The Vermont Cynic

The debate on livable wages


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For –

I am haunted by this recurring nightmare where the human race is infected by greed and will stop at nothing to come out on top, even if it means others must suffer and perhaps die in the process.

A faceless man laughs at me as I run through the streets of a decimated city, desperately searching for signs of life. He wears a coat and a top hat, a white beard curls out from under his colorless expression. He tells me his name is Capitalism, and I am at his mercy.

I wake to realize that I am safe and in bed, away from all that wants to harm me and everyone else. Safe, that is, until I step outside, where my nightmare lives on daily in the realm of the real world. Many terms have been shot at the American people lately during this economic nightmare. On the top of that list are terms such as “stimulus,” “bail out,” “free market” and “livable wage.”

All of these terms are a product of the American Business Machine, fueled by capitalism and greed. However, only one of those has the power to take down its creator and free us, and perhaps the world. This is the greatly feared livable wage.

Livable wages, or any other form of economy besides capitalism, does not mean flat screens and Corvettes for everyone, but the ability to buy the goods we need in order to survive, such as food, electricity, water, heat – even going as far to include telephone and Internet services would not be terrible.

What good are the two greatest innovations in communications if no one can afford to use them?

A livable wage is not something that grows in our backyard, it is something that must come from the top down. It must come from the highest reaches of government and is not simply an increase in salaries, but a decrease in costs across the board.

By drastically decreasing the costs of everyday products, the money average Americans make would be considered wage that is very livable. Capitalistic greed, however, prevents this from ever happening. Why sell something for what it costs to make when you can sell it for two, three, four, 10 times its worth?

A livable wage is obtainable and could likely save us all in the end without all this bailout hocus-pocus. My nightmare could end tomorrow – we could just forget about our greed for just one second and look at the human side of things and realize that we are all in this together.

A livable wage is something that everyone needs, no matter the cost.

Against –

We agree that livable wages should be enacted by the Vermont State Legislature – along with the progressive bill for the state’s annual new holiday “Free Money Day.”

The statement above should be some indicator as to our real feelings about the “livable wage” debate that continues to rage at UVM. The livable wage, for those few that haven’t heard, is the liberal/progressive plan that any working person should be compensated enough to live on.

What that means, and who defines it, is determined by the expert economists to be found smoking cloves outside the library. This expands on the idea of the minimum wage, to include ambiguous expenses such as, well … who knows? First of all, the idea of a so-called livable wage is completely ambiguous because the term itself implies that there is a definite number upon which any person in any situation can survive. The argument that livable wage proponents use is that the $8.10 minimum wage in Vermont is not enough for low-income citizens to survive on.

What they don’t realize is that there are more than enough government funded programs and financial assistance for those who qualify that don’t hurt our economy. Some of these include: food stamps, Vermont heating oil assistance programs, local food shelves and food banks, to name a few.

It’s not that we don’t empathize with those low-income citizens, we simply feel that there are other ways to provide for them without leading to an economic disaster.

If every employer paid every Vermont worker $15 an hour, immediate major repercussions would be felt in the economy.

Small businesses would close, bigger ones would leave the state, prices would rise across the board and we would see runaway inflation.

Sure, it may sound good on the surface for those interested in saving the world, but when we’re not on fantasy island, there are many underlying problems and economic considerations.

The reason most things nowadays are made in China is that we already pay way more than the rest of the world for unskilled labor.

This inflated wage has caused hundreds of businesses to leave the USA, and has led to the decline and near demise of our domestic manufacturing industry.

If Vermont is the first state to enact a livable wage, what do you think would happen to Vermont’s economy?

All businesses would leave.

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The debate on livable wages