Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quick! Someone raise the minimum wage before this man starves to death!

Matt Walsh writes:

Someone alert Feed the Children. Jeff, who messaged me this week, is fighting to survive:

Matt Walsh…. I first started following you when I read your post defending customer service representatives. You also wrote something blasting people who don’t tip, and then last week you wrote criticizing customers who talk on their phones while they’re in the check out aisle. I’m in a the customer service industry so I greatly appreciated these writings. I read them and thought, hey, this guy is on our side. But then last week I saw you Tweet a sarcastic slam against people fighting for a higher minimum wage.

I went back to see what else you’d said on the subject and discovered a lot of ignorance and hate directed at low wage workers. I realized you’re just a fraud and a liar. You pretend to fight for working class people and to be a “voice of the people” and all that bull sh*t, but then you have a problem with giving us a living wage. I know you’ve never been in our shoes as a big shot wannabe famous blogger, but let me tell you what it’s like to try and live on the poverty level minimum wage. I graduated college a year ago. There were NO JOBS to be found (which you’d know if you had a real job in the first place). Eventually I ended up at a fast food place making minimum wage.

I want to start a family, get married, have kids, buy a home, buy a more reliable car, do all the things people in America should be able to do. But I can’t. I can barely to pay my bills as it is. I’m stuck and I’m struggling. The movement to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour would at least allow me to move into my own place and start a life.

One day maybe I can make money sitting around typing hateful sh*t all day and basically being an assh*le for a living, but right now I don’t have that luxury like you. That’s why I need the minimum wage to be something I can at least survive on. That’s what ALL Americans deserve. If there’s ever a strike or rally in my town, I’ll be there. I’ll be there because of people like you. Or maybe you’d prefer it if all the people serving you food and waiting on you hand and foot just went home and starved to death. I guess that’s what it means to be Christian, right Matt?


Dear Jeff,

Yes, I’ve certainly only ever lived in luxury. I used to go to sleep in my one bedroom apartment and smile about my privileged existence while I listened to the drug addicts down stairs yell at each other until 3 AM. Sometimes I’d even laugh with radiant joy about my stress-free life, as I cooked some Ramen Noodles while watching the roaches crawl across the counter.

And, when I couldn’t afford to pay the cable, or to turn on the heat or the air conditioning, and when I spent weeks at a time eating nothing but gas station hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches, and when I worked two or three jobs at once, never had any vacations, rarely had a weekend off, and when I paid for gas with quarters, and started selling my few possessions on Craiglist so that I could afford rent for the month, and when sat alone at nights in my rundown pad staring at the wall in silence, I used to thank God that I didn’t have as hard a life as you, Jeff.

Now, here’s the funny thing: even then, I didn’t whine, and I never waved my arms around and screamed about how I was on the verge of starvation.

I mean, really. For goodness sake, man, get a grip.

‘Starve to death’?

Is that a common workplace hazard over at McDonalds?  About 15% of American households are food insecure, and I would have to assume that there are some McDonald's workers in there. Anyway, Jeff did not say that he, himself, was starving to death. He said that he cannot afford to start a family. Read his letter again. Are you finding that your co-workers often collapse on the floor and whither away from malnutrition?

“Hey, where’s Steve today? He didn’t show up for his shift.”

“Oh, Steve starved to death last night. He’ll be out for a while.”

Is that a conversation that often takes place in your break room?

It is beyond embarrassing that we live in a country where someone would spend tens of thousands of dollars on a college education often this comes in the form of onerous loans, and then move back in with his parents and complain that he is in a fight for his very survival.  But it's not "beyond embarrassing" that we live in a country where so many people with college degrees cannot find anything better than a minimum wage job? In fact, nearly 1/5 (18%) of workers 16 and older with minimum wage jobs have at least a bachelor's degree (and if you subtract those aged 16-21, who are not old enough for a college degree, the percentage would be even higher). Given your contempt for anyone who has decided to pursue a college degree, I am sure you will assert that they are not trying hard enough. I have personally known too many hardworking college classmates who had to resort to minimum wage jobs when they graduated to believe that is true. You cannot deny the fact that our economy sucks. We have a real jobs problem. You can't fault someone for getting a college degree (it does provide a better chance of getting past minimum wage, after all), and you can't blame someone if they can't find a decent paying job when they graduate. Personally, I am a hardworking person who has always had at least 2 jobs at once. However, I have been working for years to attain a position and salary level that matches my education, and I am not even close. It is not for lack of trying.

