In this episode, Kurt discusses the societal impact of setting a minimum wage.
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Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. Today, we’re going to be talking about, I guess a couple tricky subjects relating to politics and society. The original intention has been to tackle the tricky subject of minimum wage theory. It’s a very popular idea, raising the minimum wage. Gaining traction is the idea that we should raise minimum wage to $15 an hour here in the United States, but later on in the episode we’re going to be reflecting upon the intentions of why we would want to raise minimum ages, but also some of the realistic consequences of doing that, specifically the adverse consequences, the bad consequences that would result from that. The intention has been to devote the episode to that. However, this week Senator Bernie Sanders has made some remarks that have been quite stirring for a lot of people. I would say that they are anti-Christian. They are even intolerant, despite his own intention to be tolerant, they’re actually intolerant themselves. We’re going to talk about the background here to this. But before we jump into that, and I’m gonna play the clip so you can hear it. Before that we’ve got, one announcement here. Defenders Media is partnering with the Library of Historical Apologetics to bring to you the Deeper Roots Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan on September 8-9. We’ve got a number of great speakers. Dr. Tim McGrew, J. Warner Wallace, Tom Gilson, Rob Bowman, Lydia McGrew, and a number of others and I’ll be there hosting the event. I’d love to see you there. If you want to get more information about that, you can go to Defendersmedia.com and you can click on events and it will be there. Now, let me get back here to this Bernie Sanders remark. For us to get some context, sit back here, enjoy this. It’s a three-minute clip so you can listen to this interaction between Bernie Sanders, and Russell Vought, who’s nominated for the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Okay. So very specific role here that he was dominated for. We’ll get some interesting views here and I’d love to get your thoughts if you’re following on the livestream, if you want to comment, you’ve got questions, or if you want to call in. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. Here we are with Senator Bernie Sanders.
Kurt: Alright. So that was Senator Bernie Sanders and he was having this interaction between this nominee, Wheaton College graduate, and some of this, he said some of the things too that are not there in the clip that were disconcerning. In fact, he ended up ultimately voting no for this person, as I see on a great article from The Atlantic. I’ll show this on the website. Some people are saying this is sort of a religious test. Of course, Sanders is not coming out calling for a religious test formally, but he is obviously holding it against this nominee, Russell Vought, because of his religious beliefs in the exclusivity of Jesus as the only means for salvation and so now to help us think through some of these issues and to talk about this more, we have invited George Yancey who is a senior contributor to the Stream and professor of sociology at the University of North Texas. George. Thanks so much for coming on the show today.
George: Thanks for having me.
Kurt: This is a really, I feel like there are a lot of things to talk about here that, this is one of the things that Christians have feared, that all of a sudden because we are Christians, we’re going to be prohibited and persecuted in a minor sense. Of course, in this case, Vought, I think is how you say his name, is being discriminated because of his position on the exclusivity of Jesus as the means for salvation, and of course Sanders voted no as a result of this. What’s going on here? What’s your perception? What’s your take? And then I want to get your thoughts on even what Senator, I think Van Halen, also said as well.
George: Sure. I’ve
been doing research on what’s called Christianophobia, which is a fear and
hatred towards Christians, especially conservative Christians. I don’t know
whether or not Senator Sanders has Christianophobia, but I am willing to say he
operates in an atmosphere where that’s perceptible. I don’t want to make a
direct one-to-one comparison from Christianophobia to racism, because there’s
some key differences, but a way to think about is that in the South during Jim
Crow, not everyone there was a racist, but you were in a situation where racism
was common so if you were white and you wanted to get away with mistreating a
black person, you might not be accused of being a racist, but you could do it
anyway. That’s what I’m saying is occuring here. This is an atmosphere of
Christianophobia, and to illustrate that, does anyone actually believe Senators
would ask a Muslim about his or her faith and whether or not his or her faith
were exclusive and what happens in the afterlife to non-Muslims. Everyone knows
Sanders would not dare do that because he would immediately be called, rightly
so, Islamophobic. If that’s the case for Muslims, then it’s the case for
Christians and so this is why I say, I’m not accusing them of Christianophobia.
I’m saying he operates in an atmosphere where Christianophobia, and by
atmosphere I mean Congress, I mean his social circle, Christianophobia is okay.
Sanders, I understand he represents himself as a secular Jew and that’s fine, but what he’s really talking about is universalism, the idea that all the worldviews are basically leaps in the right direction, basically kind of good. That’s an oversimplistic way of putting it, but I’m just putting it that way, which is fine. I don’t see it that way. I think that’s illogical, but it’s America, you’re entitled to live what you want to believe, but what he’s doing is he’s imposing this universal standard ironically on everyone else. In other words, according to his statements it sounds like everyone who works for the government should have this universalistic religious belief. You’re supposed to believe none of the religions are completely right, they’re all kind of the same path and what have you. That is intolerant because it’s imposing a standard, a religious standard on everyone, and so by trying to stay tolerant he’s actually become intolerant. To truly tolerate a thing is to say, “Hey. I disagree with you my fellow Muslim person on Allah being God, but I’m willing to treat you the same as far as are you, I’m going to hire you for this job.” I’m going to give you the resources the government has[NP1] , religion I’m going to treat you the same, but I don’t have to agree with you. Seems like Sanders have a hard time with people who disagree with him religiously.
Kurt: While it might be done in the name of tolerance, it really, some people simply don’t understand what religious tolerance is about, and Vought, I think that’s how you say his name, he really does. He gets it because he says in the clip we played that he believed that everyone is a child of God in the sense that everyone has the image of God, they have worth, they should be respected, regardless of their religious beliefs and so there’s still value that he would ascribe to every human being, and he would faithfully do his job then. Whatever he thinks regarding their eternal state is sort of a separate matter and surely one that wouldn’t affect his job in any way, especially as the Deputy Director of Office of Management and Budget. He’s dealing with numbers all day.
George: I don’t know how he could discriminate in that position, but nonetheless. It’s interesting that he himself seemed in questioning seemed to say everyone’s a child of God and treat everyone equal, and that’s something Sanders is entitled to ask him. Sanders could have asked him, well you have this office, are you going to treat everyone the same? By all means, he should have said yes, but to then go on, do you believe people are condemned, now you’re getting into theology. Sanders has no right in America at least to ask you about your theology.
Kurt: Yeah. Sanders is likely, I mean I don’t know, I’m just guessing. He likely never has taken a course in theology and he’s not very religious either. He calls himself Jewish, but it’s really an ethnic thing I take it for him, and not so much religious belief. I think that’s very problematic that he would impose this standard, and maybe this is secularism. Maybe that’s what this is where now you have to be, or at least, some people might think you really should be secular when you apply for these jobs or are nominated for these jobs. I don’t take it that that’s what America is about though. We’re not about being a secular nation. We’re about being a religiously pluralistic nation. Right?
George: Yeah. We’re supposed to have religious freedom which means we can believe what we want, we can worship the way we want, which is really ironic because, and I’ve studied secular culture and[NP2] they keep saying separation of church and state. in[NP3] your churches and the article that this was all about was sort of an argument within a denomination and so Sanders is actually violating even the progressive standard that we’ve been told, I mean, the progressive standard I think is too rigorous, whereas is[NP4] religion in our churches and our homes. I think we have a right to go into the public square, but Sanders even violates even that sort of standard, that kind of standard, by taking an argument inside a religious organization and bringing it out to the light and then saying you will not vote for the man, because of his theological argument, which is basically saying “I don’t want to give you a job, because I don’t like your theological beliefs”, and to me that is ultimately a violation of his religious freedom. I think it’s a Republican denominated Senate so he’s going to get the position anyways, but the fact you’re going to use that as a criteria. I don’t care if Sanders says, “You went voted for Donald Trump. I’m not voting for anyone who went for Donald Trump.” You budget[NP5] . All of this stuff, I don’t care. That’s politics. I just go along and ride that out. This is disturbing.
Kurt: And it’s exactly as you said. It’s disturbing because the criteria under which Sanders voted no were his religious beliefs that he had written about in a article for the Resurgent, an online conservative publication, and it’s really just stemming from say, I think John 8 where Jesus says, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me you would know my Father also.” There Jesus is making an exclusive claim and then in Luke 10, the one who rejects me rejects Him who sent me. Also then in John 3, “Whoever believes in the Son is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because He has not believed in the name of the only Son of God”, it’s not, or at least it ought not be controversial that Christians believe Jesus is the way to the Father, and the fact that….
George: There’s something else Kurt that I really think we should bring up just for a couple minutes. I think, was it Van Hollen, the Senator…
Kurt: I was just going to bring him up!
George: Okay. I think of[NP6] Sanders rightly so, but if you really listen to what Van Hollen is saying, this guy’s Christianity, he does not say exactly these words[NP7] , .This guy’s Christianity isn’t really Christianity. My Christianity was sort of kind of non-exclusive. That’s really what Christianity is about. He can believe that and people can argue about it on Facebook or in person or what have you and that’s fine. I’m not saying whether he has a right to think that, but what I’m saying is as a Senator to sort of tell the candidate what his Christianity is should be is quite disturbing as well. We really can’t let that go. I’m glad you’re about to bring that up.
Kurt: Yeah. I’ve got his quote up here. So Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, he said, “I’m a Christian, but part of being a Christian in my view is recognizing that there are lots of ways that people can pursue their God.” and then he said, “No one is questioning your faith. It’s your comments that suggest a violation of the public trust in what will be a very important position.” You’re right. Van Hollen can believe that. He’s got the legal right to hold that view. From a Christian perspective, I want to call him out on this and say, “No. That’s not the orthodox Christian perspective.” If you think that there are various ways to God, then that’s sort of a universal or even relativistic position which is not the orthodox position. That would be disturbing to me on a religious worldview basis. As you said, this is very disturbing because of the criteria being used to judge nominees. I think it sets a dangerous precedent for a lot of religious people, like you said, even Muslims if they were to be nominated, and that’s a standard we want to shy away from and really I think it’s sad that we in our nation have gotten to a point where elected officials don’t appreciate not just religious liberty, but religious diversity. They don’t want religion, at least to influence the way we think about things and for many of us, many of us religious people, God is the basis for our beliefs in the value that humans have. Even our country, one of the unofficial founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, stated that God is the one that gives us these rights and the creator God specifically gives us these rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. If we can’t be talking about God in the public square even as government officials, I think we’re heading down the wrong path.
