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40 Hours and a Mule

Should working full-time guarantee a middle class lifestyle?

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

December 26, 2013 - 3:00 pm
Indolent by the hour.

Indolent by the hour.

As a movement to raise the minimum wage continues both nationally and in the several states, the Left’s media organs pump fresh rhetoric in support of old ideas. Their message appeals to the all-American virtue of hard work. In essence, they assert that working hard ought to guarantee a certain lifestyle. From the Huffington Post:

By one estimate, one in four private-sector jobs in the U.S. now pays less than $10 per hour, well below a living wage in many areas of the country. Compared to better-paying positions, these jobs are also more likely to come without regular schedules or benefits, like health care coverage, paid vacation time or sick leave — the basic trappings of middle-class work. In other words, employment doesn’t guarantee a life above the poverty line; according to census data, more than one in 10 Americans who work full-time are still poor.

Employment doesn’t guarantee a life above the poverty line. The unspoken assertion is that it should — that life should include “the basic trappings of middle-class work” regardless of the job in question.

Such rhetoric proves convincing. It resonates with a popular notion advanced by opinion-makers across the political spectrum. If you work hard and follow the rules, you should expect a comfortable living. So we have been told.

But is that true? Is working hard all it takes to earn a living which includes all the trappings of the middle-class?

I could go out this week and spend 40 hours digging a hole in my front yard. It would be harder work than the vast majority of people do at their jobs. At the end of the week, after all that work, no one would owe me a dime.

Hard work carries no value in and of itself. It must serve a purpose which creates value in someone’s life. If my 40 hours of digging is the first step toward installing a swimming pool, then I have something for my effort. If I am hired by someone else to dig the hole for their pool, the agreed upon pay acknowledges the value of the job.

To understand the effect of the movement to guarantee a certain lifestyle for full-time employment, we need only look to the effect Obamacare has had upon the kind of work employers offer. The market finds a way to adjust to intervention. If we continue to insist that full-time employees earn a certain kind of living, we will only limit the kind of work which can be offered full-time. You can mandate what people pay. But you can’t arbitrarily alter the economic value of a particular job.

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words and co-hosts the weekly podcast Liberty Tree Radio. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Should working full-time guarantee a middle class lifestyle?

If the answer is yes, then by the same logic the expenses for the job, commuting expenses, wardrobe, cost of meals, educational expenses, should all be the same.

I know this trucker. He told me every time he dropped a load at a dock he got 50 or 75 dollars besides his mileage. He told me this in a way to relate how lucrative it was. Then he cried.

... because the road is hard. It was not because of the effort involved in driving in focusing on driving and not letting your attention slip or the difficulty in driving a rig thru congested metropolitan areas. This was a tough guy. He cried because of the amount of time you spend away from family. In some respect it is as hard or harder than military member or business men who have 20% or more travel. they are often home on weekends.

The left cannot do this. They cannot make things equal. They will try. they will say they can but they cannot.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Working 40 hours a week cannot guarantee a middle-class life. Only working 40 hours a week at something valuable can guarantee that. If you raise the minimum wage, all you do is get uneducated people fired. Socialists don't like when you point that out. Instapundit has responded to the recent minimum wage debate with links to companies selling burger flipping robots, and he's right.

There used to be a time when courts struck down unions and minimum wage laws as unconstitutional barriers to freedom of contract. Sigh.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Progressives routinely confuse effort with results.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I recently read that the free-market (or as free as it gets in America, anyway) is so successful and has blessed us so much that socialists have a hard time getting converts on the grounds that there are impoverished masses that need "liberating."

Think about it, 80% of people below the poverty line have air conditioning, cars, gaming systems, etc. Does that tell you the poverty line is largely arbitrary?

So now the message the socialists use is, "Somebody has more money than you. IT'S NOT FAIR!" You know, the same argument my four-year-old tries to use on me to get me to take something from his siblings and give to him.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the roles of our "representative" (republic) form of government is to level the playing field with respect to opportunity - NOT outcome. That is the essence of America...... Freedom to succeed, or fail without roadblocks - and it's on each and every one of us.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Better that working full-time should guarantee a middle-class lifestyle, than not working at all should guarantee a middle-class lifestyle.

