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06/11/13

Solving Poverty

Filed under: Economics, Politics — Jared @ 1:39 pm

I think Matt and I have come up with a pretty good solution for poverty – and one that’ll make him happy because we get to rid ourselves of the minimum wage. Matt, correct any mistakes I make:

We institute a publicly-funded job training program. The program is paid for by the state. It is an ITT-Tech style program (and probably makes use of pre-existing job training colleges, although we didn’t hash out those kinds of details) and prepares people for specific careers, like A/C repair, medical assistant, ect. We’ve all heard the commercials. At my insistance, anyone who is currently working full time to support themselves will be paid the hourly wage they are currently making for the hours they spend in school (instead of at work, theoretically). Eventually, most people have a skill more valuable than “Burger Flipper”, and the minimum wage is made obsolete.

What do you say? Spong/Rice for office in 2008?

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14 Comments »

  1. but then who will flip my burgers? and do i have to vote for you?

    Comment by laura — 06/11/13 @ 3:17 pm

  2. People getting paid to go to school? Who will pay that money? Is there a grade point average requirement? This idea sound well intentioned but unrealistic. How about anyone with a full time jobs can take the classes for free?

    Comment by Scott C. — 06/11/15 @ 3:56 pm

  3. Who will pay that money?

    Heh, yeah, funding ANY program is a problem, let alone a social program. In all likelyhood the funds would have to come from some other program – I could see taking funding from programs like the War on Drugs, or from the various NSA spying programs. Maybe even some of the funds that we have been funneling to Iraq. A more balanced tax system that actually taxes those with money might help the funding situation too.

    How about anyone with a full time jobs can take the classes for free?

    Sorry I forgot to be specific- this was kinda part of the idea. The program would be aimed at helping out those who are working hard, not those who are looking for handouts.

    Honestly, I think the biggest problem with such a program (besides the fact that I’m not totally convinced it would obsolete the minimum wage, although I am willing to take Matt’s word for it given that I like the educational hand-out) would be spurring uptake among the already disadvantaged. There are already a lot of smaller-scale programs that do similar things, but uptake is relatively low (or so I have read/are told). One of the bigger obstacles to overcome is lack of respect for education in the poor of our society. While it continues to be “acting white” to get an education and attempt to advance yourself, the uptake of such programs will remain depressingly low.

    Comment by Jared — 06/11/21 @ 1:28 pm

  4. I’m not totally convinced it would obsolete the minimum wage, although I am willing to take Matt’s word for it given that I like the educational hand-out

    There’s a simple reason for wages being so low – a glut of supply. There are too many people trying to fill too few jobs, so companies don’t need to raise wages to attract workers. Many of these people have the potential to, with the proper training, perform better-paying and more economically productive jobs.

    As people leave unskilled jobs for skilled ones, the supply of unskilled workers goes down. And since labor follows the same supply-and-demand model as any other commodity (provided you don’t fuck with the market by instituting a minimum wage or wage caps), lower supply will mean higher prices (wages).

    One of the bigger obstacles to overcome is lack of respect for education in the poor of our society. While it continues to be “acting white” to get an education and attempt to advance yourself, the uptake of such programs will remain depressingly low.

    That’s why this program should focus on education and training that is immediately beneficial in a clear way – complete a 1- or 2-year program (for free, remember) and right away you can go out and get a job that pays twice what you’re making now. Traditional college eduction is sometimes seen as pie-in-the-sky, education-for-education’s-sake – and let’s face it, it ain’t cheap.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 06/11/21 @ 4:35 pm

  5. There’s a simple reason for wages being so low – a glut of supply. There are too many people trying to fill too few jobs, so companies don’t need to raise wages to attract workers. Many of these people have the potential to, with the proper training, perform better-paying and more economically productive jobs.

    As people leave unskilled jobs for skilled ones, the supply of unskilled workers goes down. And since labor follows the same supply-and-demand model as any other commodity (provided you don’t fuck with the market by instituting a minimum wage or wage caps), lower supply will mean higher prices (wages).

    Yes, I understand the principal, and it sounds fine in theory. Despite that, I still have my doubts as to whether or not this would obsolete the need for a minimum wage – supply and demand pays no attention to cost of living, and the idea behind a minimum wage is to make it so at least all of the hard-working people out there can support themselves without a handout. But like I said, I am willing to take your word for it, because there’s no harm in it if the minimum wage isn’t just yanked immediately, but rendered obsolete when it’s time comes.

