There is no such thing as a living wage

According to Press Secretary Jay Carney, President Obama is going to discuss the need for increasing the minimum wage to a “living wage” in this Tuesday’s “State of the Union.” This has become the new cause-celeb for the Progressive Democrats, because it increases their opportunities to further class warfare. But there is no such thing as a “living wage.” President Obama is going to lie to America.

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There is no such thing as the living wage. In the same way that there is no such thing as social justice, economic justice or racial justice. There is, however, wealth redistribution and redistributive policies. All those “justice” concepts — along with the “living wage” — fall under the redistributive heading.

Saying that you’re going to the floor of the House to push for redistributive policies doesn’t make headlines. Saying you’re for the “living wage” gets you even more column inches in the New York Times and a full-on orgy at MSNBC.

When you do a search for “living wage” you’re met with a definition that reads, “a wage that is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living.” Of course, the rational person needs a definition of “normal standard.” That’s different for everyone. The normal of Venice beach is far different than the normal of Norman, Oklahoma — if only so far that one prepares for tornadoes and one prepares for the pot brownie sale on Tuesday.

But the search also brings up the Living Wage Action Coalition (LWAC.)  They describe the “living wage” as:

…a complete consideration of the cost of living. Wages vary according to location, as costs of living vary. A living wage in rural Louisiana is around $9.33, while in Washington, DC it’s closer to $15 an hour

This is true, as different geographic locations indeed have different costs. (And note how much more it costs to live in the nation’s capitol. I wonder why everything is so expensive there? Hmmmm.) It also renders the first definition obsolete. You can’t normalize a wage and expect the people of Louisiana and the Washington, D.C. Metro area to have the same result.

LWAC says there are seven factors that go into the “living wage” — housing, food, childcare, transportation, healthcare, taxes, other basic necessities.

But what if I don’t have children? Does that make my “living wage” less? Aren’t transportation costs different between Los Angeles — where you drive or die — and New York – where if you drive you will die? And does the single person get the same food allowance as the family of four? Or the Duggars?

And what to make of Number 7 on their list (which I will, from now on, refer to cryptically as Number 7 in every article I ever write on the subject or anytime I speak about it anywhere!) What constitutes “Other basic necessities?” Like “a normal standard of living,” it requires, for the rational person, a definition.

Are we talking toothpaste and toilet paper? Are we talking sex toys? Are we talking house plants and art work for the walls? Does a TV constitute a “basic necessity?” What about an iPhone? Will one family computer suffice, or does this include a lap top for every kid?

And if we’re really digging in to their list, what about clothing? It’s clearly important, yet not listed. So, one must assume, it falls under the dreaded Number 7. Are we shopping at Nordstrom or TJ Maxx? What if I only buy designer? Or only from the big and tall shop? Or only silk? What if someone is so frugal that they make their own clothes like my grandfather, a tailor by trade, did for my mother? (It should be known that my mother, at the time, hated the idea that she couldn’t go buy a new dress and had to wear what her dad made her. She was a kid, so we’ll forgive her…which is more than we can say for the other kids who teased her mercilessly. Does Number 7 also pay for mom’s therapy for all the times the other kids laughed at her?)

But LWAC doesn’t stop there. They reveal their conceit quickly enough by adding the concept not of the “living wage,” but of the “just wage”: (emphasis mine)

A living wage is not a just wage! Since a living wage cover only the very basic necessities and don’t even account for savings or emergencies, it is only one small step towards a truly just wage. Many religious traditions and political philosophies relate the concept of just wages to a radically fairer redistribution of wealth

The living wage is not real. The living wage is a trojan horse.

LWAC is a special project of the Center for Community Change. Among its board members are:

  • Arlene Holt-Baker, Executive Vice President for the AFL-CIO
  • Peter Colavito, Director of Government Relations for SEIU
  • Garlin Gilchrist, National Campaign Director for
  • Esther Lopez, International Vice President and Director, Civil Rights and Community Action Department of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

That’s a lot of organized labor and organized labor lovers; The kind of people who would do well from an increase in the minimum wage.

Also on the board is Kierra Johnson, Executive Director for Choices, USA. According to their site, they, “…give emerging leaders the tools they need to organize, network, and exchange ideas to build a youth centered pro-choice agenda and mobilize communities for reproductive justice.”

Not sure how abortion fits into the living wage…unless that’s childcare or healthcare. Maybe it’s listed under “Other basic necessities.” Number 7 strikes again! (And, like with social, racial and economic, there is no such thing as “reproductive justice.”)

The “living wage” is a myth. And now we know that its just the front runner to further wealth redistribution schemes of the Progressives Democrats and those who support them politically and financially. President Obama is going to make the “living wage” a cornerstone of his remarks a the State of the Union.

President Obama is going to lie to America. It won’t be the first time.

What do you think?

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