How to decide whether some change of government spending is against catholic teaching?


#1

The politician Ryan proposed a budget plan for the US some time ago and claimed he was inspired by his catholic faith.
The US Bishops have critized the Ryan budget plan and concluded that it "fails to meet these moral criteria." (meaning the moral criteria of the catholic faith as i understand)
See her for background (in case you missed the 20 pages or so thread with hot deabates about the issue):
examiner.com/article/united-states-conference-of-catholic-bishops-paul-ryan-s-budget-and-ayn-rand
catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1201597.htm
usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-04-17/catholic-bishops-paul-ryan-budget/54361480/1

The question that i am currious about is how one actually could conclude that some budget plan is in line or against catholic faith.

If it would fund abortion, it would be easy, as on abortion there can be no compromise. Since i suspect the US budget is providing funds for abortion since decades and will provide even under the Ryan plan, it is easy to say, that the budget plan is not in accordance with church teaching.

But apparently the Bishops have issue with "unnecessary" and harmful to poor people.

How to conclude that?

The problem is that its pretty hard to determine, which cuts are necessary and which aren't. One has to balance a myriad of issues against each other and therefore any conclusion tends to be a personal opinion and a definitve conclusion in respect to church teaching seems to be hard.
And what harm cutting a government program will do is also a matter of personal opinion, since positive and negative beenfits of increased government spending are hard to estimate, e.g. economists guess often wrong what good stimulus spending can achieve. But even more severe, government spending is cut so seldom, that there is little knowledge about its effects. And most severe with any spending increase and decrease there are unwanted side effects, e.g. take some money from A to give something to B, then A losses the oppurtunity to do something with the money himself, which may or may not be good.

The only clear cut issue i see, is when it comes to starvation, there the effects of spending cuts can be estimated and are severe enough, that a non-opinion dependent conclusion might be achievable. But i suspect that few people in the US are threatened by starvation, if i subsume it correctly the opposite is far more a problem.

So how can one arrive at a definite conclusion as the Bishops seem to have done?


#2

[quote="carn, post:1, topic:282894"]
The question that i am curious about is how one actually could conclude that some budget plan is in line or against catholic faith.

[/quote]

As well you should be given no such an assertion is justifiable or reasonable.

The problem is that its pretty hard to determine, which cuts are necessary and which aren't.

The problem is really worse than that. Let's assume we are able to accurately foresee all the combined effects a budget plan would have and that we are able to determine that they will on the whole be harmful. Does that make the plan immoral? Of course not. We would also have to know that the author of the budget knew what the outcome would be and that he intended it. Bishop Blair's assertion that the budget fails to meet Catholic moral standards is not an attack on the budget but is an uncharitable judgment of Paul Ryan.

So how can one arrive at a definite conclusion as the Bishops seem to have done?

First, this conclusion is not one "the bishops" arrived at; it is the personal opinion of one bishop. Second, there is no justification whatever for him to have made such a rash and uncharitable judgment.

Ender


#3

[quote="carn, post:1, topic:282894"]

So how can one arrive at a definite conclusion as the Bishops seem to have done?

[/quote]

Just a guess, but maybe because they are successors to the Apostles who are led in a special way by the Holy Spirit. ;)

It's not really up to the bishops to say to the government, "You should cut the money from this part of the budget instead." That's something for the government to figure out. But a bishop certainly can say "Cutting money from here would be harmful to the poor and the common good."

As Ender pointed out, this is a statement from a couple of bishops who are in charge of the pertinent committee. It's not some sort of unanimous binding proclamation from all the bishops. And bishops aren't immune from making poor prudential decisions. That said, I wouldn't casually dismiss what they have to say or assume they have no basis for saying it. Bishops tend to know their Catholic teaching a bit better than most of us. Not to mention they enjoy the special benefit of the charism that comes with their ordination as bishops.

We owe it to ourselves and our Catholic faith to seriously consider what the bishops propose, especially when they start talking about potential injustices taking place. We do not want to let our own preconceptions or political preferences lead us to dismiss out of hand what our shepherds are telling us.


#4

[quote="Joe_5859, post:3, topic:282894"]
Just a guess, but maybe because they are successors to the Apostles who are led in a special way by the Holy Spirit.

[/quote]

Their prudential opinions are not protected from error by the Holy spirit as is pointed out here (in a different context);[FONT=&quot][FONT=Arial]It is, I think, unfortunate that this* prudential judgement** was added to the Catechism. No matter how valuable it may be, the protection of the Holy Spirit does not apply to it, nor can such judgments ever be part of the Church’s Magisterium.*[/FONT]/FONT

It's not really up to the bishops to say to the government, "You should cut the money from this part of the budget instead." That's something for the government to figure out. But a bishop certainly can say "Cutting money from here would be harmful to the poor and the common good."

First, I disagree that this is an appropriate comment for a bishop to make as you yourself seem to recognize with your initial statement. Second, even this wasn't what was said. Bishop Blair made no case that the budget changes would be harmful, he simply assumed that and further assumed that the harm was intentional (if there is no intent, where is the sin?).

Bishops tend to know their Catholic teaching a bit better than most of us. Not to mention they enjoy the special benefit of the charism that comes with their ordination as bishops.

The charism that comes with their ordination applies in the areas of faith and morals. It does not apply in the area of economics. The determination of solutions for budget problems has no moral component and there is nothing in Catholic doctrine that helps one determine what effects different proposals will have.

We owe it to ourselves and our Catholic faith to seriously consider what the bishops propose, especially when they start talking about potential injustices taking place.

I think the bishops would better serve us and themselves by sticking to their own areas of competence and distancing themselves from most political issues.*“By issuing policy statements on matters that lie beyond their specific competence, and that pertain rather to experts in secular disciplines, the bishops diminish their own credibility in speaking about matters with which they are specially charged as spiritual leaders of the church.” *(Cardinal Dulles)
Ender


#5

[quote="carn, post:1, topic:282894"]
...The US Bishops have critized the Ryan budget plan and concluded that it "fails to meet these moral criteria." (meaning the moral criteria of the catholic faith as i understand)
...
The question that i am currious about is how one actually could conclude that some budget plan is in line or against catholic faith.
...
So how can one arrive at a definite conclusion as the Bishops seem to have done?

[/quote]

You can't. I used to work for the government and can tell you for sure that not even congress knows where the money goes. I attended a briefing on a government project to develop neural networks and asked a technical question. The presenter embarrassingly admitted that what he was working on was not a neural network but had to call it one to get the funding. In the mid 1970s, the federal government funded a pet census. It was obviously a jobs program to employ the unemployed. Would it be against the Catholic faith to de-fund it and put those people out of work? Would it be against the Catholic faith to eliminate federal funding for sandals for gay ex-nuns with a foot-fetish in Florida?

Then there is the question of efficiency. I would calculate efficiency by comparing work accomplished with money spent. The government calculates it by comparing money spent on direct labor [as opposed to overhead expenditures] with total money spent. Also, is it in line with the Catholic faith to spend money, knowing that only 19% gets to the intended recipients? The USCCB funded ACORN until they discovered it was being embezzled. I'd bet they paid for abortions and didn't know it.


#6

[quote="sedonaman, post:5, topic:282894"]
You can't. I used to work for the government and can tell you for sure that not even congress knows where the money goes. I attended a briefing on a government project to develop neural networks and asked a technical question. The presenter embarrassingly admitted that what he was working on was not a neural network but had to call it one to get the funding. In the mid 1970s, the federal government funded a pet census. It was obviously a jobs program to employ the unemployed. Would it be against the Catholic faith to de-fund it and put those people out of work? Would it be against the Catholic faith to eliminate federal funding for sandals for gay ex-nuns with a foot-fetish in Florida?

Then there is the question of efficiency. I would calculate efficiency by comparing work accomplished with money spent. The government calculates it by comparing money spent on direct labor [as opposed to overhead expenditures] with total money spent. Also, is it in line with the Catholic faith to spend money, knowing that only 19% gets to the intended recipients? The USCCB funded ACORN until they discovered it was being embezzled. I'd bet they paid for abortions and didn't know it.

[/quote]

You raise some good questions. For me, an evey more basic issue would be: is it moral to borrow money that one can never repay even to use for a good cause? Once you begin a government program it's nearly impossible to end it, because it has a constituency. Now, the constituency will complain that its immoral to take away that money--even though you'd be taking away money that you had to borrow in order to give away. And the people who will be expected to somehow repay it--several generations in the future--have no say in the matter.


#7

[quote="JimG, post:6, topic:282894"]
You raise some good questions.

[/quote]

And you did too.

For me, an evey more basic issue would be: is it moral to borrow money that one can never repay even to use for a good cause? Once you begin a government program it's nearly impossible to end it, because it has a constituency. Now, the constituency will complain that its immoral to take away that money--even though you'd be taking away money that you had to borrow in order to give away. ...