And yet, today, we don't have enough jobs even for college-educated people who are trying to work full-time for a middle-class lifestyle and yet also we do not seem to run short of food, energy, and flat screen tvs for them.

The bottom line is that old school economics just don't fly anymore, and what comes next nobody knows.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

There used to be a song sung that had a punch line that went if you didn't stay in school you might grow up to be a mule. I think that we have pretty much solved that difficulty because today, as a result of our progressively progressing Progressivism, you can stay in school and still grow up to be a mule.

Anyhow, the part of the song I liked best went something like this:

A mule is an animal with long funny ears,
Who kicks up at everything he hears.
His back is strong, but his brain is weak.
He's really just a horse with a stubborn streak.

Now, for all you mule folks out there, that's not science. It's humor.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"or would you like to swing on a star
carry moonbeams home in a jar
and be better off than you are -
or would you rather be a *."
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kids nowadays get a badge for showing up. I babysat a 5-year-old who proudly showed me his wearable scroll (covers most of his body) he got at school that says what an amazing student he is, he draws well, he plays well with others, he is respectful, and so on. I was surprised he didn't say "He breathes." Then they graduate and you expect them to work at McDonald's for peanuts? They are "amazing, special", it says that on the scroll.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Should working full-time guarantee a middle class lifestyle?

If the answer is yes, then by the same logic the expenses for the job, commuting expenses, wardrobe, cost of meals, educational expenses, should all be the same.

I know this trucker. He told me every time he dropped a load at a dock he got 50 or 75 dollars besides his mileage. He told me this in a way to relate how lucrative it was. Then he cried.

... because the road is hard. It was not because of the effort involved in driving in focusing on driving and not letting your attention slip or the difficulty in driving a rig thru congested metropolitan areas. This was a tough guy. He cried because of the amount of time you spend away from family. In some respect it is as hard or harder than military member or business men who have 20% or more travel. they are often home on weekends.

The left cannot do this. They cannot make things equal. They will try. they will say they can but they cannot.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Working 40 hours a week cannot guarantee a middle-class life. Only working 40 hours a week at something valuable can guarantee that. If you raise the minimum wage, all you do is get uneducated people fired. Socialists don't like when you point that out. Instapundit has responded to the recent minimum wage debate with links to companies selling burger flipping robots, and he's right.

There used to be a time when courts struck down unions and minimum wage laws as unconstitutional barriers to freedom of contract. Sigh.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
This will never be a truly free country so long as government prevents people from freely contracting for work at a price that is agreeable to employer and employee. But worse than the minimum wage is the current effort to prevent workers, particularly younger workers, from performing unpaid internships, from which both they and the businesses they work for benefit. It is truly a grave injustice to prevent people from volunteering their time in a productive effort. (There is no effort to stop people from working for non-productive charities.)
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The irony being that most Left Wing media entities (HuffPo, Mother Jones, etc.) flood their staff with unpaid interns.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Progressives routinely confuse effort with results.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is there not a a corollary in physics?

Force applied to an object (mass), which does not move, is not work.

Same metaphysical aw applies in economics.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"You can mandate what people pay. But you can’t arbitrarily alter the economic value of a particular job."

So, what is your point, then?

The article ignores the basic question, what is the economy for?

You have put the cart before the horse. The economy serves society, families, NOT the other way around.

If the economy cannot provide a middle class income for forty hours a week work, then it's the ECONOMY that is at fault, not minumum wage laws! The economy must change, corruption must be eliminated.

Employment compensation has increased, in Europe, since 1995, an average of 150%. In America, .2 percent!

Your article is obscene. You have not only accepted the yoke of slavery, you speak in favor of it!

The upper class is running this country for it's OWN benefit, and the lower class parrots the propogana of the upper class to support it. The middle class? Whats that? They deserve their fate, for being so stupid.

