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Old 07-30-2019, 10:36 PM
Scylla is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 16,390
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
First, a "living wage" varies wildly. Consider an expensive medical condition or student loans. What about dependents? All said and done, one person's living wage can shoot up into the top 20% of incomes, and that's my wild guess. If you don't know how to cook, or don't have time (working multiple low paying jobs), the food bill skyrockets or you/your kids suffer from malnutrition. And none of these are solved by declaring bankruptcy, except that you might have your kids taken away.

I mean, I remember reading a story about a highly specialized surgeon who accidentally cut off his finger. Suddenly he can't be a surgeon any more and the weight of his student loans mean he had to work multiple "normal" jobs, lost his house and kids, and barely makes his child support payments. He fell in a hole and will never get out.

Closer to home there was a high school teacher who trained to be a doctor, and right near the end of his training got in a bad car accident that screwed up his body, bad. Medical complications prevented him from finishing residency. He found a job as a biology (or was it chemistry?) teacher, supplemented by a secondary job, welfare, poverty, and the (voluntary but reluctant) loss of child custody. It's a modern story of Sisyphus, but without any sense of justice.

These examples assume we have rational actors. I may have technically failed Econ 101, but people are not ideal rational actors as assumed in introductory economics. Consider the following examples of economically irrational behavior: racism; sexism; political considerations; strikebreakers; crimes that fund drug addiction; having more children that you cannot afford; falling for the old $0.99 trick; consumer hysteria; indecisiveness; and short-sightedness in general. I suspect most if not all markets are and always have been heavily influenced by irrational economic behavior. Perhaps most importantly of all, most people must make important economic decisions in the dark - an entirely rational decision based on the available information can easily end up being the wrong decision.

I agree. I made a similar point pertaining to geography earlier in the thread.