No, Jeff, your survival is not at stake. Sure, one day you’ll die, but I can guarantee that ‘minimum wage’ won’t make it on the autopsy report under ’cause of death.’ Having spent time in the lower income brackets, surely you can't be ignorant of all the major health problems that result from poverty?  (see this and this)  By definition, a living wage is the amount of money people require to meet their most basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care). Minimum wage is currently far below a living wage, so by definition it is not enough to meet a human being's most basic survival needs. But, who am I to tell you that you can't make light of this situation all you want...

So I’d recommend that you stop worrying about how you’ll die, and start worrying about how you’re living. That is exactly what Jeff is worried about. He's talking about getting a house and starting a family.

You want a better life, and I don’t blame you. You want more money, and I don’t blame you. The question before you, Jeff, is how to best achieve those results. So you just spent all this time responding to a claim that Jeff never made about dying, mocking him for his concerns, and acting like being poor isn't such a big deal... and it is not until now that we get to the point where Jeff started. Yes, the question is how can people like Jeff, and people worse off than Jeff (who say, are unable to live with their parents), have a better life? Jeff is saying that raising the minimum will help. He is saying that people who have jobs should at the very least be able to afford their most basic survival needs. At the least. Furthermore, Jeff's claim is supported by the fact that the very situation of living in poverty itself is a barrier to economic mobility. For example, applying for jobs requires money and other resources (reliable transportation, time off work, computing/printing for resumes, nice clothes for the interview, etc.). It is easier to find your way into a better paying job if you have some free time and vacation time, don't have major health issues to worry about, can be somewhat flexible about where you live, have a stable and safe living environment, don't have to worry about how you're going to get to work, and (this is key) already have some relevant job experience in that area.

Jeff also points out that you are an anomaly - in fact, you are extremely lucky to be supporting yourself with a blog. EXTREMELY lucky. That is all you owe your success to:  pure dumb luck.

But I can only assume that, despite all of this, you are still going to council minimum wage workers to just "work harder" or something like that...

As far as I can tell, you have two options:

1) Continue to use your time surfing the Internet, and writing angry emails to bloggers, and organizing minimum wage protests I believe he said he would join a protest if he found one, not organize it, and sobbing about your tragic lot in life. He was not sobbing about his tragic lot in life. He was saying that he did not appreciate your ignorant posts about these topics. Sit in idle and wait for the government to come along, lift you on its shoulders, and carry you into a paradise of mediocrity.  He also did not say anything about the government. He is working, and he is living with his parents. Hope that the law will magically make it possible for entry level burger flippers to afford homes, and cars, and other things that most of us had to actually earn. Wouldn't the concept of "earning" encompass flipping burgers for wages? If he made his money through work, on what basis do you say he hasn't earned it? And once again, given the prevalence of low-skill service-sector jobs in comparison to skilled work, and all the other economic factors that ensure that many adults will have to take these low-skill jobs no matter what, why is it so unreasonable for a working adult to suggest they should be able to afford a home and a car (especially when both are necessary for work)? Is that really so much to ask? Are you really that resentful about a person wanting a place to live and a means of getting to work?

2) Get over yourself. Stop complaining. Stop treading water and start swimming. And if you apply your approach for getting out of poverty to your children's swim lessons, you will have a couple of dead children.  Decide what you want out of life and go chase it. Make sacrifices. Take risks. Move out of town for a new opportunity, or out of state, or out of the hemisphere, if that’s what’s necessary. Realize that there are other jobs out there, but you have to be willing to do them uh, if he is working a minimum wage job, I don't think his "willingness" is the issue here, and first you have to be willing to pursue them. Stop insisting that there are ‘no jobs,’ and pay attention to all of the people somehow finding these openings that you claim don’t exist anywhere in the known galaxy.  And remain completely oblivious to the real economic conditions that show it is, in fact, objectively, hard to get a job. Stop seeing yourself as entitled to the American Dream he just wants a home and a family just because you bought a fancy college education man, you are really resentful of his education, and have now spent one measly year in the job market. Stop belittling other people’s accomplishments ...like, getting a college degree?, especially when you haven’t yet accomplished much yourself (apply this bit of advice to yourself Matt). Stop looking for sympathy. Start looking for a path up the mountain — however treacherous, however dangerous, however hard — and get to climbing.

