Mike Lester Cartoon from 2014-04-11
It’s a huge problem. It doesn’t make the gender pay gap disappear to point out another problem, even a larger problem, but okay, yea, so there’s a big problem with black unemployment. What exactly do you want to do about it? Obviously if the government proposes any solutions you’d start screaming “no, why is government trying to fix a problem, this is the end of the world,” and if Obama in particular tried to say or do anything about it, the right would start up all this, “Obama is trying to tell black people government is their answer” rhetoric. And I’m guessing you aren’t about to fault the private sector for any part of this problem, because that would entail suggesting that their hiring choices and choices about what communities they bring their companies to are causing less jobs and wealth to end up with blacks and black communities. So, that pretty much leaves the whole, “if you give a mouse a cookie” theory, where the idea is, “hey cut up the social safety net because black folks just don’t work hard if they feel like they don’t have to, so give the men a kick in the butt and tell the girls to close their legs, and blacks will achieve employment and wealth equality with whites who don’t don’t require that same motivational kicking and shaming to work hard.” It always amazes me that you are half black. I guess the analogy would be a bisexual (will go with that because it’s the best thing I could think of to compare to “mixed race”) who claims that gay people are inherently more predisposed to be sexual predators than white people (analogous to “blacks innately desire to scam the social safety net more than whites”)
Except, the gender wage gap has been disproved on multiple occasions. The cartoon doesn’t dismiss a problem for another one, but illustrates that Obama’s ranting on the fictional gender pay gap in the face of actual problems like how the black unemployment rate is consistently double that of the white unemployment rate.
As you recognize, the black unemployment rate is a problem. According to the BLS, the black unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) for March 2014 was 12.4% compared to a 5.3% rate for whites.
To solve this problem, we have to ask why the black unemployment rate is so high. The youth unemployment rate for blacks is 40% nationally and is higher than that for males. Example, in Chicago it’s 92% unemployment for black male teens.
The work opportunities afforded to teens are squandered due to both minimum wage laws as well as child labor laws. Because minimum wage, in effect, forces people to sell their labor for higher prices, employers tend to want more qualified/more educated/more experienced workers for low skilled work. Child labor laws (as a collection) prevent teens from doing perfectly safe work. For example, due to these laws, fast food cannot hire anyone under 16 years old even though a 14 year old can work a cash register. I am for eliminating minimum wage as a partial solution. Minimum wage jobs are for these teens looking to find experience.
There’s also education. The difference between predominately black schools and predominately white schools are quite staggering. Unlike the mythical pay gap, there is an academic achievement gap. From Walter E. Williams:
Black youths are becoming virtually useless for the increasingly high-tech world of the 21st century. According to a 2001 report by Abigail Thernstrom, “The Racial Gap in Academic Achievement,” many black 12th-graders dealt with scientific problems at the level of whites in the sixth grade; they wrote about as well as whites in the eighth grade. The average black high-school senior had math skills on a par with a typical white student in the middle of seventh grade. The average 17-year-old black student could only read as well as the typical white child who had not yet reached age 13. That means an employer hiring the typical black high-school graduate is in effect hiring an eighth-grader.
It starts as a youth. Tackling Black unemployment means tackling bad schools, as well as arbitrary laws that prevent teens from getting employed.
ON YOUR SOLUTIONS TO BLACK UNEMPLOYMENT (ending child labor and minimum wage laws…)
Children don’t need to be working. I repeat. Children do not need to be working. The reason black adults are more often unemployed than white adults is not because when they were 16 Danny white boy worked at Wal-Mart and Jerome black boy did not. Rather it’s because the location where 35 year old Jerome lives has fewer jobs than where 35 year old Danny lives, combined with the fact that Danny probably received a much better public education than the kind Jerome got in the ghetto because education is a direct reflection of how much the adults in your neighborhood pay in property taxes and/or how much mommy and daddy have to send you to a private school and/or college.
Basically, your first proposed solution is, “these damn black kids don’t get out and learn the value of work as youngsters,” combined with, “we should make it easier to send them and children of all colors off to work at younger and younger ages so they get the idea right from the start that life is supposed to be this miserable struggle of doing pointless labor, rather than allowing them run around playing tag in the park unaware of how much their adult life is going to suck.” You know, you may not think this, but most people think children are entitled to a childhood. Most people think that it shouldn’t be a requirement that you start working some sub-living wage job at age 11, so that by the time you are 21 you have “worked your way up” to a living wage and won’t have to go on welfare as a young adult. It shouldn’t just be the kids of well off parents that get to live a childhood. Child labor laws are about more than just safety, they are also about letting kids be kids playing little league and video games after school instead of working in customer service at Target.
“Because minimum wage, in effect, forces people to sell their labor for higher prices, employers tend to want more qualified/more educated/more experienced workers for low skilled work.” So, in other words blacks won’t get hired as often because they are inherently less competent (i.e. not as smart) or experienced (i.e. too lazy to get it) or educated (i.e. too lazy to finish high school). If you want to somehow play this whole, “if only we could pay people a dollar a day, unemployment would plummet card” go ahead and keep on doing that, even though it’s ridiculous and does nothing to address poverty, but you really shouldn’t be expanding the idea to, “when there are less jobs, less black people get hired, because with less jobs there’s more competition, and black folks just don’t compete as well because of who and what they are.” That’s what you just did, whether you realize it or not.
