Saturday, July 7, 2012
GOP Congressman Doesn't Really Understand What Wages Are, Apparently
For some reason, Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) heard the words "minimum wage" and what fell out of his mouth was "benefit." Now, confusion about the minimum wage is nothing new; we've certainly come across congress-critters and candidates alike who weren't sure what the federal minimum wage dollar amount is, or who believe there shouldn't be a minimum wage at all. (The latter always astonishes me when I hear these arguments--are they saying people should work for free? What the hell is their definition of slavery?) It's a bit rare, though, to find someone whose disconnect from low-income life is so vast that he doesn't recognize that wages are compensation for labor performed.
But what takes the cake here is telling this fellow to "Get a job." What I think he means is: a "real job", which is to say a job that doesn't pay minimum wage. But I would contend that if a person is occupying their time doing something for another person/persons--that's a real job, and the worker should be compensated appropriately to their being an actual human being with the need for food,shelter, and the like. An employee's time is money to them. And an employer would not hire someone to do anything that didn't need doing.
People do take crappy jobs that don't pay a lot for lots of reasons, but the bottom line is always that bills need to get paid. When I hear talk about the hand-out mentality that welfare or unemployment somehow depresses the will to work, I get a bit testy--I don't suppose most people would prefer dependence, but come to that, people need money just to live in this world. Work should pay. And as to the idea that low-paid labor is so low-paying because its unskilled--well, it's still labor. Maybe we're talking about toilet-cleaning, or washing the dishes at a restaurant--is anyone going to say that is work that doesn't need to be done? There may be jobs of higher value--and by all means, pay people more for what their jobs are worth, but still. "Get a job?"