Those are your choices, friend.

As usual, one is easy, but the other is right.

Jeff, I think you should also know that you’re begging for your own firing when you talk about a 15 dollar minimum wage.  Yup, asking for a raise is definitely grounds for being fired. You aren’t making 15 bucks an hour pushing buttons and frying potatoes because your labor isn’t worth that kind of money. Actually, if that is how much money is required to make that labor possible  - to secure the basic needs for life - then labor is, objectively, worth at least that much. If you are not even paying someone the full cost of what it takes them to make that labor available to you in the first place, you are ripping them off. You’re doing something that most people could do, which means your employer doesn’t have to shell out big bucks (the very minimum that a person needs for basic survival = "big bucks"??) to attract highly skilled candidates to do it. If they were forced to shell out big bucks, they’d either become much more discerning about who they employ, or they’d simply cut to the chase and automate your entire profession.  Matt, you know what else most people could do? Word-vomit all their unresearched thoughts about stuff and/or repeat cliched partisan talking points (which for you are pretty much indistinguishable things) on a daily basis. From my past experience working in the food service industry, I would say flipping burgers requires more mental and physical skills (responding with grace to cranky customers, doing mental math when customers give you change after you have already entered the amount in, standing on your feet for 8 hours, scrubbing toilets, figuring out why equipment isn't working, lifting stuff) than your blogging masterpieces require. 

See, in the mean world of reality, we are forced to confront the fact that when the government comes in with its Hammer of Economic Justice and starts bludgeoning business owners over the head see, if your own earnings were to be reflective of your writing skills, I might actually consider giving you less than a living wage... smh, demanding that all of their lowest skilled workers be given an across-the-board raise, there are real trade-offs that must occur. Even the Congressional Budget Office predicts that half a million jobs will be lost if the federal minimum wage is raised to $10.10.

If you care to pay a few dollars to purchase this 180 page study, you’ll find that two leading researchers conducted a thorough investigation and discovered that the vast majority of the most reliable empirical evidence ("the vast majority of the most reliable empirical evidence" - HAHAHA. I would love to see what happened if I put that phrase in a research paper.) points to a direct causal link between job loss and minimum wage hikes.

Of course, your fellow minimum wage proponents are quick to assert that “most of the studies” somehow “prove” otherwise. Next, they’ll probably tell you about a 1994 study out of New Jersey that actually revealed an INCREASE in employment as a result of a minimum wage hike. What they won’t tell you is that these psychotic claims have been thoroughly debunked.

Listen, Matt. You can pretend that you are capable of parsing and evaluating the minutiae of research design and statistical methodologies that the economists on both sides of this argument are quibbling over. However, I think it's pretty obvious that you cannot. Frankly, I would bet you didn't even read that 180 page study. I doubt you were even able to fully comprehend the abstract. What you are doing (and what anyone is capable of doing) is Google searching and picking out the results that you agree with. 

Another thing that you can do is look at the big picture - the reality that is more obviously visible. To start, let's do some geographic comparison. If you compare the minimum wage (WG) and unemployment rates (UE) in other countries, you will see there is no strong correlation between the two, which undermines any notion that there is any "direct causal link" between them. Furthermore, if there is a pattern, it's not what you would expect if MW had such a direct, significant impact on employment (this is especially visible if you look within regions).  I pulled a bunch of random countries and pasted below (I tried to select countries on the opposite extremes of MW, with a few in the middle; also MW is in U.S. dollars).