Several other points apply here. First, government programs have tremendous overhead costs that do not go to the intended cause but to things like buildings, facilities, administration, and studies that end up on a shelf somewhere. That's how we end up with trillions spent on poverty programs with no reduction in poverty. Does Catholic morality demand that everything be held in common? Or is it better to put your money in a bank where it can be lent out to economic endeavors that provide real employment instead of letting some bureaucrat waste it?


#8

There is something else that occurs to me. Many government programs intended to benefit individuals, do not benefit individuals directly; rather they benefit other entities directly, and individuals as a consequence.

Housing programs are an example. FHA and VA programs intended to facilitate homeonwership do so by insuring LENDERS against loss! That makes the lenders more apt to make the mortgages, since any losses will be covered by the government. It's cheaper for the government, than, say providing a grant of down payment funds directly. One problem is, that the Feds then wrap these programs in such a huge number of regulations that lenders are still afraid to get involved with them.


#9

[quote="JimG, post:8, topic:282894"]
There is something else that occurs to me. Many government programs intended to benefit individuals, do not benefit individuals directly; rather they benefit other entities directly, and individuals as a consequence.
...

[/quote]

That reminds me of the government's "Beneficial Suggestion Program" in which an employee can suggest that a process be changed that results in saving the government some money. The suggester can qualify for a cash award, depending on the amount of the savings. I once made a suggestion and received a cash award, but my suggestion was never implemented. Conclusion: the program existed for its own sake and the sake of those who evaluated the suggestions.


#10

[quote="carn, post:1, topic:282894"]
The politician Ryan proposed a budget plan for the US some time ago and claimed he was inspired by his catholic faith.
The US Bishops have critized the Ryan budget plan and concluded that it "fails to meet these moral criteria." (meaning the moral criteria of the catholic faith as i understand)

The question that i am currious about is how one actually could conclude that some budget plan is in line or against catholic faith.

But apparently the Bishops have issue with "unnecessary" and harmful to poor people.

How to conclude that?

So how can one arrive at a definite conclusion as the Bishops seem to have done?

[/quote]

Perhaps the first thing to do is to examine the proposition that "the bishops" have declared the Ryan budget "immoral". "The bishops" did not do so. Two bishops criticized two features of it. Those features were:
1. Reduction of the increase in food stamp funding from 12% to 8%. There was no reduction in the Ryan budget, only a decrease in the increase.
2. Elimination of a $1,000 per child subsidy to illegal immigrants through a tax credit. Since illegals are not supposed to be earning money anyway, the whole thing might be illusory. How many illegals file legitimate tax returns?

Now, if those particular bishops thought doing those two things "immoral", without further disclosing that such was only their personal political position, then they really overstepped, since such things are matters of prudential judgment by the faithful. It was also an overstepping because those two bishops do not speak for all the bishops. Certainly not for mine, who made no objection to the Ryan budget at all.

Then maybe the second thing to do is to study the Social Encyclicals written by the Popes. Yes, they are rather general in their treatment of economic matters. Same with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church does not declare itself on minutiae of legislative actions unless there are clearly violations of morals involved.

One example of that would be the virtually unanimous opposition to the HHS contraception/abortion insurance mandate on the part of the bishops and the Pope. Another would be the seeming unanimous opposition of the bishops to the federal funding of abortion and, indeed, abortion on demand itself, against which the Pope himself has spoken.

Abortion is an "intrinsic evil". Reducing the increase in food stamp funding is not.


#11

[quote="Ridgerunner, post:10, topic:282894"]
Perhaps the first thing to do is to examine the proposition that "the bishops" have declared the Ryan budget "immoral". "The bishops" did not do so. Two bishops criticized two features of it. Those features were:
1. Reduction of the increase in food stamp funding from 12% to 8%. There was no reduction in the Ryan budget, only a decrease in the increase.
2. Elimination of a $1,000 per child subsidy to illegal immigrants through a tax credit. Since illegals are not supposed to be earning money anyway, the whole thing might be illusory. How many illegals file legitimate tax returns?

Now, if those particular bishops thought doing those two things "immoral", without further disclosing that such was only their personal political position, then they really overstepped, since such things are matters of prudential judgment by the faithful. It was also an overstepping because those two bishops do not speak for all the bishops. Certainly not for mine, who made no objection to the Ryan budget at all.

Then maybe the second thing to do is to study the Social Encyclicals written by the Popes. Yes, they are rather general in their treatment of economic matters. Same with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church does not declare itself on minutiae of legislative actions unless there are clearly violations of morals involved.