Dude, basically your whole solution to any unemployment problem is to grow the number of jobs closer to the number of applicants by creating more and more jobs that pay less and less. Your idea is, “kick ‘em all off their welfare and give them a job that pays 4 bucks an hour and tell the lower third of society to live on it and beg for any charity they need, because that’s all they are worth to society.” When did you become this Dickensian, absolutely ruthless minded person? You’re so obsessed with making sure that the people at the very top of the American food chain get to make more profits by paying their workers less and keep more of their profits by paying less taxes that take care of the people with no job or a substandard wage job, that you’d rather see everyone in the bottom couple of quintiles receive no help in the form of mandated living wages for work, or collective assistance from the taxes society pays. And somehow the idea that some people move out of these bottom classes makes it all okay, because as long as its not the same person suffering their whole life or the same family suffering generation after generation, it’s okay that there are tens of millions of people suffering at any given moment.
You’d rather they all just deal with having their like 30 bucks a day or whatever instead of making sure everyone gets what they need to live a basic quality of life, through either wages, assistance, or a combination of the two, because you literally just feel like some people are intrinsically so much more valuable and worthwhile than others based on the economic class they are in; you view it as some kind of reflection of their human value and character. Apparently you are both super certain that you are never going to end up being valued as worth less than a living wage within the anarchy version of free market you propose, and you also just don’t care what happens to the rest, that you’ve already assumed will be down in classes that you’ve assumed you’ll never be a part of.
-I can’t wait to hear the theories you have on why black students perform lower than white students. It’s probably going to be some version of “teachers in black neighborhoods get paid too much and the evil unions are making our kids dumb,” or “let’s privatize all education and give out vouchers for kids to attend privatized schools who have proven they ‘take school seriously’ as evidenced by their higher test scores, and force all the rest into the workforce,” or “let’s close down all the schools that have low test scores in poor neighborhoods and bus off the ones that are willing to go to far away schools that require them to get up at 6AM and get home late at night each day off the train,” or “let’s end mandatory education, and have young black kids that don’t like school go off to work apprenticeships at incredibly young ages like it’s the 19th century again.”
ON THE “LIVING WAGE IS A MYTH” ARTICLES
-Says you should look at weekly instead of annual earnings, and when you do so the gap drops to 81%
-Says when you add in discrepancies in hours worked per week it drops to 87%
-Says when you account for discrepancies in union membership it drops to 91%
-“The point here is not that there is no wage inequality. But by focusing our outrage into a tidy, misleading statistic we’ve missed the actual challenges.”
-Goes on to identify the true challenges as figuring out why women aren’t able to get as many hours and union protections, as well as needing to figure out why women are ushered into lower paying professions, and why female dominated professions are valued less by society
-Overall, it’s saying the problem is far more complex than singular, overt discrimination, and that there are many challenges we face to help more women get into higher paying professions, and get stereotypical female professions become better compensated.
-Basically plays the card that this is all about Obama having some personal anti-male, anti-business worldview where he wants women to start suing their employers en mass in a “guilty until proven innocent” fashion. It plays to this whole “traditional male” fear that women are being “favored” by the government, and are thus “taking away” the status of men, which leads to a “weakening” of the country. (the whole “American men are being chickified” fear talking point, where economic and military might are viewed as “masculine results” that are threatened by more rights and power going to women who were traditionally “complimentary” members of society). Particularly during times when a society is struggling economically and militarily the way America currently is in the wake of having realized it fought a pointless war in Iraq for 10 years that got us nothing, and having gone through the 2008 economic collapse, people tend to project their frustrations about the demise of society onto scapegoat groups in society they view as “weak” (be it women, gays, or whatever), and say that the nation is failing because those groups are being given too many rights, too much power, too much influence or whatever. So, anytime something is brought up where it’s pointed out that one of these scapegoat “weak” groups isn’t being treated fairly the anger gets turned even more directly on them where it’s claimed it’s a lie and they actually have it too good, rather than not as good as everyone else.
-It goes through the same line of statistics showing how the gap shrinks when it goes from annual to weekly, and you account for equal hours worked (although this one doesn’t mention the 4% attributable to union differences because it’s WSJ, the mouthpiece of big business, so they hate unions and wouldn’t want to talk about people in them making more money). The big difference in this one is it plays the whole, “the wage gap is due to women being wives and mothers” card (because the implication is that if you are a good mommy you will de-prioritize your career and make less money than your husband.
-It also acts like the 4% difference that exists even after the whole “mothers don’t make as much” is totally acceptable
-Then it plays a bunch of talking points about women taking stereotypical soft majors in college (as though there’s no societal influence that drives men and women towards different careers, and this is all just some reflection of women being prone to making bad decisions or being less capable of being a more challenging major), not being good negotiators (again implying this is somehow just some natural occurrence that’s their fault, rather than society training women to be less aggressive and lady-like), and not working “dangerous professions,” making some bizarre reference to loggers, as though, hey, maybe the reason men make more is because most of their jobs are these incredibly physical, life-threatening professions like logging in the mountains. (really seems to have been thrown in just to boost the whole, “men are tough, brave, and more valuable” sort of sentiment)
-It then goes on to make sure to hammer home the point that women are just so silly making bad decisions taking stupid majors and that somehow what’s being sought here is for some social worker to be suing to make what an engineer makes or something because women are irrational and bitter when they realize their silly mistakes so they want to go sue good men and good businesses. The other implication is that women are bitter about their natural gender role of playing mommy/wife and they want to sue their boss so they get paid like a man who didn’t “have” to take lots of time off to fulfill the womanly duty of childbearing and childrearing. The whole sentiment is “women are bitter about being born inferior, being born with “motherly obligations,” and being prone to dumb feminine decision making, so they want to come sue you and your business.” It’s all emblematic of this right wing paranoia that modern women are not accepting of both “their place” in society and their “natural predispositions.”
-This one doesn’t even get the 77 cents number right, calling it a 75 cent “myth,” lol but anyways…
-It’s just another angry dude who hates what he thinks feminism is doing to his place in society, saying “the media needs to look beyond the claims of feminist organizations.” (which to him are these men-hating groups that want to take away his place in society based on a bunch of devious lies)
-It uses this “male jobs are dangerous” line again, which apparently is some talking point circulating right now. I guess it’s supposed to embody this idea that males deserve to be given preferential treatment, including but not limited to higher pay because, “men are the ones who protect you,” “men are the ones who risk their lives,” etc. It’s a very masculine idea that “value” is found in how physical and dangerous the work is, as opposed to what kind of value in goods and services is actually produced by the work. It’s this very blue collar worldview that helps them project this class bitterness at the white collar folks who sit behind comfy desks doing things like crunching numbers, going through laws, writing, or whatever else. Blue collar men feel threatened by this, because white collar jobs are the ones the intelligent people have and they know that if the most “valued” jobs are based on brains rather than braun and bravado women are just as likely to become the dominant breadwinners as men, which makes them lose their sense of male identity. They want the soldiers and construction workers of the world to be the most compensated, rather than the financiers, the bankers, the lawyers, etc, because women can do the latter just as well as men.
-It cites the whole, “men work higher paying jobs” line, once again, as though this is somehow just some “choice” or “result of abilities” rather than social discrimination that teaches little girls you should be a kindergarten teacher while the boys are being told they are going to grow up to work for NASA or something.
-It talks about women not going for “high pressure” jobs within fields like medicine (basically playing the “emotional, hormonal women can’t handle an intense grind” card without actually saying it out loud)
-It then tries to imply that women are either just less competent or sillily looking for things besides money in life, with the whole “women without bosses make less than men without bosses” line (of course ignoring all kinds of external factors that make it more difficult for women to get business loans, or attract customers to a “female business,” because societal attitudes that favor men over women are never to be talked about, those are always just lies to knock men off their rightful place as head of household and society).
-This one basically sums up their view with the line, “Women tend to seek jobs with regular hours, more comfortable conditions, little travel, and greater personal fulfillment. Often times, women are willing to trade higher pay for jobs with other characteristics that they find attractive.” In other words, “women make less because they are soft and unwilling to do what it takes to earn more, so it’s all their fault.”
-Oh and it also once again goes back to this idealized macho depiction of men doing things like building roofs and driving trucks, trying to make it seem that things like driving a truck or going fishing are both incredibly dangerous and lucrative, and something those fragile baby-makers just aren’t able and willing to do lol. Trust me, I know a guy who drives a truck for a living, and he’s on welfare (so he’s clearly not making that much), and it’s not exactly analogous to the danger of storming Omaha beach, so I don’t really know what all this, “stereotypical gruff, macho jobs are dangerous and high paying” stuff is all about.
-Then they of course finish with the children card; what a surprise, mommies are supposed to look for “kid-friendly” positions, this isn’t discrimination, it’s just the natural order of life, how silly we are to think that this was anything more than women rightfully ignoring their careers for their children.
-The last two articles just reiterate all these same points again, with the intended takeaway being that women “choose” to make less, or are incapable of making as much as men, have it too good, and want to sue you because they are greedy evil feminists.
THE RIGHT’S TALKING POINTS ON EQUAL PAY
- America has been near utopian (except for all the nasty things that happen to white, middle/upper class heterosexual Christian males) post-inequality, post-discrimination place for a long, long time, so to claim otherwise is a lie for political gain.
-Some of them say women don’t actually make less money than men, and the ones that acknowledge the gap say it’s “not that bad” so don’t worry about it
-Those that acknowledge this “not so big” gap attribute it to one, multiple, or all of the following: women being inherently weak negotiators, women being interested in and good at things that aren’t as important and thus don’t make as much money, women only having the drive to work part-time, and women being good females by not caring about work as much as their children, house, and husband.
-The reason they are weaker negotiators is because they are just weaker, not because they aren’t trained to better negotiate and encouraged to do so the way men are. The reason they get into lower paying fields is not society pushing females to those fields, but rather that females are just better at less important things. The reason women work more part-time jobs is because they are doing the right thing by being feminine mommy-wives, or else just lazy, not that there are fewer full time positions being offered to women. To suggest anything else is to be a reverse sexist.
-Males can be good fathers and husbands while spending lots of time working and making lots of money, but women can only be good moms and wives if they are primarily or solely focused on serving their husbands and children, so women either not being married with kids, or being married with kids and still climbing the corporate ladder needs to almost without exception be viewed as a sign of a less than complete or less the stellar woman.
-You need to assume that it is the exception rather than a common occurrence to find a woman who is equally qualified, educated, experienced, and well-performing as a male in her field, so an equally paid or higher paid woman compared to her male co-workers should be a surprise, and not at all common.
-There was a fair pay law passed during the JFK years, so nothing else is needed. Women shouldn’t be free to know what their male co-workers make, it should be as difficult as possible for them to sue based on discrimination, because odds are most of them are just whinny, or exploitative, and we need to have implicit trust in all employers that they are actually enforcing fair pay laws no matter what the evidence might seem to suggest, because oversight involves government and government is icky.
-If you don’t personally know of a woman who has been discriminated against, or if you don’t work at a place or in a field that seems to be doing this, then it can’t exist at large in society to other people at other places of employment or in other fields, because your anecdotes trump society-wide statistics.