Kenya             MW $0.25     UE 42%
Tajikistan        MW $0.30     UE 60%
Swaziland       MW $0.33     UE 40.6%
Senegal           MW $0.36     UE 48%
Nepal              MW $0.45     UE 46%
Mozambique   MW $0.51     UE 60%
Armenia          MW $0.65     UE 17.3%
Mongolia         MW $0.82    UE 12.2%
Turkmenistan   MW $0.89   UE 70%
Morocco          MW $0.92    UE 10%
Syria                MW $1.02    UE 18%
Jordan              MW $1.29    UE 11.9%
Serbia              MW $1.31    UE 20.1%
Macedonia      MW $1.32    UE 28.6%
Dominica        MW $1.48    UE 23%
Costa Rica      MW $1.85    UE 7.8%
Libya              MW $2.06    UE 13%
Poland            MW $2.07    UE 9.7%
Slovakia         MW $2.59    UE 13.9%
Turkey           MW $3.05    UE 9.8%
Venezuela      MW $3.30    UE 5.6%
Saudi Arabia  MW $3.85    UE 12.1%

Israel              MW $5.99    UE 5.9%
U.S.               MW $7.25    UE 6.3%
Japan             MW $8.32    UE 3.9%
UK                MW $10.02  UE 6.8%
Netherlands   MW $10.99  UE 7.3%
San Marino    MW $11.49  UE 7.0%
New Zealand MW $11.59  UE 6.0%
Belgium         MW $11.69  UE 8.5%
France            MW $12.22  UE 10.4%
Monaco          MW $12.83  UE 0.0%
Luxembourg  MW $14.24   UE 6.1%
Australia        MW $16.88   UE 5.8%

We can also look historically. In the post-WW2 era, the two troughs of lowest unemployment occurred in 1969 and 2000. The year 1969 followed a decade of strong union activity and minimum wage increases. If you look at inflation-adjusted minimum wage graphs, you will see that minimum wage reached its peak at around/over $10.00/hr in the mid-to-late 60s, and that was also the strongest the American economy has been in the post-WW2 period.  Likewise, the 2000 trough occurred at the end of a decline in unemployment that began with a couple of large minimum wage hikes in 1996 and 1997.

Finally, I have already questioned the claim that employers are forced to lay people off to save money when wages increase (I even did some calculations for you to show how it is possible to still be really profitable while paying a living wage.) You are letting people with more money than they could ever spend in their lifetimes convince you that they just wouldn't have enough incentive to run a business if they paid their workers sufficient money to live on. They even spend gobs of that more-money-than-they-could-ever-spend to commission studies showing that it's true. But you don't have to believe them, Matt. In fact, if you look at graphs of inequality, it is pretty obvious. As these people make more money, inequality increases and the economy becomes more unstable. They don't need to pay their workers lower wages so that they can stay in business. They need to pay them less money so that they can be more insanely wealthy even if it harms the economy (less purchasing power/lower demand) in the long run.  Look here and pay special attention to figures 3 and 5 - particularly to what happens to the concentration of wealth prior to the economic collapses of 1929 and 2008. In fact, you can find similar graphs of this data in many other places.

People with lots of money use all the resources at their disposal to convince everyone else that anything that might challenge the status quo (raise taxes, raise minimum wage, etc.) will make it impossible for businesses to stay afloat and, hence, destroy society. And many people believe them because they don't understand how the economy works and many of their sources of information are ultimately influenced, directly or indirectly, by those people with money. However, if one looks historically, it is pretty easy to see that wealth does not trickle down, that all the things that are "favorable to business" at the direct expense of everyone else just increase inequality and economic instability, and that significantly "lowering the burden" of regulations and taxes has culminated, twice in the last century, in major economic crises. The period of strongest economic growth saw increased taxes on the highest brackets and increases in minimum wage.