One example of that would be the virtually unanimous opposition to the HHS contraception/abortion insurance mandate on the part of the bishops and the Pope. Another would be the seeming unanimous opposition of the bishops to the federal funding of abortion and, indeed, abortion on demand itself, against which the Pope himself has spoken.

Abortion is an "intrinsic evil". Reducing the increase in food stamp funding is not.

[/quote]

Good points.


#12

@Rigerunner
Its so lol, whenever i read of "cuts" by the government i stupidly assume, that journalists or whoever is not lying and that the actual issue is about nominal cuts. But always it turns out i am a fool and its just about increasing spending less fast than intially proposed.

[quote="Joe_5859, post:3, topic:282894"]
Just a guess, but maybe because they are successors to the Apostles who are led in a special way by the Holy Spirit. ;)

[/quote]

But isn't the guidance of the holy spirit not limited to questions of faith and moral?

[quote="Joe_5859, post:3, topic:282894"]

It's not really up to the bishops to say to the government, "You should cut the money from this part of the budget instead." That's something for the government to figure out. But a bishop certainly can say "Cutting money from here would be harmful to the poor and the common good."

[/quote]

But what the effect on the poor will be is not an issue of faith and morals. Its about predicting human behavior, so if we had some actual science called sociology it would fall into that field. (What we actually have is a pseudoscience called sociology.)

For example an increase in food stamps by the government might make people more dependent on government, might cause them to work less hard, might increase obsessity and malnutrition (food causing malnutrition is actually not the cheapest food), might increase divorce rates (if you are more dependent on government and less dependent on family, your incentive to reconcile with family might be reduced), increase alcohol and drug abuse or do a host of other things i just cannot imagine.
On the other hand an increase might also reduce divorce rates (less stress due to less poverty), decrease decisions to abort, increase work effort (due to better nutrition and more flexibility in finding a job fitting to one skills), decrease obsessity or malnutrition (by increasing the variety of foods due to greater funds), decrease alcohol and drug abuse or do a host of other things i just cannot imagine.

As food stamps effect hundreds of thousands of people even all effects might appear in differing percentages of those people.

What has the conclusion what effects will be the dominant to do with faith and morals?

[quote="Joe_5859, post:3, topic:282894"]

We owe it to ourselves and our Catholic faith to seriously consider what the bishops propose, especially when they start talking about potential injustices taking place. We do not want to let our own preconceptions or political preferences lead us to dismiss out of hand what our shepherds are telling us.

[/quote]

I am considering it seriously. Therefore i do not file them in my head in the folder "bunch of babbling leftist idiots", which normally is reserved for all talking about hunger in a country, which probably has compared to historys norm a 99.99% reduced starvation rate.


#13

[quote="Joe_5859, post:3, topic:282894"]
...We owe it to ourselves and our Catholic faith to seriously consider what the bishops propose, especially when they start talking about potential injustices taking place. ...

[/quote]

Government spending just does not automatically equal the achievement of justice. Having worked for the government, I cannot overemphasize that statement, and consequently cannot for the life of me understand how justice is achieved by giving heathen bureaucrats more tax money to waste.

We do not want to let our own preconceptions or political preferences lead us to dismiss out of hand what our shepherds are telling us.

And what are they telling us? They might be theological experts, but they need to get a little more political know-how. I point to their support for ACORN as an example of their political naïveté.


"What amazes me is that you could take a group of people who are hard workers and convince them that they should support social programs that were the exact opposite of their own personal convictions. Put a little fear here and there and you can get people to vote any way you want." -- James Carville


#14

I attended mass this morning. I looked up the “Option for the Poor,” as the priest suggested. The bishops support the minimum wage and many other government programs. The U.S. Catholic bishops and I have major philosophical differences! The minimum wage is bad economics. If you want to help the poor, you do not support the minimum wage. As you will tell from my letter, I do not believe in “salvation by law.” I learned a lot by owning a business and traveling to India on business trips.

I was willing to hire the young and unskilled, but it was illegal to pay them what they were worth in the marketplace. The government makes it illegal to pay wages below the minimum wage. The minimum wage is a floor on wages that causes a surplus of young and unskilled workers. There is 50 years of solid economic research to support this contention. Are the bishops listening? The minimum wage that is above the equilibrium wage hurts the young and unskilled.

Unfortunately, most people do not know their directions when it comes to government promises. The end does not justify the means. The “means” is the end. Tell me the means and I will tell you the ending. Such is the beauty of economics. I am not interested in the government’s lofty objectives; I am only interested in the means they use to get there. If you want to help poor workers, abolish the minimum wage. If you want to protect citizens from violent crime, abolish the gun control laws. If you want to increase wealth and employment, abolish taxes.

