But first, on a separate topic, watch this video with John McCain and Chuck Hagel on the ‘nuclear option.’

And second, before we get to cinnamon (you do not want to miss cinnamon), a bit more on Friday’s topic, which might loosely be called ‘social justice.’

Some of you weren’t buying it. For example, Michael, an assistant professor:

Michael A.: ‘I went to the census web page to check income data. I assumed a 240 day working year, so that gives at $17,280 yearly wage. According to the table of active workers about 12% make that much or less. So I don’t know where this 25% of the work force making less than $9.00 per hour comes from. If you want I can try to recreate the calculation, but I have a feeling that facts don’t matter. Moreover we have had a tremendous influx of unskilled low paid foreign workers enter the US over the last 20 years and the influx continues. Here in northern Virginia it seems almost everybody you meet in a retail store is a newly arrived foreigner. So it’s not surprising that we might have a lot of low paid workers in the US today. Are we supposed to do income transfer from Americans to people who come here voluntarily and presumably would leave if they felt oppressed? Does the US owe the world a living? A middle class living?’

☞ Facts matter greatly. (Indeed, few things are more offensive than to suggest to someone that you think facts don’t matter to him, as it means you think he is either dishonest or stupid.) You didn’t include the URL of the page you were looking at, but I can think of one reason only 12%, and not 25%, make $17,280 or less. Let me know if you think it is too ‘far out.’ Is it possible – and I’m just letting my imagination run wild here – but is it possible that some people earning less than $9 an hour work more than 240 days a year? Or more than one job, to make ends meet? If so, that could explain the discrepancy you have unearthed.

(At the current minimum wage – which compassionate conservatives oppose raising – you would actually have to work more than 365 days a year, nine hours a day, with no holidays or sick days, to reach $17,280. And that doesn’t count the time spent getting to and from work, which can be considerable, as the folks you describe often can’t afford to live near the retail stores you patronize.)

So we just disagree. To you, Michael, these folks – and their children, who had no choice in where they were born – should get no more of a leg up than they do now. Everything else can be indexed for inflation, but not the minimum wage. So as prices rise, minimum wage workers will, as a matter of compassionate conservative policy, get squeezed tighter and tighter.

I would strike the balance differently. To me, my friend who made $156 million last year (I have a friend who made $156 million last year) did not need the tax breaks of the last five years, whereas the folks Beth Shulman is thinking of do need a better shake. They need it partly on moral grounds, but also because an economy and society are healthier when people who work hard and play by the rules are able to get by; able, also, to raise their children – our future – decently. In hope of such a society, which ultimately profits the rich as well as the poor, we have things like a progressive income tax, the estate tax, the earned-income tax credit, Social Security, college aid programs, AmeriCorps, and the minimum wage . . . all of which the Republican leadership, in one way or another, works to eliminate or roll back.

Finally, you raise the immigration issue. Which is agonizing – like being on a life raft and having to push people away with your oars. No, I don’t think ‘we owe the whole world a middle-class living.’ But I do think we could do better in that regard. And I think that, in any event, we make a mistake when, within our borders, we shift the balance of good fortune ever further in favor of those already best off. My favorite philosopher, just like the President’s, is Jesus Christ. We just seem to interpret his teachings differently.

OK, sorry to do this to you. Tomorrow: Pills for Your Porc and the Cinnamon Play


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