George: Yeah. I think there’s an appropriate time to talk about our faith and an inappropriate time to talk about faith. As a professional I don’t talk about my faith when I’m teaching, because I don’t want my students to feel pressured by my faith. But on the other hand, we do have a right to the public square. I think this was an inappropriate time to bring up religion when you’re talking about trying to hire someone for a position and it’s inappropriate to critique someone’s religion as Van Hollen did in the midst of hiring someone. I did a little bit of looking up right before I came on and according to this one survey I could find, 75% of all Christians, and by Christians I mean Protestants and Catholics, believe that Jesus Christ is the only path to Heaven. Basically, what these two senators are saying is 75% of all Christians, trying to do my math here, probably about 50% of the population, basically their faith disqualifies them from consideration from government jobs. We just don’t want to go there as a society.
Kurt: Oh yeah.
George: I think we have to have a lot of pushback right now, because if we don’t pushback now, then another Senator will feel emboldened to do something like this.
George: I’m glad this has gotten a lot of attention and I hope it can get more attention. I hope it can break through into the media to let people know, you don’t use someone’s religion to decide on hiring someone in a secular governmental job.
Kurt: Yeah. You’re right that there’s a time and place and we should still recognize that our religious beliefs are going to inform how we say, teach, you as a university professor. It’s kind of influenced your worldview and the perspective and interpretations you have even on data that you’re studying, but say as a government official, it’s kind of influenced your policy and such so there is a time and a place and of course there is what some political theorists call sort of civic religion or civic faith where we talk about the creator God because we talk about the common beliefs that we all have together even if we disagree on the finer details of those beliefs and so we’re at a point here, it’s a spiritual, also political war, a war of ideas, the secular position against the religious position, and the religious position, I really want people to recognize this, the religious position is not necessarily an exclusive Christian one. There are a lot of religious people in this nation. They’re not just Christians and they believe God has a place in public society and we shouldn’t be persecuted in a minor sense. We shouldn’t be discriminated against as a result of that. I even want to say more than that is the reason why we want this is God is the basis for these things. Our worldview very much plays an important role in American government and serves as the basis for this. George. I want to thank you. I don’t want to hold you up any longer, but I want to thank you so much for your time and coming on here and clueing us in a little bit more about this very tricky subject, and as you said, it’s a bit disturbing. It’s something I hope, and I think Sanders is rightly sort of having a backlash response even from a number of, if you look at the number of spectrum, a number of liberal publications like Slate and the Atlantic tends to be a bit more independent, there’s some good articles there. We’ll post some at our website for those of you who want to follow along with this incident. So George Yancey. Thanks so much for coming on the show!
George: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Kurt: God bless you. Alright. We’ve got a caller here coming in and it is actually my sister Amanda, lo and behold. Amanda. How are you doing?
Amanda: I’m doing well Kurt. How are you?
Kurt: Good. Thanks for calling in, sis.
Amanda: Yeah. I’ve been following the Bernie Sanders story, especially being based in Los Angeles, he has a lot of supporters.
Kurt: I know a lot of people that support him as well.
Amanda: Yeah. I do admire his heart for the poor and oppressed. While we may differ on certain ways of execution, I appreciate his efforts according to his own passions. All that to say, I’m wondering if you think that he didn’t understand Russell’s phrase of being condemned. Do you think that Bernie, not knowing the Scripture, actually took that to mean Russell would commit hateful acts against Muslims or in a position, or do you think he understood that it meant more of a hell afterlife mentality?
Kurt: Yeah. That’s a good question, and thanks for calling in Amanda. I would say, I think you’re right. I think you’re onto something here. I think Sanders, because he just probably hasn’t studied religion all that much, is, for lack of a better word, he’s ignorant here on this use of condemned. For Russell Vought condemned here is talking about an eternal state whereas, I think what’s likely the case is Sanders thinks that Vought would somehow do something and thinks that Muslims are guilty in the here and the now on Earth and that action would be taken against them. I think that’s why Sanders said this language is Islamophobic and hateful. As I mentioned in my conversation with Dr. Yancey just now, I think it’s very sad that we have a number of elected officials who are very ignorant about religious life in general. Not just in society, but for individuals and what certain phrases might mean. I think that’s a very good point, if that answers your question, I think Sanders is confused and I wish he weren’t.
Amanda: Right. I agree with you. Do you think that Vought should have handled knowing that, knowing that Bernie Sanders perhaps maybe misunderstood what condemned meant in that context. Do you think that Vought should have just taken a stand on dissecting what he really meant instead of vouching for Wheaton College or saying he was a Christian because he might be mistranslated to Bernie.
Kurt: Yes. I didn’t like Vought a number of times and I know we played that three-minute clip at the beginning of the episode. The hearing of course was longer and there was more dialogue. There were multiple times when Vought responded, “I am a Christian. I went to Wheaton College. What I wrote was basically in alignment with their statement of faith,” and he sort of just backed to that. My own wish would have been that Vought would have taken it head on and engaged more with Senator Sanders, and even explained what he meant, but for all I know Vought was maybe caught off guard a little bit.
Amanda: I think so yeah. And he did start getting into, “I believe Muslims should be treated with dignity and respect as humans,” but then he was cut off.
Kurt: And maybe, Sanders, he had read that letter that he had been given from some Muslim organization and maybe that tipped off Sanders of course. I don’t think Sanders was likely doing all of his, Senators only have a limited amount of time. They’ve got staff that research these topics for them. They probably got a letter and they had to take a position on it without knowing more.
Amanda: Yeah. And for Senator Sanders, the best thing to do is really to be educated on more of a theological vocabulary so he knows what people mean when they’re speaking in certain terms I suppose.
Kurt: Yeah. That’s right. And like I said, I think it’s just a sad state of affairs that some politicians don’t understand that. We’re losing the religious fabric in our society and that’s something that people need to learn to appreciate and to have constructive conversations. As long as we’re isolating ourselve politically and in a partisan atmosphere, we’re going to lose that religious fabric that unites us in a diverse society and I think that’s sad. That’s why we’re doing the podcast so people will talk about these things instead of just sort of keeping them for other private conversations. There’s that phrase, religion and politics are the two things you never talk about at the dinner table. I kind of have a reverse mentality because those are the two most important things in a society. We should be talking about these openly and constructively though. Sadly, I don’t think some people don’t talk about them constructively and that’s why people are turned off to talking about them. Amanda. Thank you for calling in to the show sis and asking those questions and helping clear the air on a number of issues. I think you’re right that Sanders didn’t understand what that word condemned meant and it affected his judgment in the decision he made not to vote for Vought.
Kurt: Good. Awesome.
Amanda: Thanks for having me on.
Kurt: Of course. You take care and thanks for listening.
Amanda: Alright. Thanks. Have a good one.
Kurt: Alright. By by.
Kurt: We’ve got a comment here from Kyle online and thanks to those that are online. We’ll get to a short break here soon in a couple minutes and then we’ll jump into minimum wage which was the intended topic for today’s show. Kyle writes, “If I understand the implications of Sanders correctly, disagreeing something temporal is allowable. Disagreeing on something eternal disqualifies a candidate?” Because you say certain people won’t go to be with God in eternity. You are disqualified. Doesn’t this prohibity atheists from being candidates because they make the claim no one is going to be in eternity since it doesn’t exist? Wouldn’t Bernie be disqualifying himself as discriminatory. Kyle. I especially think the last couple questions there are spot on because Sanders is concerned about tolerance and that Vought would be intolerant towards people of other positions, but when you place Sanders own criteria upon him, Sanders himself is disqualifying someone. He’s being intolerant toward someone because of their religious views. It really is self-defeating and I think it’s anti-Christian what Sanders did, because he’s obviously saying here that if you hold to these Christian views then you shouldn’t be considered for the position and as Dr. Yancey said that’s a really disturbing position to hold and it’s also just broadly anti-religious and I think that’s a problem. I think that’s something we should all be concerned with. We need to work on cultivating the religious fabric of our society. If we’re going to fight against secularism for all of the problems that it has, in some ways the incoherent issues that it stakes itself upon, the arbitrariness of it, we need to cultivate the religious fabric of our society to help even people like Sanders who really is not religious himself, but to help him understand what sort of role religion plays in our society, and the important role that it plays. That’s what I would say to that. Yes. I think you’re right. It really is self-defeating for Sanders to have said that and to have done that. His vote was an actual no for those reasons and I think that’s very problematic and concerning. We’ve got to take a break here. After the break we’re going to be getting into minimum wage theory. We’re going to be talking about what the good intentions are behind that, but the adverse consequences. Thanks for sticking with us thus far and we’ll be right back after this short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Alright. Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. We appreciate our sponsors and are very thankful that they help make this show possible so if you want to learn more about how you can help, you can go to Veracityhill.com/patron and if you like the content that we’re putting out week after week and the variety of topics, issues, and perspectives that we’re discussing, we’d love to get your support as well. Part of our long-term goal is to have this podcast become a flourishing radio ministry and to make that happen we need your help, so we’d love to get your continual monthly support. Go to Veracityhill.com where you can learn more how to do that.
In the first half of the show we were talking about the Bernie Sanders incident this past week where he said some things that he really just didn’t quite maybe even know what he was saying or the implications of that. Maybe he did in which case that’s even more we should be encouraged to talk to people more about these important issues, but the original intention for today’s show was to talk about minimum wage theory and so we’re going to shift over to talk about that now because for one, I wanted to talk about that now because it doesn’t seem super hot in terms of a social topic. It’s not really a heated thing right now. It can become at any moment, and part of the reason why I like to do that while if it were a heated topic we might get more views, listens, or shares for the episode, but the benefit to waiting for tempers to calm is that people can begin to think about these issues without having that even emotional psychological baggage or allegiance to a parody and a perspective. We can sort of take time and reflect upon the issues that are entailed to a certain idea or policy.
Let me first say this.
Minimum wage is basically the idea that everyone should have a living wage,
something that would make it enough for them to even survive on if they were to
work say forty hours a week at specifically a low-wage position. Either manual
labor or fast food. Chris here has had experience working in the fast food industry
for how many years was it?
Chris: I was over there for seven years.
Kurt: Seven years. Okay. So I’d love to get your perspective as well.
Kurt: This idea though, the intention is for people to have a decent amount of pay that comes into them and while this is a good intention, there are unintended consequences and I want to talk about those unintended consequences and then after I talk about those unintended consequences, I’m even going to be talking about some of the quandaries that might occur as the proposed solutions so I can at least think of two reasons, two adverse consequences of raising the minimum wage.
#1 is that some minimum wage causes unemployment. I might even be willing to say that all minimum wage causes unemployment, but just for the case of the argument, some minimum wage causes unemployment. We can recognize this just by thinking in our armchairs here. Right? Imagine that you have an operating budget. Let’s say you run a small little, heck about how a lemonade stand. Right? Let’s say your operating budget is you’ve got $40. We’re going to do a thought experiment here on today’s show. You got $40, and you’ve got two locations where you sell lemonade, and so you’ve got to hire someone to go work that lemonade stand, but of course you’ve got to pay for your lemonade stand itself. It’s got to be made. You’ve got to have a nice sign made. You’ve got to get the lemonade and the cups and maybe stirrers and maybe you want ice as well so the lemonade’s cool. And all of a sudden you realize you gotta pay someone to go run that other stand while you work the one closer to your home. You realize in your budget you only have enough money to pay someone $5 an hour. Okay? But, along comes the local community, let’s say it’s a Homeowners Association. The Homeowners Association says, “No no no. You’ve got to pay that person $10 an hour to run your lemonade stand.” All of a sudden the person realizes, “Oh. Well then I can’t have my second location because I can’t be in two places at once. I guess I’m just not going to hire a person.” In this case, the person who would have been hired actually loses out on employment and so instead of getting $5 an hour, the person gets $0 an hour because they don’t land the job because the Homeowners Association has said that it’s illegal. Of course, if you’re following along the Homeowners Association would be government regulation prohibiting a company from hiring employees at a certain wage.
Consider other workers who maybe don’t need the job as being the primary provider of their household. Let’s say a mother who drops off her children at school and wants to go work at the church office, especially because she’s working for her church she says, “Hey. I don’t need $15 an hour. I’m willing to do it for $8 an hour or I’m willing to even do it for $4 an hour because I just love the work. I find a lot of value in the work that I do for the church and so I’m willing to do it for $4 an hour.” The government is going to say, “No no no. You can’t hire that person.” I think that’s really problematic. I know my position might be extreme and unpopular. I was reading this Slate article that says people who fight against minimum wage are typically people that want to beat their head against the wall because they’re going against the flow of this very popular idea, but I want to say there should be no such thing as minimum wage actually, in terms of a government regulation, because it prohibits various forms of contractual agreements. For example, the one example I gave there, the mother that drops her children off to school and wants to work at the church office, but is willing to do it for $4 an hour. Why should we stop a church from doing that? So having a regulation prohibits good forms of agreements where we even recognize that the mother in the example I gave is not the primary income provider and so as a secondary income provider, it’s sort of supplemental to what they already bring in and I don’t think regulation should prohibit against that.
Some minimum wage causes unemployment. Alright? This unemployment really hurts immigrants, minorities, and young people. Why? Well, typically, and I’m not just stereotyping here. This is what studies have shown. Immigrants, minorities, and young people. Because these are generally speaking unskilled workers who are getting into the entry level positions in the workfield and so if an employer is faced with entry level position people, people with low skills, maybe even say poor English vs. someone who has experience and is skilled, well who are they going to pay $15 an hour to? They’re going to pay $15 an hour to the person who already has these skills, won’t need the training, may not even need the supervision, who’s already set to go, so the marginalized groups in these societies are actually hurt by minimum wage. If you really look into this, not all economists, but a lot of economists agree, this is the case with minimum wage laws, and so the question is for some people, they say “Instead of $15 an hour we should do $12.50. It should just be a slight increase.” Here’s the concern, and you can just think about this. If we’re going for $12.50 an hour. If we’re going for $15 an hour, why not $100 an hour? What’s really the problem with asking $100 an hour for the minimum wage? Wouldn’t then people benefit from getting $100 an hour? Heck. I would. I don’t even make $100 an hour. So why shouldn’t we make that the minimum wage? What consequences would result from that. We’d all recognize that unemployment would result, and all of a sudden a lot of the machines would come in. Everything would be automated sooner rather than later. I think we should be wary of a policy that while well-intentioned, has some adverse consequences. We can even just realize that from sitting in our armchairs here.