“An individual who intends only to serve the public interest by fostering government intervention is led by an invisible hand to promote private interest, which was no part of his intention (Friedman).” The “invisible hand” is the reason Milton Friedman says that he is not aware of the government doing much good. The government heads west when it should be heading east.


#15

Thou shalt not steal.


#16

[quote="ACCT, post:14, topic:282894"]
The bishops support the minimum wage and many other government programs.

[/quote]

"Some" bishops support the minimum although few will claim we have a moral obligation to support it, although I once had a bishop who, astonishingly enough, made just that claim.

The U.S. Catholic bishops and I have major philosophical differences! The minimum wage is bad economics.

I agree with your understanding, but the bigger issue is that neither position can be considered a moral choice. It is neither moral nor immoral to support either an increase in the minimum wage or its elimination. One choice will surely lead to a better or worse result but being wrong in believing which is better is not a sin, and this is why the bishops have no business whatever in sounding forth on this subject. It is, as you said, an economic issue. It is not, as the bishops imply, a moral one.

Ender


#17

Okay, I'll come back. :p

I kind of intentionally took a step back from this thread, mostly because I'm not sure what to say. :o I don't disagree with many of the points raised. I still wrestle with these types of issues myself. In other words, I wouldn't say that I have come to hard and fast conclusions either way.

I'm no fan of government spending, to be sure. And I realize that an increase in government spending does not translate to more help for the poor. But I also do not want to conclude that all increases in government spending do not help the poor or even hurt the poor. I don't want to allow my natural distaste for government spending to cloud my judgment (which is something I generally have to be intentional about doing).

The one thing I try most to remain sensitive to (for myself) is not to put Democrat talking points on the lips of bishops, even if they happen to agree with the Democrats on a particular issue. I would assume that the bishops are only too keenly aware of the government's ability to waste money, and they would likely agree 100% that an increase in spending does not automatically translate into greater justice being served.

But, it seems that in this specific instance regarding Medicaid and food stamps, these bishops do believe that cutting the budget will hurt the poor people that those programs were created to serve.

This is an area that is outside of my area of expertise. I won't pretend to be knowledgable enough of those social programs (let alone more complex socio-political factors) to say that I'm 100% sure that it would be detrimental to the poor to cut back those programs. I'm not. But I am inclined to think that those particular bishops have more information than I do. So I try to defer to them in such cases. But I try to remain open to being wrong. It happens from time to time. ;)


#18

Despite coming from completely opposite directions I am inclined to agree with you. I don’t know if the Bishop’s are more knowledgeable than any one else about politics, though.

I am strongly inclined to mistrust people who claim to be cutting government in the name of removing waste. People claim that the government is wasteful, but surely the taxpayers are just as wasteful. Do we really need a bigger t.v. or another more powerful vehicle; this does not even include people spending money on drugs and alcohol. Oh, we can justify it by saying we are helping the economy; but how is a dollar spent by the government different then that spent by an individual?

All government is a compromise. The more divided the nation the more EVERYONE feels that they are the losers of ANY compromise. The left sees government waste in the programs instituted by the right and vice versa. Everyone agrees that the government is wasteful even as they disagree completely about what that waste actually is. We are the Hatfields and McCoys killing each other’s future; each thinking that the only solution is to completely destroy each other.

I am saying this not to convert you but to let you see the direction that I come from. In a large sense, I agree with the Bishop’s; although I am inclined to think that they should not have said anything even so. I would rather that all of the Bishop’s and other organizations like EWTN refrain from any specific support of either the left nor the right. We need dedicated Catholics fighting to make BOTH parties holier from the inside as well as the outside. The Bishop’s cannot afford to be dragged into the liberal vs conservative hate-fest that permeates our culture.

I am certain that many liberals, frustrated by what they see as a Church in bed with the right, will relish in this small hand slap toward the right. My suggestion to them/me is to not relish in it nor laugh at those on the right who feel angered and betrayed and quick to judge the Bishops; rather it is to view those on the right who feel that righteous anger as a mirror reflection of ourselves when we do the same. If we see anger and close minded ignorance in them should we not see it in ourselves? If we see ourselves as principled and caring, should we not see it in them?