-Any statistics that show the wage gap problem are either fabricated or “misleading” with the true interpretation being found in right wing articles that spin the info to make it seem like there is no problem.
-Women can’t be making less than men, because if they did companies would only hire women, but silly liberals don’t you know companies don’t just care about profit, they care about performance which is why they spend more money hiring lots of males who get paid more because they are better than women. This disproves your theories that the private sector is greedy and that women are victims of discrimination. Companies care about quality and men are higher quality workers than women.
- Anything Democrats suggest as legislation to address the problem will not work, doesn’t address the problem (which is actually a series of byproducts of women being good females that fulfill their complementary motherly gender role, and them being designed to be weaker less qualified workers and negotiators in less important fields….which so far as conservatives are concerned sounds like more their fantasy than a problem they’d identify), and is just some reverse sexism law that’s designed to hurt men, unfairly favor women, and grow the evil government.
-Please look at our anecdotal ultra conservative females who either haven’t been discriminated against, and thus refuse to believe their ideology is ignoring a real problem that hurts other women, or else they feel they “chose” to make less money, or they “deserve” to make less money, because this proves our whole position on this issue is not sexist…after all what woman would be sexist against herself (much in the tradition of “here’s our token black candidate or gay candidate/supporter who doesn’t feel like equal rights for people like themselves is a good thing, so our ideas aren’t racist or homophobic”)
-Any examples you might know of where women have lost out on money they deserved, or any stats that show how much money women are missing out on compared to their male equivalents isn’t that much money, because come on, what are you poor or something, what is several thousand dollars a year, that’s chump change.
-Overall, the United States federal government pisses us off because they keep “taking the side” of groups that aren’t of great quantity and/or traditional power (like blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, Native Americans, non-Christians, disabled people, poor people, or immigrants) in our society by trying to help them achieve equal legal and social footing with white, financially stable, heterosexual, Christian, able bodied, natural born males (this was supposed to be a country for us, didn’t you see who we let vote in the Constitution; stop making us treat all these other diverse groups like they are equal to us, make them go find their own nation).
You do know that child labor laws effect all “children” up to 17 years old in some states right e.g. Michigan? It prohibits anyone under 14 to work (unless you’re on a farm and some other exemptions) and 14-15 must get permissions from their parents and their school. 14-17 have hour/week restrictions as well as where they can work. There is nothing wrong with having 14-17 year old working. There is no reason to object to letting 14 year olds work a part time job. Kids tend to do yard work at 10 years old to earn some money, or set up lemonade stands in their neighborhood. There is nothing objectionable about this. I don’t know why everyone freaks out at the thought of a 14 year old “child” working. They aren’t going to some factory to work 13 hours a day where their hands can get cut off.
Quality education as well as experience matters to employers. Where you have low quality education and high labor prices, you get high youth unemployment, especially for minorities. When Jerome graduates high school and has the equivalent education to an 8th grader, experience in jobs is going to help his qualifications against Danny who never worked a day in his life, but took 5 AP classes. This isn’t “those damn black kids don’t have a work ethic” it’s “these kids aren’t competitive” and it’s reflecting later in life. Shit education plus no work experience means you’re not getting a job at 21. Forget the “living wage.”
Basically, your first proposed solution is, “these damn black kids don’t get out and learn the value of work as youngsters,” combined with, “we should make it easier to send them and children of all colors off to work at younger and younger ages so they get the idea right from the start that life is supposed to be this miserable struggle of doing pointless labor, rather than allowing them run around playing tag in the park unaware of how much their adult life is going to suck.”
You’re making my argument to come across as “force these children to work.” The 10 year old who decides to go mow lawns for $10/lawn vs the kid who wants to run around at the park with his or her friends. If they are both voluntary as in the 10 year old takes it upon himself or herself to do this and isn’t forced to and the other 10 year old goes and plays on his or her own accord, who gives a shit? We shouldn’t be looking at the working kid and say “oh look how oppressed and exploited that 10 year old is, he’s not getting his entitled childhood. He should be playing, not working hard labor for that evil employer (your supportive neighbor who willingly employed this 10 year old even though the neighbor didn’t have to). I don’t know why you have this notion that work is monotonous misery. There’s nothing wrong with work ethic. Plus, work as a 10 year old doing odd jobs for what is essentially a stipend for a few hours a day is nothing close to a career.
Most people think that it shouldn’t be a requirement that you start working some sub-living wage job at age 11, so that by the time you are 21 you have “worked your way up” to a living wage and won’t have to go on welfare as a young adult. It shouldn’t just be the kids of well off parents that get to live a childhood. Child labor laws are about more than just safety, they are also about letting kids be kids playing little league and video games after school instead of working in customer service at Target.
An 11 year old is probably mowing lawns or selling lemonade. The kid is making maybe $20 for the day. No shit the kid’s not making a living wage, and the kid shouldn’t be either. None of this is a requirement. Working as a teen makes one more desirable as there is work experience. As one gets older, develops better skills and usually gets a better education, the jobs one works usually requires higher skills and thus pays more. I feel like you’re assuming everyone requires a job that allows them to live comfortably regardless of their own qualifications and the market for the job. To avoid poverty, both education and employment are important. They can be used complimentary or as marginal substitutes. When Jerome is at School of Leadership High School in Chicago (the worst performing school in the nation), having employment experience is going to help him. Especially, as a graduate, he’s comparable to an 8th grader if he has no work experience. Danny, on the other hand, may not need employment due to his school’s credentials and his own classes that make him equivalent to a college freshman in terms of education. Work experience will only help Danny. This isn’t bad. I don’t understand the need for demonizing work as if it’s exploitative and a terrible thing for teens to do and only education will help.
