The Benevolent Dictator

obamas hopeI was watching the president’s weekly address, in which he is discussing raising the minimum wage. I’ve already posted about minimum wage once, you can read it here. To sum up, there’s two sides to every argument. Yes, it will help some people by raising their income. However, it will cost some people their jobs, no denying that. It will cost some small businesses in terms of profitability, or perhaps in some cases, even their ability to stay in business. Either way you go, somebody’s getting screwed. I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve done enough reading to know that you can find enough experts to defend your position on either side.  So, if you disagree with that summation, it’s either because you don’t know anything about it, or you’re so buried in your own political dogma you refuse to concede that there’s two sides to the issue.

Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the President’s message. He starts out with the statement “Restoring the idea of opportunity for all, requires a year of action from all of us.”  I disagree with the premise of the statement. Who said “opportunity for all” needed restoring? If it does, you’re the one who’s been in charge for a bit, maybe you should have been thinking of that already, maybe you should have been thinking about the jobs your administration has cost the country.  And how does minimum wage restore opportunity? It does not. If it was just political rhetoric it wouldn’t be so bad. However, I think he may actually believe his own hype.  “Opportunity for all” is built into the system.  The “land of opportunity” and all that.

He goes on to refer to the Gap’s decision to raise their minimum wage, stating “It’s good business, and it’s good for our economy. It reduces turnover, and boosts productivity, and it gives folks some more money to spend at local businesses.”

Well, this is just ignorant. I’m sorry that he’s using these selling points. First, in terms of reducing turnover and boosting productivity, while this may be true in the immediate short-term, long term it’s just not true. In the long run, if you’re flipping burgers or cleaning a building, a raise may make you feel better for a little while, but 2 months from now, you’re still flipping burgers or cleaning a building. This is a basic theory, Herzbergs’ two factor theory, that motivation comes from intrinsic factors, like recognition, achievement and personal growth. Hygiene factors, like physical working conditions and money, prevent dissatisfaction, but do not inherently provide motivation. It’s old and just a theory, but if you apply it practically, it makes sense. Anyone that’s worked a personally satisfying job can attest that “it’s not about the money.” There’s supposed to be a reason to aspire to do more. Ok, so we’ll just excuse that one to political rhetoric.

But, here’s another one that gets me. He goes on, later, to talk about how many Americans will get higher wages, and states that this can happen without “…requiring a single dollar in new taxes, or spending.”

I just don’t get the connection. Why, exactly, did he invoke taxes and spending? Why would this be part of the minimum wage discussion? Well, apparently it’s because he believes he can raise taxes, and wants you to know that this won’t involve raising taxes. It’s the basic problem I have with democrats in general and liberals in particular. They’re always wanting to tell you what’s good for everybody.

I’m reminded of a quote by C.S Lewis.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
— C. S. Lewis

When people want to do things to you for your own good, they do so without respect to logic, common sense, or any ideas about basic human dignity.

People made fun of George W. Bush because he had a common, often mistake-ridden way of speaking. But he never talked down to people, as if they weren’t as smart as he was. I preferred that.

Mr. President, you’re not as smart as you, or your supporters, think.

A benevolent dictator is still a dictator.

6 comments on “The Benevolent Dictator

  1. NebraskANN says:

    You are a smart guy, so you know that scholars have studied the impact of increases in the minimum wage and that, since about 1960, there has been no significant job losses after the minimum wage is increased. You also know that two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and that minimum wage is not just something paid to high school kids anymore.

    So, you also know that many businesses depend on workers who have at least some level of disposable income. When it all goes to rent, food and gasoline, retail feels it in lost sales. In fact, executives at Wal-Mart acknowledge that the lack of disposable income may soon have a profound impact on its bottom line. Sixty percent of the economy is consumer spending.

    I liked your post until you decided to go after President Obama as a dictator and “not as smart as you, or your supporters, think.” I don’t know what that is supposed to mean. Or how the Lewis quote is relevant. What I do know is that I would love to see a smart, conservative blog that makes its arguments based on the facts, and isn’t compelled to slam the president about everything. There are millions of people who support an increase in the minimum wage. Only one of them is named Barack Obama.

    • whatshupp says:

      There are millions of people for it. There’s also millions of people against it. I’m neither for or against. I’d just appreciate a common sense approach without politics and hyperbole. I have nothing against helping people at the low end of the economic scale. I know that raising the minimum wage will help some while hurting others. I know some small business owners who’ve told me as much. Although the numbers it hurts may be small, “No significant job losses” only means it didn’t happen to you. Incidentally, the number of people earning minimum wage is relatively small. I won’t argue the numbers or percentages, I posted references below. The Lewis quote alludes to the fact that people who believe they have moral authority often make decisions without regard to any kind of reason or logic. The far left and evangelical right would be similar in that regard.
      Given the small numbers of people earning minimum wage, and the resulting miniscule amount of those making that income level that will then give that increase towards “disposable income” and thereby help the retail industry is not a supportable argument. Telling me to raise the minimum wage, and then saying it will help without raising taxes is a deflection. I don’t believe raising it by nearly 3 dollars at a crack is fair to businesses, I believe it’s a political agenda in order to differentiate the dems from the republicans. Frankly, I think the whole thing is a political agenda. If Obama really cared about these workers, he would’ve already pushed this agenda, and he wouldn’t be screwing them with the ACA.
      That’s what I mean. If you want to tell me you want to raise the minimum wage to help some people, do it. But don’t give me bad arguments.
      This is a political blog. Generally, I avoid common insults and name calling. As a conservative, I feel like I’ve always soft-balled Obama; I do try to stick to facts and relevant argument. I’d like to get facts and relevant argument from Obama. After years of everything I’d read about Bush, the way he talks, and conservatives in general, I think alluding to the fact that Obama thinks he’s smarter than others and talks down to people is pretty small. However, I’m sorry if it ruined an otherwise enjoyable read.
      I enjoyed and appreciate your response.

  2. ~C says:

    Herzberg is a theory, yes. But a pretty good one. Ask 10 people in DC, including the President, to talk about its relevancy to the min wage debate, and how the raise is being sold, and you’ll get a catatonic “where’s my spokesperson?” stare.

    Well played Hupp…

  3. JETSR says:

    Interesting post and discussion. If Walmart and others raise wages but reduce hours worked to slip by the ACA mandate and keep their profits up what is the point? I do not think that the minimum wage hike affects as many people as it affects the political feelings of voters heading into the midterms.

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