As conservatives, on virtually every issue, we look terrible in the arena of public debate, even when we have all the facts, the logic, the historical perspective, the law, and the evidence, all on our side. This is because of two fatal flaws in our public strategy that are repeated every time a new issue comes up. The Left knows this, and exploits it every time. The two flaws are: 1. Letting the Left initiate, define, control and set the conditions of the debate. 2. Using the prejudicial and derogatory language the Left gives us in the debate. This ends debate before they even begin. Sun Tzu, author of “The Art of War,” would, if paraphrased, say that the battle is lost by us before it is even waged.
Take the famous question: “Why do you need an assault weapon?” It does not matter what you say, if you use the words “assault weapon” in your answer. For the perception has already been branded on you, just by asking the question, that you, as a gun owner, are a mass murderer. So the best response is to completely turn the debate by saying “How dare you question the right of all American’s to own ‘freedom rifles.’ What kind of commie dictator are you? You want us to end up like the Ukraine?” And now you know how to handle the Minimum Wage.
According to the website raisethemimimumwage.com, the government mandated wage was established in 1938, and reached it’s greatest value in 1968 when it was $1.60 an hour. The reason for the push to $10 an hour is that if that same $1.60 were corrected for the artificially induced inflation of the Federal Reserve Notes we use for money, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Consumer Price Index puts the current value at $10.56. Hence the push for $10 an hour mandatory wage.
The Left will say that “It’s just fairness, you can’t live on the Minimum Wage, we need a living wage,” and all kinds of other nonsense for which conservatives falling into the flaws of control and language of the debate, usually respond with “people will fired, the economy will be hurt, small businesses will suffer.” None of those arguments matter because the perception in people’s hearts goes right to raising the wage because they want more money either to a higher minimum wage, or a greater wage difference above the minimum wage. So the motivating factor here is greed, envy, and there is no sympathy for the employer, because most people are employees. So again, if a conservative uses the prejudicial word “minimum” in any discussion of wages, they lose, because you can’t argue your way out of giving people less than the minimum.
So, we need new language. If you look, new language is all through this article. The obsolete term “Minimum Wage” is a socialist throwback to the Depression and in no way reflects the earning capacity of people today because there are a ton of taxpayer transfers that didn’t exist during The Depression. So stop using Leftist language! Move on. Get with the new program. From now on think only of the “Total Revenue Index.” (Yes I just made it up.) This is a new measurement that records the total earning capacity of people at the beginning of the revenue scale (formerly minimum wage worker). Here is how it works.
The Total Revenue Index takes into account every possible source of revenue available to individuals and families, of which wages, are only a part of the index. The idea is to combine all the sources of income available to a beginning income earner, total them up for the year, divide that amount of money into months, weeks, days, and finally hours, to get a dollar amount per hour. You can figure a regular 40 hour week, and an Obamacare 29 hour week. Take the dollar amount for the Total Revenue Index and compare it to the Minimum Wage, and the results should be both shocking, and perfect for making the Mimimum Wage measurement irrelevant. Once irrelevant, there is no need to argue against it.
The Human Services Agency (HSA, sfhsa.org) of San Francisco, my town, lists a variety of revenue sources available to both single adults and families. Cash (revenue) assistance for adults without children is available under the County Adult Assistance Program. Which includes: Personal Assisted Employee Services, Cash Assistance Linked to Medi-Cal, Supplemental Security Income Pending, and General Assistance. There is also the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants, and the Refugee Cash Assistance Program. This is just for single adults. Add whatever one is eligible for from these programs, on top of whatever wages are earned, for the Total Revenue Index.
It gets better. HSA also offers coordination with the Federal Government, the State of California and San Francisco, for funding child care programs, vouchers, children’s services, and homeless programs, which are all revenue. CalWorks offers aid to needy families in the form of cash (revenue), child care (revenue), health care under Medi-Cal and subsidized Covered California (revenue), transportation (revenue), food stamps under CalFresh (revenue), and other services (more revenue). There is job training and placement services from the California Employment Development Department which is a cost that doesn’t have to be paid, so more revenue. There are eviction prevention services (revenue), transitional housing (revenue), rental assistance (revenue), and the biggest cost of living subsidy, Section 8 housing. All of these programs have to be added into a person’s Total Revenue Index for a total picture.
Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute wrote a brilliant article for National Review documenting how welfare is often a better deal than work. So the next logical step is to link welfare and wages as integral components of the Total Revenue Index. Cato found that in 2013 the value of welfare packages were from a low of $16,984 a year in Mississippi to a high of $49,175 in Hawaii, with a median nationwide of $28,500. If that were broken into a Total Revenue Index of a 50 week year at 40 hours a week that would be $8.49 an hour for Mississippi. However the Obamacare 29 hour week gives a Total Revenue Index of $11.71 per hour. For Hawaii the Total Revenue Index from welfare is $24.58 per hour, and $33.91 per hour for the Obamacare week. The U.S. median would index at $14.25 and $19.65 per hour.
It makes no sense to argue for, or against, a $10 an hour mandated wage when a Total Revenue Index of up to $33.91 per hour is already available. Michael Tanner also points out that welfare benefits aren’t taxed. And beginning income level earners can get the Earned Income Tax Credit and child care tax credits. Tanner reports that in Hawaii one would have to earn $60,590 a year to be better off than welfare. That’s a Total Revenue Index of $30.29 per hour for a 40 hour week, and $41.78 for the 29 hour Obamacare week.
What I don’t know, and what I will leave up to the brilliant economists who make a whole lot more money than me, is to come up with a Total Revenue Index that takes into account certain levels of income combined with local, state and federal welfare packages, for a representative and comprehensive Total Revenue Index for various locations around the country. Then we will have a real index that uses all available modern information, to accurately asses a person’s total revenue capacity from all sources. So if a leftist comes up claiming the minimum mandated wage has to be raised, tell them how and why the Total Revenue Index makes their terminology obsolete, irrelevant and moot.