Like always, though, there is a broader issue that I am more concerned about. Say you are right and a minimum wage hike will directly increase unemployment. You are okay with that? You're willing to accept that? Do you see absolutely nothing wrong with a society that is structured to force a choice between paying lots of people less money than they require to live, or leaving lots of people without any jobs at all? Is that really the best system we can come up with? And must our highest priority really be some abstract concept of "growth" (without any apparent ultimate goal or limit) and a personified, sanctified "market" that we believe acts independently of real people making real choices? Personally, I willingly pay more for things when I know that the people who made them received higher wages. Are not other people capable of making the same decisions? Do we really want to make our model of a human being the cold, calculating individual who cares about nothing more than personal gain? Or can we build our society with the standard and expectation that human beings are moral creatures who make decisions based on what they believe is ethical and in other people's best interest as well? We act like consumers and CEOs "can't help" but make choices that sacrifice the lives of many people in order to maximize their savings and profits. We talk as if it were all mechanized and beyond anyone's control.  Don't you, Matt, as a Christian, believe that we can all act better than that? Are there not things we can value more highly than maximized profits and the latest iPhone?  Like... the lives of other human beings?

Or is it only before they're born that you care about the lives of human beings?

But this is all academic.  It's actually getting kind of funny, how often you think you are being "academic." It doesn’t matter to you. Says the one who makes fun of college graduates, to the person who went to college.

Put it aside, and go do something with your life. And, working is.... not doing something with your life?

I’m sure you have skills that a lot of people don’t have — that’s why I encourage you to forget about the minimum wage and dedicate all of your available time and energy towards finding a spot in a field that allows you to utilize them. Matt... what could you possibly know about finding a spot to use skills from a college education? You say it because it sounds good, but you have never done it. You worked low-paying jobs just like Jeff (though you criticize him for it). Then you happened to get really lucky when lots of people started reading your blog.  So much for your thoughts on the matter. Let's look at what another young man named Matt Walsh once (in March of 2014) had to say: "Can't find a cushy, high paying job with competitive benefits and three weeks paid vacation every year? Join the club, your Highness. Now go flip a burger, dig a ditch, mop a floor. Something. ANYTHING." [Either Matt Walsh has multiple personalities, or he just expresses whatever opinions happen to suit his purposes at the moment.]  You’re correct that everyone is worth more than nine bucks an hour, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is worth more than nine bucks an hour while performing a task that a child could just as easily perform.  So if those are the only jobs available to a person... it's their fault? They should accept less than what they're worth because society is giving them less than what they're worth?

Albert Einstein was a moderately gifted dude, but if he rose from the grave, knocked on my door, and asked for a job washing my windows, I’d still only pay him the going rate for residential window washers.  That's not the point. The point is that, if Einstein doesn't have many options available at the moment but is nevertheless working and contributing something to society, he should be able to afford basic necessities. Einstein was valuable when he was doing that thing which only Einstein could do (unlocking secrets of the universe, styling his hair to give it that ‘just electrocuted’ look, etc.) but he’d be equally as cheap and expendable ouch as the next guy when doing things that anyone could do.

Jeff, even though you hurt my feeling awww... so you do have one feeling? What is that feeling, anger or resentment? and said mean things about me, I still want you to succeed in life. I want you to find that spot where you can blossom. I want you to be The Einstein of something.
But, until then, I regret to inform you that you are being paid exactly what you deserve.




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  2. Wow. I love you. Seriously...This guy drives me crazy, he calls people arrogant and stupid when he is guilty of exactly the same. Please, I urge you, keep responding to this idiot's hate speech. Much like many of Mr. Walsh's devoted followers say "You write exactly what I'm thinking!! More people should read your blog!!!!! God bless you!!" Please keep writing...ill keep reading.

  3. Ditto. Please keep writing, and I will keep reading.

  4. I just discovered this blog recently and I can't get enough. Seriously, please don't stop! I have read blog posts of his and I never know how to articulate why I think he sucks. When I read your writing, it's like everything I'm thinking but just can't put into words. It's great!

  5. First off. Matt didn't get "lucky" with his blog. He has a talent (one I certainly don't possess) and has something to say that people want to listen to. Whether you love him or hate him, he earned every single reader.

    With that being said. This anti-Matt blog post is one of the most economically illiterate things I have ever read. Free market capitalism has done more for the average person than any other system ever devised. You want to talk about people who are food insecure, go back to pre capitalist times and compare. Or better yet, how where commoners eating in Mother Russia? Every modern convenience and luxury and our standard of living is because of free market capitalism. And nobody believes that the market acts independently of people and their choices. The market is made up of people making choices. That is the market. Capitalism is the most cooperative and freedom fostering economic system ever created. Period. It's done more good for more people than anything else.

