Commenting on a Story? Please Show Your Work

I try to stay off of local news articles. It was pretty bad before Donald Trump was elected President, but since he’s been in office the level of meanness towards our fellow human beings has gone off the charts.

In New Hampshire, Governor Sununu is going to stop the $300 per week payments the unemployed have been receiving from the federal government. Why? People are saying there are so many jobs out there available and people aren’t working them because they are “being paid to stay home and be lazy.” Not only that, he’s looking to pay people an incentive who go back to work. People who return to work part-time will be eligible for a $500 incentive after 8 weeks and $1000 for full-time work.

Sununu is a Republican. They allegedly believe in the free market. If that were the case, he would not be proposing this. All he’s doing is being a shill for companies that pay people poverty-level wages. If the free market were working, these jobs would be competing against each other for workers and offering better salaries and benefits. They aren’t. Instead, they just keep listing the jobs and whining that no one is applying for them.

This is particularly true in places that rely on tourism, such as where I live. The jobs in this area have largely been tourism and travel-related. People are expected to work 40+ hours a week all summer for $15 an hour, or less. As soon as the tourists go away, hours get cut. They won’t actually lay you off, because they don’t want you collecting unemployment, they just cut the hours to the point no one can live on it. There is no sense that places of employment are as invested in their employees as they expect employees to be in their business. It’s a one-sided relationship, with employees expected to give everything to the job and just disappear when they are no longer needed.

This business model has been sold to people over and over. While at the same time saying that minimum-wage jobs were never meant to support a family, the same people don’t understand why people who are supporting a family aren’t gobbling up these jobs. What we are seeing now is the result of that happening. The fact that so many businesses are successful only by paying poverty-level wages to their workers is a huge problem, and it’s finally starting to come home to roost.

On a local news story today about Sununu, I made the following comment:

I don’t think the government should be giving people an incentive to work. If people don’t want to work for a business, it’s up to that business to find the incentive to get people to come work for them, not the government,

The problem is the business model that pays people poverty wages is finally failing, but go ahead and blame everything else besides that.

Following that, I had two people insist that what’s being offered out there right now is “hardly” poverty wages. Really. I asked both people who commented to show me where the jobs like this were and neither has replied. They are good at spouting talking points, but horrible at being able to back up those talking points with actual evidence.

Let’s take a look, shall we? One of the local pizza places is advertising for a counter person and a delivery driver. $12-$18 per hour for the counter help, $12-$20 for the driver. $12 per hour works out to $480 per week before taxes.

Add to that people cannot find housing in this area thanks to housing being snapped up by people who want to make a fortune in the short-term-rental business, and you have no people who can afford to live in this area at the rate of pay people are offering. I found two listings for 1 bedroom apartments in the paper; one was $1200 and the other was $1350. I would love to know how someone is supposed to afford to live on $480 per week. There would be a car payment or an inexpensive car with the potential for repair bills. There’s the cost of food and gas to add to the cost of living.

All of this on $480 per week? And then, don’t forget hours get cut when the tourists go home, but the bills don’t.

Now, I went and looked at the help wanted section myself and came up with those numbers. The people who were alleging there were jobs not paying low wages did not. If you’re going to make an argument, you better be able to back it up. Otherwise, you’re just regurgitating Republican talking points that actually have no bearing on reality.

10 replies »

  1. “… the free market. If that were the case, he would not be proposing this. ”
    Thank you, Patti: situations like this, when government does not force workers back into such jobs, result in strikes and increased wages and better working conditions. He is actually manipulating the job market in favor of bad employers who would ‘normally’ be forced to give workers better treatment, if the labor market were free, in this case.
    And thank you, Patti, for showing the work!


    • Exactly. It’s ridiculous. We already subsidize most of these workers with food stamps and health insurance (or they are uninsured) but now he would have us paying wages to people when businesses won’t pay them a living wage.

  2. Patti you are wonderful and you are so very right!! The model is failing. Right now my sons are making $10/hr working full-time (36 hrs/week) and it is only because we bought them a house on land contract where their rent is under $200 each a month that they are able to make it on their own… I don’t know how others manage. The stimulus checks pump much needed revenue into the economy but the real “fix” would be for the employers to pay a living wage and take a cut to their 100 billion dollar profit margin!!!!