Now mind you there is a minimum wage in another sense. There is what the market dictates as a minimum wage, so a number of positions that I have held in my past say working audio/visual or even as an office assistant. They weren’t minimum wage, even though it was entry level. They paid better because that was what the market had brought about, say $10 an hour or $12 an hour. So the market itself, and what do I mean by the market. I’m not just talking about a marketplace, but there are sort of economic forces, supply and demand, that lead to prices and costs and so when there are few people for a number of open positions, people are often willing to pay for those positions to be completed. Say, if you’re a garbage man. No one wants to be a garbage man. Right? Being a garbage man actually pays well because no one wants to do it. There’s low supply, but there’s high demand, because the garbage has to be taken out. So there’s high demand for it, but there’s low supply because not many people want to do it. Actually, it’s a well-paying job because of that. You’ve got other positions where it’s the inverse. There’s a lot of supply but there’s low demand and those are the types of jobs that are going to be paid less. I can think of one, actually, the place we go to after every podcast, KFC/Taco Bell. Chris knows this. They’re actually hiring and some of that’s because there’s naturally some turnover for those entry level positions. That’s actually a good thing because people will have the job, they will learn some things from the job, and they’ll go on and get a position that pays better because now they’ve acquired certain skills. So minimum wage jobs especially at like say a fast food restaurant. These were never meant to be the primary economic provider of a household. They’re meant to be temporary jobs for low skill workers to enter into the job market. We need to be careful about the policies that we’re going to have for these positions of which the intention was never that they were to be the primary income providers. When we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, we’re going to more quickly bring about machines that will take our orders. Everything will become more automated. That’s tough reality. Now let me say this. Sometimes automation is good. Sometimes it’s good. No one’s complaining that we’ve done away with the candlemaker jobs or the street sweeper jobs. Right? Because we have light bulbs now and because we have street sweeping vehicles instead of actually paying people with brooms to sweep the streets. No one’s complaining about the loss of those jobs. Why? Because people adapt. Markets adapt. Markets change.
Some jobs, when they get lost into history, that’s okay because there’s greater economic benefit for people to then move into another area and to learn a new trade, a new skill. You aren’t complaining that you’ve paid $3 for the light bulb because it saved you a lot of money from having to buy candles and dealing with candles or oil lamps. Right? We need to recognize how automation sometimes is actually good and beneficial for our society. Indeed, some people have to make the machines themselves and so that creates more jobs. The goal is we want to create wealth for our nation, and not just the nation, but individuals. We want to create wealth so we need to think of the best ways to do that, and we need to find ways that would not adversely affect those things. In some cases, automation is good and it happens as a result of the market, the free market doing its own thing, but I don’t think we want automation to be rushed in as a result of poor government policy, because when that’s the case, a lot of people are going to become unemployed, especially the low-skilled workers, the people who actually need the jobs and that’s problematic.
So now let me talk about one possible solution, well a couple ideas to fixing minimum wage. Of course, the concern is that, well if we increase minimum wage, people are going to be unemployed, but is that the only way? Well actually, no, that’s not necessarily the case. There are two other options that I see. One is that businesses raise their prices. They raise their price for the hamburger or the taco. They raise their price for the service that they provide, which means that the cost is passed on to the consumer so if you’re willing to pay more money for your Mc Pick Two. Instead of two items for $3, you’d be willing to pay two items for $4, which maybe a lot of people are, then go ahead. We should be able to do that. The market can bring about such result. However, that might affect a company’s profit because of competition. There might be another restaurant offering two items for $3 and then that business would lose money because they can’t get customers through the door, so that’s one of the problems there. One other option is, and this is an option that I had discussed with a friend. He said, “Couldn’t we just take the money from the higher-ups?” The CEO of McDonald’s makes $7,290,000 a year. Seven million dollars, the CEO of McDonald’s. Wow. That’s a lot of money. Can’t we sort of just distribute that to the workers? Well, when you really think about it, I don’t think it works out the way that my friend wanted because if you were to divide that money, it would really be miniscule. It would not really make a dent in the problem, so let’s say we were to just reduce the CEO’s pay by two million dollars. Let’s take away five million dollars from his pay. When you divide by that by the workers of McDonald’s of which there are over 300,000. Let’s just say in the math that I had done with my friend, 375,000 employees. If you divide $5,290,000 by 375,000 employees, what’s the total? The total cost per employee is a bonus check of, drum roll please.
