Well, the big news this last few weeks has been the immigrant crisis. And all the hysterical wailing that comes with it. I am not going to discuss the situation here, because it has been discussed to death elsewhere, by men much smarter than men. Admittedly, you don’t have to look very far to find that.
To nail my colours to the mast, I don’t care about people’s race, religion, sexuality. I just don’t care. I’ll take every man at face value until he treats me badly. I care only about how smart they are and how much they will vote the state to steal my money off me. That’s it. Smart people tend to work hard and don’t want to blow people up.
But there’s even more idiocy available if you have the stomach to look for it. Hidden among articles on the immigrant crisis there are other nonsensical pro-left news stories with tsunamis of insanely ill-informed people all commenting and raging against words they just don’t understand and spewing endless woolly buzzwords. And this week I found a beauty, and one of my favourite subjects too. The minimum wage. Or the living wage, to be more exact this time. There’s not much difference really. Not for the purposes of this discussion in any case.
So the news story was something about Costa Coffee putting it’s prices up to pay a living wage to it’s baristas.
Now before we begin, three things to consider when talking about the minimum wage.
Price in a (free) market is the perfect way of making sure everyone pulls their weight and gets what they deserve. You don’t get to coast on the back of others, you get out only what you put in. It’s totally fair that a doctor makes more than a barista. If you find a cure for cancer, you’ll end up driving an Aston Martin. If you can make funny faces on milky foam, probably not so much.
Minimum wage jobs are by and large starter jobs, summer jobs, part time jobs or pin money jobs. The bottom end of the job market. They are not supposed to be jobs for people to pay mortgages or start families. You don’t get a mortgage or start a family until you have worked your way into a position to be able to genuinely afford and support that 25 year obligation. So when people say ‘how can people at Costa support a family on that wage’, the answer is ‘they don’t and they’re not supposed to’. Being young and at the low rung of the earning ladder is a natural way of making sure children don’t parent children they neither have the resources nor the nous look after.
Don’t believe me? Go and talk to some baristas. I did when I wrote my post on how to get rich working at Starbucks. Go talk to them. How many 40 year olds do you find working there? It’s largely youngsters, students or older people who are working a second job. Generally older women. Anyone who is trying to raise children on a Starbucks salary is an idiot and giving them a unrealistically higher wage is simply subsiding their bad decisions by stealing money of those who made good decisions.
Just take a second to consider what a minimum wage is and where it’s roots come from. In the USA, I think in the late 1930s, blacks started to gain ground on whites in the job market. Blacks generally had a lower cost base, smaller houses, less debt, fewer credit cars, lower mortgages. As a result, they could use this economic advantage in order to undercut the white workers and compete for their jobs. Whitey is asking $5 an hour, but I can do it for $3 and still make a profit, because I don’t have a bucket load of debts to service.
Black people started to win work from whites and were in fact clawing their way out of poverty.
We can’t have that though can we!
I do believe it was the Democrats who banned this practice and forced the black workers to have to charge the same as the white workers. Of course they didn’t say it was a ban on blacks undercutting whites. They dress it up as a ‘minimum wage’. It was brilliant and people fell for it.
Which is true?
That these people are being exploited. They are being forced to work for $3 an hour. Having a minimum wage bans anyone from exploiting them.
That these people are undercutting others and we don’t want them to be able to do that. We will have a law that bans people from accepting their lower prices.
If I own a business and I find a way to be more efficient and undercut my competition, I am not ‘helped’ by a law that then bans me from undercutting my competition. Even if they dress that law up as a way to ‘stop me being exploited’.
So. With these ideas in mind, I read one of these articles about Costa Coffee and then I made the schoolboy error of getting drawn into the comments section. Now unfortunately, it wasn’t a section for which I have a Jimmy Jambone account so I can’t put the ribaldry onto my antics page. But, oh, antics there were.
Anyway. It’s not long before ‘Jenny’ pipes up with the following (paraphrased so that it can’t be searched on google):
‘This is BS. They don’t NEED to put their prices up. They are doing it to rip us off and they are using the living wage as an excuse. They make billions in profit but they exploit their workers and force them to work for peanuts. I bet their CEOs and stockholders get a good share of the profits. It’s high time they shared the pie and treated the common man with respect’.
Now I have a dream. It’s not quite as grand as some people’s dreams. But it’s no less tasty. Oh my dream is tasty. This is my dream.
It’s Jenny’s house. It’s Sunday morning. It’s 15 years from now and it’s the first weekend of her retirement. She is feeling pretty smug. She has waited for this moment for her whole working life. She’s paid off her mortgage and is ready to enjoy 20 years of pleasure and dalliance in her comfortable retirement. Years ago she got a pension plan and put money into it. She didn’t really understand pensions, she just knows if she saves regularly, then she should be looked after in her retirement years. She is expecting a pension of around £1000 per month. Not a lot, but enough for her, on her low cost base, to have a whale of a time.
Whole her mocha simmers away under her handy dandy new mochacinno machine and Radio 4 chunders away in the background, she hears a sliding sound and a thump. She looks up and sees a letter has landed on her doormat. She scampers over and lifts the official looking envelope from the floor and sees it’s from her pension company.
Gasp! Her first pension payment.
Her fat little fingers eagerly tear at the envelope and rip the letter from it’s sheath. Her beady little eyes, glowing with smug satisfaction cast their way down on the writing below.
Wait. What’s this? Her monthly payment is only £200. That’s … impossible… At first her blood runs cold, her retirement is ruined. She can’t live on that. She’d have to sell her house and move somewhere much smaller just to make up some of the difference. No holidays, no car, no presents for the grandchildren.
It’s clearly a mistake! Of course. It’s a typo. It should be £2000 maybe! Yes, of course! Her panic subsides and she taps away on her phone to call the pension company and let them know of their mistake.
‘No. There’s no mistake. Your pot only has enough to pay out £200 per month’.
‘But that’s outrageous, I have worked hard all my life and saved. I was expecting a return of almost ten times this. I have been ripped off’.
‘Oh no’, says the voice at the other end of the phone ‘this is what you demanded Jenny’.
‘Me!’, she says in disbelief ‘I don’t think so’.
‘You did though, You demanded the fat cats and stock holders sacrifice their profits in order to pay the cleaners a living wage. You said, it’s only fair they do that, you said they are immoral and greedy. You voted for it’.
‘I did. I think they should. I am not a fat cat though! I am just a normal, common garden pensioner’.
‘Right… but you’re a stock holder. Where in God’s name do you think your pension has been invested? In the very same companies who you demanded should sacrifice their profits. As a result, your dividend has been much lower and the rate of compound vastly diminished. But that’s what you demanded. You said it. It’s only fair and you were very self righteous when you demanded it. You sounded very, very sure’.
‘I didn’t mean for you to tale MY money. I … I …’
‘You what Jenny’.
And I would love to see her twisted little face as she screams down the receiver:
‘I WANTED THEM TO TAKE OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY!’