Living Wage

Powerline discusses minimum wage issues here. They also explain the difference between .

Be sure to read this older Cato report Powerline references.

When we moved to our current location, we arrived in damaged condition. For various reasons, we needed help around the homestead. We tried to hire some help. We paid six dollars an hour, cash. We paid on the understanding that if our hired help proved diligent, the money would increase. Only two people stayed more than a day, and one of them left the second day. Most people said they would come, but then never showed up.

One of the people the Headmaster hired was a sturdy looking young man who came to him pleading hardship. He needed a job. He’d been let go from the local Tasteless Hamburger Quickie because they had too many people. His mother was on welfare, his father had abandoned them, he wanted to help out. So the Headmaster told him to come out to our place and see what he could, and he explained the terms of employment and how physically hard the labour was. He said he was a good worker.

He arrived the first day, and the Headmaster worked with him, showing him what needed to be done (basically, it was clearing brush). He worked okay, but he talked more. The second day he came back, worked for ten minutes, and then sat on our porch smoking. The Headmaster walked outside and told him “Dude, tell me where you can work for ten minutes and then take a smoking break, and I’ll pay you for your time. Otherwise, your time starts when you finish that cigarette and get started working.”
The young man thought a minute, and then said, “tasteless Hamburger Quickie.”
The Headmaster replied, “And you’re not working there anymore, are you? Maybe this has something to do with it.”
The hired help finished his cigarette and left.

Life is full of choices. I have to wonder how many people insisting that every job deserves to be paid a ‘living wage’ have actually been in a position to hire somebody. I believe employers ought to be fair, and as generous as they can be and still remain employers with a paying business. But I also believe that people who want to earn a living wage ought to be earning that living wage by doing jobs that merit a living wage and doing them in a manner worthy of that living wage.

The bloggers at Powerlineblog point out that our ideas about minimum wage amount to an article of faith:

The relevant article of faith here is one found in the High Church of Liberalism: “that someone who works full time should achieve a certain degree of economic dignity.”
On the one hand, this is a frustratingly vague article of faith: What the heck is economic dignity? What degree of economic dignity should someone who works full time have? On the other hand, we may infer that it is an article of faith with an amazingly high degree of precision: “I believe in jobs that pay $5.15 an hour in 1997 dollars, or $7.00 an hour in 2006 dollars.” Is there anyone out there in Strib land who wonders whether $7.00 an hour doesn’t buy enough economic dignity to warrant credal status? Why so cheap an article of faith? Why not $14.00 an hour? Or $140.00 an hour? Perhaps this is where that “article of faith” point comes in handy. Credo quia absurdum.

The problem is that we are a nation of children who see a job as something like an allowance we get from parents- they owe us, and it has no connection to the work we do. But a job isn’t charity. The point is that you make your employer money or free him up so he can make money- your employment must be worth the employer’s time and money (and red tape) or there’s no reason for him to keep you on the rolls. If you don’t like that, you become self employed. If you cost somebody more money than you bring to the business, it’s not a job, it’s charity. Businesses are businesses, not nonprofit organizations, and if they operate like charities than they go out of business and nobody has a job.

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Cultural Fun

A few years ago I participated in an online discussion with a woman who said that she wanted to work outside the home because her family wanted to provide extra cultural experiences for the children, and that could not be done on most single incomes. I’m not really sure what she meant- she was rather vague about it all. It’s possible that the kinds of things she had in mind could not be done on one income. For my family, if it can’t be done on one income, then we won’t be doing it. But it’s surprising what can be done on a single income. Our single income hasn’t really been that large, either, as the Headmaster just recently retired from twenty years of military service- enlisted, not officer. That was a choice, btw. He could have gone to school early on and gotten his degree and bootstrapped into the officer side. But it’s as important to him to spend time with our children as it is for me, and he knew that he’d have to sacrifice a lot of hours with the family for that. We’re very happy with his choice.

To return to the topic of culture on a modest income, below you will find some ideas.

Instead of eating out, fix a fancy dinner at home. Set the table with the best dishes and candles. Have everybody dress up and pretend to be eating out, practicing table and restaurant manners.

Invite people over often. Make sure to include interesting, fun people; eccentric, odd people; tourists and immigrants, and unusual people. Include old people with stories to tell and young people with dreams to share. Include missionaries, former and current. Include your minister and the elders of your church. Ask for storied of faith, stories of when God blessed them, and stories of dark days.

Art museums often have free days. Check out the one nearest you. We’ve often taken advantage of this, even when the museum was an hour or two away. We packed a nice picnic lunch and ate at a park when the weather was nice, in the car on the way home if it wasn’t. Always keep your eyes open for free or inexpensive attractions.

We buy a year’s family pass to a different attraction each year. It may be the
zoo, the children’s museum, the children’s theater, or the symphony. We can’t
afford to do them all at once, and with a family our size the cost of a yearly
pass is seldom more than it would cost us to get in once, so we choose one each year and immerse ourselves in that one, attending at least a dozen times a year.

Study another country/culture in our homeschool once a year, learning the
customs, meals, holidays, and so on, and incorporating something of your studies into your daily lives.

We study art and artists using old art calendars. We hang works by a particular
artist each month, discussing the paintings and the artists.

Take advantage of NPR and other radio stations. Listen to classical music all the time, studying the lives of composers at the same time.

Call local colleges and ask if there are any international students who like a home-cooked meal with an American family.

Volunteer at the nursing home. We have met natives of several different European countries in a small Midwestern nursing home (I won’t embarrass myself by trying to spell them).

