Wages & Benefits

To anyone reading this who think that they or others deserve $15/hour (or $10/hour, or frankly even $5 for some people), in the hopes that it will help you live a better life in some small fashion,

INTRODUCTION

When I got my first job mowing grass for $5 an hour (which the keen-eyed Virginian observer will note as $0.15 *less* than minimum wage of the time), it was possibly the second most exciting thing for me in my short ten or eleven years after getting my first pocket knife, the possible exception being my bike (my brother’s adoption notwithstanding).

I was also frequently happy to help out at my father’s construction sites for the same amount (the last time I did, I believe the North Carolina minimum wage was $6.15, $1.15 more than I was making). You’ll note that neither of these jobs involving spinning razor-sharp metal blades with a noticeable lack of OSHA presence provided any kind of health insurance. Unless you count Dad’s pocket knife removing my splinters as “healthcare”. (Frankly, if I’d gotten my way at the time, some of those splinters might still be there.)

When I was sixteen and found out  I’d gotten the job at Food Lion for minimum wage, I was so excited I could barely sleep. Somehow the lack of any benefits whatsoever beyond the paycheck itself (that I knew about or used) failed to depress me. Anyway, I was only injured on the job once. That was due to my own stupidity and I never considered asking Food Lion to pay for my trip to urgent care. The one (small) holiday bonus in my two years there was just icing on the cake, not my due.

Despite the free meals, my next job selling fried chicken at Bojangles excited me less. But it did let me move out of my parent’s house. Admittedly, I was making about $0.25 above minimum wage, but that changed when the North Carolina government, in its wisdom, raised it again. (Before moving on, I am legally obligated to say TANSTAAFL[1] or risk the wrath of libertarians of all stripes due to my reference to “free meals” just now.)

ATTITUDE

Not once during my tenure at any of those jobs was I ever convinced I’d deserved the amount I was paid. Not once. That is not hyperbole. Now, I was entitled to it; the employers and I had agreed that was the amount I was to be paid. And I earned it (except perhaps for the minimum-wage jobs). But I have never been convinced that I deserved it.

Frankly, this trend has continued and I still think I’m making more than I deserve. That doesn’t mean I’m willing to work for less – market forces have virtually guaranteed a person of my particular skillset will have a certain minimum income – but it is true.

And it certainly doesn’t mean I’ve never wanted more or been dissatisfied with my income. Frankly, the fast food income and the circumstances of my father’s job sites are what pushed me towards software development.

Now there are some details I’m glossing over. I was covered under Medicaid and obviously, my parents provided for my needs until I moved out (back to that in a moment). But neither of those things have any bearing on whether or not I deserved that income. You deserve things based on what you do in exchange (that’s called “earning”), not because you have some need (that’s called “whining”, “theft”, or sometimes “taxation”). “Need” and “deserve” are two completely different things, which are frequently not even related. Hence why a mandated “livable wage” confounds so many liberty-minded individuals and economists.

DISCLAIMER

Quick side note regarding parental support: they did stop supporting me financially pretty much as soon as I moved out. Sure, I came home for a few meals. And during my last year at college (not a typo… I’ll never live in an apartment again) I probably washed about a dozen loads of laundry at their house (maybe, what, $40 worth?). And my mother (*without* any request or prompting from me) did buy me a few articles of clothing at times. But the support as a whole stopped. Similarly, my parents probably could’ve afforded to buy me a (albeit very cheap) car when I was sixteen. But they never offered and I never asked. I waited until I had the right ballpark amount and then *borrowed* a few hundred dollars from them – short-term – to buy my own.

This is not meant as a criticism of people who continue receiving support for a few years. I mean, my parents have less money than most to give in the first place and I did receive a few thousand dollars a year in financial aid (above and beyond school costs) through FAFSA and my grandparents. And different people have varying degrees of ability. Nor is it meant as a criticism against those who get free stuff. My own sister inherited “her” car from her namesake and it has never bothered me. (Side note: that’s another pet peeve of mine and one of the few stated opinions of Louis C.K. that I support – how much someone else has should have no bearing on your own contentment or sense of entitlement.)

But the point is that self-sufficiency is a worthy goal that should be sought even before it becomes necessary.