    That’s why this program should focus on education and training that is immediately beneficial in a clear way – complete a 1- or 2-year program (for free, remember) and right away you can go out and get a job that pays twice what you’re making now.

    Yeah, definitely; my point is that although there is no comprehensive, cross-country effort being made in this direction, some cities already have similar (although small-scale) programs, and the impact to this point hasn’t been huge; even with a 1-2 year program, trying to convince someone to take advantage who has grown up with social pressures against even such simple training is not simple. We HAVE to do it as a society, and we can with time, but it will take some time to fix. That’s all ^_^

    Comment by Jared — 06/11/22 @ 8:48 am

  6. Despite that, I still have my doubts as to whether or not this would obsolete the need for a minimum wage – supply and demand pays no attention to cost of living, and the idea behind a minimum wage is to make it so at least all of the hard-working people out there can support themselves without a handout.

    But wages being too low is a sign that should not be ignored, or covered up with a band-aid like minimum wage – it means there are too many people trying to fill too few jobs (and therefore using resources, i.e. labor, that would be more useful elsewhere in the economy). If wages for those jobs are too low, many of the people filling them would naturally migrate to more in-demand (and therefore higher paying) jobs. When enough people leave and supply and demand are more in line with each other, wages will stabilize at the level that makes sense from an economic standpoint. If you can’t make a living doing a particular job, FIND A NEW JOB, DUMBASS! Don’t ask for the government to force the company to pay you more than you’re worth to them – that’s just bad business.

    Of course, this assumes two things: one, that better jobs are available, and two, that these people have the training necessary to perform them. The first is a result of a well-functioning economy (something that price controls, and I’m talking specifically about the minimum wage, hinder rather than help). The second is the goal of the plan we’re discussing.

    This is EXACTLY why I’m always talking about how economic efficiency should be our number one goal. Problems such as low wages stem directly from economic inefficiencies – too many resources being directed at a use that doesn’t need them.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 06/11/22 @ 11:15 am

  7. supply and demand pays no attention to cost of living

    To elaborate on this a little more – of course that’s true. But the suppliers (i.e. workers) do – and if the price offered for a particular service is too low for them to maintain their standard of living, they should look for another buyer (employer) elsewhere. This is difficult for them to accomplish right now, but this education plan we’re discussing should enable them to provide their services to a wider range of companies and hence be able to “take bids,” as it were and perform the job that pays them the highest (at least when compared with the effort they have to put into the work).

    Comment by Matt Spong — 06/11/22 @ 11:23 am

  8. And another thing – if we assume that there are a certain percentage of people who, for whatever reason, simply cannot perform more useful work than menial unskilled work, those are the very people who are most hurt by artificially propping prices up.

    There are only so many of these jobs to go around, and when the minimum wage keeps other people (who could, with the proper training, perform more useful work) in those jobs, the people who have no alternative to those jobs face stiff competition for them. If wages were really determined by supply vs. demand, it would be more worth it for people with the ability to do more useful work to do so, rather than squeaking out a living wage (which, by the way, the current minimum wage absolutely is not) and taking those jobs away from people who really can’t do anything better.

    It is better for the economy (less potentially useful resources being directed at useless, or marginally useful, work), it is better for those people who can train for better work (for numerous reasons, pay being only one), and it is better for those people who cannot, as there would be more demand for those jobs versus available supply – hence higher wages.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 06/11/22 @ 11:50 am

  9. all that stuff Matt just said

    I definitely agree that in an ideal, closed system this would DEFINITELY work. I even agree that in the real world, it could work. But I’m skeptical that it actually would. Just skeptical; that’s all I’m saying.

    The big thing for me here is this: if there is not going to be some sort of minimum wage (and one that appropriately matches and scales with the local cost of living; ours doesn’t cover it currently, and you really need to do at least state-level, and likely town/city/municipality level for it to be really accurate), then there needs to be some sort of social safety net (like unemployment and welfare are supposed to be) to help those in transition or those who just get a bad break. EVERY hard working American should not have to worry about how they are going to feed themselves or their kids.

    Comment by Jared — 06/11/22 @ 1:55 pm

  10. there needs to be some sort of social safety net (like unemployment and welfare are supposed to be) to help those in transition or those who just get a bad break.

    Sure. But it should be the exception, for those situations that truly warrant it.

    EVERY hard working American should not have to worry about how they are going to feed themselves or their kids.

    See, I disagree with you there. It is exactly that sort of incentive (being able to feed your family) that makes people get off their asses and do something productive with their lives. The safety net should only kick in if they’ve tried and failed. It shouldn’t be able to be abused like welfare is today.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 06/11/22 @ 9:48 pm

  11. t is exactly that sort of incentive (being able to feed your family) that makes people get off their asses and do something productive with their lives. The safety net should only kick in if they’ve tried and failed. It shouldn’t be able to be abused like welfare is today.

    It is definitely true that feeding your family (and yourself) is a good incentive to go out and work. For me it is simple though: incentive or not, there is too much money in this country to allow those who DO work hard to try and support themselves and their families to fall short.

    Comment by Jared — 06/11/23 @ 8:29 am

  12. For me it is simple though: incentive or not, there is too much money in this country to allow those who DO work hard to try and support themselves and their families to fall short.

    Teach a man to fish, dude. I’d rather see all that money go towards more economic growth which raises the standard of living for everybody, rather than short-term solutions to temporarily bail out a few.

    I was watching an interview with Warren Buffet the other day, and he made a good point – even the poor in this country live better than John D. Rockefeller did – indoor plumbing, heating in the winter, A/C in the summer, microwaves, washing machines, cars, cable TV, Xbox’s… the list goes on and on. That’s entirely due to economic growth, and would not have happened if the capital had been spent on shortsighted “help the poor” programs, which don’t do anything of the sort in the long run.

    Comment by Matt Spong — 06/11/24 @ 12:27 am

  13. Man you guys sure put a lot out there to read. I’ve probably missed many of your important parts while day dreaming here at my job that pays me less than I’m worth but an important aspect of this argument is this. Even if you train some of the populace better skills you will always need some sort of Min wage. I think this is necessary for two reasons. One is that there is never a shortage of stupid people in this country, weather because of nature or nurture there are some people in life that will just never be “Quick” and there for will need simple unskilled jobs. You cannot simply say “fuck you” to these people and remain a kind society. Two is that due to companies being so competitive these days they will simply not pay a person over a certain limit to do a certain job. Why would they pay a person 10 bucks an hour if they can get a guy to do it for 5? I think all this would do would make companies reduce their staffing and increase the responsibilities of certain individuals. Sure your janitors would be making 12 dollars and hour but instead of 8 of em there are now only 2 employed. Companies are not usually generous because that isn’t cost effective. Any way you look at it there should be a min wage. There is nothing wrong with saying you cannot pay a person less then x amount of dollars as long as that amount is reasonable on both ends. You guys have thought up a great way to try and solve the problem but I don’t think it would get your were you want to go. Simply allowing people who work full time jobs and make under a certain amount a year to take free courses in enough. Give the people a chance to better themselves, if they don’t want it then that’s their choice.

    Comment by Scott C. — 06/11/24 @ 2:32 pm

  14. Teach a man to fish, dude. I’d rather see all that money go towards more economic growth which raises the standard of living for everybody, rather than short-term solutions to temporarily bail out a few.

    I would agree with you here, except for one thing: those with wealth, maybe even wealth itself, have been spending the extent of human history taking advantage of the uneducated and downtrodden, and keeping them there so that they can continue to do so. This is not to say that we have not* made progress, but we are not even close to on even footing yet. I know you seem to think that anyone can succeed if they just try hard enough, but I’ve yet to see that in practice excluding the exceptions to the rule.
    The problem with a wage gap isn’t the wage gap itself, because it IS only fair that you get paid a fair wage for the work you do; it’s the fact that we NEVER started out from the same place, with the same chance. If you can come up with a way to start everyone out fresh, with the same chance to succeed, then I’ll buy the “Teach a man to fish” line; till then, I doubt I’m going to hear or read anything to change my mind.

    *edited to add this not – whoops ^_^

    Comment by Jared — 06/11/25 @ 10:44 pm


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