The Maine Governor does not like Art (or Unions, or History).

Robear wrote:
.. the adult still has no job, ...
But I'm not sure I agree with something that will aid business, but not in a way that increases adult employment...

You state that adult employment won't be increased by this change like it's a fact, but it hasn't been proven, that's just your supposition and it's probably better if you phrase it that way.

Yonder wrote:
Robear wrote:
.. the adult still has no job, ...
But I'm not sure I agree with something that will aid business, but not in a way that increases adult employment...

You state that adult employment won't be increased by this change like it's a fact, but it hasn't been proven, that's just your supposition and it's probably better if you phrase it that way.

Remember how all those corporate tax cuts and tax breaks were supposed to spur job creation? There's still 15 million+ unemployed Americans while corporations are enjoying record profits. Now instead of cutting their taxes we're talking about reducing their labor costs...

OG_slinger wrote:
Remember how all those corporate tax cuts and tax breaks were supposed to spur job creation? There's still 15 million+ unemployed Americans while corporations are enjoying record profits. Now instead of cutting their taxes we're talking about reducing their labor costs...

That's a different scenario. A "reducing labor costs" version of trickle down economics would be "Hey, lets cut wages by half, since that will lead to businesses hiring three times as much workers! More money for the lower class!" I am not arguing for anything like that. I'm saying "pay teenagers less, fewer teenagers apply, more job openings for adults".

However, if too few teenagers leave the workforce so that there is no benefit to adult access to these jobs then you know that it didn't work out. From there you can look at your data and decide whether there is any evidence that a higher cut would have been better or if you just need to rollback to the old way of doing things.

Yonder wrote:

That's a different scenario. A "reducing labor costs" version of trickle down economics would be "Hey, lets cut wages by half, since that will lead to businesses hiring three times as much workers! More money for the lower class!" I am not arguing for anything like that. I'm saying "pay teenagers less, fewer teenagers apply, more job openings for adults".

So do you honestly believe that given the choice between hiring an adult for $7.50 an hour or hiring someone under 20 years old and paying them 30% less that businesses will pay more for their labor?

What will happen is that businesses will hire the cheap labor and fire them right before their 21st birthday, much like many companies dump their lower paid contract workers the day before the IRS says their status needs to change to a FTE and they need to start getting bennies.

OG_slinger wrote:
Yonder wrote:

That's a different scenario. A "reducing labor costs" version of trickle down economics would be "Hey, lets cut wages by half, since that will lead to businesses hiring three times as much workers! More money for the lower class!" I am not arguing for anything like that. I'm saying "pay teenagers less, fewer teenagers apply, more job openings for adults".

So do you honestly believe that given the choice between hiring an adult for $7.50 an hour or hiring someone under 20 years old and paying them 30% less that businesses will pay more for their labor?

Are you guys even reading my posts?

Yonder wrote:
The idea is that if those jobs paid less for high schoolers, than less of them would want to work, which would leave more jobs for adults in need.

Of course the obvious downside to this is that the high school workers left in the job pool are now much more tantalizing for the employers since they are cheaper, so that has a nice chance to backfire.

Yonder wrote:
Like I said, it theoretically benefits the 21 year olds in general, since fewer 17 year olds will apply for the position, leaving more positions for the adults.

And like I also said it has the downside that the remaining 17 year olds are now more valuable, which means that it will be harder to compete with the teenagers that do apply.

Whether this would be a net benefit to adults or not remains to be seen.

Yonder wrote:
True. This idea relies on the shrinking supply of teenage workers having a greater effect than their growing demand. We won't know whether that actually happens or not until someone tries it.

Yonder wrote:
I'm saying "pay teenagers less, fewer teenagers apply, more job openings for adults".

However, if too few teenagers leave the workforce so that there is no benefit to adult access to these jobs then you know that it didn't work out.

Oh, I read your posts Yonder. But here the thing. The average unemployment rate for teens in America is around 25%. That's an awful lot of young people that would have to decide to drop out of the labor market before there'd be "more job openings for adults".

So unless an employer needs hundreds of employees immediately, the odds are really good that I'll be able to find all the (cheap) young workers they'll ever need. So if there's likely never to be a serious shortage of young workers then those businesses will simply never hire older and more expensive workers. And since the law applies to workers under 20--and not just teenagers--businesses can even staff jobs with cheaper labor during school hours.