    But here is the crux of your problem: you believe that there is some perfect system out there (if that's not what you believe then you certainly fooled me). The problem isn't the system, it's humans. There will always be imperfections with anything that involves decisions made by people. So the goal is to figure out what does the most good for the most people and we have that (at least we used to anyway). We need to reenergize capitalism by getting the government out of it, then figure out how to help the 5% of people that capitalism doesn't work so well for (though I believe the majority of that 5% fail because they make bad decisions like drugs and alcohol).

    There are so many other things wrong with your response to Matt that I just don't have the time to respond to. Good day.

    1. Oh trust me, I have done much more intensive study of economics than most people in this country. :) You may not agree with me, but my contentions have a solid basis of historical and economic evidence (some of which I have presented in this post, and which I encourage you to review more carefully). Whatever you want to call things and whatever labels you want to use, in fact, the poverty and food insecurity of the past couple hundred years is of a far greater magnitude than at any other point in history. You say things aren't working out for 5% of people... actually that percentage is much higher. Even in America the percentage of people living below the poverty line and in food insecure households is much greater than 5% (15% overall and higher for children). More than a third of the world's population lives on less than 2 USD a day (the benchmark of extreme poverty). Contrary to whatever myths might be floating around, poverty on this scale never existed before.Throughout history human beings have displayed remarkable ingenuity and an ability to adapt of even the harshest of environments - from arctic tundra to desert. Now, so many can barely survive. Clearly we are doing something wrong and we need to fix it.

  6. It appears that you may have been reading the wrong books on economics because they haven't done you any good. I suggest two books by Thomas Sowell (the most brilliant economic mind alive today) "Basic Economics" and "Economic Facts and Fallacies." I would also suggests "Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith, "Capitalism and Freedom" by Milton Friedman and then I would read "The Communist Manifesto" by Marx. That should give you an idea of how backwards leftwing economic policy is and why people like Paul Krugman don't have a clue.

    The 5% I was talking about was from the past. Of course that number isn't going to be right today after we've had over 25 years of the left controlling Washington. All the gains made during the Reagan years have been undone. That 5% number was also referring to this country. Of course there is going to be mass poverty in nations controlled by tyrannical, corrupt regimes.

    But let's see where the 5% number comes from. To start we have to make one very important distinction, we have to look at people as individuals and not income groups. Income groups are fluid, they're never the same. The bottom 20% of earners this year is going to be made up of different people next year and even more so in 5-10 years (this used to be even more true during the Reagan years when we had better upward mobility). The left likes to completely disregard this distinction when considering economic policy. With that being said, here are some findings from a study that was done tracking individuals (using all of the US census data) from 1975 to 1991 (also keep in mind that we had 8 years of rightwing Reagan policies right in the middle of this time period):

    29% of people that where in the bottom 20% in 1975 where in the top 20% in 1991

    More than 75% of people in the bottom 20% in 1975 where in the top 40% in 1991

    95% of people in the bottom 20% in 1975 moved out of that income bracket by 1991 (there is the 5% number. Only 5% of individuals didn't move out of the bottom 20%. And you also have to consider that from 1975-1982 we where in a recession and Reagan inherited an equally bad situation as Obama did in 2008. Obama did the opposite as Reagan and prolonged the recession where Reagan pulled us out within a couple years.)

    Another stat to consider is the fact that people in the top 0.1% usually make half as much sometime over the next decade. Even the super rich aren't immune to seeing income fluctuate and tend to be replaced with new people that found a way to make their own wealth.

    And poverty was way more prevelant 1,000 years ago then it is now. Even 400-500 years ago all most people worried about was their next meal. Literally what are we going to eat next. Now, in the US most people's biggest worry is what to watch on netflix this weekend. Over 99% of households in the US own refrigerators. That fact alone has raised all of our standards of living immensely.

