wages to Americans might ought to pay a tax for doing so. Sorry, but I just have no empathy for people who, if they can't screw their own countrymen, want to go screw some poor foreign kid even worse; particularly unempathetic when the companies doing it are turning over record profits.

I'm darned tired of talking to support techs at software companies who barely speak English, who barely understand the problem I'm trying to report, or who read some scripted response, even after I tell them that I've tried the standard fixes. If I could find alternate companies that don't do that, they'd get my business.

L
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-29-2007, 05:02 AM   #173
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LKH
IT was his casinos that went bankrupt, not him.
True, but he came close.

"by 1991 increasing debt brought Trump to business bankruptcy[4]
and the brink of personal bankruptcy."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-29-2007, 07:07 AM   #174
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Re: This is truly scary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50
I will still warn about the 'unintended consequences'.
One of the unintended consequenses I see, though not as dramatic as the ones you point out is pay compression. many times when a company is forced to increase the wages of the lowest wage earners the do not increase wages for those above them. The end result is they have managers making little more than the people they supervise. It works itself out eventually as the old managers and supervisors decide the pay isn't worth the job and move to a different company with an increase in pay.
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-29-2007, 09:47 AM   #175
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Re: This is truly scary.

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Originally Posted by LKH
By redistribution, I generally mean some kind of arbitrary, socialist kind of idea. But I don't think it's socialist to protect the working lower class, to assure that they are justly and equitably compensated for the work they do. They should be able to afford the necessities. If they want luxuries beyond that, then they need to work to advance themselves. But if they work at all (full-time, anyway), they should be able to afford the necessities.
These words are tricky. Originally socialism meant what Russia and Nazi Germany dished out from the Left and the Right, respectively. Remember that the Third Reich called their government National Socialism.

Then after WW2 rather extensive welfare systems were set up throughout Western Europe and England. Meanwhile over here we were deep into McCarthyism and the eager rooting out of the remnants of our country's flirtation with Communism in the 30s. So it became politically effective to call anything left of Attila the Hun Socialist.

If by socialist one means anything that interferes with the unfettered workings of markets, then of course what you are describing is socialism, as is much else in the modern world.

Pure socialism as envisaged by Marx and Engels will never exist. Neither will a pure market economy. They are each the fictions of dreamers or rogues.

Ha
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-29-2007, 10:45 AM   #176
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Re: This is truly scary.

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Sorry, but I just have no empathy for people who, if they can't screw their own countrymen, want to go screw some poor foreign kid even worse.....
Think about that for just a minute. If a company opens a factory in a poor country, the people have a *choice* to work there or not. AFAIK, no one is forcing them to take those jobs, are they? The fact is, those workers are happy when a factory opens in their area. It may seem like poor pay and lousy work to you and me, but it is better than the alternative those poor people have. To them, it represents opportunity. So you would rather see these people starve than get an opportunity for a better life? (OK you will accuse me of putting words in your mouth again - guilty, but you must realize there are real consequences to the actions you want to take).

And no, I don't want to see their situation taken advantage of, but don't assume that is the case. Take a look here:

"Supplier Code of Conduct"

and: http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/

Most of the electronic manufacturers sign up to a code of conduct that *exceeds* the local regulations. Why? It is good business. Remember the flak Nike got when there were reports of 'sweatshop' conditions? And as you pointed out, for some nominal increase in salary benefits, the company gains a lot in employee loyalty.

Hey, sorry if I seem to always come across negative on these issues. But I truly believe it much more complex than just 'provide everybody a living wage'. The wage compression that lets-retire points out is a very real issue. Everybody up the ladder will need a boost too. The guy/gal that was already getting a 'living wage' for working a bit harder/smarter will now demand more than the person that was previously getting minimum wage, and is now their 'equal'. Lots and lots of impacts all across the board.

Quote:
I'm darned tired of talking to support techs at software companies who barely speak English, who barely understand the problem I'm trying to report, or who read some scripted response, even after I tell them that I've tried the standard fixes. If I could find alternate companies that don't do that, they'd get my business.
Personally, I don't care where the person is located, as long as they are communicating effectively and solving my problem.

But I can report that I have had excellent customer support from Apple, and they are consistently ranked at the top in customer support in surveys and Consumer Reports. The rep listened to the problems I had, listened to the troubleshooting that I had done, and did not run me through the automatic scripted 'reinstall the OS' type things. I was pretty amazed at just how efficient they handled the few problems I have had to call about.

-ERD50


PS - As Ha states above, no system will be perfect. IMO, the 'free market' does require regulation in those 'common' areas where everyone is impacted, but there is little/no benefit to an individual company to provide the lead (pollution controls being the #1 example).
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-29-2007, 12:29 PM   #177
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Re: This is truly scary.

When I was in Turkey I was chastised by several of my new in country co-workers and subordinates for purchasing the hand-tied Turkish carpets. The reasoning they gave was the companies are taking advantage of young girls by making them tie these rugs. In reality the young girls were making a very good living, while in an apprentice program. When they are skilled enough they will tie high end rugs and be paid several thousand dollars for work that lasted a couple months. In contrast a well paid Baskin and Robins worker who worked six days a week 12 hour days earned a whopping $60 per month.

We often hear of the very low wages earned by people in countries with lower standards of living than our own and think the people are being oppressed. Many times I have to look on this with a bit of skepticism. Most things on their economy are much cheaper than they are here and making $200-300 per month is a decent wage, for them. Eventually everything will equal out. As our companies move certain parts of their company to other countries their economies will improve causing their wages to increase.

Edited to correct some glaring grammar and word usage issues.
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Re: This is truly scary.
Old 04-29-2007, 02:39 PM   #178
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Re: This is truly scary.

Of course, Bezos put the Donald to shame by making $1.8 billion last week (with qualifiers).

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com...InTwoDays.aspx
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Old 04-29-2007, 11:47 PM   #179
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Re: This is truly scary.

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Originally Posted by CyclingInvestor
True, but he came close.

"by 1991 increasing debt brought Trump to business bankruptcy[4]
and the brink of personal bankruptcy."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump
I think the distinction is a fine one, but evidently Trump gets fractious about it. 'Course with his personality, money is probably about the only way he keeps friends and women around...
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:16 AM   #180
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Re: This is truly scary.

All those arguments are worth talking about, but I don't honestly think any of them are good reasons not to pay workers a living wage. If someone works for you full time, you owe them enough to live on. It really is that simple, at least to me. Will that impact businesses? Sure. But I guess I don't think it's a good thing to have businesses thriving while their employees are trying to get enough to feed their kids on the $21 a week you get from food stamps. I don't think it's a good thing to have low unemployment if 12% of those who are "employed" can't afford health care and live on mac and cheese.

And if companies, to avoid paying Americans a living wage, want to farm jobs overseas - fine - so long as they pay THOSE workers a living wage for where they live. And additionally, I think they need to pay a tax. After all, by removing jobs from American soil, they are depriving the government of the taxes those workers would pay - and if more people end up on the dole because fewer jobs are available in the US, then those companies are also contributing to a drain on the resources of the government.

WRT the term socialism... I guess my concern is that when you label anything that limits unfettered greed with a politically loaded term, the knee-jerk reactions tend to shut down reasoned discussion. If free market economy means that companies should be allowed to unilaterally set wages so low that people who work full time would actually live better on welfare, then I think some regulation is needed to offset the consequences of unfettered greed. If that's socialism, so be it. While I think capitalism, by and large, works better than the alternatives, maybe pure capitalism, with nothing to rein in abuses by the folks who hold the purse strings, isn't the best solution either.
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