You mention that this could "backfire" once in your messages while seemingly overlooking the fact that a profit-maximizing business will pretty much always opt for the labor that is 30% cheaper.

OG_slinger wrote:
Oh, I read your posts Yonder. But here the thing. The average unemployment rate for teens in America is around 25%. That's an awful lot of young people that would have to decide to drop out of the labor market before there'd be "more job openings for adults".

Thanks for actually addressing my point. You're probably right that it's unlikely that we'd get the reduction we'd need, however it doesn't seem too crazy that a 30% wage decrease would lead to more than a 25% drop in worker availability.

And since the law applies to workers under 20--and not just teenagers--businesses can even staff jobs with cheaper labor during school hours.

In my very first post I said that I would only ever consider something like this for minors. In fact I later even said that I would need an ability for emancipated minors to be exempted to support something like this. Lowering the minimum wage for classes of people that could be attempting to support themselves is just wrong.

You mention that this could "backfire" once in your messages while seemingly overlooking the fact that a profit-maximizing business will pretty much always opt for the labor that is 30% cheaper.

I really don't get how you could get this out of any of my posts. Again and again I said that this change would make underage workers more valuable to employers, and it would only work if there weren't enough under age people in the labor pool. I don't know how I could have been more clear. I don't want to do the whole "quote and bold my own statements" thing again, but in literally every passage that I quoted above I acknowledge this fact and how it would affect the notion of reducing the minimum wage for minors.


You state that adult employment won't be increased by this change like it's a fact, but it hasn't been proven, that's just your supposition and it's probably better if you phrase it that way.

No, you're missing my point. I'm bringing up the worst case, or at least a bad one. It doesn't matter that it's supposition, it's *possible*, and so your proposal needs to deal with that possibility. What if it plays out according to the classic laws of supply and demand? Lower the cost of labor, and more workers will be hired at that wage, displacing workers in the same job who were making more. I mean, I learned that in high school. Has it changed since then?

So this is a way of saying, not that it *will* fail that way, but that you should have some kind of method for dealing with this problem. Or, let me know why it's not possible under your proposal. I consider that this would be a complete failure for your scenario, in that it would actually hurt working poor families more than the status quo, so it would be good to be protected against it.


Robear wrote:

One issue with that, Yonder, is that for families with high-schoolers who need to bring in cash to help buy food and the like, decreasing the wage would really screw them. It seems like you're picturing all high-schoolers as having a middle-class environment, where they don't really *need* the money to help the family.

Right, but if those families are poor because one of the adults can't get a job due to the glut of high schoolers at the bottom rung of the ladder (recently the case for my Fiance's mother) then this change could help them regardless of the fact that the high schoolers are making less.

Let me clarify. This supposition you made is based on the idea that high schoolers *choose* to work. For the ones that *don't* choose to work - ie, the ones whose families *really* need the income, I believe that my scenario is more likely. The reason is that the only teenagers who will not work at lower wages are the ones who have the choice AND don't want the money regardless.

And further, my son has worked for free at times, to gain experience, alleviate summer boredom, and hang with people he liked. I suspect he'd have *paid* a small amount to do it. And we in no way need the money. So there are now two categories of teens to worry about - the ones who work for reasons other than the amount paid, and the ones who work because if they don't, they're skipping meals.

Just some thoughts, not attacking here.

Yonder wrote:
I don't want to do the whole "quote and bold my own statements" thing again, but in literally every passage that I quoted above I acknowledge this fact and how it would affect the notion of reducing the minimum wage for minors.

Except that you don't seem to acknowledge that this fact means the entire notion is a bad idea. 'Birthday-gating' pay is a horrible precedent to set. Even with the best intentions.

"An honest day's work for a reasonable wage" is the deal. Cutting someone out of that deal because of their age (or their race, gender, disability, orientation, nationality) is tantamount to evil.

Yonder wrote:
Lowering the minimum wage for classes of people that could be attempting to support themselves is just wrong.

There's another reason to go to work?
You seriously don't see the disconnect? Let me bold it: You are lowering the minimum wage. That mandatory floor on the absolute least amount you can give a human being in normal employ.
Here's an exercise: List the jobs that pay the minimum wage.
Now look at the 'class' of people holding those jobs. Now make it their underage kids.
Then think about your plan and how it affects those people. Remember to breathe.
EDIT:
I edited and deleted about five different responses and I am still not happy with the tone of this one. Sorry. My issue is the venn diagram of the people actually affected by a change like this. It would be more humane just to make it illegal to hire minors than to open the gates of inequitable compensation. In my opinion.