ADMISSION

Now I’m not trying to bragroller_blades or build myself up as something special. I was a whiny kid who shirked his chores and spent hours (and hours and hours and hours) reading sci-fi and playing video games. I screamed bloody murder when I got a staple in my thumb and refused to talk to Dad for hours after he had the audacity to grab my hand and pull it out. I was 13. I was reprimanded multiple times at my jobs for being too casual or not greeting customers with enough forced cheerfulness. I thought rollerblading outside on a hilly sidewalk was a good idea and I’ve got a face to match. (I was 19.) I even thought deleting some Windows system files was a good way to save hard drive space as a teenager. And one time I tried to remove Internet Explorer from Windows, almost bricking my computer in the process.

I even once thought it’d be a good idea to jump off the riding lawn mower and try to race it. An idea that predictably ended with a tree-shattered bumper 20 yards from the driveway I’d been driving down. If you want more of these stories, just ask my sisters. I’d recommend some popcorn and a comfortable chair because they’ll keep you busy for a few hours. Anna’s probably disappointed I didn’t mention my alleged momentary forgetfulness that gravity is a thing.

CONCLUSION

But the point is that you mark_twain_the_world_owes_you_nothingshouldn’t think of what you – or anyone else – “deserves.” Focus instead on what you can *earn* and *do* and on accepting responsibility for your own self and actions. (That last anecdote cost me four or five hours worth of pay at my lawn-mowing job and a two-hour trip for a replacement part while my sisters got to go swimming. Two hours of car time before I’d ever owned a Game Boy or conceived of smartphones.) Make use of the undeserved free stuff you get (presents, financial aid, etc.), but don’t ever take it as your due.

I’m just sick and tired of hearing about how minimum wage workers “deserve” this or that. No, they don’t. They deserve not to be abused by their employers. And they’re entitled to make their own choices. But they don’t deserve one cent that someone else doesn’t choose to give them, except as reparations for some abuse or infringement.

Quit whining, and get to work. If you support this $15 (or some variation) on others’ behalf, tell them to get to work. If they legitimately can’t, then maybe help them out or help them find someone who can. But, for the love of all that is good in the world, stop whining. You are better off than 90% of the world’s living population and 99.9% of the world’s historical population. They would be amazed at the sort of things we throw away (not even “we” meaning Americans – just “we” meaning young, often “poor” Americans who re-use paper cups or use coats as blankets). And they would be dumbstruck by your complaints, in your circumstances. And the same goes for almost every American, employed or otherwise.

P.S. Please, if you must support Bernie Sanders, find some better reason for it than the free services and goods he’s promising to you or others.

BIBLICAL BASIS

For the Christians among you, here are some relevant Bible verses, from the New International Version:

https://goo.gl/Pv6914

First, a few select verses:

Proverbs 6:10-11 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest- and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 11:7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

Proverbs 16:26 The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on. (The Bible seems to frown upon the idea of a guaranteed minimum lifestyle.)

Proverbs 18:9 One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (No middle ground here.)

Proverbs 22:13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside! I’ll be killed in the public square!” (“No one’s hiring” “It’s the wrong time of year.” “Employers just don’t want me because I’m young, female, inexperienced, [insert race here], skinny, and/or fat”)

Proverbs 28:19 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Lamentations 3:27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

And now, the rest:

Genesis 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Exodus 23:2-3 Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.

Deuteronomy 15:12-17 If any of your people-Hebrew men or women-sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.

Psalms 143:3-5 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

PROVERBS

6:6-8 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

6:30-31 People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house.

10:2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.

10:4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.

11:15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.

11:24-26 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell. (Notice “one who is willing to sell”, not “one who is giving away”)

12:9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

12:11 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

12:24 Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.

13:11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

13:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

15:5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

15:8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.

15:16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

17:5 Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished. (Just to help keep things balanced)

19:15 Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry. (This does not mean all hungry people are lazy, but certainly it implies that many are.)

19:24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!

20:20 If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness. (“pitch darkness” is not my idea of 20/20 vision ba-dum-tsh)

21:13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. (Again, need to stay balanced)

21:17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.

22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. (Side note: Keep this in mind when considering student loans – or really any non-collateral loan or loans for depreciating things like cars.)

22:26-27 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you. (Note the lack of reproach against the one snatching the bed.)

23:1-3 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.

23:4-5 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

27:6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

28:8 Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor. (Again, balance. Note that I’m not defending the evil boss/corporation/fat cat/what-have-you. This is about us, not them.)