#19

[quote="Tony_the_mad, post:18, topic:282894"]

I am strongly inclined to mistrust people who claim to be cutting government in the name of removing waste. People claim that the government is wasteful, but surely the taxpayers are just as wasteful. Do we really need a bigger t.v. or another more powerful vehicle; this does not even include people spending money on drugs and alcohol. Oh, we can justify it by saying we are helping the economy; but how is a dollar spent by the government different then that spent by an individual?

[/quote]

The difference is that government is spending other peoples dollars, while people spend their own dollars.

Imagine you have a car and are not at home and i come along and find someone direly injured near your home, who needs to get to hospital now. Unfortunately for you, your car is the only one avaiable, so i break it open (damaging the window) and use it to drive the injured to the hospital. Due to driving fast, i also inflict some further damage. Would you be happy about such incidence?
Probably not that happy.
Would my act be morally justified? Probably yes and in many countries it would not be even criminal.

Now changing the situation somewhat, i decide to regularly steal your car in case i come along someone, who has to be brought to hospital quickly. I do not know for certain, that i need your car to save someones life. But maybe today or towmorrow or the day after by stealing your car, i might be able to save someones life.
Would my act be morally justified? Probably not, at least its highly questionable to take something from someone, because you might need it to save a life.

On the other hand, if you set out daily in your car looking for injured people, because you might find someone, its morally neutral and just a waste of your time and money, because driving aroung looking for injured is very inefficient.

What the government often does is not the first, bur the second. You know maybe if we do not take 35% of your income but just 30% of your income, we may have to cut a program, that may have negative effects on... (and btw if you dont pay we send the cops and you end in prison)

So at least the government should take great care not to waste money, because when government is wasting money on maybes too much or just out of laziness, it borders on or is theft. If an individual is wasting money, it is stupid, but not necessarily criminal or sinful.


#20

[quote="ACCT, post:14, topic:282894"]
I attended mass this morning. I looked up the “Option for the Poor,” as the priest suggested. The bishops support the minimum wage and many other government programs. The U.S. Catholic bishops and I have major philosophical differences! The minimum wage is bad economics. If you want to help the poor, you do not support the minimum wage. As you will tell from my letter, I do not believe in “salvation by law.” I learned a lot by owning a business and traveling to India on business trips.

I was willing to hire the young and unskilled, but it was illegal to pay them what they were worth in the marketplace. The government makes it illegal to pay wages below the minimum wage. The minimum wage is a floor on wages that causes a surplus of young and unskilled workers. There is 50 years of solid economic research to support this contention. Are the bishops listening? The minimum wage that is above the equilibrium wage hurts the young and unskilled.

Unfortunately, most people do not know their directions when it comes to government promises. The end does not justify the means. The “means” is the end. Tell me the means and I will tell you the ending. Such is the beauty of economics. I am not interested in the government’s lofty objectives; I am only interested in the means they use to get there. If you want to help poor workers, abolish the minimum wage. If you want to protect citizens from violent crime, abolish the gun control laws. If you want to increase wealth and employment, abolish taxes.

... The government heads west when it should be heading east.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

Sowell has written extensively on the MW and its consequences. The reality is counter-intuitive. And that's the problem: too many people use their intuition instead of facts to attempt to solve a problem. The problem with setting a MW is that the naive think everything else stays the same, i.e., constant. How many times has the MW been increased since it was first legislated in 1938? Were the workers ever made any better off? If they could, then why not set the MW at $10, $20, or even $50? Others have ulterior motives. Unions use it to leverage higher wages for their members. In the end, everyone is worse off because prices in general rise. If I have a year of experience over someone getting minimum wage, and he's earning the same as I after his is raised, am I going to be happy?

With regard to socialism in general, “The Economic Organization of a P.O.W. Camp” by R.A. Radford, from Economica, November, 1945, facstaff.uww.edu/kashianr/POWCampRadford.pdf , provides us a look at how markets emerge as a result of human need. What it illustrates is that people do not want equality, for that is how they start out when the Red Cross packages are distributed. What followed was the emergence of a trading system that raised the overall well-being of the inmates in general. IOW, wealth [Red Cross goodies] was used to create more wealth [enhanced quality of life], even though the amount of goods held by the prisoners remained the same. A socialist injected into this picture would immediately, if not sooner, decry the inequality of one prisoner having, say two candy bars and no cigarettes, and another having two packs of cigarettes and no candy bars. He would then set out to capitalize [no pun intended] on the envy of both and work to return the whole camp back to the way it was originally, thus reducing wealth by lowering its over-all well being.

"If incomes are equalized, they will be equalized at a low level." -- Vilfredo Pareto


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