Kurt. $14.11 total. That’s not per hour. That’s total. That’s your Christmas bonus check. If you were decrease the CEO of McDonald’s salary down to two million dollars from 7.3 million and if you were to divey that money up. The point here is that it wouldn’t make a substantial dent because companies have profit margins and then they use that profit to reinvest in various areas, to update their stores, they’ve got costs themselves, and so it’s not so simple to simply reallocate the high pay of CEOs and higher-ups in a company. Now of course, I think part of what has stirred up a lot of people to be angry at higher level employees is a result of the bank bailouts that occurred not ten years ago, not even ten years ago, because we read articles about how these banks were getting money from the government for the mistakes that they had made which mind you the government had actually incentivized when you look into it. We see that the CEOs were getting these huge bonuses even though it was taxpayer dollars that had just bailed them out and so I think people who recognize this as an injustice are correct for recognizing that as an injustice, but that I think is because the government was giving them money to help them from bankruptcy. When you’ve got a company that is totally fine on its own without getting government assistance and they want to pay their CEO what they want to pay, I think that’s up to them. How are we to really determine the worth of a CEO? That’s up to the board of directors or say the shareholders if it’s a publicly owned company and so that’s not really up to us to decide how much a person is worth. I just saw something on Facebook earlier this week one fellow had shared. It was a stat about Bill Gates. Bill Gates makes something crazy like $114 a second which means that if Bill Gates were to see a $100 bill on the side walk, he would actually be losing money if he were to bend over and pick up the $100 bill. And so, what does that tell us? That just tells us that a person can have great value to his or her own company. The sort of decisions, the ideas, the wisdom and discernment that a CEO brings to a company can be very valuable, so much more valuable than say the value that someone who cooks the food brings. Right?
We need to recognize that some jobs, rightfully, pay more than others. Someone who mows a lawn for their primary source of income vs a neurosurgeon. We recognize that the neurosurgeon has a much more difficult job to do. It takes years of training which also costs money because of the education and so the market accurately brings about and reflects the high pay that a neurosurgeon should be paid for the hard, very difficult skilled labor vs say riding a lawnmower or even using a push mower to cut my grass or your grass. So the market recognizes those things, and even getting into wage gap theory, the idea that the wage gap is increasing, as long as everyone’s winning, that’s the idea. We’re not talking about winners and losers here. We’re talking about winners and winners. If the guy who mows your lawn makes $20,000 a year, if the next year he’s making $25,000 a year he’s winning. If the neurosurgeon makes $100k the first year and an $150k the next year, he’s winning, but notice the wage gap increase. The lawnmower only gets $5,000 in increase. The neurosurgeon gets $50,000 in increase. Oh no. We’ve got the wage gap has increased. Right? That’s not a problem. Okay? That is not a problem because no one’s losing. Everyone’s still winning. We should be wary hear of any articles that you might read about the wage gap increasing. As long as everyone’s winning, we’re doing okay. Is it unreasonable? It is unjustified for some people to win more than others? Maybe. I’d have to think about that, but my general answer is generally speaking no. It’s not unfair, as long as everyone’s winning, that’s a good thing. If you want to live in Venezula where people are losing economically. I just read an article that they are now killing flamingos in order to eat food because socialism has brought about a marketplace destruction, that is losing. We need to be wary here of economic policies that while well-intentioned have poor results.
We’ve got a comment here. I know I’ve been babbling on here for awhile. Phillip writes here online, “Could there be inflation consequences due to increasing minimum wage or increasing too much too soon.” Phillip. Thanks for your question here. I think inflation would occur really as a result of printing too much money, too much paper, not so much minimum wage policy. If the Federal Reserve keeps printing money, that would inflate the purchasing power of the dollar. That’s something that we should be concerned about, rightfully so, but I don’t think it’s necessarily tied to minimum wage, but thanks for your question there. Chris. I want to talk to you about your experience seven years. We’ll close. I know we’ve been going for awhile here. I’d love to get your perspective though. Seven years you were working at a Chick-Fil-A. Right?
Chris: Yeah. Good stuff.
Kurt: What was your experience? The friend I talked to, he also worked at a Chick-Fil-A. He realized, “I wish people could make more money than what they did.” What was your experience? Did you ever experience that and maybe you yourself only made so much? What was your interpretation of your experience?
Chris: At the time I was working in fast food during high school, high school and college time.
Kurt: Like many teens.
Chris: Like many
teens. That’s a good starter job. It really is. Teaches you how to work and
it’s good for a lot of reasons, but I was even then never in favor of minimum
wage going up ever because I knew I would see my money and I’d say “Here’s
what I’m making. I want to make more.” Rather than demanding more I would
go to my boss and ask for a performance review. If I’m going to be making an
extra buck, I want to be earning that extra buck. Show me what I need to do to
make more money. What’s next? What do I need to do to earn that?
Kurt: You realize that for the job skills, for what a person would do in an hour, it really has attached to it a value. I mean, we don’t want the neurosurgeon to be paid the same as the lawn mower and if we had to hire someone to input data into a computer. There’s only a specific value there. I wouldn’t pay someone $250 an hour to do that, but I would pay a lawyer who knows the law $250 an hour to help me out.
Chris: Yeah. I think I was, this would have been back in 2005 or 2010ish, back when minimum wage was like $7.25 and so when they were like, “We’re going to raise it to $10,” I actually got very angry. At that time I was in college, I was watching all these young 14 year-olds come in. I thought, “They’re now within reach of what I had to work my butt off to earn, they’re just being handed when they walk in the door.” And that made me so mad that that’s the way it happens. Now that’s the same philosophy I have. I’d love to make more money like I’m making enough, but there will be a time I’m not making enough and I would like to make more, but I’m going to do that through looking at what I am working on right now? How can I increase my skill set to make my boss think I’m worth a raise this year? Not go up to him and demand “Give me this money.” He’ll laugh in my face.