28:24 Whoever robs their father or mother and says, “It’s not wrong,” is partner to one who destroys.

30:7-9 Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

ECCLESIASTES

5:3 A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool.

5:12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.

7:10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.

10:2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. (heh heh)

MATTHEW

6:3-4 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

6:25-27 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

6:31-34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

7:15-20 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

15:3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”

19:23-24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

ROMANS

12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

13:1-5 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Ephesians 5:3-4 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

Titus 3:1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

ENGAGEMENT

As always, I welcome any criticisms or disagreements in the form of comments, messages, emails, or smoke signals. But be advised that (a) I may ignore or remove profanity or ad hominem attacks, and (b) the First Amendment does not in any way prevent me from doing this.

FOOTNOTES

[1] There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

EDITS

  1. 2017-03-03 09:17 EST – Minor grammar corrections.
  2. 2017-03-03 09:18 EST – Added Engagement section.
  3. 2017-03-03 09:23 EST – Switched order of Engagement and Footnotes sections
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Author: Andrew Felsher

I’m a Christian, Classically Liberal Republican. In that precise order.

11 thoughts on “Wages & Benefits”

  1. I’m currently unemployed. As a New Zealand resident, I qualify for unemployment benefits. I don’t claim those benefits, though; I saved enough over the past few months that I could live on my NZ savings for pretty much the rest of the year without even having to dip into US funds. This might seem crazy or ill-advised, especially given that my taxes pay for those unemployment benefits anyway (as someone who has to file taxes in two countries and one US state, I have a lot of opinions on tax systems that will have to wait for another time). My precise reasoning for that decision is complex and not something I want to get into in a comment on a WordPress site, but the point I want to make here is that I’m perfectly OK if someone else in my same situation were to make the opposite decision. This is because I understand that my life experiences are just one tiny sliver of what makes up the big human story.

    First of all, I don’t think the Bible provides strong guidance on this issue. The Bible is full of instruction and wisdom about how the individual should live his or her life and also contains plenty of both commands and suggestions on how to organize and run a church. The Old Testament also contains plenty of text about how to build and run a theocracy. These verses were preserved for a reason and can be very instructive today, but it’s a fallacy to take any of them as commands applying to our government today (for the record, you do not appear to have fallen into this fallacy, as none of the verses you listed above are the nation-building verses I mention). While a country could (and should) be run according to Biblical principles, the Holy Spirit in his wisdom did not try to set down rules for how to adequately govern a people which would apply equally well to the Romans in the first century AD and today here in our modern Babylon (that comparison, by the way, is very intentional — I think the first six chapters of Daniel are a great reference for how we as Christians should live and view ourselves while effectively in captivity in a pagan nation).

    (While we’re on the subject, though, I could note that one of the few times in the Old Testament where God got directly involved in the government of a foreign nation in a non-smiting sort of way — Joseph in Egypt — he took the opportunity to set up a social welfare system. But as mentioned above, that too can’t be directly applied to our situation today.)

    In the absence of Biblical guidance, then, I don’t think it can be claimed that Christians have a moral or spiritual responsibility to believe or vote a certain way on social welfare issues. In fact, the Biblical account of politics in the first century show a struggle by various factions to seize control of political power in order to wield it as a club against their adversaries — much like what happens today. Jesus himself was a victim of this. Knowing they couldn’t best him in the spiritual arena, the religious leaders he offended instead used their political power to kill him. They of course forgot that the spiritual is above, not below, the political; a lesson they learned when their political victory did not translate to a spiritual one! I think what we can clearly see from history is that the complete separation of church and state is the best long-term strategy for the church. Any political system which allows Christians to impose our morals on a nation is also a political system our opponents can use to impose their morals on us. The Bible says that narrow is the road and small is the gate leading to salvation, and only a few find it. In a republic which approximates a representative democracy, is it really wise for a group which is by its own admission a small proportion of the population to try and play the politics game? This way lies madness.

    So, in summary, here’s what I’ve said so far: I view politics as being largely in the realm of personal choice, informed but not dictated by the Bible. Trying to make the law of the land mirror the Biblical code for righteous living is not just an exercise in futility, it’s setting up a system which will inevitably be used against us.

