May 3, 2017

Are The Rich Richer?

There is a ongoing national debate over the so-called “income-inequality gap.”

Some have lobbied for higher minimum wage laws. When I was a kid, minimum wage jobs were mostly filled by high school and college students. I am now told that the average age of a minimum wage earner is 28!

Several cities have passed or may pass a $15.00 an hour minimum wage. In some of those, robotic clerks are already replacing workers. Also, some may ask why stop at $15.00? Why not be $22.50? or $35.00? It almost certainly reduces employment opportunities and crushes many workers possessing only basic skills in its wake.

There is no doubt that the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer, in relative terms. The top 20% of the country holds almost 89% of the wealth. The top 1% earn $367,000 or more annually. The top .01% make 1.6 million or more.

But, are the poor actually poor because the rich are richer?

If so, that assumes that there is set amount of pie, as it were. So that when Steve Jobs got very rich, then his slice got much bigger and ours all had to be smaller.

But that ignores that he invented computers, iPods and smart phones that did not previously exist and created thousands of jobs. He built manufacturing plants and provided the platform for application developers to prosper. Many of those happened to be broke college kids.

That being said, it is almost impossible to live on such a low wage. One fellow used to have a great job, and was paying all his bills. Then, he lost his job and got in arrears on his student loans. Then he was stuck. Seeking additional education is out of the question as he has to work two jobs just to make ends meet. The default killed his credit rating for loans or even for some jobs. At $7.85 an hour, even working 100 hours a week, he can barely make car insurance payments, rent, utilities, groceries, etc. Like many of us, he sees increasing costs, but the same pay. With deposits and costs, he cannot really afford to move.

All in all, it is not the fault of any one group, rich or poor. The economy began to change years ago and education and expectations did not.

Now, minimum wage jobs are asked to support a family, when they were never intended to do that. And they do not do that well at all.

New industries, like Apple, with the better jobs they create a stronger middle class. Then, the middle class creates demand for items the rich produce. The rich then hire staff to make these goods. Even in excess, we all benefit. For instance, the rich person who buys a big yacht indirectly employs dozens of folks in doing so.

The pie can get bigger. I pray it does.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

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