Kurt: In a sense the low wage even provided in an incentive for you to make more.
Chris: It did. I know there’s a lot of factors to consider. I understand everyone’s desire who’s like “Let’s raise it to $15,” but for all the reasons you stated, that just makes everyone’s life a lot higher. Some people will be making that money, but you may not be one of them. You may get fired.
Kurt: That’s right. Yeah. Due to budget cuts.
Chris: I would love to see a hypothetical conversation with, I remember one last year when all the people were striking outside of McDonald’s HQ, if like the people who were leading that were given a deal like, “We will give you $15 an hour, we will give all our employees $15 an hour, except you. We don’t have the money and we’ve decided we’re going to cut you guys. We’re going to fire all the leaders of this thing, but everyone else gets $15 an hour.” Would they agree to that?
Kurt: Of course, they wouldn’t, because you’d rather make $10 an hour instead of $0 an hour. You’d rather make $7.50 than none. Now there are a number of other issues here and so one of them is a national minimum wage. This is something I’ve thought about and I’m very much against a national minimum wage because living standards vary in different parts of the country.
Kurt: It costs a lot more money to live in New York City than in the farmlands of Iowa.
Chris: I can get by with what I’m making here, but if I made the same amount in L.A. I’d have to come home pretty quick.
Kurt: Yeah. So that’s why I think getting the national government involved is also a big no-no. We should just leave it up to the states. I’m really disappointed that a lot of people immediately want the solution to be at the national level. First try your state. I actually applaud the state of Massachusetts for their health care system, not because I like it, but because it’s just for their state, and I think we need to have what are called laboratories of democracy, so if you want minimum wage I would encourage you to work hard at your state capital, to raise the minimum wage, but don’t impose it on everyone else in other parts of the country and so that’s another aspect to this that we need to consider. So, how is that we can help people, let me close with this. How is it we can help people who are primary economic providers, but they’re working the low-skilled jobs? Well, our government currently has a safety net and you can make, for some people, you can make more money than what other people make actually working using that safety net. Of course, its intention is only temporary because the idea is you’re working hard, you’re learning skills, you’re increasing your skill set and you become more valuable to a company and you’re going to be paid more as a result of that. In the meantime, how do we help people? Milton Friedman had an idea and it’s commonly called the negative income tax. Basically, you would be cut a check for the amount of poverty and that would basically assure that your basic needs would be met. Shelter. Food. Clothing. This is a great idea and here’s why it’s a great idea. Because the U.S., the census bureau a few years back did a study on this, the U.S. spends four times the amount necessary to fight poverty. When you consider federal, state, and local welfare programs, the United States spends four times the amount necessary. It would literally be cheaper to write every person in America a check for the poverty amount, which also is typically, changes year to year, but it would literally be cheaper to cut every person in America a check. That’s how much administration and bureaucracy has cost American taxpayers. We can actually save money if we change our welfare system. Now for Friedman and others, you can’t do both. Okay. Doing both would just be insane. You’d have to get rid of the welfare programs that presently exist, and there a lot of them, in various different departments of the governments. You’d have to get rid of them in order to do the negative income tax, which I would support because I think it’s progress. It’s headed towards the right direction there. I remember something I think was it Norway or Sweden, it was doing a trial run of this in a certain area. I’ll have to keep up on how that’s doing.
Alright, so those have been my thoughts on the minimum wage. I’d love to get your perspective, your take, if you’re in support of it. If you’re not. Again, I’ve raised a number of concerns here about the adverse consequences of minimum wage law. I think that it breaches contractual agreements that a person might have. It effects marginalized groups. It affects secondary income providers who brings supplemental income to their household and so I’m very much in support of actually decreasing the minimum wage. I think there is still a market minimum wage and I guess as long as the legal minimum wage is below the market minimum wage it does nothing. It actually does nothing, but of course we don’t really see that all too frequently. At any rate, I’d love to get your thoughts and there are a number of ways you can get in touch with me. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Just search Veracity Hill. Send me an email as well. Kurt@veracityhill.com. I’d love to exchange some emails with you or if you even want to call in as a number of people did today, the number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. You can leave a message any time during the week. I’d be happy to listen to that. I can give you a call back if you’d like or we can play your message on the show as well.
That does it for the show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and partnerships that we have with our sponsors. Defenders Media. Consult Kevin. The Sky Floor. Rethinking Hell. The Illinois Family Institute. Evolution 2.0. And Ratio Christi. I want to thank the tech team today. Chris. Thank you so much. For our guest we had George Yancey on there at the beginning of the show to talk about Bernie Sanders’s remarks, but most of all I want to thank you for your support and encouragement and for listening in today, for striving for truth with me on, faith, politics, and society.
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