January 2, 2011

Talking Points on Welfare #4

Talking Points on Welfare Part 4

Taxation is theft, why should I have my pay stolen to pay for a free ride for other people?

This one is going to take a while to unpack. It requires some knowlege of recent economic history, which is going to mean explaining. I hope I don't bore you.

In 1960, the average household worked half as many hours. Adjusted for inflation, the Cost of Living was a third of what it is today. Yet, the average household income for a person in the lower 85% of income brackets, in terms of real dollars, has remained stagnant for the past 40 years.

That’s right, 85% of the population has seen their cost of living triple, has had to double their hours they spend working, and as a reward for working twice as much have LESS expendable income than we did 40 years ago.
To recap really quickly- [drawings] the dollar cost of living has tripled, but the actual stuff we’re getting for that cost isn’t three times better. We’re still buying pretty much the same houses and the same wonderbread and the same Jif peanut butter as we did 40 years ago.
So we’re paying three times as much today for the same things we had in the 1960s.
The Average American household had one income earner working 40 hrs a week in 1960, and that was enough to maintain a comfortable standard of living.
For twice as much labor today, 85% of Americans still have an income gap of a third. That money has to come from somewhere. Some households have two adults working 80 hours a week, and still struggle to make ends meet.
For 85% of Americans, we’ve been slowly eased into a starvation diet over the past 40 years.
That income gap, for many people, who thought that going on welfare was irresponsible, had to borrow their wages. Where did they borrow their wages from? From the wealth they already had. We’ve borrowed against our houses, and we’ve used credit cards to fill our income gap. We were told that this was the responsible thing to do. The fiscal reality of it, is that we’ve been cannibalizing ourselves.
If you look at this through another lense, by indexing things to the value of labor-- the value of the labor you produce has been devalued by two thirds. You have essentially been getting paid a third of what your labor is actually worth. That income gap of a third should rightfully be paid by our employers. And where has all that money gone?
Check Wall Street. While the value of our labor has been cut to a third of what it was, the value of labor of the average CEO has skyrocketed, from just 30 times the lowest paid employee at their company to 300 times the lowest paid employee.
So while the 85% of Americans who work our asses off just to get by, we’ve seen the value of our labor be devalued, fraudulently, by 300%. We’ve seen the value of labor of CEOs increase, fraudulently, by 1000%. What are they doing differently that they need to be compensated at 1000% more than they were back in the 1960s? Well, there’s a short answer and a long answer:
The short answer: Nothing.
The Long answer: Absolutely NOTHING whatsoever, at all.
Now, who has been deciding what everybody’s labor is worth? The invisible hand of the market? Bullshit. It’s been those CEOs. Of course they are going to give themselves raises and reduce the value of our labor by 2/3rds. They’re greedy, shortsighted people. You would probably do the same. Right? No, actually you probably wouldn’t, because that would be THEFT, and THEFT is wrong.

So let’s get back to our initial conservative talking point: Why should you allow somebody else to get a free ride from your labor? You shouldn’t. Which is why we need a maximum wage.
Is taxation really theft? Well, if you’re taxing that top 15% of people who have increased the value of their own labor and decreased the value of everybody else’s labor, we’re not stealing from them by taxing them to pay for welfare. The lower 85% earned that income, but were not paid that income.
The *real* problem is that those richest 15% aren’t PAYING what the 85% is earning by their labor leaving an income gap. How the hell are people supposed to fill that gap through working more if their labor just keeps getting further and further devalued?
With welfare. Welfare is just the lower 85% of people getting what their labor earned them.
If we don’t reverse this trend of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer, eventually there will be no way for the lower 85% of Americans to feed themselves by our own labor.
At which point, we will be forced to kill the top 15% and eat THEM.

One source: http://20somethingfinance.com/american-hours-worked-productivity-vacation/

Another one I didn't specifically use, but has a lot of the same info as a presentation given at the Commenwealth Club of California two years ago, by an economist whose name I can't remember: