Buried Paybacks

Joe Biden owed some debts. Don’t make a big deal of this. Every pol owes debts to those who backed him, and Biden is no different. The only question was who he would pay and how much. One payback, bringing Catherine Lhamon of Title IX infamy* to the White House, was sadly expected. Joe was in charge of buying off feminists in the Obama Administration, and it costs the government nothing to curry favor at the expense of male students denied due process to prove how much he cares about “survivors,” provided they’re not named Tara Reade.

But his announced stimulus package, at $1.9 Trillion dollar, was just as ripe for the pickings as the two stimulus packages during Trump’s term. And buried therein were some long-favored changes, but curious in a stimulus bill given their obvious consequence.

Mr. Biden also wants to raise the minimum wage to a uniform $15 an hour nationwide. It’s hard to imagine a more destructive policy for small businesses struggling to survive, especially in rural areas and mid-America states with lower wage levels than New York City. The strange economic logic seems to be to make it more expensive for businesses to rehire workers while giving those workers less incentive to return to work.

Raising the minimum wage isn’t the most controversial Dem policy change, in itself, although businesses are struggling, if not dying, and increasing the cost to survive might be better left for a time when they’re back on their feet. But we know a bit about the other consequences of this shift.

We know that a $15 per hour minimum wage isn’t enough after taxes, to sustain a family in a city. We know that it means young people, who once held jobs to learn responsibility, perhaps a skill, and to earn some money, won’t be hired. We know that businesses will weigh the cost of staffing against automation, eliminating the “better paying” jobs that would have paid somewhat better if they still existed, but they don’t because it’s cheaper to order from a kiosk at McDonalds than to have human being at the counter who complain, slack off, steal, get sick and might claim it’s a hostile work environment.

But there are some other details relating to this shift.

If you have any familiarity with the circumstances of people with disabilities, which is a large and ever-increasing cohort in the workforce, some employers will provide gainful employment to workers who would otherwise be unemployable. This is a matter of charity, to some extent, as employers try to help people who aren’t necessarily capable of performing jobs, no matter how wonderful they are as people. What becomes of disabled workers if no one will hire them at that rate of pay?

Then comes the restaurant conundrum, where tipped workers weren’t entitled to the same minimum wage as non-tipped workers. Do servers deserve decent pay? Of course, just like anyone else. But will restaurants, whose survival is dubious at best, be able to pay them? This is where the basics of economics gets ignored, but can’t if you want a sustainable fix.

To assert the need for restaurant workers to earn a decent wage is understandable, but it exists in conjunction with the two other pieces of the puzzle. If the restaurant fails, then the servers are out of a job. Where does the money to pay servers come from? And if the restaurant charges diners more to cover their increased staffing costs, can the diners pay? Do they not exist in the same economy as restaurants and servers?

The point is not to say that these are not questions, values, worthy of debate. The question is whether these are policy shifts that belong in a pandemic stimulus bill, much as was the pork and extraneous crap that was included in the two stimulus bills under Trump. The inclusion of unrelated and, often, dubious changes in law buried in bills that are otherwise popular is nothing new. It’s just that it wasn’t good before, and it isn’t any better now.

As bad as it was under Trump, it’s unlikely to get better under Biden. But now that Trump cost the Republicans the Senate, there will be little moderation beyond those Dems who represent a less radical constituency, and they understand that there are debts to be paid. There won’t be much to discuss, since the cost of getting your $1,400 stimulus check will be eliminating jobs for the disabled, probably the poor, and shoving the knife that final inch into the back of restaurants. The question is whether Biden will have paid off his debt to the fringe elements of his party this way or is this just the beginning of repaying the mortgage?

At least Biden says he’ll prioritize small businesses. Some small businesses, anyway.

The thought is that white people enjoy generational wealth accumulation and own assets that can be used as collateral against their future, while marginalized people rely solely on the government for their survival, so they should be given favored consideration and set-aside funding. While this is shockingly stereotypical based on race, there is significant doubt that this is constitutional. Then again, Biden is bringing Lhamon into the White House, and there are few people who care less about the Constitution.

Biden isn’t Trump. But Biden is still Biden. Buckle up, for the ride won’t be a lunatic claiming to be a stable genius who knows more than the generals, but it will still be bumpy.

*Perhaps the only cases to do worse in court than the Trump election challenges are the Title IX cases following Catherine Lhamon’s “guidance,” where it has lost in hundreds of federal court challenges.

32 thoughts on “Buried Paybacks

  1. mike parr

    The increase in minimum wage will force employers to increase the wages of all employees which will increase the amount of disposable income being spent in the economy. Everyone wins.

    It’s difficult to see the forest when you’re focused on the trees.

      1. mike parr

        I think most everyone is in agreement now that income disparity is a major point of contention and played a big part in the popularity of Trump. Sure, there are those dinosaurs who refuse to acknowledge it but even many of those are in agreement that unless the issue is addressed we’ll continue to see the massive divide that almost toppled our democracy.

        Biden’s plan isn’t just to raise the minimum wage, he’s also going to be raising taxes on the wealthiest. Even the uber-rich like Abigail Disney and Warren Buffet support tax increases on the 1% as they realize that if our economic system is to work it must work for everyone. The old thinking that wealth trickles down has been proven to be the voodoo economics that Bush said it was.

        Say hello to the new economics. They’re friendly and the sky won’t fall just because the old are gone.

        1. SHG Post author

          I appreciate your zeal to discuss what you think about economics and income disparity, and wish you the best discussing it, and anything else on your mind, elsewhere.

