Posts tagged Capitalist Realism
Posts tagged Capitalist Realism
I actually couldn’t stomach speaking about his death in the immediate aftermath, not because my own feelings on the subject were unusually intense – though to be sure, he was an charming and honourable figure in British politics and as such his voice will be sorely missed - but because some of the other tributes that were being paid to him at the time were enough to curdle milk in the glass.
Gracious platitudes were beaming out from my TV all day long and I didn’t want to feel like I was reflecting that sentiment: I mean honestly, if I saw one right wing commentator smugly contrasting the response to Benn’s death from their own camp with the celebrations that greeted Thatcher’s passing on the left then I saw twelve of the fuckers!
At one time, the conventional wisdom was that capitalism was a means to an end, the end being a better standard of living. Now it appears that capitalism has become the end itself, and to sustain a healthy capitalism workers will have to make sacrifices. Case in point: the minimum wage.
On January 1st, the minimum wage increased in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. These eight states all have laws which require them to automatically increase their respective minimum wages by the rate of inflation (called “indexing”). Nevada also indexes its minimum wage but its increase takes place in July.
The state of Washington has the highest state minimum hourly wage at $9.04. Oregon has the second highest at $8.80.
Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage which remains at $7.25 per hour. A full-time worker making the federal minimum wage earns just $15,000 a year.
There are those who argue against state laws requiring an inflation adjustment to the minimum wage. Their most common argument is that such government mandated increases are a threat to business profitability and the health of our capitalist, free-market economy. Putting capitalism first, as I suggest in my opening line, actually means that those arguing against increasing the minimum wage are really arguing for the necessity of a declining real wage. The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation and increases are needed just to keep workers from falling further behind. For example, Oregon’s January 2012 increase to $8.80 from $8.50 still leaves the real inflation-adjusted Oregon minimum wage below what it was in 1976. In 2011 dollars, Oregon’s 1976 minimum wage was $9.09.
The chart below highlights the real decline in the federal minimum wage. The blue line shows the actual or nominal dollar value of the federal minimum wage; increases are the result of a vote by Congress. The red line shows the real value of the minimum wage in 2010 dollars. In real terms the federal minimum wage remains considerably below its value in the 1970s.
A second common argument against inflation adjusted increases in the minimum wage is that it is just a training wage for young teens and therefore not important to family survival. This argument misses the mark for several reasons, the most important being that, as the chart below shows, 80% of minimum wage workers in the eight states with mandated increases are over the age of 20, and more than 75% work more than 20 hours per week (just over half work full-time). In fact, according to an Economic Policy Institutestudy of national data, families with a minimum-wage worker rely on their earnings for nearly half the family income.
All I’m saying is, FULL COMMUNISM!
In case you missed it, I wrote a short-short Mindless Ones post about Jim Lee’s rubbish Darkseid redesign. It’s pretty much business as usual for superhero comics, but it’s amusing for me to see how uninspiring this new version of the character is, given that his creepy muppet face haunts my dreams…
In case you missed it, I wrote a feverish essay about Darkseid, anti-life and capitalist realism for Mindless Ones’ Month of Bastards. I’m pretty happy with how it came out.