Virginia Senate Passes Minimum Wage Bill 40-0

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As we all know, we have a two-party system in the United States, and in Virginia. Those parties are the Evil Party and the Stupid Party. So when a bill passes the Virginia Senate 40-0, we can be sure it is both evil and stupid.

The bill, if approved by the House of Delegate, which has wisely already killed every minimum wage bill introduced there, would increase the minimum wage in Virginia to $6.50 per hour as of July 1st, 2007.

Virginia has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country, and won Forbes Best States for Business running away last year. In such a good labor market, if a worker, who is free to go to another employer, and an employer, who is free to hire another worker, agree on a price for that worker's services, why should the government say that their agreement is unacceptable?

Brian Moran, son brother of Congressman Jim Moran and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, has said, "If you work 40 hours a week at the minimum wage, you make less than the federal poverty level.... The minimum wage should not be a ticket to poverty. We should value the work of people who get up every morning and work 40 hours a week by paying them a wage that they can sustain themselves on." My grandfather worked three jobs to support his family, during the Depression. My father also took on extra work when I was growing up, and he worked overtime, too. I frequently work 50+ hours per week, and worked 60+ hours per week moving furniture for $4/hr. There are enough jobs in this economy that anyone who wants more work can find it.

Senator Tata, apparently a RINO, said, "There is a certain group of people who will never make more than minimum wage, and they should be allowed a living wage." I doubt seriously you will find anyone who has made no more than the minimum wage for the last forty years, but let's look at the numbers. Minimum wage is now $6.15/hr. Working only 40 hours per week for 50 weeks, that's $10,300 per year. Saving only 10% of that in a Roth IRA, the worker will have over a million dollars saved at age 65, assuming the long-term average of 10.5% return on stocks. That's a retirement income of $40,000 per year, plus Social Security. Not bad. But of course, if one had the will to save 10% of his income, he would not be stuck in minimum-wage jobs for 45 years.

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28 Comments

Brian is Jim's BROTHER!

Jack said:

Thanks for the correction.

Well put. It's a feel good measure, the kind of thing everyone wants to have on their list of achievements come November.

Robin said:

Forgive me but what kind of logic is this?

"But of course, if one had the will to save 10% of his income, he would not be stuck in minimum-wage jobs for 45 years."

1. Most folks in low pay jobs do get stuck there because they aren't trained to do anything else.

2. You assume there COULD be something left over. Most live paycheck to paycheck trying to cover the barest of needs. This is not about one single person but families that are subsisting on very little.

So, could you explain how in the world someone could save 10%? It certainly in not about "will"
Wouldn't it be better to train our people better and give them a leg up?

Jack said:

The fact is, people DON'T get stuck in minimum-wage jobs for years. (If you just show up on time, all the time, and you will get a raise.) Those jobs ARE training. That's why there is a "training wage" clause in the bill.

If things are so bad that you cannot save anything, get a second job!

stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

"Minimum Wage: Evil and Stupid"

now there's a message you could campaign on, Jack!

I know what you're saying about your grandpa's depression era employment record. My great 10 to the 7th grandfather was a serf, he fed his family off of a acre of land ...during the black plague! So people who don't like living on minimum wage today can just shut up! No one should ever complain about anything if anyone in the past has ever had it worse than they do!

but word to the wise, you're now on record as having said,

"There are enough jobs in this economy that anyone who wants more work can find it."

Don't expect this statement of yours to be overlooked the next time the immigration debate comes 'round!

and, just out of curiosity, in which decade did you work overtime for $4/hr? Surely it wasn't recently, unless you were supporting a habit!

Kevin said:

Jack, just how insulated are you in your NOVA community (if you are in a NOVA community, my ignorance if not)? Do you know any working poor, other than any teenage children you may have? It doesn't make you a bad person if not, I'm just curious?

I'm trying to think of the people I've met. . .it's easy to attribute fault or character flaws to individuals in this situation, Lord knows I have. It's also hard to live by the values you might regularly apply such as single income families where the mother feels it important to stay home and raise the children. You can't have it both ways, really.

You want good responsible adults to work 2-3 jobs to make an income to get ahead, minimum wage or no; and then you want good responsible adults to raise good responsible children, which can't be done working 2-3 jobs.

It's a complex problem and I don't have a solution for it; it's just that I doubt it can be solved in a simple manner.

Jack said:

Puffy: When I was in college, I worked for $2.60/hr hour -- less than the minimum wage at the time. That might give you an indication of my age.

Kevin: If this were really about helping the "working poor," why are farm-workers exempted? NOVA has nothing to do with it. I have been all over the state. I grew up in Tidewater, went to college in south-western VA, worked on the Northern Neck, lived in Fredericksburg, and now live in "Yankee-occupied Virginia."

