Friday, May 12, 2017

This student takes a nuanced position on minimum wage increases

I am here on behalf of the many that oppose the minimum wage being raised to $15.00 an hour for all workers.  Some jobs are worth the minimum wage being increased—and I am thinking of nursing home staff, hospital nurse techs, and direct care workers who are taking care of people, taking care of some of our most fragile people.  That type of work needs to have a minimum wage set higher.  Most days those health care workers are working long hours, and they are understaffed.  To raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour for entry jobs like many in the food service industry is not warranted.  These types of jobs are typically for teenagers who are just working a few hours to buy new clothes or a pair of shoes, and they are not paying their bills with that kind of money.  These entry level jobs function to get people in the workforce to show that they have held a job before and to hopefully inspire people to go on a get a better paying job. 

Raising the minimum wage to $15.00 for workers in a company like McDonald’s would have teenagers making this kind of serious money, which is okay in itself, but with making this kind of money it can come some indirect consequences that we must avoid, such as having young workers decide that they do not want to further their education.  They will settle for the entry level job.  These kinds of jobs are not jobs where you should want to start and raise a family.  They are not the jobs that you would want to plan on staying at forever and making it a career choice.  Raising the minimum wage could hurt the very people that it is intended to help. 

With the higher general minimum wage, employers would need to be more cautious in their hiring and look at potential employees and wonder what they could bring to their company.  They could wonder how useful a potential employee will be if they in fact did hire them.  This selectivity in hiring would be a barrier to people just starting out without an employment history.

 People that are unhappy with the wage they are making should make strides to find other jobs.  They should get some schooling or some training to obtain a better job and get better pay.  They should not expect to stay in an entry level job and receive better pay for a job that is not worth that.  There are people that are spending insane amounts of money in school so that they can live comfortably, so that they can get that job that pays them more than minimum wage because they know what kind of life they will live if they do not make minimum wage.  Yes I am here opposing the minimum wage increase and I do hope that this bill is not passed into law. 

This essay makes some points against the general increase of the minimum wage up to $15 per hour.  Usually opposition to the minimum wage is based on three propositions: 1) higher wages will reduce the demand for labor, so unemployment will rise; 2) higher wages will spark inflation, which will erode the benefits of wage gains; and 3) it is morally wrong for the government to intervene to tell citizens what they must pay their workers, as pay is better set by having workers and employers negotiate a wage rate that is agreeable or acceptable to both sides without government coercive regulation. What is fascinating about this paper is that none of these tired old chestnuts are used.  The student has an innovative argument.

The first argument is that some jobs are underpaid, and the government might step in to increase minimum wages in those types of underpaid jobs, but the prevailing wages in other sorts of work are okay when they are low.  The student is suggesting minimum wages set by type of work or job sector, a more complicated situation than a global wage floor applying to all work.  This gets at one problem of the minimum wage: a global minimum wage often seems wrong.  The de facto solution has been for the United States to have a federal minimum wage standard that is quite low, and allow states and cities or counties to set higher minimum wages.  It makes sense that minimum wages in San Francisco or New York ought to be much higher than minimum wages in rural Arkansas or along the Rio Grande in south Texas. Having worked (like most Americans, briefly) in the food service industry, I agree that a single minimum wage for all of us didn't seem fair.  The person who worked at the grill was doing something more dangerous than the rest of us, and that cook had to work with more skill and with greater urgency than many of the rest of us.  Likewise, the danger and unpleasant nature or the higher responsibility required in some low-wage jobs in child care, elderly care, and health care seem to require higher wages than those given to persons in easier, safer, less critical work, and yet the minimum wage is the same for everyone no matter the value of their work or the danger and difficulties associated with it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Opposition to welfare

This student has written a paper about the opposition to welfare.

In today’s society, we have many programs that citizens use for receiving assistance. One major assistance program is public assistance, such as: Medicaid, supplemental nutrition program (SNAP and NSLP and WIC), and cash assistance (TANF, EITC, General Relief). There is a current proposal out that attempts to get rid of public assistance for citizens. This proposal to eliminate public assistance could affect families and people in need. According to the policy proposal, the federal government uses a lot of money to fund these programs, and it should not. For example, public housing received $15.8 billion dollars from the U.S federal government in order to fund rental assistance and public housing. Such expenditure seems like a waste of taxpayer money to those who want to get rid of public assitance.  Rather than taking money from everyone through taxes and using billions of dollars to help poor persons, these opponants of the welfare system would prefer to abolish all the welfare policies, and let people stand on their own; if they are too poor to afford housing or food, well then, they had better find a job and work hard to keep that job and earn the money they need. If they are too sick or disabled or impaired to find and hold a job, they must rely on family and private charities, but not on tax dollars taken from “hard working taxpayers” to support their lives.   However, most people support some form of welfare, and defend the public assistance programs, pointing out how these programs give families hope for food, health, and even living. Without such policies, we would be a society with greater illness, greater hunger, more homelessness, and people would even die from exposure or malnutrition or desperation.

