What's wrong with income inequality if everyone is well off?

In my area, it seems to be about $30-$60/hr - a 20 minute walk runs $10-$20 . You can pay a little less if you are OK with a group walk but the walker is still going to make better than $30 for each hour of work. Or you can walk your dog yourself (which doesn’t work for a lot of people) or pay for doggie day-care - which costs a lot more than $10-$20.

I don’t think kids are lazy - but I don’t see kids doing any of the things I did when I was too young to have an actual job. They don’t babysit, deliver newspapers, mow lawns, or shovel snow. I’m not sure if they don’t need money or if their parents don’t want them to do it - but once it wasn’t 12 year-olds offering to shovel snow , the rates went up to $30 or more an hour. And they get customers - plenty of them. Even though it’s an unskilled job that any ten year old can do.

This right here, IMHO, is the root of the pernicious devaluation of honest work that we’ve seen in our society’s market-fundamentalist evolution over the past few decades. The fact that a job is technically “unskilled”, meaning that it doesn’t require elite credentials or complicated training to be able to do it, is considered a justification for paying an employee literally a child’s wage to perform it.

I don’t think that’s valid reasoning, at least not if applied to something like 25%-40% of all jobs in an economy. It’s certainly not modeling an appropriate attitude toward the dignity of labor and the importance of hard work. If unskilled workers who are good and conscientious employees are still getting paid peanuts, and getting sneered at because their jobs didn’t require a college degree or certification or long training, we’re not sending the message that being a good worker is admirable or valuable. We’re sending the message that work has a class system, and that it’s normal for the elites to despise and disparage the “peasants” as not being worthy of a decent living in exchange for their hard work.

The company my daughter worked for is insured. What if the dog bites the kid? What if the dog runs away? What if the water is running and the house if flooding when the kid comes in to get the dog?
I think UltraVires is in a time warp from 50 years ago.

Yep. It’s always like this with discussions of minimum wage in the US; you can tell that some people are actually uncomfortable with unskilled workers earning more because they belong to the class that’s supposed to earn peanuts. If they weren’t inferior humans, they’d be at least middle class, right?

That’s why things like Shapiro’s rules for prosperity (or whatever) are so popular. Not that anyone needs to think about them as real advice to real people, just as a list of things that those people must not be doing, and hence why you should look down on them.

If a child can do it, then that sets the market wage, does it not? That is not de-valuing, it is a valuation. If my 12 year old kid can cut the grass for chore money or just because I make him, that necessarily means that I am not going to pay a man a wage that can sustain a family of four to cut it for me.

I mean, you can criticize me all you want, but I am just stating facts. Do you dispute this fact?

Nobody says this. Nobody. Nobody thinks it.

It is the left that has promoted the idea that every single job out there must be one that provides full support to a person and/or a family. I don’t know where this idea came from. There are certain jobs that almost everyone understands do not provide this level of support. The mere fact that some people work at these jobs seeking such a level of support does not magically transform them. They are what they are and have always been.

The finger pointing is astounding. No I do not pay a living wage for people to walk my dog or mow my grass. Neither has anyone else in history. But it is now my fault for not doing so? I didn’t create the situation where the person relies on my meager dog walking pay for a living, and I shouldn’t be blamed for that situation which has existed throughout history.

I disagree.

You yourself use terms like “should” and “intended to be” a lot, usually within rhetorical questions. But, if the answer to rhetorically asking “Should X job pay a living wage?” is “yes” then we’re in agreement.
If the answer is no, then for what reason ought certain jobs not pay a living wage? And let’s not get confused here – saying a job ought not to pay a living wage is a different thing from mere acceptance that right now it does not.

Advocates for minimum / living wage are not suggesting every transaction needs to be X dollars.

They are saying that if a person is employed full time by a dog walking or lawn mowing company, that company needs to pay that person a living wage.
If your business model requires paying full-time staff too little to live on, and the government needs to pick up the tab with food stamps and the like, your business model is fundamentally flawed. And not one that it is in society’s interest to promote.

OTOH if a young person is just doing this work casually on weekends say, then it’s OK for that work to pay less per hour (note most countries with a generous minimum wage do have such exceptions).

Or if someone wants to be self-employed and offer their services for less for a while, that’s OK too, since it at least avoids most of the exploitation issues and has prospects for growth.
(And by “self employed” I am of course not including the gig economy / zero hours contracts. That’s employment by another name)

You still haven’t told us where these people are supposed to find jobs that DO provide this level of support. Not one person, mind you, millions and millions of people, without displacing the current workforce in those positions.

The problem that we’re trying to solve is that the MW has profoundly failed to keep pace with inflation, effectively giving The Lowest Paid Workers In The Nation an annual pay CUT in nearly every year.

Which is just unconscionable, and amazingly American, and amazingly Capitalist, and amazingly Republican.

Again: Plantation Mentality. Worse than that, the poorest Americans – losing significant ground year after year – are subject to the inflationary pressures of those enjoying the Roaring 20’s:

When all you have is a nine year-old’s lemonade stand and “but, but, but … The Market,” you really aren’t making an argument at all.

It’s one argument, but consider the hypothetical in the OPs question. The key is the being well off part. Whether that’s achieved by increasing the minimum wage, a larger social safety net from things like food stamps, Medicaid, etc., or a minimum basic income, it’s the outcome that’s important. Every American should have a certain basic level of their needs being met. The reason we’re down to having to work on this by increasing the minimum wage is because we, as a society, are even less likely to want to consider those other means.