I have known working poor, and been working poor. It is indeed "easy to fault or character flaws to individuals in this situation," because many are in that situation because of their character flaws. Single parents are almost always that though their own mistakes. (Widows and widowers excepted, of course.)

Even making minimum wage, a husband working 60 hrs a week, and the wife 20 (while the kids are in school), is above the poverty line for a family of four, before and public assistance is factored in. Furthermore, a man with the initiative to work 60 hrs per week will not be stuck in a minimum wage job very long.

Here's a question for you: When the minimum wage is raised, where will the money come from?

Kevin said:

"It is indeed 'easy to fault or character flaws to individuals in this situation,' because many are in that situation because of their character flaws. Single parents are almost always that though their own mistakes."

First of all, I'm lucky enough not to have had children prior to my divorce. Had I, I would have easily won custody, assuming assignment was made on moral grounds (fault) or best interest of the children (I don't actually know how regularly things work out that way, so I say that with some hesitation). That would have made me character-ly flawed? What do YOU know? That's awfully reductionist of you. Not that you're prone to reductionism (Evil Party + Stupid Party = evil and stupid legislation?) or anything. Do elucidate my hypothetical character flaws, and I promise not to take them too personal (remember, being a non-liberal in your book, I should be able to do that pretty easily).

As for your question about where the money would come from, my own reductionism disallows me from making any educated guesses. I believe I have already said I have no current solution in mind. I at least know enough not to make them when I'm not in the know. You, on the other hand, are excellent at stirring the pot with ridiculous statements that ignite discussion. You can start with my own reductionism as one of the many character flaws I admit to having.

Jack said:

"That would have made me character-ly flawed?"

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: You either did not work hard enough on your marriage, or you chose the wrong spouse.

Kevin said:

Ha! Fair enough, Jack. It's hard to refute choosing the wrong spouse given the end result. Ha ha! However, whether that qualifies as a character flaw, I'm still not sure.

Nice reductive response to. Ha ha!

Jack said:

I was afraid you would take that badly. I'm glad you did not.

Sometimes, after I have screwed something up, I have said to my wife, "Well it's your fault!"

"How is it my fault?" she asks.

"You're the one who married the idiot!"

Kevin said:

I'm glad you can say that to your wife. My situation was a bit exceptional. Also we should then assign character flaws to my entire family, our close friend who married us, my close friends who never saw what came coming, etc.

I was actually hoping you'd say something like "I don't know you well enough to attribute character flaws" but I understand it's not in your nature to have said something like that. A good tactical answer always gets a hearty chuckle out of me.

Kevin, in Maryland in the 90s you would have had your ass handed to you. Take it from one who knows.

Kevin said:

The fact that I represented myself pro se and won was miracle enough for me. Unless you mean I'd have been handed my ass by Jack, in which case I defer to your assessment of what he was like in the 90s. Ha!.

Nah - that is impressive by the way, I want to hear that story - I was referring to a hypothetical custody battle.

You could be Atticus Finch but that is no match for the Department of Mental Hygiene.

Kevin said:

It was actually quite unimpressive. We'll have time this summer hopefully, to fill you in.

Jack said:

I have still not gotten any answer to the question in my post, "If a worker, who is free to go to another employer, and an employer, who is free to hire another worker, agree on a price for that worker's services, why should the government say that their agreement is unacceptable?"

Any takers?

stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


"You want good responsible adults to work 2-3 jobs to make an income to get ahead, minimum wage or no; and then you want good responsible adults to raise good responsible children, which can't be done working 2-3 jobs."

according to Jack, yes, unless they're gay, because that's bad for the children!


how about this:

since there are more workers than employers, the employer has a certain power over the worker; a particular worker needs a job more than an employer needs that particular worker. This is especially true for unskilled minimum wage jobs which, by definition, anyone can do.

Of course, everyone can succeed in this country, so unskilled workers only exist as a result of their own character flaws, right? so screw 'em, right?

if unemployment in Virginia is so low, you should see a natural increase in the price of labor, driven by the market. If this HAS occurred, than raising the minimum wage price floor will have no negative effect, because workers are being paid more than min. wage already. If this hasn't happened, it means there's some sort of imperfect competition going on. In that case, it's imperative to protect workers with a labor price floor, because workers, unlike other commodities, are people.

Jack said:

So how are you going to protect the workers when they are priced out of a job, as we have seen happen with union workers (who negotiated their own minimum wage)? As for "imperfect competition," how about the competition from illegal immigrants, who can be paid less than minimum wage?