The entire country is due for a BIG raise. America is ripping off it's citizens, for the benefit of a very few at the top. This cannot continue...and it will not.

If this continues, no ones children will be safe. What happened to the Soviet Union, will happen here. It will be VERY violent.


(show less)
(show less)
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
So... somebody has more than you, which ISN'T FAIR!
The economy doesn't exist to "serve the people." It exists so that everyone doesn't have to do everything to make ends meet. It's based on the division of labor. It's how we progress past being hunter-gatherers. You do for me something you excel at, and I'll do something for you in exchange.

What you're really arguing is that you don't want to go to school or gain experience in order to earn more money. Well, if you won't learn a marketable skill, then you can expect to be paid what unskilled labor is worth, genius!
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you really are Chinese, I have seen the Chinese in action close up. It matters to me.

The Chinese system of guaranteed living did not work. It fell apart around
1990.

The Chinese population alone almost 16% of the planet. Combine that with Russia, the East Bloc, Cuba, Vietnam and there should have been a critical mass in resources, land area, & people to be able to make a communist system work.

Socialism does not work. Southern Europe is broke. Northern Europe is not working out either. We are seeing the de_th throes of Sweden right now. Sweden was suppose to be a perfect mixed economy, a perfect socialist system.

Britain's health service is known as Death incorporated. there is a scandal at one of their hospitals where there were 1,200 to 1,400 preventable de_aths. It was ran so badly patients were drinking water out of flower vases.

So America is bad and Europe is oaring. Yeah, whatever. I have relatives in France & Germany.

"Tell me lies, lies, lies, sweet little lies"
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not every job deserves a living wage. If a high school kid works at McDonald's for 20 hours a week his senior year in high school & decides not to go to college or apply for another job, should he be able to demand that his hours be increased to 40 hours and that the wage be increased so he can afford a 1,200 square foot house/apartment, 2 cars, & support a family of 4?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course, I don't think jobs of that style should be hiring anybody full-time (except to be management) anyway...
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry Xiaoding, but you're directing your anger at the wrong thing. You've been conned by Obama and his supporters. Walter Hudson has it right. The "very few at the top" you refer to are Obama and his billionaire fat cat supporters, like Soros. The Free Market works for all and all prosper when there is minimal interference. It works for enriching only a few elite when it is rigged and controlled by the Government and a select few quasi-government entities. That's how the Soviet Union became a hellhole under your "workers" paradise with equality for all, an equality of misery not of wealth. Our economy would've recovered from its meltdown of 2007-8 a long time ago but for the massive intervention of government. Seizing General Motors, deciding winners and losers, demanding and funneling taxpayer money to Obama friends who funneled millions into his campaign in return for taxpayer backed green loans all of which defaulted, the takeover of the student loan industry by government, the hundreds of thousands of new rules regulations, taxes, and laws on businesses and taxpayers since 2008 that have strangled small businesses, and now the government takeover of the health insurance and health industry. Meanwhile a few fat cat bankers, who run the government protected bank cartel called the Federal Reserve continue to print and pump a $Trillion dollars a year into the stock and bond market creating an artificial bubble that will in time collapse. You're right that Americans are suffering and that an upper class is running it for its own benefit. But it's Obama who has lied about everything and his socialist supporters who view you and I and all other Americans as too stupid and undeserving of what we possess and are taking it away from us while telling us our loss is due to the greed of our neighbors. By controlling the banks, your government gets to dictate who gets a loan. By controlling student loans they control who gets a higher education. By imposing a massive web of thousands upon thousands of new rules and regulations on business they ensure only big businesses, well connected to government can survive and small ones never get off the ground, and so on. By setting rules on wages and benefits the government narrows the numbers of people who can find work. All of these things you would know if you but studied economics and history. All of America's explosive growth and individual wealth creation came when government intervention was limited to prevention fraud and theft and taxation was small. Today government takes over 50% of the wealth created and has imposed taxes and rules designed to prevent anyone today from accumulating wealth or passing on wealth to their families. All wealth is accumulated by a few bankers with the aid and collusion of the government both of whom raid it and use it with impunity. The taxpayer is left with the bill. So ask yourself to whom you're a slave to? It's not your middle class neighbor who is struggling with increasing job insecurity, lowering paychecks, longer work hours, and increasing taxes and prices for everything. You're a slave to Obama's Hope & Change effort to fundamentally transform the United States into a Zimbabwe of the West, where a few like him are winners, and for the rest of us, well we get to console ourselves with free abortions and free Obamaphones, Obamacare subsidies paid allegedly by someone else while we wait for free EBT cards to buy booze while we get ever poorer. And when we protest, our government leaders and their elite supporters help out by directing our anger along class, race, ethnic lines pitting neighbor against neighbor while Obama and his friends go on another unprecedented million dollar vacation at taxpayer expense.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
DUDE! Paragraphs, Paragraphs! PLEASE!