  7. Your 5% number still does not have basis in any empirical evidence, and your argument rests on a single study that you did not cite. Not very convincing, especially when I can supply hundreds of studies that contradict that conclusion. (Such as: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2117312?uid=16780720&uid=3739704&uid=2&uid=3&uid=16749656&uid=67&uid=62&uid=3739256&sid=21103874734051, http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2083411?uid=16780720&uid=3739704&uid=2&uid=3&uid=16749656&uid=67&uid=62&uid=3739256&sid=21103874734051, http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/0034653053970249#.U6GmuGzD9zM) and anyway, this whole question of mobility is largely irrelevant to the point that there is something dysfunctional about a society/world that abides such a high level of poverty.

    1. Plus, America is just a small slice of the pie. If you look globally, it is clear that the population living in extreme poverty (formerly colonized peoples whose countries are overpowered by multinational corporations, and who still work on plantations, in mines, and now in sweatshops) has not changed at all. You are not correct that poverty/food insecurity was greater in the past. In fact, the archaeological and historical record shows a multitude of mechanisms that humans developed to mitigate environmental unknowns and prepare for future uncertainties. Some people faced hard times on different occasions to be sure, but poverty was not as widespread and systemically generated as it is today.

    2. Sorry for the multiple replies - I don't know what's wrong with this site today. Anyway, I do honestly appreciate all book recommendations. I have, in fact, read Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, and Marx. As I mentioned before, I am very well read on this subject, more so than most people (I don't mean that arrogantly, it is largely a function of the amount of time I have been able to devote to reading/studying at different points).

    3. The information from that study was in one of the Thomas Sowell books I mentioned. I believe it was "Basic Economics". Based on the studies you cited (at least from the abstracts, I couldn't read the whole studies because I'm not going to pay $50-60 to read all of them. Though I think two of them where the same study), "Economic Facts & Fallacies" is a must read for you. It will explain or dispel the notions that are brought forth (at least from what I could tell) in the studies you linked.

      The reason I stick to the USA and ignor most of the rest of the world is because there are so many different factors at play in other countries, though it would probably help me prove my point better if I did. Most of those countries that are riddled with poverty are corrupt, authoritarian states, and like I said before, helps my case. Besides that, doing anything for those countries on a large scale is almost impossible without sending the military in to overthrow their governments. Sure there are a lot if groups that provide aid to those in need, most of them Christian by the way, but the change that would really need to take place to provide a stable future for those nations would require over throw and then a democratic capitalist system installed.

      I'm not sure where you get the idea that people in free market countries today are worse off before the rise of capitalism. That is patently false. Prior to capitalism, life for the common folk was literally about eating and survival, and that was it. There was no leisure because you might starve. And if anything went wrong during those times it lead to widespread famine (one important note here is that controlled economies in the 20th century had famines as well. One killed 100s of thousands of people in Soviet Russia) something that has never happened to a capitalist country. So you can point to starving people in oppressive dictatorships or war torn countries but that doesn't say anything against capitalism.

      I would also read "New Deal or Raw Deal" it was an eye opener for me. "Liberal Fascism" was incredibly good as well, though it's not really about economics per se. Almost all of my sources are books.

  8. Ahhh!! This is the second time my browser has refreshed and deleted everything I had written right before posting. :( I will be super brief now. 1) The economy is global, integrated and therefore you cannot understand the U.S. economy while ignoring the rest of the world. 2) There is corruption in all governments and it does not adequately explain poverty. Industrialized nations have supported or even put into power some of the most brutal and corrupt regimes, often in the service of multinational corporations (started with Guatemala/United Fruit). NGOs also play a role in government corruption, as does the international banking system and tax havens (which accounts for a significant amount of wealth siphoned off from Africa... see e.g. http://www.aercafrica.org/index.php/capital-flight-and-tax-havens). Other forms of foreign control exist... e.g. did you know that France still has legal control over the currency reserves of its former colonies? Anyway, even if a government had zero corruption, widespread poverty would be inevitable when a significant portion of the population are de facto slave laborers on plantations, in mines, in sweatshops, etc. 3) Anthropological and archaeological evidence (which I reviewed while completing phd coursework) demonstrates that your statements in paragraph 3 (re: the nature of pre-modern societies) are factually incorrect. 4. As for book recommendations... to remain brief I would start with "Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank" by Eric Toussaint and Damien Millet.

    1. You're such an advocate for limited government and free market capitalism and you don't even realize it.