Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On Minimum Wage and Contempt for Ordinary Things

Americans sure do have interesting ways of using the word "ordinary." For example, one might hear a conversation that goes something like this: "Look at how ordinary young Johnny is, surely he will go far in life." Just let that sentence sink-in for a few seconds...

Now, I would never argue that ordinary men cannot achieve great things, they can and they have. What I am arguing is that in this particular scenario, Johnny is not ordinary. What they mean is that Johnny is socially awesome, well-adjusted, and popular, therefore he will likely live "The American Dream"...

Now, "The American Dream" is a perfectly fine destination to aspire to, but don't call it ordinary. There is nothing ordinary about it. It says it right there in its name...we used to use the word dream to make the distinction between ordinary,waking-life, and the unmistakably un-ordinary life of our fantasies.

So, what does this have to do with minimum wage? To answer this question let me define Ordinary Man: a man whose features fall within the sphere of what features are common to all men. In light of this, let's take from the scenario from above: it is not common to all men to be socially awesome, well-adjusted, and popular, therefore those aspects of Johnny are not ordinary. Yet, they are nearly essential characteristics one must posses to achieve The American Dream. Consequently, any characteristic of the ordinary man that gets in the way of achieving the American Dream, must now be labeled a syndrome or a disorder.

OK, now that we've established that most people have some kind of disorder, let's go about the task of making sure all of them can easily have access to-yep, you guessed it-The American Dream!!!!!!!

This is not to say that there are not those who's features fall below the sphere of what is common to all men, people who really do have disorders. But, the danger in treating these and the ordinary man as though they are both equally in need of assistance, is that half of the people, or nearly so, give a place of honor to weakness, and the other half, or nearly so, give a place of contempt to the same.

To observe this, just look at the comment section of any active FB post about the latest minimum wage talk. Both sides have contempt for ordinary things. The former worships weakness and talks of social justice and privilege, the latter worships strength and talks of eugenics and euthanasia. But, they both agree that everyone should have The American Dream. One says he should have it, or else be given it forcibly; the other says he should have it or he should be condemned.

Let's take a closer look at the latter group. They'll make a sound economic argument that if the minimum wage goes up, the price of everything else will do the same...and if he chooses to leave it at that, the irony still remains that this is a tacit admission that the great businessmen he's defending are powerless to whatever law the state wants to make, and also that it is perfectly reasonable for the capitalist's first move to be to raise prices on all of their customers regardless or whether or not they supported a raise to the minimum wage.

Neither of those implications sit well with me. Small business is often said to be the backbone of our economy...and of all the economic cliches bandied about nowadays, this one has the most economic merit. Which is why it pains me when it rolls over to every demand of government at the expense of the customer. Small business is the backbone any's time it started acting like it.