ETA: In fact something like a minimum basic income would resolve many of the issues you bring up. Someone would be free to mow a yard for $10 an hour to have some extra spending money as long as they. already have enough income from an MBI to have some decent shelter, education, food, water, and healthcare.

Though I disagree with absolutely none of what you said …

I think it’s important that we never lose sight of something in these discussions: the notion of privatizing profit and socializing loss.

Full employment is difficult to achieve and maintain, but a pretty worthwhile goal.

Setting that aside, every penny that we ALL have to pay to keep working people from freezing, starving, or living on the streets is truly a subsidy for business that aren’t paying living wages.

I’m not suggesting that no American adult should have to have roommates. Neither am I suggesting that every job should afford the worker a shiny new $100,000 car.

I would also think that discussions about relative cost of living and indexing wage TO those costs are worthwhile*.

But I think we shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture and the subsidy piece.

*I have an old friend that lives in a small French village, about a half-hour from a fairly large Swiss town. She works in Switzerland, makes Swiss (read: high) wages (also paying high Swiss taxes on those wages), and lives in the French countryside, very relatively inexpensively. We may have that. It may be inefficient to manage to this kind of exception in a scenario where MW is determined by cost of living indices.

Agreed. I think the truly wealthy maintain that wealth by doing exactly that. Our system is set up in a way that for the wealthy, it’s heads I win, tales you lose. We could change that, if enough people on the losing side realize that they are being suckered by the wealthy. Part of the problem is that not enough people have realized it. Another part of the problem is that some people think of themselves as the wealthy even though they aren’t and imagine that they would be the ones getting screwed over when in fact they. wouldn’t be the ones getting screwed over. The small business owner who personally works and contributes labor shouldn’t be the person bearing the burden, it should be the truly wealthy.

Totally agree.

The 'temporarily embarrassed millionaire" syndrome :wink:

I point to a thread I started as particularly on-point here:

And a recent article (paywalled ?) that gives context:

The richest Americans are hiding more than 20 percent of their earnings from the Internal Revenue Service, according to a comprehensive new estimate of tax evasion, with the top 1 percent of earners accounting for more than a third of all unpaid federal taxes.

And a charming little piece from “Freakonomics:”

After retrieving his hearing aids, he heads for the bagel shop that provides him with roughly 50 dozen bagels, in six flavors, every day. He drives nearly 80 m.p.h. along empty highways and discusses what he has learned about honesty. He is leery of disparaging individual companies or even most industries, for fear it will hurt his business. But he will say that telecom companies have robbed him blind, and another bagel-delivery man found that law firms aren’t worth the trouble. He also says he believes that employees further up the corporate ladder cheat more than those down below. He reached this conclusion in part after delivering for years to one company spread out over three floors – an executive floor on top and two lower floors with sales, service and administrative employees. Maybe, he says, the executives stole bagels out of a sense of entitlement. (Or maybe cheating is how they got to be executives.) His biggest surprise? ‘‘I had idly assumed that in places where security clearance was required for an individual to have a job, the employees would be more honest than elsewhere. That hasn’t turned out to be true.’’

Since he started delivering bagels, Paul F. has kept rigorous data – which, when run through a computer and measured against external factors ranging from the local weather to the unemployment rate, can tell some interesting stories. Other conclusions, meanwhile, are purely intuitive, based on Paul F.'s 20-year exposure to bagel behavior.

Maybe it’s time we put the lie to the pervasive mythology that the wealthy are wealthy because they’re smart, hard working, and came up with a better mousetrap while the poor are poor because they’re just stupid and lazy.

I’d vote for that.

What you’re calling a “fact” relies on your conflating market with non-market situations. You have fundamentally distorted the economic incentives in this hypothetical by presenting the extorted and possibly unpaid labor of your dependent 12-year-old kid as a valid alternative to an actual labor market.

Sure, you personally can always make your kid do any household task you don’t want to pay somebody to do, or for that matter you can do the task yourself. But those are not valid economic arguments for what the conditions of legal paid labor ought to be.

Employers in general are not allowed to round up non-self-supporting 12-year-old kids and force them to provide labor for free or for sub-poverty-level wages. There are laws against that sort of thing. So obviously it’s complete bullshit to argue that your personal ability to extort free or starvation-cheap labor from your own son outside the legally regulated labor market should “set the market wage” for such labor within the legally regulated labor market.

Which is why, IMO, the better solution is a UBI. That way the “living wage” is paid by the super-wealthy and trillion-dollar businesses in the form of taxes that they finally would have to pay.

It is not paid for by small business owners barely getting by who suddenly must double their employees wages.

I think the notion of the small business owner being put under by an increase to the minimum wage is a red herring anyway, since:

  1. If you have a business that will become insolvent because of a few dollars difference per hour, you may as well pack it up now. Because costs and revenue fluctuate in most businesses, and if you’re genuinely operating that close to the wire, your business is done, whether or not MW increases.

  2. As I said upthread: why should society indirectly subsidize your bad business idea? I need to pay for your staffs’ food stamps because that’s the only way your VHS movie business can survive? No deal.

  3. We could stagger MW by number of employees if this is really such an issue.

The 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, who signed the bill that founded the minimum wage.

In his national address to explain his reasoning for the bill, Roosevelt said:

It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.

Now, there were some initial assumptions for the minimum wage that we now know to be incorrect. Back then, it was thought that food was the #1 expense, so the minimum wage was set to x3 the rate of three squares a day. Nowadays, we know that the #1 expense is rent (PDF, pg 5), so there should obviously be some adjustment to make sure that people can not only eat, but also have a roof over their heads. The current minimum wage can’t do that.