American Elephants

So Much for the Lumberjacks! by The Elephant's Child


When I was growing up, our mountainous area was lumbering  and ranching country. Most of the larger towns had lumber mills, and the roads were always full of logging trucks taking logs to the mills. That’s almost all gone. We used to count the cars of logs on the log trains. Times change. Industries die. Occupations disappear.

Democrats are all excited about raising the minimum wage because they assume hat the minimum wage has to support families and they are raising the living standards of the poor. Actually, most of those who receive the minimum wage are teenagers, the average family income of someone receiving the minimum wage is $50,000 or more.

They turned the proposal over to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) who make projections given on exactly what information they are given. President Obama’s proposed $10.10 by 2016 could cost half a million Americans their jobs, as “some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.” CBO says it could be as high as one million lost jobs. But they take 500,000 as a middling figure. To be added on to the 100 million now unemployed.

My grocery store has several aisles for self-checkout now, as do many other stores like Home Depot. Restaurants are replacing waiters and waitresses with electronic menu pads. Monumentum machines has created a hamburger-making robot, and is planning a chain of restaurants with a cook staff of robots.

The White House was pleased with the CBO report, they take the possibility that there would be no lost jobs more seriously because it is more pleasing. Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers came up with the usual blather about 7 Nobel prize winners and 600 other economists. Paying a better wage can improve productivity and reduce unit labor costs.” Or Businesses can just accept lower profit margins.”

This robot, the John Deere H414 harvester head,  is new to me, though it has been around since 2008. When government comes up with one of its bad ideas or bad regulations, ingenious Americans find ways to get around it. Accepting lower profit margins is not one of them. Most companies’ profit margins are not very big, and if a company cannot make a profit, they go out of business. What the heck are they teaching in business school anyway?


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I came up to DC to visit with my sister and watch a Georgetown basketball game (lost to St. Johns… I don’t want to talk about it), and before the game went to one of my favorite burger places… just as a curiosity, since the administration is talking about minimum wage, I asked the staff what starting pay was ($10.50). At a local cupcake shop (my sister loves those things), $10.85. Bellmen at the Marriott in Arlington (a tipped position, by the way) start at $8.25 an hour. In fact, I’ve never met anyone in the DC Metro – Baltimore area that makes the minimum wage.

One thing that you notice, though is that with the higher wages come higher prices (my bacon cheeseburger, small fries, and small shake ran $16.23 – a nice treat, but I wouldn’t make it a regular thing). Rents for apartments around here run from the unaffordable to the ungodly (The Watergate (yes, THAT Watergate), which I can see across the Potomac from my room has studio for $1950/mo). Car insurance almost doubles your car payment (makes me glad I live in the Tennessee mountains! Makes me realize that everywhere Obama has lived – Hawaii, LA, NYC, Boston, Chicago, DC – ALL of them have sky-high cost of living. I don’t think Obama has really ever been to an area that has a CoL low enough where people DO start at minimum wage. Obama has never lived in a world with the “working class”, paycheck to paycheck. For all of his supposed “compassion”, he really and truly doesn’t know or understand (or care) what he’s talking about.


Comment by Lon Mead

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