The George Will trick:Many have commented
on George Will's op-ed opposing the minimum wage. Yes, he did call labor a "commodity" which the market should set the price for. (What isn't
a commodity, when you get down to it?) But there was a rather clever bit of obfuscation elsewhere in the essay. Will wrote
Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in families with earnings below the poverty line.
To a reader, it sounds like
Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in a poor household (and therefore, perhaps, deserves a decent wage).
But if a household has earnings above
the poverty line, how well off is it?
Here are the poverty lines
for the U.S. (ex Alaska and Hawaii)
|Persons in Family Unit||Amount|
If you are someone earning minimum wage in a two person household that brings in a whopping $15K, you are above the George Will threshold of pain and therefore don't merit a raise. (Actually, Will doesn't care even if you are below the poverty line; he doesn't want the minimum wage under any circumstances.)
The real point of using the poverty line as a threshold was to find a number as low as possible so that Will could present the minimum wage as helping a mere 20% of those who get it.
Another point that Will skates over is this: his stats are based on the 479,000 people who report earning the minimum wage. That same report mentions 1,400,000 people who earn below the minimum wage.
Did you assume there weren't any of those? I know I did. Will probably hoped we would since he know about them -- they were in the same report he used.
Will also stupidly equates labor with "commodities" as though a person was a fucking sack of gold or wheat.
His erroneous comparison lies at the heart of all that is wrong with unbridled capitalism: it is profoundly anti-human and foisters a dehumanizing view and treatment of workers, who are regarded as expendible and easily replaced for higher profit.
The stuff of feudal wet dreams but completely incompatible with the general welfare of more than 80% of the worldwide human population.