And of course, money to support yourself isn't always the issue. I didn't need to work in High School in order to support myself or my family. But I did need to do it in order to have funds I needed to go to university. In fact, I had to negotiate with my employer a specific deal to make sure he would pay me the money I would need (i.e. I couldn't afford to be in a position where he decided halfway through the summer that I had done "enough", because that would make it more difficult to scrounge for whatever work I could find to make the money I needed.) If I hadn't worked things out with my employer, I would have immediately begun taking any and every job available to a 16-year-old that I could find, aiming particularly to find one where I could consistently put in the hours every week to get me to my goal—which would probably have been some variation on burger-flipping.

That whole situation would have been significantly more painful if there were a serious excuse (like a law on the books) for paying 16-year-olds a lower wage than older employees for the same work. (Hint: I got paid more than minimum wage for this work. I was fully prepared to work for minimum wage as many hours as I had to in order to make the money I needed. Having to work for 72% as much money because I was a teen would have been a tremendous problem, and may have meant delaying a year before starting university.)

Robear wrote:

You state that adult employment won't be increased by this change like it's a fact, but it hasn't been proven, that's just your supposition and it's probably better if you phrase it that way.

No, you're missing my point. I'm bringing up the worst case, or at least a bad one. It doesn't matter that it's supposition, it's *possible*, and so your proposal needs to deal with that possibility.

Ah ok, this is where we differ. In my mind when you are doing something on a small scale (a single state) and that can be relatively easily tracked (from the tax returns we know the hours worked and wages of different age groups) and rolled back if it doesn't work, I'm perfectly fine with having a plan with a worst case scenario that is worse than the status quo, even if that worst case seems relatively likely (and I fully agree that it seems more likely that the net effect of this plan will be bad) as long as it seems plausible that the plan has a good effect. If it doesn't work out then the economic situation for the poor in Maine gets a little worse for the next year or two. If it does work then we can use that information to help all the poor people of the whole nation.

Now I personally don't think that simply lowering minimum wage for minors is the best plan. As I said taking that separate cut of their cash and setting it aside for a scholarship fund seems to go a long way towards eliminating possible worst case scenarios. However, for the above reasons I would also be fine with trying the simpler variation, because any sort of data about this would be good. If it was a change with outcomes that would be harder to track, or a change which would be more difficult to reverse, then I would have more opposition to this sort of experimentation.

Rezzy wrote:
Here's an exercise: List the jobs that pay the minimum wage.
Now look at the 'class' of people holding those jobs.

Jobs: Cashier, waitress (special case, not minimum wage), fast food worker, stocker, probably many types of janitorial work.
Class of people that work there: Lower class adults, lower class teenagers/young-adults, lower-middle class teenagers/young-adults, middle class teenagers/young-adults, upper-middle class teenagers/young-adults.

I think that there are more lower-middle class, middle class, and upper-middle class teenagers in the work force than at the poorest levels. If you have some sort of study saying that the number of teenagers directly supporting their families outnumbers them then fire away, that could totally change my mind.

Anecdotally I think the number of teenagers that actually help support their families is very small. It's probably much more likely that they indirectly lessen the load on their families by supporting some of their own expenses (like clothes) however I think that most of that family support would remain even with a diminished salary.

I believe the thinking behind lowering minimum wage for minors is try to improve employment among minors. For most employers, if you have a minimum of $8.25 an hour to hire someone, you're going to want to find the oldest and most experienced person you can for your $8.25. Minors, by definition, have little experience, and frequently (usually?) aren't worth that much. And without the ability to get a job, they can't get the experience they need to get above the threshold of employability.

It's not a zero-sum game, but employment is definitely competitive. A high minimum wage hurts minors; a lower minimum wage for minors makes paying the higher minimum wage much less attractive, and hurts workers over 18. Someone gets screwed either way.

Ultimately, someone needs to be WORTH the wage they're getting. Ignoring liberal handwaving about the worth of everyone and the dignity of work and all that bullsh*t, in the final analysis, an employee making $X must generate more than $X in revenue for the company employing them, or there's no point to keeping them. A high minimum wage means that marginal jobs aren't created, and marginal employees simply can't stay employed.

Yonder wrote:
Jobs: Cashier, waitress (special case, not minimum wage), fast food worker, stocker, probably many types of janitorial work.
Class of people that work there: Lower class adults, lower class teenagers/young-adults, lower-middle class teenagers/young-adults, middle class teenagers/young-adults, upper-middle class teenagers/young-adults.

It was more of a rhetorical exercise, but since you took it to heart let's see what you came up with...
Excellent.
Good work. You've identified a tiny fraction of jobs, sometimes worked by minors, that can conceivably pay minimum wage.
But how do you address the legitimization of discriminating against the younger workers in those fields?

I see you've placed an awkward divide between young-adults and adults. Wouldn't it be easier just to say Adults and less-than-Adults?

Let me try to get directly to my point: Your proposition is too awkward and haphazard to ever be functional. It targets a small subsection of a small subsection and achieves nothing directly. It requires so many caveats and exclusions to prevent harm or exploitation that you may as well base the wage-drop on the income of the prospective employees household vs their age. What you are trying to affect is so distant from the action you are suggesting that any resulting change in adult employment would be tangential and completely circumstantial. You could have a more direct effect by saving the money needed to draft, implement, and train the new accounting rules and instead provide young citizens access to low-cost schooling, job-training, or (if you're hell-bent on mandating) forcing a "teenagers-get-in-free" rule on cinemas and clubs.

Malor wrote:
I believe the thinking behind lowering minimum wage for minors is try to improve employment among minors.

You should remove 'minors' from that sentence or change "improve" to "increase" to have it make sense.
Lowering minimum wage for minors "improves" nothing except the bottom line for the businesses hiring minors at minimum wage. No employment is 'improved' by having more drones for less pay.

And now back to work before they replace me with three interns.

Having a job at $5.25 an hour is a substantial improvement over having no job that pays $8.25.

Malor wrote:
Having a job at $5.25 an hour is a substantial improvement over having no job that pays $8.25.

But that isn't the premise. The premise is that no one will even apply for the $5.25 job so that the business will hire real people at $8.25 and stop wasting their resources on these young scabs.
Unemployment could be completely eliminated if businesses would just be allowed to hire people for fifty cents an hour again.

Why does lowering pay mean there is suddenly more work that needs to be done? If a restaurant needs two waiters to run the front of the business, or one cashier and three burger flippers, why would dropping their wages cause more people to be hired?

It wouldn't. It would just mean that restaurant's labor costs dropped 30%.

Well, you see... if the restaurant owner doesn't need to pay the help as much, he'll save more money to spend on a big honking yacht, which will increase the profits of the Big Honking Yacht Co., inflating the value of the stock portfolios of important monied persons who will invest their money by placing it in accounts in banks in the Cayman Islands! Then, some years down the road when they decided to retire and/or flee the tax men, they will spend that money on expensive drinks with little umbrellas, and hire a personal assistant for their retired life.

See, it's quite obvious how reducing the cost of labor in Maine will create jobs in George Town twenty years later!

Kraint wrote:
Why does lowering pay mean there is suddenly more work that needs to be done? If a restaurant needs two waiters to run the front of the business, or one cashier and three burger flippers, why would dropping their wages cause more people to be hired?

As someone who manages a restaurant and who wrestles with this issue every week I can answer that and show why lower wages will help employment.

Generally your labour bill is expressed as a percentage of your turnover, usually a maximum of 20% of your total turnover.

Let's say kitchen staff are a fixed proportion of the labour bill so we'll look specifically at waiters. Now turnover may indicate that you need 3 waiters on a constant basis, problem is business isn't constant. Any restaurant experiences rushes, usually breakfast, lunch and dinner. Between these is down time. According to your percentage 3 waiters is ideal, but during your rushes you may need 4 or 5, while during down time you may only need 1or 2.

Ideally you can have people coming on and off as you need them, but no one is coming to work for two hours a day, so you staff to what your budget allows and muddle through when under pressure, then these people polish glasses and scratch their asses until the next rush.

A 30% lower wage bill means I can have the luxury of an extra staff member for the rush without going over budget. It allows to provide better service and help grow the business when waiters can do more than run around taking orders and slamming plates on tables

And most restaurants, and most small businesses, are constantly struggling to survive. The budget isn't there so the boss can buy a boat, the budget is there so the boss can pay rent. Small businesses are the engine of any economy, and high labour costs are one of the things that kill them.