Read, read, read. Spend lots of time at the local library. Once we lived in a home that was not was not very near to any library. Paying the extra fee for a library card was my birthday present from husband and I loved it.

Every once in a while the older children and I get out the Shakespeare and read it aloud together, each taking a few parts.

My husband chooses a different classic to read aloud to the kidlets at bedtime. He’s done Pilgrim’s Progress, Farmer Boy, Bread and Butter Indian, some of the Childhood of Famous American books, and many, many more.

Vacations? As a military family every time we moved we tried to make part
of the move include visiting an interesting spot. We did stay in two locations
for five years each so we took lots of short jaunts to places of historical or
environmental interest. We prefer camping to staying in motels (family size,
again. With a family this large most hotels want us to pay for two rooms.

Have poetry recitations at home.

Plant a garden, perhaps an historical herb garden.

Collect sea shells, stones, or pressed flowers- label them with their Latin names.

Many libraries in larger cities like Chicago and Boston hold passes to museums and
other educational attractions, and sign them out to local residents.

If you live near a college, look in to their music and drama productions. Sometimes tickets are very inexpensive. Sometimes you can attend rehearsals for free.

Host a hymn singing.

And, as I said, read, read, read. Discuss what you read together. And then read some more.

Works for us.

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The Equuschick Abused

After work today I was supposed to head to the hospital to get my last rabies vaccination, and this turned out to be a good thing because I had to get gas on the way and therefore had a heart attack that needed treating, too.

So this shot. We’ve explained to most of you, I think, that what I’m getting is not the shot you get when you’ve been exposed, only a preventative series of vaccinations. I don’t mind explaining this to all of you, but today it was a little different. I had to explain this to the woman giving me the shot. Telling the doctor who’s about to give you a shot just what shot she is supposed to be giving you is a disturbing thing to have to do. And just when I thought when we understood one another, she said “And it goes in your abdomen, right?” “No!” I said. “It goes in my arm. “Oh,” she said, surpised. “I guess I’ll just read what the directions have to say when I get it out.”

She did. She got out the directions that came with the vial and read them out loud to herself. I can’t tell you what this didn’t do for my confidence.

Eventually she thought she had figured out the highly complicated procedure of inserting a needle into an upper arm, and gave me the shot.

Either I am the first person she has ever in her life vaccinated, or she is just sadistic. You know how most people will use both hands, one to give the shot and the other to support your arm? She vaccinates one handed. As in, she walked up and stabbed me in a particularly gung ho and cowboy fashion. Perhaps she was neither sadistic or inexperienced, but only deluded and under the impression that I was a courderoy pincushion?

But anyway. It hurt more than the first two shots, it bled more than the first two shots, and I have no doubt that it will bruise more than the first two shots. *whimpers pathetically*

The Fates hadn’t had their fill of fun with me yet, apparantly. I just had to get a flat tire on the way home and be rescued by my grandfather and a county sherrif.
My mother was very encouraging, of course. “Don’t worry dear”, she said. “It happens. It just usually happens to you.”

Why, thank-you. That was absolutely guaranteed to make me feel better.

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Writing Exercise

Here’s an interesting exercise.

Read this post by Jeff Jarvis. Warning- it’s calculated to boil the blood of most Common Room scholars.

Now take a deep breath and read this response by Hugh Hewitt.

Next take notes. Which man sounds angrier? Why? What words and phrases seem to carry more bitterness? Make a short list of some of the harshest points. Now rewrite them so that they still communicate the author’s meaning, but in a gentler fashion.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick complains that Beatrice ‘speaks poniards, and every word stabs.’ Beatrice is very funny. But is she winsome and persuasive?

Try, for a moment, to ignore the content of the above articles and judge only on style. Which of them is more persuasive? What can you learn and apply to your own writing from these two articles?

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Update One: The Headmistress botched it again. This post is not by Pipsqueak.

Update Two: We are shocked and a little flustered to learn that Jeff Jarvis of the Buzz Machine has taken notice of our writing assignment. He says he’s auditing the course. We didn’t know the textbook could audit the course, but we won’t be so foolhardy as to argue with Mr. Jarvis about it.

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Treating the Disabled to Death

On March 11th, I referred to Christopher Nolan here in The Quality of Life, the Quality of Mercy

I said that “Mr. Nolan points out that one of the greatest ironies of this age is that now, when technology opens up opportunities and chances for life for the disabled that nobody could have ever even imagined 200 years ago, the ‘opportunity’ many of the able bodied are most anxious to share with the disabled is the chance to kill themselves, or to have the deed done to them under medical supervision. Neither Mr. Nolan nor our Cherub pose a threat to anybody. Neither of them can harm, maim, or kill another human being. So why would some prefer to see people like them aborted, quitely put to sleep, or, as in the case of Terri Shiavo, denied food and hydration?”

Joe Ford, a Harvard man with what I gather is severe C.P. makes some sharp observations about how Americans deal with the disabled here.

He points out that

“…society already believes to some degree that it is acceptable to murder disabled people.
As Schiavo starves to death, we are entering a world last encountered in Nazi Europe. Prior to the genocide of Jews, Gypsies, and Poles, the Nazis engaged in the mass murder of disabled children and adults, many of whom were taken from their families under the guise of receiving treatment for their disabling conditions. The Nazis believed that killing was the highest form of treatment for disability.”

He has more to say about it. Please go read. Bonnet tip to Powerline

Update: The Headmistress posted this. I didn’t realize this computer was still signed in under Pip’s account.

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