Put onus on the poor to cut income gap
Will 2013 be a vintage year for economic envy?
Liberals love the “widening income gap,” such a good blame target between America's richest 2 percent and everybody else.
Zap that gap, we're told, or America's long-term trajectory is down.
But what if economic health got a lift from the other side — by way of poor folks handling their money better?
Maybe you caught a Bloomberg News report the other day starring Tyree, a working guy in Chicago, where unions are agitating for a minimum hourly wage of $15. Right now, it's $7.25 nationally, $8.75 in Illinois.
Tyree, 44, gets the $8.75 and can't make ends meet. His two part-time jobs don't total one decent 40-hour week. He commutes from one McDonald's to another by public transit.
After his rent for a room at a downscale hotel, $320 a month, there's hardly anything left. Unable to afford a computer, he uses one at an Apple store to “update his Facebook page” — in part “to find someone nice to date.”
Now, meaning no disrespect to Tyree, could it be his survival priorities are a trifle out of joint?
First, what's he doing living alone? From time immemorial low-wage working stiffs have doubled and tripled up. The tenements of New York and boarding houses of Pittsburgh staffed what grew to the world's greatest economy. And now a room of one's own is an entry-level entitlement?
Tyree has a father and a mother. If he moved in with them, he'd save rent while helping defray their own costs and chores. Sure, it would take behavior adjustments, but in a crisis is picking up your socks beyond human possibility?
Then consider Tyree's reported 20 years on the bottom rung of McDonald's career ladder. Never a shot at promotion? Hmm. True, moving up might take a high school diploma or extra training. So get it. And check out lines of work. If your skills never grow, your pay is not apt to either.
In an time when government constantly seeks votes by looking for new ways to “help” (courting bankruptcy doing it) people like Tyree just might grow accustomed to never personally striving. Or calling on the “little platoons” that surround all of us with possible support. Where are the friends, relatives, churches, schools of vocational and living skills, and employment agencies?
Throw in food stamps and Medicaid, and the “working poor” surely aren't bereft of help when trying to quit being poor — if they also cut out such foolishness as lottery tickets and cigarettes.
Yet the cry is heard for another whirl of government aid: raise the minimum wage! Unheard, but inevitable, such aid would also mean raising prices to customers. And probably reduce job openings and working hours at the bottom.
But blame the “income gap,” easpecially since corporate chiefs make it easy. McDonald's CEO got paid $8.75 million last year, or 580 times the take of a minimum wage worker. In 1980, big-time CEOs made do with just 42 times as much. If and when America's fall is traced by history, greed at the top will undoubtedly figure.
Yet if McDonald's CEO gave away every dollar of his income to his army of fryers, flippers and servers, they'd each collect another $14 and change per year. And all the time they could get a better bang from the bucks they get.
Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist for Trib Total Media. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates rout Cardinals to keep things interesting in NL Central
- Steelers remain confident in defense
- Security guard shot outside East Hills restaurant
- Berry wins Steelers’ punting job; Wing traded to Giants
- Rossi: Baseball needs a new schedule
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Pitt’s Narduzzi revisits YSU roots in opener
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of state fishing licenses
- Armstrong River Hawks make their debut
- Megyn Kelly’s forte not Pa. Megan’s
- Pirates notebook: Burnett continues to progress, amps up to 95-pitch simulated game