Fw: An Article From Slate

Peter K. peterk at enteract.com
Sun Apr 2 12:15:17 PDT 2000

>But as long as there is another sector unconstrained by the living
>wage act--which there will be--it should have no effect on the level
>of overall unemployment. It looks much more like a transfer from
>urban taxpayers to low-wage people who happen to work for businesses
>that sell to the city government. So I don't understand PK here...

I was curious about what Bergmann would think of Krugman's March 29th New York Times column where he says:
>"For example, how do you feel about the "living wage" movement, which in
>effect wants a large increase in the minimum wage? That would certainly
>increase the incomes of the lowest-paid workers; but it would also surely
>have at least some adverse effect on the number of jobs available."

Krugman seems to say the living wage movement wants a large increase in the (national?) minimum wage. I understand it as you do, that it is confined to large cities and their contractors. Last November, the New York Times had a good article on living wage ordinances which I posted on LBO. http://nuance.dhs.org/lbo-talk/9911/1439.html

Anyway, how would Bergmann feel about raising the national minimum wage to a "living wage" level? In his aforementioned column, Krugman goes on to pooh-pooh much-maligned France: "If you don't want a society in which everyone is desperately trying to get ahead in a zero-sum status game, you might advocate government policies that slow down the rat race: high tax rates, generous health and unemployment benefits, long mandatory paid vacations, maybe even a limit on individual working hours. In other words, you might want to turn America into France. But France has an unemployment rate more than twice as high as America's, largely because of those same government policies. And unemployment -- even comfortable European-style unemployment -- makes people very unhappy, because it is demoralizing. Is there any way out of the dilemma?"

etc.,etc. I'd question the modifier "largely," along with Krugman's whole train of thought here. I'd guess why people are focusing on passing living wage laws in cities rather than raising the national minimum wage is that the former is more politically feasible. In a capitalist system, the political system is rigged in favor of capital and its lackeys which is why you have people focusing on creating urban living wage laws rather than turning America into France. The immense difficulty of even turning America into France - which has high unemployment, I'd argue, partly because it's nestled in an international capitalist system - leads people like Rakesh and myself to conclude that political systems rigged in favor of capital need to be scrapped which probably entails revolution, although maybe we'll see what follows from campaign finance reform, if it ever happens. I'd argue this is part of what the anti-WTO Seattle protests were about and what the upcoming April 16th anti-IMF/World Bank protests will be about.

Speaking of much-maligned France, people will probably remember me boring them in the past with my fondness for the French/English band Stereolab. I'm happy to report their profile continues to grow. Their name is dropped in the new John Cusack movie _High Fidelity_ and today I've learned they're opening up for Sonic Youth in June in Chicago. Can anyone name any bands in the past who sang in French and who obtained this level of popularity in the States? I can only think of the 70's hit "Vous voulez couchez avec moi?".


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