So, in other words blacks won’t get hired as often because they are inherently less competent (i.e. not as smart) or experienced (i.e. too lazy to get it) or educated (i.e. too lazy to finish high school).
No, you’re putting words in my mouth. I never said they were inherently less competent, you did. We already established that there is less job opportunities, not that they are lazy. You said they are lazy. They are less educated, we established that the education blacks receive is awful.
If you want to somehow play this whole, “if only we could pay people a dollar a day, unemployment would plummet card” go ahead and keep on doing that, even though it’s ridiculous and does nothing to address poverty, but you really shouldn’t be expanding the idea to, “when there are less jobs, less black people get hired, because with less jobs there’s more competition, and black folks just don’t compete as well because of who and what they are.” That’s what you just did, whether you realize it or not.
Not even a 10 year old would accept a dollar a day. Get out with our rhetoric. You do realize that part of employment is the applicant accepting the wages that the employer offers right? Low-skilled jobs would go for maybe $3-$5 per hour. Before you freak out about your living wage, these jobs are for low-skilled persons i.e. high school students i.e. people that are living with their parents.
When there are less jobs, less black people get hired because the education they receive doesn’t allow them to compete. You said “black folks just don’t compete as well because of who and what they are.” I neither said that nor insinuated it.
The rest is absurd based on nothing more than your will to believe it.
ON WORK PERMIT REQUIRMENTS FOR MINORS
First of all, virtually every state has the work permit thing for minors. Some states do lower the age down to like 15 or something where you don’t need your school and parents to sign the permit if you are 16-17, but it’s the same concept in all states. This is no different than when a kid has to have their parents and teachers sign off on them being in a sport after school because the idea is school comes first, and if anything; be it Burger King or basketball, is going to be making your grades drop the adults in your life at home and school need to have the right to jump in and be like, “woah, we aren’t going to let you be working for that gas money after school anymore if it’s going to be messing up your grades and ruining your future when you don’t get into college.” This is not at all a problem. Some things do come before labor and money and education is one of them. And, yes, it’s absolutely a good thing that kids under the age of 14 aren’t working, and that those in that 14-18 bracket have hours and vocational restrictions. I don’t see what good comes out of robbing some 10-13 year old of their childhood, or what “allowing” some 15 year old to work adult-like hours and/or in dangerous conditions is supposed to accomplish. I know you’re very into this idea of rugged life or whatever, so you’d probably be like, oh it was so much better back in the day when a 14 year old could stop going to school after the 8th grade and work on some assembly line 30 hours a week, it’ll teach him to be a man, and that life is hard and about hard work…but there’s a reason people fought to get rid of that mentality way back when. Your worldview seems to be more in line with 1880 than 2014.
WHY HAVING 14 YEAR OLDS WORKING REAL JOBS IS A SAD IDEA
Quite frankly for a kid being in school is their “job.” I think it’s really sad that any of them have to work because their families are that poor and need the money, and I think it’s really sad that they are ushered off into the labor markets at ages when they should still be able to play some sport or be in some club from 3 to 5 and be doing their homework after dinner, rather than going off to work from 3 to 9 and then coming home to do their homework when they should be asleep. Nobody wants to work, and for those that don’t need to, it shouldn’t be some sort of thing we lament when they don’t, and instead they just go to high school or whatever. I know this is like some sort of conservative dogma that goes back to that whole “human value is found in the old Protestant work ethic” mentality, where a kid is seen as more “good” if they’re out their sweating for dollars, but there’s more to life than that.
The reason people “freak out” about the idea of a 14 year old child (and yes, that’s 8th grade and that is absolutely a child, I was in no way, shape, or form an adult when I was in 8th grade) going to work is because there is, whether you see it or not, a fundamental difference between kids doing things like yard work for their neighbor for 10 bucks and having a real world job. When I was in jr high I used to sometimes get to do stuff for my old ass neighbors and they’d give me some money, but that’s very different than me coming home from jr high everyday and then going to clock in at Wal-Mart or something where you’d have a boss and actual hours and actual prolonged work that takes up all kinds of time and energy that should be spent on things 14 year olds do after school like their homework or playing basketball in people’s driveways, not following the orders of the supervisor of the clothing section or whatever.
You see, a 14 year old doesn’t need money for anything. The only reason anyone under 18 would ever actually want to work a real job is when cars come into the picture after the age of 16. I understand why juniors and seniors in high school might want to work at McDonald’s after school if they aren’t on a sport because they might want to try and get a car, car insurance, and gas to experience their first freedom. But 14? Anything a 14 year old needs can and should be taken care of by their parents (like the rent and stuff) and anything they might want, like some video game or something can easily be paid for by getting money shoveling the neighbor’s driveway a few times. There’s no practical purpose for a 14 year old to be accumulating any kind of real work, minimum wage money, unless they are in the sad situation of their family being so dirt poor that they need a third income to pay for things like the rent.
What you are suggesting is that the “practical purpose” is that they can get a job that they work their way up through over the years. In other words, you are suggesting that they de-prioritize doing good in school because the kind of careers that come with post-secondary education are out of their reach, so “here you go Billy, mind as well start working at McDonald’s now, fuck your homework and focusing all your efforts on getting into college, working your way up to assistant manager someday is as good as you would do anyways even if you went home and did your homework, instead of working this job. If you start now you’ll get to the pinnacle of your professional life as assistant manager all the faster.”