Not only is spending all this money on funding these public assistance programs an issue for people who support the proposed policy, but some also feel that people who rely on these public assistance programs become lazy and they get comfortable with being provided for. Therefore, one believes that taking away these assistance programs will drive people to actually learn to provide for themselves. Conversely, people who are in favor of assistance programs claim that the difficulty of finding work and the difficulty of paying medical bills (since the bills can be extremely high at times) require a safety net of public programs to protect peopl from extreme economic hardship.  In particular, costs for low-income persons who have many people depending on their care (perhaps young children, elderly parents, or disabled persons living in their households) need help, since the economic system we have may not provide them with enough resources to survive, even if they do work for wages.  Some people with so many caregiving duties don’t even have time to work for money, since they must care for many children or other persons dependant upon their care.

A possible solution to benefit both sides might be to reduce the spending cost of the public assistance. This would allow the low income and others who are currently on public assistance to still receive help, but at a minimum level, and for some services a co-pay would be in effect. This is the compromise that opponants of the welfare system seek.  They want to lower the costs of Medicaid, TANF, SNAP, Rental Assistance, Public Housing, LIHEAP, SSI, and the EITC.  They know that they cannot abolish these programs, but at least they can cut budgets or change laws to reduce spending or increase fees and co-pays.  Those who defend the welfare state reject the idea that benefits for the poor turn people who are otherwise capable of independence into dependent welfare moochers. These defenders of welfare often want to increase the availability of services and programs, and claim that we need to spend more on programs that support people in poverty.  Such people may want to spend more on welfaer so that our country eliminates hunger and homelessness, and gives people an equal chance to participate in civic and cultural life. The debate between those who want to eliminate welfare and those who want to increase it will continue into the foreseeable future, because the people who support these two opposing sides are both motivated by visions of an ideal society and questions of morality and common sense.  Each side sees that they are right and the other side is wrong.

Student considers public funding for abortion in Illinois

Abortion Coverage
In recent news, Illinois lawmakers have passed the law that abortions can be paid with medical insurance. This topic has been a big thing recently since many people do not think that medical insurance should cover abortions because it promotes killing a child. However, others believe it allows all women to be in control of their body.
As stated earlier, many people feel that this law promotes the killing of a human being. Some critics of this newly passed law state how people will now try to use this as a new form of birth control and that this might be taken advantage of. Nonetheless, many people have been asking the question “where will funding for this come from?”. This is an issue because higher education cannot be funded but the state has money to cover the harming of children.
However, people who support the new law states that since this has now passed it will allow people who accidentally got pregnant and cannot afford to get an abortion to do so. Many say this will reduce harm towards unwanted children.
In my opinion, I think that abortions should not be covered under Medicaid because that extra money can be used to better the state. I do, however, think that abortions should be cheaper so people want have to stress about the payment of an abortion. 

SEPEDA-MILLER, KIANNAH. "Democratic Illinois House OKs Public Funding for Abortions."U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report, 25 Apr. 2017. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

It's interesting to note that poor women are more likely to have abortions.  Poor women are more likely to have their health insurance with Medicaid.  So, when poor women who use Medicaid want abortions, should their Medicaid cover the termination of their pregnancy. 

The critical question with abortion is the issue of when a zygote or embryo or fetus becomes a child.  At some point in the pregnancy, the baby is a human child, and should be protected, unless there are complications that endanger the mother’s life or possibly defects that mean the child will die within seconds or hours of birth.  But, when does this point stand?  Is it within minutes of fertilization of the egg, or the zygote's implantation into the wall of the uterus?  Is it in the eighth week of development, the 10th week, the 12th week, the 15th week, the 20th week, the 22nd week, or when?  So long as the thing in the woman is not a human child, abortions seem morally neutral, or possibly beneficial.  A person who doesn't want a child, is too young or too poor to rear the child, and wants to terminate a pregnancy before the embryo has become a child is possibly doing something meritorious.  But, when an abortion is performed after the threshold has been crossed, then an abortion is essentially the killing of a child, and it is morally objectionable. 

Very few Americans think that the embryo is a human child in the first week or two of development, and most people are not opposed to abortions performed in the first month or first six weeks of a pregnancy.  Those who do oppose abortions even in the first hours or weeks of a pregnancy almost always base their opposition on religious beliefs, and our government is supposed to stay out of theological and religious disputes.  

Opposing public spending on abortions on the basis of cost seems odd to me.  The costs of allowing a poor and unwilling mother bear a child are potentially far higher to that mother and society in general than the relatively modest cost of an abortion.  The main objection to public-funded abortions that appeals to me is the idea that some people take such a strong and deeply-held objection to abortions that we ought to respect their strong feelings and refrain from using public expenditure on such a controversial procedure.  Let abortions be funded by private charities and non-profit corporations.  I say this argument has some appeal to me, but I do not say it is persuasive.  I actually hold no firm opinion on this matter; I'm inclined to desire that abortions are legal and affordable and accessible, but I'm also inclined to oppose abortions and desire a society in which no woman chooses to have an abortion. 

I recommend the ACLU fact sheet about public funding for abortions. 

A television station in Chicago covered this issue

Public broadcasting in Urbana-Champaign covered this bill as well