How can the United States of America jump-start job creation? Obviously there’s nobody better to answer that question than a politician who’s been on the U.S. government payroll for nearly half a century and has never owned or operated a business – Vice President Joe Biden.
“There’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty” Biden stated as he began his stint filling-in for President Obama with the recent “President’s Weekly Address” to the nation. “Right now a worker earning the federal minimum wage makes about $14,500 a year. And you all know that's incredibly hard for an individual to live on, let alone raise a family on” he stated.
Biden was – again- promoting the Democrat party’s 2014 midterm election theme of raising the federal minimum wage requirement. “If we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, that same worker will be making $20,200 a year—and with existing tax credits would earn enough to bring that family or a family of four out of poverty” he claimed.
The Obama-Biden legislative agenda is going nowhere in Congress, at least not right now. Consequently, it’s easy to dismiss Biden’s rhetoric as nothing more than that – mere words to push a political agenda and not much more.
Yet America’s existing fiscal and economic policy has over the past several years been driven by this same kind of “mere rhetoric.” Biden may lack President Obama’s charisma when pleading the case for a policy initiative, but our nation’s current economic crisis has been caused in no small part by an electorate that heard the President’s charming words about more plentiful, less expensive healthcare, and believed him.
So before you dismiss the rhetoric about the magic of minimum wage laws, try some critical analysis of what the Vice President said, and consider the veracity of his claims. To start, consider this line: “there’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty.”
On the surface it’s difficult to disagree with that statement, but consider its implications. For one, it begs the question “what is poverty anway?” (I’ll get to that in a moment). Additionally, it presupposes that one is entitled to something on the order of “middle class” status simply because one puts in 40 hours a week working at some job. That is, this statement of Biden’s ignores the fact that peoples’ contributions to the economy vary according to their capacities, their skills, and the expectations placed upon them– and with these variables comes a variance in the wage one earns.
This harsh reality implies that, yes, one can work really hard – even 40 hours a week – and still not earn enough money to live at the comfort level they desire. But Americans have been facing this dilemma in a variety of ways since the earliest days of our nation’s founding.
Even today there are Americans who are choosing to work more than 40 hours a week, working multiple jobs, and making sacrifices to increase their education and skill levels as a means of surviving the Obama economy, rather than following the Democrat party’s ways of “protesting,” “organizing,” “demonstrating,” “demanding,” and “signing up” (for taxpayer-funded benefits). Such independence doesn’t serve the interests of any politician who prefers to be a nanny rather than a statesman, but it is nonetheless the type of initiative and resolve that sustains an economy, and a civil society.
And what of this issue of “poverty?” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has its own complex and circuitous mathematical formula for defining who lives “below the poverty line,” a formula that varies on a region-by-region basis. But this we know to be mostly true nationwide: our federal government, along with the departments of health and welfare among the states, to one degree or another regard a person without a mobile telephone to be living “in poverty.”
In recent years it has garnered attention as the “Obamaphone” program, but in fact the federal telephone subsidy program has a history that dates back over half a century. Today, when one goes to their state department of health and welfare to sign up for the federal Food Stamps or Medicaid programs (both are federal programs administered by state health and welfare systems), most states automatically enroll that individual in the “free phone” program as well (why would anybody aspire to a higher wage – for that matter, why would anybody want to work – if phones, food and healthcare are available “for free?”).
Will Americans continue to empower politicians who implement policies based on feel-good yet illogical rhetoric? Free people throughout the industrialized world – places like Canada, New Zealand, India, Australia, Germany, France and the U.K. – have begun voting-in governments that encourage work and wealth creation, rather than offering hand-outs and driving up debt.
Americans can make this choice – or we can continue voting for our nation’s demise. November’s election should give an indication of whether or not we, the people, are seeing beyond the empty rhetoric.