          1. Miles

            Sadly, economics brings out the crazy, the stupid and the passionate. Don’t blame Mike. He can’t be anything but what he is, and he surely can’t grasp why that has no place here.

    1. Michael O'Day

      If the cost of raising one person’s wages is eliminating the jobs of two other people, while increasing the prices of goods and services across the board, how good is that for the economy really?

      1. SHG Post author

        Let’s nip this in the bud now. We are not going to have the single stupidest and most simplistic discussion of economics ever because the first comment was so utterly fucking idiotic as to pull in readers who think it’s worth discussion.

        Have I made myself clear?

    2. KeyserSoze

      The principles of Economics are as iron clad as the laws of Physics and are just as nasty to those who violate them.

      This stimulus package with a $15 minimum wage is the economic equivalent of jumping off a 10 story building and flapping your arms and hoping to fly. It will end badly for those is purports to “help.”

      But the real objective is not to help anyway.

        1. KeyserSoze

          “Pardon my hurried offering. He deserves not to displease you, Caesar, who hastes to please you.”=Martial

  2. MarkJ

    “Biden isn’t Trump. But Biden is still Biden. Buckle up, for the ride won’t be a lunatic claiming to be a stable genius who knows more than the generals, but it will still be bumpy.”

    Lunatic? Man, tell me what weed you’re smoking ’cause it must be some good s**t. That “lunatic,” like Lincoln, was indeed often smarter than his generals and the old boy establishment types in DC. And, if you’d been paying attention for the last four years, you’d know it’s true.

    Personally speaking, I, and undoubtedly millions of others, would take that “lunatic” back in a heart beat over a 78 year old addled cutout with dubious ethics, even more dubious ties to the Chinese, and whose erstwhile boss observed that the man’s ability to f*** things up could never be underestimated.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s understandable the some prefer Republican to Democrat, conservative to progressive, even Trump to Biden. But lacking the capacity to realize that Trump is and always has been a vulgar, amoral, deceitful, narcissistic ignoramus cannot be rationally explained.

  3. KeyserSoze

    So stupid that it seems to defy natural law.

    One thing not mentioned in these types of discussions is that one dollar of direct labor carries an additional burden of cost ranging from 30-50% or higher. So for your average employer that cost could be above $20 an hour Some taxes would be accelerated over a given period of time.

    Logistics is a bitch. Economics is a Ka-me-ha-me-ha bitch.

    1. SHG Post author

      And maybe that’s a fair and doable cost, at least to some in some locations under some limitations. But that’s the discussion we need before deciding, not buried in a stim bill.

  4. Rojas

    Did Lhamon lead an insurrection during her last term at DOE with her repeated refusal to follow the Administrative Procedure Act?

      1. Hunting Guy

        Michael Arrington.

        “Just pick a political story at random and read the comments. There is no logic or reason on either side – only hypocrisy and hate.”

  5. Bob G

    The Democrat party isn’t a bunch of poor, put-upon people who’ve banded together for handouts. That’s a big chunk of the voting base, sure. But the core of the party, where the power is—that’s politicians and bureaucrats and professionals who want to be paid (generously) to help the downtrodden.

    Do the Democrat elites care about disabled people and minimum wage workers? I’m sure they do, but they also know in the back of their minds that if there weren’t all those miserable, put upon people depending on them, they’d be out of a job.

  6. Sgt. Schultz

    If this isn’t obvious to you by now, let me spell it out. I don’t believe any of the commenters above are lawyers, but all have missed the point of the post, are borderline or worse batshit crazy and (as you are well aware) are exactly the sort of comments that we come here to avoid.

    Trash them all. I appreciate your desire to allow diverse views, but these aren’t diverse, just stupid. Don’t allow SJ to become too comfortable a home for partisan assholes. Please.

    1. SHG Post author

      You’re right. I hoped my first reply would be sufficient, but clearly it was not. Having posted them, I won’t trash them, but I will be merciless going forward.

  7. David

    Unlike Trump, who had neither the competency to effectively use government to accomplish much of anything nor the humility to listen to more knowledgeable and experienced people around him who knew how to pull the right levers, Joe Biden is highly experienced at using government, as he’s demonstrating by inserting dream policies into this stimulus bill that would be hard to pass as stand alone laws.

    As you’ve said, he’s not as dangerous as Trump, but he’s far more insidious because he knows how to get things done and he’s smart enough to wrap them in the language of good intentions. Disputing Trump and his band of crazies was easy. Biden will be far harder to challenge.

  8. B. McLeod

    Biden was elected for not being Trump, not because anybody thought he was a great candidate. Another gift of the cocked-up two-party system that keeps on giving. Each party continues paying off its freaks and misfits, concerned that loss of freak and misfit support would be unaffordable.

    1. SHG Post author

      I said something to that effect on the twitters, and was corrected by a PD who informed me that everybody he knows voted for Biden, but only because Liz and Bernie didn’t get the nom. His point was well taken.

    2. LocoYokel

      The sad part is that actually ditching the “freaks and misfits”, along with a return to real governance would probably immensely benefit whichever party does it first.

  9. Natalie

    Wow, what is up with these comments? It really makes your point that economics brings out the lunatic fringe. I’m an economics major, so these comments make me crazier than usual.

    I had some other stuff to say, but it was really just a recap of what you said in your post, so …

    1. SHG Post author

      These are the comments that make me want to end comments. Sorry you had to endure them. Bad enough that I had to.

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