The Marsist wins due to his post being readable... Sad, so very sad.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
JF Sanders, Thanks! You're right. Let me try again, with paragraphing.

Sorry Xiaoding, but you're directing your anger at the wrong thing. You've been conned by Obama and his supporters. Walter Hudson has it right. The "very few at the top" you refer to are Obama and his billionaire fat cat supporters, like Soros.

The Free Market works for all and all prosper when there is minimal interference. It works for enriching only a few elite when it is rigged and controlled by the Government and a select few quasi-government entities. That's how the Soviet Union became a hellhole under your "workers" paradise with equality for all, an equality of misery not of wealth.

Our economy would've recovered from its meltdown of 2007-8 a long time ago but for the massive intervention of government. Seizing General Motors, deciding winners and losers, demanding and funneling taxpayer money to Obama friends who funneled millions into his campaign in return for taxpayer backed green loans all of which defaulted, the takeover of the student loan industry by government, the hundreds of thousands of new rules regulations, taxes, and laws on businesses and taxpayers since 2008 that have strangled small businesses, and now the government takeover of the health insurance and health industry. Meanwhile a few fat cat bankers, who run the government protected bank cartel called the Federal Reserve continue to print and pump a $Trillion dollars a year into the stock and bond market creating an artificial bubble that will in time collapse.

You're right that Americans are suffering and that an upper class is running it for its own benefit. But it's Obama who has lied about everything and his socialist supporters who view you and I and all other Americans as too stupid and undeserving of what we possess, and they are taking it away from us while telling us our loss is due to the greed of our neighbors.

By controlling the banks, your government gets to dictate who gets a loan. By controlling student loans they control who gets a higher education. By imposing a massive web of thousands upon thousands of new rules and regulations on business they ensure only big businesses, well connected to government can survive and small ones never get off the ground, and so on. By setting rules on wages and benefits the government narrows the numbers of people who can find work. All of these things you would know if you but studied economics and history.

All of America's explosive growth and individual wealth creation came when government intervention was limited to prevention fraud and theft and taxation was small. Today government takes over 50% of the wealth created and has imposed taxes and rules designed to prevent anyone today from accumulating wealth or passing on wealth to their families. All wealth is accumulated by a few bankers with the aid and collusion of the government both of whom raid it and use it with impunity. The taxpayer is left with the bill.

So ask yourself to whom you're a slave to? It's not your middle class neighbor who is struggling with increasing job insecurity, lowering paychecks, longer work hours, and increasing taxes and prices for everything. You're a slave to Obama's Hope & Change effort to fundamentally transform the United States into a Zimbabwe of the West, where a few like him are winners, and for the rest of us, well we get to console ourselves with free abortions and free Obamaphones, Obamacare subsidies paid allegedly by someone else while we wait for free EBT cards to buy booze while we get ever poorer. And when we protest, our government leaders and their elite supporters help out by directing our anger along class, race, ethnic lines pitting neighbor against neighbor while Obama and his friends go on another unprecedented million dollar vacation at taxpayer expense.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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