While the image of the fat-cat businessman is always a fun one it's not really reflective of the majority of business owners.

That example may work for pretty much anywhere in the world except America, where we pay our waitstaff 2.89 / hour and expect them to recoup that in tips.

Which we then tax.

Oh and a lot of places charge the waitstaff for credit card transactions made on their shift, too. Goodbye, 1-3% of every dinner sold out of that 2.89 / hour.

Sorry for derail.

As a side note, you could probably count the number of waiters and waitresses in the nation that accurately report their tips to the IRS on one hand.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
As someone who manages a restaurant and who wrestles with this issue every week I can answer that and show why lower wages will help employment.

Generally your labour bill is expressed as a percentage of your turnover, usually a maximum of 20% of your total turnover.

Let's say kitchen staff are a fixed proportion of the labour bill so we'll look specifically at waiters. Now turnover may indicate that you need 3 waiters on a constant basis, problem is business isn't constant. Any restaurant experiences rushes, usually breakfast, lunch and dinner. Between these is down time. According to your percentage 3 waiters is ideal, but during your rushes you may need 4 or 5, while during down time you may only need 1or 2.

Ideally you can have people coming on and off as you need them, but no one is coming to work for two hours a day, so you staff to what your budget allows and muddle through when under pressure, then these people polish glasses and scratch their asses until the next rush.

A 30% lower wage bill means I can have the luxury of an extra staff member for the rush without going over budget. It allows to provide better service and help grow the business when waiters can do more than run around taking orders and slamming plates on tables

And most restaurants, and most small businesses, are constantly struggling to survive. The budget isn't there so the boss can buy a boat, the budget is there so the boss can pay rent. Small businesses are the engine of any economy, and high labour costs are one of the things that kill them.

While the image of the fat-cat businessman is always a fun one it's not really reflective of the majority of business owners.

Tell me again how cutting your existing worker's wages by a third helps anyone but you? It doesn't help them because everything they have to buy didn't suddenly get 30% cheaper. And it would likely hurt your business because the law would drive down wages everywhere. When people make less money they have to cut back and one place they can easily cut back on is not going out to eat.

If all it means is you can hire one additional person--who will only work an hour or two a day--then I find it hard to say how you've helped employment. All you've done is create a single, extremely part-time job that will gross a worker maybe fifteen bucks a day.

OG_slinger wrote:
Tell me again how cutting your existing worker's wages by a third helps anyone but you? It doesn't help them because everything they have to buy didn't suddenly get 30% cheaper. And it would likely hurt your business because the law would drive down wages everywhere. When people make less money they have to cut back and one place they can easily cut back on is not going out to eat.

If all it means is you can hire one additional person--who will only work an hour or two a day--then I find it hard to say how you've helped employment. All you've done is create a single, extremely part-time job that will gross a worker maybe fifteen bucks a day.

Not cutting existing workers, hiring new workers. It creates a new opening for someone who was previously unemployed, I'm sure the previously unemployed person would like that.

It could also help keep the business open so all staff remain employed, most of them would like that as well.

And I specifically said you can't hire someone for 2 hours a day, if you could there would be no need for lower wages because then you could tailor your staffing for specific periods. The lower wages mean you can hire someone full time.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Not cutting existing workers, hiring new workers. It creates a new opening for someone who was previously unemployed, I'm sure the previously unemployed person would like that.

It could also help keep the business open so all staff remain employed, most of them would like that as well.

And I'm pretty sure that your existing workers wouldn't be too thrilled to find out they're getting a hefty pay cut. And when you apply that wage reduction to the entire economy it drives down everyone's wages and makes it really hard for people on the edge to spend their money on anything beyond groceries, rent, and gas.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:
Tell me again how cutting your existing worker's wages by a third helps anyone but you? It doesn't help them because everything they have to buy didn't suddenly get 30% cheaper. And it would likely hurt your business because the law would drive down wages everywhere. When people make less money they have to cut back and one place they can easily cut back on is not going out to eat.

If all it means is you can hire one additional person--who will only work an hour or two a day--then I find it hard to say how you've helped employment. All you've done is create a single, extremely part-time job that will gross a worker maybe fifteen bucks a day.

Not cutting existing workers, hiring new workers. It creates a new opening for someone who was previously unemployed, I'm sure the previously unemployed person would like that.

