Orwellian wages and the poverty line

December 5, 2014

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”  -George Orwell, Animal Farm

Protesters took to the streets in nearly 200 cities across the country yesterday, agitating for higher pay, with the claim that the current minimum wage is not a livable one. It is an assertion that is hard to argue–even after the modestly bright news in today’s  bullish jobs report indicating that the strengthening jobs market is starting to spur faster wage growth and that average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents in November, the largest increase since June of last year.

As this Reuters graphic shows, 23 states and the District of Columbia provide for a higher minimum wage than the the federally mandated $7.25 per hour. This leaves 27 states either without minimum wage laws, or with minimum wages at or beneath that number, though Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota last month approved ballot initiatives that will push state minimums above the $7.25 mark beginning Jan. 1. As the Department of Labor notes, in jurisdictions where Federal and state laws differ, the higher wage standard applies.

The average American worker makes better than $24 per hour, and a September Census Bureau report pegged the country’s median annual income at $51,939, with a statistically insignificant year-over-year increase of $180. The current Federal minimum of $7.25 per hour comes out to just $15,080 a year—well below $22,283 poverty line for a family of four.

Stagnant wages are the tarnished lining of the economic recovery, but some stagnant wages are less equal than others.

MinWageMap120514-620

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the higher the “minimum wage”, the faster automation will eliminate those “jobs” (or positions) that cease to be “low wage” completely.

Machines don’t arrive late, leave early, get sick, get raises, get overtime, get vacation, or get family leave. They don’t get pregnant or suffer morning sickness.

They don’t take or sell drugs, get arrested, get piercings or tattoos. Each programmed machine does it’s job again and again competently, reliably, without boredom, without fatigue, without complaint and without reward.

But they also don’t buy diapers, clothes, beds, booze, food, eat out, go to bars, buy cars, plane, bus, boat or movie/theater tickets, don’t drive, don’t fly, don’t need to own a house or pay taxes. The transition from today’s economy to the Star Trek economy where everyone’s basic needs are met and only those who wish to work will do so in their chosen field will be a challenging journey.

What is to be done with our dullards and sociopaths who choose to pursue no honorable vocation, but otherwise occupy themselves preying on or otherwise controlling other people through intimidation? We live in interesting times.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive