Friday, July 19, 2019

Sanders' Salary Hypocrisy

Sanders’ Salary Hypocrisy
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 19, 2019 

“The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” - Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) British Prime Minister (1979-90)

The trouble with Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-VT) is that he is an enormous hypocrite calling for a $15 minimum wage while not paying his own staff that much. Grassroots field staffers complain they are not being afforded the minimum that Sanders demands of the rest of the country.

Quite frankly, during the ‘80s when candidates would staff their campaigns, most people were just happy to be a part of a campaign, paying their dues as grassroots field staffers barely earning enough money to fill their gas tanks and living half a dozen in a two bedroom apartment. The reward would hopefully come at the end of the campaign with a victory and an invitation to join a Congressional, Senatorial, or even White House staff - working even longer hours for barely what they earned in the field. Some of you are reading this thinking, yeah, those were the days!

Now these young grassroots workers are unionized, making demands that if fulfilled on a nationwide basis could cripple the economy. While the current minimum wage of $7.25 clearly is not enough for a person to live on independently, a sudden boost to more than double that amount will actually cost people their jobs. Based upon an eight hour day, five day week, and 50 weeks of work per year, a $7.25 an hour worker would earn $14,500 before taxes. The $15 an hour employee would earn $30,000, which in quite a few places is still a challenge on which to make ends meet. Costs of living vary from state to state and even within states - New York City versus Elmira for example; Chicago versus Pittsfield; Dallas versus El Paso.

A gradual rate increase would make sense, but it must include qualifiers. Small businesses, size to be determined by the Commerce Department, would be exempt, as should part time, temporary, and seasonal employees. The $15 an hour rate would take effect in 2025, according to the proposal by House Democrats. Incremental raises should be implemented to soften the blow and keep costs and unemployment from rising too drastically instead of a potentially sudden rate increase.

Employers required to pay workers more than double what is currently mandated will cut those costs by eliminating and downsizing their workforce, thus raising unemployment, and ultimately, the need for government to pay greater unemployment benefits to more people, perhaps for a longer period of time. The rate increase could likely see prices rise if some businesses opt not to downsize the labor force. It then begs the question, will the rate increase offset the increase in unemployment and the rise in prices? Economists are divided on that question.

People should earn a living wage, but it should also be incumbent on the job one performs. This is based upon the concept of equal opportunity, not equal outcome. Equal opportunity begins with education and it is up to the family and the students to work as hard as they are able to ensure success. There are no entitlements, and affirmative action in education has proven a failure. A fast food worker or coffeehouse barista are literally not brain surgeons and should be paid what the market demands. Athletes and entertainers will continue to make multi-million dollar salaries as long as they fill stadia and theaters with people willing to pay the ticket prices - like anything else, it’s a matter of simple economics - supply and demand. 

Simultaneously, people must live within their means - make coffee and lunch at home instead of spending $5 for Starbucks ® and another $7-10 on food. Shop for new clothes when needed and wait for sales. Let supermarket circulars be the guide for weekly grocery shopping. Maintain vehicles regularly, get as much life out of them as possible. When a car loan is paid off, pay yourself the same monthly amount in savings toward the next car. These are simple ways to economize.

Yet, none of this matters to Sanders, the original socialist from the 2016 campaign. As long as he has the indoctrinated and ignorant from the colleges campuses, he can continue to make the case for more government running and ruining our lives with higher and higher taxes convincing them to vote against their own self-interests. This multi-millionaire, multiple home owner, is a hypocrite of the highest degree. This is not to disparage Sanders’ for his wealth - accumulated out of the pockets of the American people having never held a job not paying him from the people’s coffers - as a capitalist, it is his G-d given right to earn what he can and again, what the market will allow.

How is socialism working out in Venezuela, once upon a time, one of the most successful, thriving countries in both South America and the Western Hemisphere? Or Angola? Or Cuba? Or the former East Germany? Or Vietnam? Socialism fails because it lacks consistency with human behavior. People inherently protect what is theirs - they work for a paycheck and want to keep as much of it as possible -  to spend as they wish and need. People are also generous when they see people in need - to help them as they choose - not as per government dictates. Take more money from people in taxes, the first to suffer, charitable contributions as people still have the necessities in their lives of paying mortgages/rent, electric, phone, cable, tuition, grocery bills. With more money in their pockets, people are more generous. It is government that needs to pare back and stick to what the Constitution requires.

Sanders can pay his people $15 an hour or not, but those employees knew their salary when they were offered the job. That doesn’t make Sanders any less a hypocrite who clearly does not understand economics. Pay no attention to the talking heads discussing their candidates seeking the Democrat nomination. Listen to the actual words of the actual candidates - they are far more truthful and dangerous.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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