    So why do I lean to the left when many Christians — the real variety who read the Bible and try every day to do what it says — vote to the right? Because I hate the idea of corporate interests controlling the government and the government working to protect the wealth of the haves at the expense of the have nots. But unlike some people (on either side), I’m not going to claim that my views are a moral imperative or that a rational, reasonable person couldn’t take a differing view. The National Party (the classically-liberal conservative party) and the Labour Party (the socially progressive party) both have their share of skeletons in their respective closets, as do the Republicans and the Democrats. We can (and do) disagree while still being friends.

    So get out there and #FeelTheBern 😉

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    1. I had hoped I was clear enough – this was aimed at the “we deserve $15 per hour” mentality, not necessarily at asserting the Bible’s support for one political position or another.

      That being said, I’m not sure Joseph’s actions constitute a welfare program. It was created through taxes and the populace had to pay for the grain when the famines came. I would term it a “government revenue-generating” program. The general public benefited in that they survived the famine, but Pharoah (and his regime) were the only true beneficiaries.

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      1. Ah, yes, you’re correct. What Joseph did was really not socialism but communism. Good catch.

        I’m confused by your statement that you’re debating individual arguments, not political positions. In this case it’s difficult to divide the two. I assume here that the key statement you have a problem with is “we deserve”. Conservative and progressive stances differ on this point, which is essentially the core difference between the two ideologies (to oversimplify the issue slightly). By claiming scriptural support for what is one of the core conservative arguments, you are doing the exact thing you just said you aren’t “necessarily” doing.

        I wonder if what you’re trying to say (without actually coming out and saying it) is that liberal social and economic policy comes from entitled individuals wanting what they’re not willing to work for. When you approach a topic from such a biased point of view, your entire chain of reasoning will be flawed because it is based on skewed assumptions.

        Perhaps instead you’ve heard specific individuals voicing support for either a higher minimum wage or just higher wages for their specific work and you are assuming that these arguments are based not of off any particular economic theory but instead off a feeling of entitlement. This may be the case, but if so then I warn you first of all that you can’t generalize this assumption to all individuals who support higher wages and second that if you are trying to get a backhanded dig in at liberal philosophies by attacking the most uninformed and ignorant of their adherents, that’s a game that a conservative should not start playing. It’s pointless in every case to debate a philosophy by focusing on the uninformed, and in the specific case of conservatism it’s also remarkably hypocritical.

        Finally, perhaps you’re not trying to argue against liberal philosophy in general but instead you’re just upset because you hear people complaining that things should be different and you think the complaining is counterproductive. If you think about it, though, that position basically repudiates anyone who has fought for social change. If you want to fight for something (even if it’s something I disagree with), by all means, go ahead. Just don’t claim that you have scripture saying that your political views are right and then cite verses applying to individuals, not governments.

        In whatever case, regardless of your intent, your arguments do make some pretty bold and sweeping claims based off conservative philosophies which I consider to be wholly untrue. These days I don’t have much patience for political debates, so if you want to believe something I disagree with in that area then go right ahead. But I have no tolerance for people claiming Biblical support for their political economic views, as that involves taking the Bible quite far out of context.

        (You unfortunately went for quantity over quality when choosing your verses, which is your prerogative. I will say though that most of the wisdom literature (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in particular) focus on describing how things are, not necessarily how they should be. This becomes evident to the observant reader quite quickly when you realize that any other interpretation would mean that the Bible is in favor of shady practices such as giving bribes to get preferential treatment. There are verses in Proverbs which are prescriptive rather than descriptive, such as 23:4-5 (excellent verses to use when studying discipleship!), but those don’t really apply to this case. I’m not going to go through verse-by-verse and explain why each one you posted doesn’t preclude a liberal system of government, because that time would be better spent taking the good parts of your advice and looking for a job!)

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      2. “I’m confused by your statement that you’re debating individual arguments, not political positions.”

        I’m not really debating individual arguments, just that specific *mentality*. I do oppose minimum wage in general, but that is certainly my personal opinion and not necessarily a position endorsed by the Bible. I’m not trying to make the argument against minimum wage here (certainly, arguments such as “society benefits as a whole from a certain minimum individual income” are not remotely addressed by my post). It’s only the “we/they deserve it” mentality I’m attacking.

        “I wonder if what you’re trying to say (without actually coming out and saying it) is that liberal social and economic policy comes from entitled individuals wanting what they’re not willing to work for.”

        No, I definitely believe that is true for a subset of the fiscal liberals, but I make no general claims of that nature at all.

        “Perhaps instead you’ve heard specific individuals voicing support for either a higher minimum wage or just higher wages for their specific work and you are assuming that these arguments are based not of off any particular economic theory but instead off a feeling of entitlement.”

        Again, I do conclude this, but only for the subset who have exposed such motivations (there are plenty of them, e.g. https://twitter.com/Show_Me15/status/730775931372109824)

        “Finally, perhaps you’re not trying to argue against liberal philosophy in general but instead you’re just upset because you hear people complaining that things should be different and you think the complaining is counterproductive.”

        No, that’s not where I’m coming from. I wholly agree with the implications of such a motive as you’ve described them.

        “In whatever case, regardless of your intent, your arguments do make some pretty bold and sweeping claims based off conservative philosophies which I consider to be wholly untrue. […] But I have no tolerance for people claiming Biblical support for their political economic views, as that involves taking the Bible quite far out of context.”

        I’m not really using the Bible to support my *economic* views so much as the entitlement/lack thereof issue – it is a heart thing, not a political thing. I can certainly see the logic many arguments claiming that the Bible would support a minimum wage, but not that it would support the idea that the recipients *deserve* it.

        “(You unfortunately went for quantity over quality when choosing your verses, which is your prerogative. I will say though that most of the wisdom literature (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in particular) focus on describing how things are, not necessarily how they should be.”

        I thought about that. This was not intended to be a list of verses which support my claims here (though many do). It was intended to be a (non-exhaustive) list of verses pertinent to the subject. Though I don’t think I did a good job explaining that.

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  2. (You should configure WordPress to allow more levels of nested comments)

    I think what you’re missing is that your conservative bias is showing just by defending the idea that work does not entitle one to a livable wage (and make no mistake: what entry-level service jobs pay is only marginally enough to live off of for a single person with no dependents. It’s entirely insufficient to support pretty much anyone else).

    Luke 10:7 (also quoted in 1 Timothy 5:18) establish a Biblical basis of ensuring those who work are taken care of (and I do fully note that this verse sets up the expectation that the disciples are working to earn what they receive, not that it’s being given as a handout).

    The problem with capitalism as implemented by modern America is that over time it tends to form corporate plutocracies which profit at the expense of the poor. Ayn Rand devotees will of course argue that corporate CEOs have earned the right to vote themselves raises while canceling salary increases and bonuses for their workers, but I think most people recognize how this situation easily leads to injustice. The conservative argument says that the market will correct itself, while the liberal perspective says that while the market might correct itself (eventually), individuals could still be victims of the system. And see how quickly it comes back to partisan economic theory?

    Does the Bible say that people deserve to receive a livable wage regardless of whether or not they work? No, it does not. I also claim that the Bible does not reject a system where such a thing happens (yes, it speaks clearly and at length about laziness. Recall that these are words aimed at individuals. Unrestricted capitalism also supports laziness, just among the privileged rich rather than the underprivileged poor).

    I see no Biblical support for the argument that asking for a bigger wage is wrong. I also see no Biblical support for the argument that turning down that request is wrong (obviously there’s the scenarios where the person is paying less than what was previously agreed upon or where the person is refusing to pay their workers at all, which the Bible does address, but that’s not the issue here). You claim to be arguing morality but you’re really arguing politics and economics. That’s all I’m trying to help you see.

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    1. Nah, I have no desire to have endless nesting.

      I’m not going to respond to the “problem with capitalism” because as I’ve said, I’m really not trying to get into the politics debate here. And in any case I’m not terribly opinionated on that particular component of said debate. I’ll only say that this application of your point(s) is dependent on crossing the line from discussion of who deserves what (where my statements belong) into what the government’s legal powers and responsibilities are and should be regarding that subject (on which I’ve tried to be agnostic within this post). (Again, I have opinions but do not make any claims that the Bible mandates that disciples agree.)

      The fact that disciples have a moral obligation to care for others does not logically imply (in the formal sense) that the “others” are entitled to it, and I think you would agree that it does not imply that they should take it as their due. I would certainly not agree with anyone’s claims that lack of entitlement implies that we are absolved of Biblical duty to aid. I feel compelled to give in some areas, to some needy people, as the Bible commands. And, indeed, I typically want to do so. ( I very much do not approve of any the arguments of Ayn Rand and Objectivism on that point.) I’m merely saying that the recipients do not *deserve* that assistance. To state the opposite would justify ingratitude or greedy demands for more.