INSTEAD OF GIVING THEM EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES YOU SAY MAKE THEM WORK HARDER AND SOONER
“These kids aren’t competitive.” Why? Because they aren’t being given a good education because their parents are poor. And your solution is, “send them into the workforce as children so their greater experience by age 20 makes up for the fact the children of middle class white parents got a much better education,” instead of, “let’s reform the way educational funding for public schools works so every child gets a high quality education that is on equal footing with all their peers.” In other words, if you are born poor, if you want the same job opportunities as someone who was born middle class you need to start working more frequently and harder at a younger age. That’s bullshit. Children born poor shouldn’t have to work harder to end up equal to me and you just because they were born poor, that’s not justice, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
THE MYTHICAL 10 YEAR OLD THAT WANTS TO WORK A JOB TO GET AHEAD IN LIFE
Well, I’m sorry, maybe you don’t realize this, but no 10 year old in the ghetto is going to voluntarily decide they want to go work at Walgreens because they are told by someone looking down on them from the middle class, “hey, you if you want a job at 21, you need to start working a minimum wage job right now because your education is going to suck compared to mine.” Let’s just forget the fact that no 10 year old wants to go work a real world job, and just focus on how ridiculous it is that we should somehow expect 10 year olds in the hood to be rationalizing the implications their 4th grade decisions have on their long term employability prospects. I don’t think a 10 year old with sophisticated upper middle class parents explaining such a scenario to them would understand that, let alone that a 10 year old kid who probably has a single mom working three jobs and no father could figure this out on their own. Give me a break.
YES, PEOPLE WOULD RATHER BE DOING ANYTHING BUT WORKING
Idk if I’d call it “monotonous misery” but generally speaking work is something people do because they have to in order to survive, not because work is just so fun. There are some people who truly love what they do, and want to keep doing it, but those are people with some sort of freakish talent that allows them to do things like play a sport or make music for a living, or people who were fortunate enough to have the brains and money to obtain all kinds of higher education to end up working some dream job they feel makes a difference like being a doctor or engineer or something. The reality of life is most people hate their jobs and live bitter, angry lives realizing all they miss out on because they have to work these brutally mundane and boring and/or excruciating jobs alongside co-workers and superiors that they hate, all in order to keep eating and maintain a roof over their heads. There’s a reason that when someone does make it big as some athlete or movie star or something they always have some teary-eyed story about how after they signed their first big contract they were able to tell their mom or dad “you’ll never have to work again.”
I mean, idk, maybe I’m a weird, terrible person that comes from a weird, terrible family but I know that growing up my dad would always tell me that he wished he never had to leave us to go to work, that if it were up to him he would stay home all day with us, and do all kinds of fun things with us, but he had to go to work because if he didn’t we wouldn’t have money to survive and if we didn’t go to school someday we’d not have money to survive with our families. I have to imagine that everyone has things that would make them far happier than school and work. Maybe some people want to stay home with their kids all day everyday. Maybe some people want to stay home and explore their spirituality. Maybe some people want to go out and travel every corner of the world. Maybe some people want to spend all their time researching for potential cures to some disease some loved one has. Maybe some people want to be able to go out and make documentaries about things that are important to them. Maybe some people want to dedicate all their time and energy to various activist causes that are important to them. Maybe some people want to start up some sports league with the people in their neighborhood and have all kinds of daily practices and games just like it’s high school again. Maybe some people want to sit at home and watch movies all day. Maybe some people want to have sex with their partner three times a day. I have no clue what it would be for each person, but I’m sure everyone has all kinds of ideas of how much happier and fulfilling their lives would be if they didn’t have to spend the vast majority of their days going through some cycle of wake-shower-commute to work-work-commute home-eat-pay bills-hour of TV-sleep-repeat, just so they could barely pay the basic food, water, rent, car, energy, and healthcare bills.
WHY WE ENCOURAGE WORK ETHIC
The reason we encourage the notion of “work ethic,” is that we don’t want people to end up starving and homeless. Parents don’t try to teach their kids to work hard and say yes sir, no sir to their authority figures no matter how stupid the request seems because working hard and being subordinate is just so intrinsically awesome. Rather, they teach them that because they love their kids and don’t want them to starve someday. If they knew their kids had a choice and would survive either way they wouldn’t care so much about all this subservient work ethic being drilled as “the right thing to do.” It’s why the children of the wealthy do things like “take a year off before college,” and go join the peace corps for a few years, and go through a few weird phases of doing things like trying to be an artist or filmmaker and such. They can afford to do all that. They can afford to be comfortable, be happy, pursue whatever they think might make them happy at the moment and drop it at a moment’s notice when it no longer does. The reason people with families work hard is ultimately the dream of their kids getting to be like that. My parents dreamed of maybe one day figuring out some way to become rich not because they like big houses and fancy cars, but because they dreamed of a world where their kids could be truly free, truly happy, and truly able to do whatever they want, whenever they wanted in the pursuit of happiness, rather than the de facto slavery of the pursuit of being able to pay rent by bowing to your rich corporate boss. They didn’t make it, so my life probably won’t be any happier than theirs, but if I ever have a family I’ll have the same dream of maybe, just maybe figuring out a way to allow my kids to be truly free and happy. It’s the cruelty of the American Dream myth. We all think we might be able to do it for the next generation, when in reality we have no chance, but that’s the irrational hope that keeps most of the world from blowing our brains out each day.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHORES AND JOBS
I don’t have a problem with little kids making a lemonade stand or mowing the lawn or something; I did that stuff too and it’s not “real work,” it’s chores for allowance or silly childhood “playing entrepreneur,” where people give you dollars for 10 cents worth of a shots of lemonade your mom bought in the first place, because it’s cute for a kid to be trying to sell you something. That’s not what we are talking about, that stuff is already plenty legal, and if there is some law that makes it technically illegal it’s not enforced, kind of like fireworks laws on Fourth of July. You made it seem like you wanted to get rid of child labor laws, and have kids working “real jobs” at incredibly young ages, and that somehow this not being legal is the reason the black unemployment rate is so high.
