THE MINIMUM WAGE

I thought all three Democrats were outstanding in last night’s Nevada debate broadcast on MSNBC. Did you see it?

One tiny piece of it – three seconds out of two hours – was John Edwards’ comment that the minimum wage, just raised, should be higher still.

That got me wondering how the wage today compares with what it was the year, say, I graduated from college.

Google . . . google . . . goggle . . .

It was $1.60 in 1968, equal to $9.33 in 2006 dollars and nearly $10 today in 2008. Except that it’s not nearly $10 today, it’s $6.50 . . . going to $7.25 September 1.

So by September, when that final hike kicks in, the minimum wage will be about 27.5% lower, in real dollars, than it was in 1968.

Most know that the Republicans kept the minimum wage frozen at $5.15 for ten years and would have kept it there today if they still controlled the Congress. (‘Good!’ I hear some of you cry.)

Less frequently mentioned is that that comparison – the 27.5% drop in real purchasing power come September – is based on an adjustment for price inflation. Based on wage inflation – the increase not in average prices since 1968 but average wages – the working poor have fallen even further behind. Adjusted for wage inflation, the 1968 minimum wage was about $17 in today’s dollars, more than double what it will be in September.

This is not to say we could raise it anywhere near that high now.

But for those of you who believe, as I know many of you do, that even the hike from $5.15 was bad economics (but that cutting taxes on the rich and eliminating the estate tax on billionheirs is good economics), I thought these comparisons might provide additional perspective.

HEALTH INSURANCE

Everyone uses the figure of 47 million Americans lacking health insurance. I’m told that’s defined as Americans who had no health insurance at any time during the prior year. Google . . . google . . . google . . . I couldn’t find the passage that must exist somewhere confirming the Census Department question on which this figure is based (I’m told it is something like ‘Were you covered by health insurance at any time during the year’). But even better than Google are the readers of this page, one or two of whom, I hope, may shed light on this. But it may be that more like 90 million Americans lack health insurance either all year long or for part of the year, so, if this is true, my advice to you is: try not to be one of them, or, if you are, to need care.

STIMULATION

Bob Fyfe: ‘Larry Rosenblum wrote about the possibility of our being ‘nothing more than a simulation being run by some advanced species. … Further, in order to avoid simulations running simulations running simulations, it is likely that the beings running our simulation will terminate it just when we are about to run our own simulations.’ I’m not saying that I believe any of this, but here is my perspective on the possibilities: First, if the species was anything like us (the simulated species it supposedly created), then there would be a great desire to see what would happen if the simulation created its own simulation. That’s just when things begin to get really interesting. So I believe that the probability of the advanced species terminating the simulation at that point would actually be very low. Also, it seems to me that if we are indeed a simulation, and simulations can run their own simulations, that the more likely scenario would be that we would not be the ‘first’ simulation, the original created by the ‘real’ species, but rather that we would be a rather mundane middle-of-the-pack simulation, created by some other simulation. Assuming that we are the “original” simulation is akin to believing that the Earth is at the center of the solar system or that the sun is different from the other stars. In reality our solar system is just an average star in an average spiral galaxy and in a simulated environment where simulations can create their own simulations, the odds are that we would again be just average.’

☞ If we’re just a simulation, how do you explain true love?

(Oh, okay – can’t you be even a little romantic?)

 

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