It could also help keep the business open so all staff remain employed, most of them would like that as well.

And I specifically said you can't hire someone for 2 hours a day, if you could there would be no need for lower wages because then you could tailor your staffing for specific periods. The lower wages mean you can hire someone full time.

You aren't cutting staff, but you would be cutting their wages. Would you willingly sacrifice 1/3 of your wages to hire an assistant manager?

My point is that if the company is so busy that additional staff is needed, then the money for additional staff is probably available. My father owns a small-medium business, and when he has more customers than his techs can service in their daily routes, he hires more people and adds another route. When business drops off, he cuts the number of routes that get run. He has also hired part-time employees when needed (working 2-3 days a week instead of 4-5). If he had to pay his employees only half of what he currently does, that wouldn't change the number of guys he sends out each day, since they do a specific set of tasks. Any savings would go into capital investment/improvements or be pure profit. I can only really see cutting wages below minimum wage doing anything other than that for very small start-up companies, and those have a very high mortality rate regardless.

Out of ignorant curiosity, why can't you hire someone for only the busiest hours of the day? Given how wait staff are paid in the US (read: tips), I would think you could easily find people to work only the hours when they will make the large majority of their income. I doubt most of them look forward to the 2:00-3:30 part of the day when they are only making $4/hr. I've seen a number of restaurants that actually close during the slow afternoon hours (though they may well have been family shops).

Kraint wrote:
Out of ignorant curiosity, why can't you hire someone for only the busiest hours of the day? Given how wait staff are paid in the US (read: tips), I would think you could easily find people to work only the hours when they will make the large majority of their income. I doubt most of them look forward to the 2:00-3:30 part of the day when they are only making $4/hr. I've seen a number of restaurants that actually close during the slow afternoon hours (though they may well have been family shops).

In Maine, there's a state law that requires that employees that get called in to work get paid for 4 hours. I once had to work 4 hours on a Saturday I wasn't scheduled due to it. We were supposed to go in and take a tour of a new facility (we were going to be "on the clock" for the tour, including the travel time to get there and back), but they canceled the tour the day before and no one called us to let us know. We showed up ready for the tour,and ended up doing busy work for the next 4 hours because the company figured they were already paying us, might as well get some work out of it.

Unemployment could be completely eliminated if businesses would just be allowed to hire people for fifty cents an hour again.

That's actually probably true. If we allowed wages to be low enough, we probably wouldn't have unemployment at all. The economy would probably grow faster, and overall wages would climb faster than they do now. Real wages have gone precisely nowhere since 1970, although the minimum wage is only a tiny component of that. Eliminating it probably wouldn't help that much, with the much larger headwinds of the slow rebuilding of the economy around servicing people who print money. But it absolutely is a drag on economic growth.

I mean, just walk through a thought experiment. Say we passed a law tomorrow that the minimum acceptable wage was $100,000/year, plus benefits. What would be the inevitable consequence? Mass unemployment. Fast food restaurants, as an example, would have to raise prices to the moon, and most would go out of business in short order.

In real terms, what the minimum wage does is increase unemployment among the youngest workers. It makes them artificially unattractive to hire. Lowering the minimum wage for the youngest workers makes them more attractive, but it seems likely that at least some of the older workers will lose their jobs as a consequence.

Minimum wages aren't free. They carry a cost, and they have side effects. If you think they're an indisputable Good Thing, you haven't thought your way through the problem completely.

Oh, and:

Oh and a lot of places charge the waitstaff for credit card transactions made on their shift, too. Goodbye, 1-3% of every dinner sold out of that 2.89 / hour.

That is an absolutely reprehensible practice. Is this common?

It is a two fold problem in the US. We have a relatively high minimum wage. But we also have none of the social programs afforded by our peer nations. We do not have universal healthcare, we do not have a national pension program, education is largely had on debt, companies are allowed to keep adults at less than full time work in order to avoid having to pay benefits. Especially in times like these, the low paying positions, often unskilled are a lifeline, not a stepping stone to a better job. I am not sure if effectively doubling our underpaid workforce solves any problems.

Keep in mind that a great number of those countries with those amazing benefits are also in the process of economic collapse, and the ones that actually seem to be getting it right (like Germany) are being dragged down by their fiscally-stupid brethren.

Not that we're in particularly better shape; considering how little we do for our citizens, the fact that our budget is such a mess is pretty appalling.