You still have not answered the basic question: Two parties have freely agreed on a price for services, why should the government say that their agreement is unacceptable?

Nor has my second question been answered: Where will the money come from?

stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

-if union workers can't negotiate a collective minimum wage without it backfiring, what makes you think an individual worker is going to be able to?

-I answered your first question, but I'll do it again. Sure the two parties agreed to the wage. If it's "work for $2/hr or starve" are you going to agree to that? Probably. Does that have it a fair deal? (can you say 'exploitation'?)

-No worker should be paid less than minimum wage.

-you can't argue that immigrants are driving down wages while at the same time arguing that workers really have the ability to negotiate their wage. It's one or the other. I'll let you pick.

-you may blame single working parents for their moral shortfalls, but you're advocating punishing children for their parent's mistakes.

-for where the money should come from, look at the writings of John Maynard Keynes.

Robin said:

You know what Jack? You are wrong, just plain wrong. I was a single mom at one time. I had taken time to get to know my spouse and thought I had married well but one day he just decided he "didn't want to be married anyomore". It may have been a flaw on his part but it certainly was not on mine. How dare you judge single parents in that manner.
I also worked low paying jobs, arrived on time, worked hard, worked overtime if possible and sometimes worked 3 jobs at once (kids as you know aren't cheap to raise). Did I get ahead? No, I did not. Not until I went back to school after my son was older. Low paying jobs are not "a training ground" they are a large pit!
If we are not going to have training programs so people can get ahead then we will be forced to raise the minimum wage so we don't have more homeless.

Oh Kevin... your spouse lost a good person. Just wanted you to know. ;-)

stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

sorry Robin,

game over, you loose.

Jack's rules!

Kevin said:

Thank you, Robin, that's really very kind of you.
"How dare you judge single parents in that manner." For real!

I can't make up my mind on this issue, because I think it is irrelevant in our area since no one would work for minimum wage anyway. I think if you're not a recent felon and have recently showered, just about anyone can get a job paying $20,000 a year.

I don't think I'll jump in to support Jack on the argument about the role the "character flaws" of single parents should play in determining public policy, however. I was a single parent for many years, and I have known quite a few others, and I am not sure you need any worse character than anyone else in the world to end up a single parent.

Raising the minimum wage to this level, however, isn't going to allow anyone to spend more time with their kids or live a better life. Ultimately people have to make themselves employable at a more remunerative occupation.

Jack said:

Sorry I've been out of this for a while. There's a lot to respond to.

Puffy:
"-if union workers can't negotiate a collective minimum wage without it backfiring, what makes you think an individual worker is going to be able to?"

Individual workers do it all the time. Have you never left one job for another that pays more?

"-I answered your first question, but I'll do it again. Sure the two parties agreed to the wage. If it's "work for $2/hr or starve" are you going to agree to that? Probably. Does that have it a fair deal? (can you say 'exploitation'?)"

It is a fair deal if no other employer will pay me more. If no other employer will pay me more, then I am obviously not worth more.

"-No worker should be paid less than minimum wage."

Why? (Farm labor does not need to be paid minimum wage.)

"-you can't argue that immigrants are driving down wages while at the same time arguing that workers really have the ability to negotiate their wage. It's one or the other. I'll let you pick."

I most certainly can. In this article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020401088.html), we see the immigrants "always looking for a job that paid even 25 cents more per hour." More people in the labor pool certainly reduces the bargaining power of a worker, but it does not mean he cannot negotiate. Negotiating does not mean setting one's own price.

"-you may blame single working parents for their moral shortfalls, but you're advocating punishing children for their parent's mistakes."

Not necessarily moral shortfalls, but certainly mistakes. Should people not be responsible for their own actions?

As for "punishing children," you have things backwards. Punishing someone is an action. Since the children will suffer with no action on my part or the government's part, it cannot be considered punishment. In any event, we already have WIC, AFDC, and other social programs for the children.

"-for where the money should come from, look at the writings of John Maynard Keynes."

That's a bit vague. Why don't you be more specific? Where will the money come from?

Robin, we all make mistakes. You married the man. We will assume, for the sake of argument, that your side of the story is 100% correct. It was still your mistake for marrying him, not anyone else's. That is not judgement; it is truth.

Should others have to pay for your mistakes?

I have seen many people without a college education "make it" by starting their own companies. The article cited above is a good example. Their on-the-job-training in low-wage jobs prepared them to do that.

As for yourself, Robin, you went to college to make yourself more marketable. (To increase your negotiating power.) Can no-one else do that?

Anonymous said:

actually, the minimum wage is $5.15 an hour.

Jack said:

Cooler heads in the House prevailed anyway, and killed this nonsense.

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