DEMONIZING A PROPOSITION OF UNEQUAL LIFE OBLIGATIONS IS NOT DEMONIZING THE SANCTITY OF WORK
I’m demonizing the idea that if a person is born into a poor neighborhood (which is something they are not in control of) and wants to have a good adult life they need to start working as a child to make up for the fact their schools suck (again because their parents are poor which is not their fault, as schools are funded by property taxes). I’m saying that non-poor people’s money should either be used to make the schools of the poor children equal to the schools of the non-poor children, or things should be done to attack poverty overall, rather than telling the children of poverty that they are required to do something more, to make more childhood sacrifices, in order to not end up as poor as their parents. You are basically supporting unequal birthrights, where the middle class kid is entitled to think, gee I’d rather not be working as a 12 year old, so I won’t and this won’t hurt me, but the poor 12 year old is not entitled to the same decision making leading to the same benign outcomes. It’s society’s job to give all kids the same opportunities to do something like choose to be a kid instead of apply to work at McDonald’s in the 6th grade while knowing this won’t lead to a future of perpetual poverty for them. It’s really easy for you to say that this is not society’s responsibility and that I’m just “demonizing work,” because you were born on the right side of the tracks where you didn’t have to work at that age to avoid being starving today, but it being easy for you to say doesn’t make it right or anything less than ruthless to say.
I’M JUST SEEING THE MEANING OF YOUR WORDS
I’m not putting words in your mouth; I’m just articulating the meaning behind the words you say. You say that since poor black kids get a shitty education they need to be working from incredibly young childhood ages in order to have a good chance of having a job as an adult. So, what that absolutely implies is that you somehow feel they were too incompetent and/or lazy to overcome their terrible education, since you are the one who is always talking about how anyone who is smart enough and motivated enough can self-educate themselves far better than any public school can. You seem to have this view that someone such as yourself, if given the kind of ghetto education they get, would have been properly motivated and able enough to run off to the library and learn what you needed to learn, and then smart enough to realize in your childhood wisdom that you needed to start working real jobs as soon as it was legal for you to do so, so that you could work your way into a living wage by the time you were an adult, but these kids in the hood just aren’t capable of that kind of self-education, and fail to realize that they need to be working as a child to ensure adulthood security, so they need to presumably be told by outside forces full of people like yourself that this is what is so and here is what you need to do if you don’t want to starve someday.
MINIMUM WAGE IS NOT JUST FOR KIDS AND PROTECTS THE VULNERABLE MASSES OF UNDERCLASS
No, minimum wage jobs are not for people living with their parents. The average minimum wage worker at McDonald’s is 27 years old. They might be low-skilled, but being low-skilled doesn’t mean that a company that is worth billions should be allowed the “freedom” to be so greedy that they get to pay these people 4 bucks an hour, and then the nation should be given the “freedom” to eliminate the social safety net so they can personally come begging for charity from each middle class and rich individual so that the financially superior people of this nation can decide who is “worthy” of basic first world survival and who is not. Poor, desperate people will take whatever they can get. If you offered them 4 dollars an hour 8.25 an hour, 10.10 an hour or a dollar an hour they’d take whatever you give them, because the rich have all the power and leverage. There are limited jobs for many people, and there is much suffering amongst the many, so if given the legal ability to they’d probably bid each other down just so they can get something….oh, I’m poor, homeless and starving, or 100% dependent on the government at the moment, as are these other 5 people standing here in need of a job and you’ll hire him for 5/hr? Well I’ll work for 4. No, wait; I’ll counter that with 3.50. Any of you willing to go down to three? All five hands shoot up. Okay, what about 2? All five hands stay up….this is the kind of position people are in and it’s sad and ruthless. It’s why we have minimum wage laws. People who have nothing literally would take a dollar a day over 0, and no, the bidding would probably never realistically go that low, but in a world with more desperate people with nothing, than there are jobs, what exactly is supposed to stop that sort of “race to the bottom,” in hiring situations without a minimum wage? The justification for all this is “they agree to their wages.” Well, yea, because they have to, 4 bucks an hour is better than nothing, but it still isn’t enough to survive and in your world the 4 bucks an hour person would be left with no food stamps or Medicaid or anything to make up the difference.
PROVE THIS IS ABOUT SOME WORSHIP OF WORK RATHER THAN WORSHIP OF PROFITS
If it makes you feel better think of the minimum wage and the idea of a living wage as “welfare for work.” All you ever worry about is that people aren’t working enough, well here’s your chance to prove that the desire to have everyone working so much is about the “virtues of work” rather than to help the rich get richer. If everyone is willing to work a full time job, and fulfill their “moral work ethic duty,” then what is so wrong with the government forcing multi-billion dollar giants like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s to find something for everyone who wants a job to do, and pay them a living wage for that job, while being mandated to take it out of their profits instead of ramping up prices as a result? They’d still make tons of money with plenty of massive profits to spare, everything would still be just as cheap at their stores for the middle and working class, and everyone who was “willing to work,” could make enough money to take care of themselves. So, what is this is all really about? Is it all about pro-corporatist ideas to protect and expand the profits of the captains of industry at the cost of social suffering at the bottom off society, or is it about wanting to espouse the virtues of work ethic?
