This is so dumb. Even if we ignore the impossibility of defining “need”.
This would be the equivalent of saying “Yes, people die from falls. I get that. And they need the ability to float effortlessly above the ground. But I want to ask you the physics of it.”
Would we attack that person as being heartless and inhuman? Not at all.
And the laws of economics are likewise inescapable. So we need to consult them if we actually want to make sure our grand plans to save everybody from all hardships are not themselves going to do more harm than good.
Essentially what Stuart Varney is saying is this, “Yes, it would be nice for people on minimum wage to make more money. I agree that this would be desirable. But IS IT ACTUALLY POSSIBLE TO LEGISLATE THIS WITHOUT HURTING THOSE SAME PEOPLE WE ARE TRYING TO HELP?”
Because that is the relevant question to any discussion of minimum wage increases. And economics teaches us that raises in the minimum wage will have the effect of putting marginal low-skilled workers OUT OF A JOB. Yes, this is unfortunate. It is always sad to learn that we cannot magically make everyone better off by simply passing a law, but if we actually care about people, we need to try to learn a little bit about these kinds of things before we set out to do-good through government decrees.
But if we, like Stewart, simply shut our ears and adopt the anti-science approach of saying “IF SCIENCE CONTRADICTS MY FEELINGS AND ASSUMPTIONS THEN ITS HEARTLESS AND LALALALLAA I CAN’T HEAR YOU MEAN ECONOMISTS LALALALA!!!” then we’re going to end up in a whole mess of trouble.
What Jon Stewart is effectively saying in these gifs is this, “Dude, you’ve already admitted that people on minimum wage would be better off with more money, so that’s it. There’s no need to further investigate whether or not the minimum wage policy will actually achieve that goal. My assumptions and feelings tell me that it will, so that’s the end of the debate. In short: if you agree with me about ENDS, than it is impossible to disagree with me about the best MEANS to achieve those ends, because the means I chose are automatically right because I assume that they are. And if you so much as question the wisdom and effectiveness of the ends that I chose then you’re a bad person and I don’t have to listen to you because you’re just mean and heartless for no reason.”
(sidenote: I thought the left was supposed to be pro-‘science’ and reject the anti-intellectualism of the right? huh, weird.)
This bit did bug me, yeah. On the other hand, most of these large companies can actually afford to pay their employees better- if we were to raise the minimum wage, we’d also need to pass some sort of retention law, or implement a partial basic income guarantee, or otherwise pass a whole lot of supporting legislation. It’s possible to devise a legislative solution, but it’d probably be a little too nuanced for… y’know, the congress that shut down the country for a couple weeks over a hyper-moderate compromise-ridden healthcare law.
I feel like, as a pedant, it is my responsibility to point out that
1) AFAIK, while in theory the minimum wage reduces the employment rate, the empirical data suggests that raising the minimum wage won’t necessarily harm employment in the US.
2) macroeconomics is nowhere near as certain as classical mechanics, on account of we have very little data and it’s all confounded and no one lets economists run randomized controlled trials of different macroeconomic strategies.
3) classical mechanics is, in fact, wrong
1) Previous raises of the minimum wage that have been measured didn’t have an effect unemployment larger than noise in the few natural experiments that have happened. How much relevance this has to raising the minimum wage to $15 is not clear.
3) Classical Mechanics is pretty damn close to right, and if you want to stop people from falling and hurting themselves you might prefer to use GR, QM, or the Standard Model but you can’t reject classical physics for intuition. Similarly, modern Macro isn’t so wrong that you can reject it for intuition.
I did point out I was being a pedant. :P
IDK I feel like “we’re not actually sure what effects raising the minimum wage to $15 would have” is a good argument against going like “SCIENCE! SCIENCE! IF YOU ARE IN FAVOR OF THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE YOU ARE A SCIENCE DENIALIST!” although it might be a more reasonable argument for, like, a Chesterton’s fence.
(although now I’m uncertain because I know the real minimum wage was much higher in the past, and the data is probably horribly confounded but it doesn’t seem like it was that bad? I am uncertain here)
(also it is really dumb that the minimum wage isn’t linked to inflation)
Uh, and also… context. This guy’s point was NOT “what if it fucks things up for the same people we were trying to help”; it was literally “they might need it to survive, but I’m morally opposed to giving it to them because I don’t think they deserve it”. I mean, you can argue that this gifset is poorly edited or that Stewart should’ve played the next part before going off on him, but the point Stewart is making here is not an anti-science point, it is an anti-douchebag point.
Unless there is a third gifset floating around out there that shows the guy who just straight-facedly asked if poor people deserve to live with the clear implication that he expected a no was actually trying to say something entirely different, I’ma go with Jon on this one.
The argument that “if you legislate a higher minimum wage, people will lose their jobs!” also doesn’t make sense because … what, nobody’s going to do that job anymore?
I work for a small business in the food industry and I’m paid minimum wage ($10/hr here) just like everyone else. The owners have to pay no more than minimum wage to stay competitive, even if they’d like to pay more. But if the minimum wage gets raised to $15, I’m not going to lose my job, and neither are all the other people who drive food trucks, because someone still has to drive that truck. The work that needs to be done by minimum wage workers does not disappear just because employers don’t want to pay more to someone to do it.
What’ll happen? Maybe, maybe, food truck drivers all over the city will find their shifts a little shorter, but there’s a limit on how much shorter it can get before the lost income outweighs the extra expense of paying the workers a little more. Mostly, the prices on food at all the food trucks will go up a dollar or two. The entire food truck economy, in other words, will adjust upwards. Keeping up with inflation, essentially. In larger corporations with larger profit margins than independent restaurants — your Wal-Marts and Targets and Safeways and McDonalds’ — the price of items would go up pennies, more likely.
And if I made $75 a day instead of $50, I would buy SO MANY MORE THINGS. Food! Video games! Coffee! Shoes! Movie tickets! That money goes back into the economy.
I am just. I’m not an economist, but it doesn’t sound like OP is either, and so if we’re just going from common sense principles — common sense says that jobs that are being paid minimum wage have to be done regardless of what the minimum wage is, and if you legislate a higher wage so that there’s a limit on how far down the capitalist race to the bottom can go, then that’s how far down the companies will go. But they won’t be able to go any lower, legally, so they’ll adjust the rest of their spreadsheets, their workers will be able to buy food, and everyone will be happier.