If you were to check my status at the city hall where I live you will find that I am a registered Democrat. I bring that up simply to point out that this is not some conservative’s rant against liberals.
The Minimum Wage — This is like the holy grail of Democrat policies. The minimum wage was first enacted in 1938 under the Roosevelt administration. At that time it was intended to help raise people out of the abject poverty so many were in. According to an Oregon State University study, that 1938 minimum wage raised the purchasing power of the employee to well above the poverty level. Since 2006, however, that same study shows the minimum wage and the poverty level are almost identical. This begs the utility of the minimum wage at all.
The federal government for decades now has had in place a wage scale for its employees that is adjusted for the area in which they live. That is, a GS-5 level employee in Mobile Alabama gets a lower base pay than does his counterpart in New York City. It is well-established that the cost of living can vary greatly from one locale to another. That suggests that, at the very least, the minimum wage needs to be adjusted according to the locale. Some states, Washington, Oregon, Connecticut and others, have already adjusted that rate upwards but the question is, is that really necessary?
I suggest that the minimum wage is entirely unnecessary any more for a variety of factors. First, and foremost, the economics of 2012 have so drastically changed from those that existed in 1938 that the logic of any minimum wage is not defensible. For example, the minimum wage here is Massachusetts is $8 an hour as opposed to the federally mandated $7.25. Still, I can assure you, that a person working the front at any local McDonald’s is getting well above that $8 an hour which bring into focus who is getting the bare minimum? Another clarifying point, exempt from minimum wage laws nation-wide are farm employees and certain other tip-based employees. That is the federal government recognizing that certain exceptions need to be made. But it also leaves you with the question, if market demands for labor keep minimum wages above mandated levels, why do we need a minimum wage? I suggest we do not.
Federally Supported Welfare — I am not against welfare at all. But I do believe in needs to be reigned in and the best way to do that is to switch that responsibility to each of the individual states. The theory behind such programs is everyone feeds into the top as it serves the greater good. That is, the good people of Grasse River Nebraska reap the benefits of helping Detroit poor. It is absolute redistribution of wealth. But it unfairly takes from wealthier better run states and given to poorer less well-run states. The source of all welfare funds is the individual tax payer. The closer you put the distribution of those dollars to their source, the control of those dollars improves.
Federal Funding of Public Schools — To be clear, I think the funding of public schools needs to increase. However, I do not want my Massachusetts-based income tax going north to support New Hampshire schools. I think the Federal government needs to continue to mandate educational minimums and standards, but it needs to get out of the business of funding those schools. Again, this is another place where redistribution of wealth is just not fair.
The bottom line is, by removing these, and other Democrat and Republican sacred cows, we will necessarily remove from the federal budget many items which are viewed as “pork.” A thing like Sarah Palin’s “bridge to nowhere” would not have received a dime of federal funding and probably would not have been built by the good people of Alaska. It is a simple recognition of personal responsibility within any given state. When a state is fully responsible for funding its projects, its citizens are much likely to sit up and take notice of how much it costs and why they might even need it.