I have listened to many Robert Reich commentaries on NPR and its seems that about half of what he says makes a lot of sense. It’s the other half I worry about. Unfortunately that may be the half that some people believe the most.
In Mr. Reich’s latest article he tries to debunk the biggest myths of Income Inequality and what he says is just scary. Like most of the politicians in D.C. he has probably never tried to run an actual profit making business and this shows in his systematic explanations he uses. They hard firmly founded in some other world than the actual one we live in and the same one real people have to establish and operate businesses to make profits.
Has Mr. Reich actually forgotten that without business making profits there will be no taxes for the government to collect to pay for the essential services needed to keep the country moving.
Let’s look at what he claims are “lies” why his income inequality positions just wont work in the real world….
Lie number one: The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators.
Mr. Reich says “The truth is the middle class and poor are the job-creators through their purchases of goods and services. ” But he forgets that without the companies to provide jobs there will be no place for these people to work. And without the proper profit incentives those companies will go elsewhere as many of them already have. But Mr. Reich may be partially correct on this one since the US Government is really the largest single employer. China’s army comes in number two followed by Walmart in third place.
Lie number two: People are paid what they’re worth in the market
He says… “The facts contradict this. CEOs who got 30 times the pay of typical workers forty years ago now get 300 times their pay not because they’ve done such a great job but because they control their compensation committees and their stock options have ballooned.” That’s right, in effect the CEOs are the owners of the companies and in a free society like ours the owner gets to set his own compensation along with the compensation of the people who work for him or her. If the company does not choose to pay enough then they will have a hard time finding employees. But as long as qualified people are standing in line outside the company’s employment office door at the current pay rate then why pay more. I would like to see if Mr. Reich doubles the pay for the person who washes his car, or serves him a meal in a restaurant, or starches his shirts. I doubt it. He lets the market determine how much those workers are paid. And that’s the way we do it here in this country.
Now this is really an insult to everyone who has landed on our shores over the last few hundred years. Plenty of people have started successful businesses here with little more than guts, gumption, and intelligence. Everywhere you look you will see individuals who have perceived though many hardships to start their own businesses and eke out a good living for their families. That is really what this country is about. How can he forget that? Take that away from the next generation, make them believe that they will never achieve their dreams for what ever reason, and you will have poisoned the well for the future. And that is just what I am afraid could happen. If you tell someone enough times that they will not make it on their own (for what ever reason) eventually they will start to believe it.
What’s the better foundation for building a stronger America? Telling people they can’t make it on their own or getting out of their way and telling them that with enough guts, gumption, and intelligence they can do what ever they want. Keep telling them that and they will certainly start to believe it. Especially with all the great examples out there.
On this one Mr. Reich says… “In fact, studies show that increases in the minimum wage put more money in the pockets of people who will spend it – resulting in more jobs, and counteracting any negative employment effects of an increase in the minimum.” Then he goes on to give some details on studies in adjacent counties in the country and how no one lost their jobs.
Again Mr. Reich is missing some of the practical aspects related to raising wages above market rates.
Unfortunately if all these fast food restaurants and the like raise wages the owners will need to raise prices. And those higher prices get passed along to the same people who just got a pay raise. And… As I have discussed in previous posts on this subject, the person who has that fast food job at an $8/hour wage will not be the same person $14/hour. When the annual pay for fast food and other low-skilled jobs starts tp get closer to $30,000/year watch how fast those college educated unemployed zombies living in their parent’s basements come out of hiding and finally get jobs. That’s right, if the minimum wage is artificially increased instead of set by the market the exact people who need those jobs will be unemployed. The new educational minimum will be a college degree for those entry level jobs. And at a higher wage those people will be required to work harder than ever.
Robert Reich is one of the smartest guys in the world. But before he can scare anyone else I wish he would go run a corner hot dog stand for a few months so he can see what the real world looks like.