STOP BLAMING THE GOVERNMENT AND WORKERS FOR THE LACK OF OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYERS PROVIDE
Dude, an education has nothing to do with who gets hired for minimum wage jobs. McDonald’s doesn’t care how good your high school was, as you always love to point out some of their workers aren’t even done with high school yet. You can’t blame black unemployment figures on the fact their education is crappy as a result of their parents are poor. You can blame the fact they don’t get good white collar college education requirement jobs on that. But as for why there’s more raw unemployment in the hood than in the suburbs, a lot of it has to do with the simple fact that businesses that don’t require anything more than a high school degree or even less sometimes just don’t nearly as frequently set up shop in those neighborhoods as they do in more affluent areas. Your approach to all this is to completely absolve the employers, insist that somehow the government telling them they can’t bid down the wages of their desperate workers is actually stopping them from hiring more people, and to presuppose that shitty black education is just a fact of life we can’t fix. It’s, “well that’s the education they get for being born poor and black, and these are the amount of jobs evil government allows to exist for insisting people get paid a minimum wage, so what can black children and teenagers sacrifice during their youth to try and overcome having to go to the schools their parents deserve to have for their kids for being so poor?”
YOU ARE NOT SOME SELF-RELIANT RUGGED INDIVIDUALIST; ALL YOUR POLICY POSITIONS ARE BASED ON SOME FANTASY THAT YOU ARE
What’s really so funny about all this is that everything you rail against is the life path you’ve taken/are taking.
-You didn’t work when you were 13-14 years old
-You may or may not have had your McDonald’s job at some point in high school, but you sure as hell weren’t pushing the hours limits because you were playing sports after school, so it was very minimal weekly hours, probably all on the weekend at the most
-You weren’t working some “dangerous masculine job” in high school, you were flipping burgers
-You did indeed go off to a liberal arts university (the fact that it has a Catholic name and a theology department that focuses on Catholic dogma doesn’t change the fact it’s still a university, a place where free and oftentimes liberal thinking happens)
-You did take government loans and/or grants to pay for it
-You are in enormous debt for doing that
-You could never, ever drop out of school, not live with your parents, have the minimum wage and social safety net abolished and somehow not become starving and/or homeless just by working at that McDonald’s, which is precisely why you don’t drop out of college and move out of your parent’s home, even with the minimum wage and social safety net existing…you know that you are DEPENDENT on getting a college education, getting government help, and getting help from your middle class family to survive, and will be for several more years at a minimum.
-You are not some “practical” major, you are a poli-sci major just like me, and in all likelihood two years from now you will very much be in a position just like me, volunteering for some politician by day, ranting on social media by night. This idea that “I’m an econ minor so I’m going to have a real, living wage job opportunity for me when I graduate” is basically entirely delusional.
The way you talk about the world, if people didn’t know you they’d think you were some tough, rugged, self-reliant kid who worked 35 hours a week while going through high school, and then moved out of his parents house the day he turned 18 and began working his way up in the labor market, to build up capital to start a small business at the age of 21, taking nothing from family or government to help pay his self-reliant way. But that’s not you; that’s not you at all. You’re me. You’re accumulating insane debt while attending liberal-university-land in a cozy dorm room that Uncle Sam and/or mommy and daddy pays for right now. You come home during the summers to live rent-free, food cost free with your middle class parents, while working a fast food job basically for the fun of it so you can do things like buy a car to drive around Joliet when you go back to school during the rest of the year. Once you graduate with your soft science degree from the school that you did not personally pay for the summertime arrangement will become a year round thing and you will bounce around working various minimum wage jobs, doing various volunteer internship work, trying to do all kinds of random things like writing a book, making a podcast, joining various activist groups, etc, and all the while mom and dad will continue to be the ones paying the rent, buying the food, giving you health insurance, etc. Eventually you’ll end up saving up enough money to move out, or maybe after a while you’ll decide to go back for some kind of grad school or something, or maybe some full time job will fall into your lap through some connections you made going around volunteering or something, but that probably won’t happen until you’re like 25 or 26.
And like I said, there’s nothing wrong with this life, it’s as much my life as it is yours, but the difference is that I’m not sitting in my position of privilege ranting about how people that aren’t lucky enough to have my life circumstances should go off to work as children, be cut off welfare as adults, have the minimum wage they earn abolished, and basically send them off to some street corner or shelter to be bitter, angry, and suffering. But you are. I honestly think the best thing that could happen to you is that you don’t miraculously land some 30-40k job the minute you graduate, because if you don’t (which you probably won’t) maybe you’ll finally come to realize that you can’t survive all on your own with no help, and that these 4 years you were in college weren’t just some “choice” you made, where if you had wanted to you could have totally survived without college, government, and parents after you walked across the high school graduation stage. Maybe it will teach you that people who do need help aren’t just lazy sacks of shit or inferior ability people or whatever that “don’t deserve” the rich people’s help, because you’ll come to realize that that if you were born into a poor family and you hadn’t been off at college you would have either been on government assistance or starving all this time even with the same moral character and work ethic and McDonald’s job that you have. Somehow right now you have yourself convinced that this dependency you currently have is some voluntary, permissible choice you are making from 18-22 as some kind of investment, and if you didn’t want to be dependent from 18-22 you wouldn’t have to be, and that once you graduate you will become this self-reliant person. I’m sorry, but you’re delusional.