      Regarding Luke 10:7, I think this is perfectly compatible with what I’m saying. In fact, I think it supports it. “The worker is worth his wages.” The apostles are workers, and they are providing value; albeit an abstract form – the gospel and miraculous healing. Note that they are instructed to take what their hosts give, not to make demands of them.

      “I see no Biblical support for the argument that asking for a bigger wage is wrong. I also see no Biblical support for the argument that turning down that request is wrong.”

      I agree; just because you don’t deserve something does not mean it’s wrong to ask for it. It only means it’s wrong to demand it or to take it by coercion. I’m personally uncomfortable with asking for more income, but that’s just me and neither here nor there.

      This is not really where I was intending to go, but I’ll flesh out the argument since you brought it up. “The idea that work does not entitle one to a livable wage” is self-evident. If I stack rocks in a field all day to no discernible benefit to anyone, I deserve precisely nothing despite having worked extremely hard. Clearly, something more than “work” is required – that something is value. Value is (or should be) dominant in determining compensation, though work ethic, intelligence, skill, etc. all play their part (and one could argue that they play their part by influencing the value of the work – whether that be the production itself or something less tangible, such as punctuality and reliability).

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      1. Yes, of course work in itself does not by necessity carry a sense of obligation. I should have chosen the world “employment” instead.

        I think there might be a hidden semantic gotcha in the argument here. Under what circumstances could it be said that I “deserve” additional money for my current job? I can think of a few, though the list I come up with and you come up with might be significantly different due to differing political views. But if you’re interpreting deserving more money as a synonym for being owed more money, then of course even if I feel like I have earned more than I was promised I don’t deserve that money in the sense that I could take my employer to court over it. But I don’t think that’s the sense in which the people who have upset you are using the word. If I say “I deserve a raise” my statement isn’t saying that my employer legally owes me a raise. It’s saying that giving me a raise would be the fair thing to do given the amount of work I’ve done for the company.

        I ultimately still believe that your argument is inextricable from politics. I suspect you may be a bit mired in semantics as well, though doubtless there are people who believe exactly what you’re accusing them of believing. “Your employer is not required to pay you more wages than were previously agreed upon” is not a very controversial statement, but you are welcome to make that statement without further argument from me so long as we agree that the question of whether or not an individual should ideally receive that which is necessary for life remains in the realm of politics and personal opinion.

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      2. I would disagree with “employment” as well. That would logically imply that someone who works for a day each week deserves a livable wage (or the Guatemalan approach of a month-based minimum wage as opposed to hour-based). However, I assume you mean to say something like “full-time employment.” I still disagree, for the basic reason that I cannot agree that someone is entitled to something which must be provided by someone else – the logical failing is evident if you imagine a scenario where there simply is not enough resources to provide that something for everyone. That is, in a town of 100 people and 10 pounds of food, it is obviously absurd to claim that a person has a right to 0.2 pounds of food.

        Again, I’m focusing on the entitlement argument here, not the political stance as a whole. There is certainly validity in claiming that society as a whole benefits from certain economic guarantees (though as a practical matter I question whether minimum wage does any such thing).

        “Your employer is not required to pay you more wages than were previously agreed upon” is pretty close to what I was going for, or at least a substantial subset thereof. That mentality definitely does not include all supporters of raising the minimum wage, but it is certainly a vocal minority, if nothing else. I’ve seen plenty of it.

        “the question of whether or not an individual should ideally receive that which is necessary for life remains in the realm of politics and personal opinion”

        Disagree (nitpick). Obviously an individual should ideally receive that which is necessary for life. Whether they should be provided with that (by government fiat) disproportionately to the value they directly provide in return is certainly within the realm of politics and personal opinion. As is the question of whether such a system is practically superior to alternatives.

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    2. “make no mistake: what entry-level service jobs pay is only marginally enough to live off of for a single person with no dependents”

      I thought my agreement here was evident by my opposition to the idea that all workers deserve a livable wage. If I disagreed on this point, I would have made the argument that they *already* have a livable wage.

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