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.