Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Great Cartoon

Had a great debate with my son today about the minimum wage. He is in the Bernie camp, advocating for a $15 an hour wage. I argued that if the dude who takes out the trash at McDonalds was worth $15, I would be glad to pay him, but since he is not, I resent some Labor Department functionary telling me what I have to pay my employees. It was back and forth all day, first through email, then texting and included some gems. While ripping central planning types for their lack of real world experience in the business world, I suggested that they "couldn't sell hacksaws in a prison!" Then a bit later Patrick shot back at me with, "a conservative's idea of an adequate health plan is a bottle of Castor Oil." Great stuff!!

In the old days they used to say, never get into an argument with a guy who buys ink by the barrel. Well, today it should be, never get into an argument with a millenial with video gamer thumbs. Patrick can be in mid-sentence, then Google up a term paper full of stats in like two seconds to bolster his argument. By the time I think about using Google, it's already next week. I have to rely almost solely on whatever is stored in my head, and is retrievable after 58 years of wear and tear. But, I hold my own. Towards the end of our back and forth, Patrick sent me this:


Now, this is an awesome cartoon, especially if you want a $15 minimum wage. It's practically perfect. There's the poor, lowly, innocent worker with his meager little sign and a buck and change on the ground behind him, while the big, bad, mean spirited businessman is atop his stash of billions lecturing the little guy about GREED! It was meant to be a final blow to our debate, an unanswerable gauntlet thrown down at my feet. The only problem is that I see something else when I look at this cartoon. I see it, but most don't. Very few Millenials can even imagine what I see. But anyone who has ever owned a business will see the same thing I see.

I look at the man on the top of that mountain of cash and I think...I wonder how high that mountain was before the government swooped in for their fair share? I think this way because I'm a businessman and as such have to pay all of the hands thrust my way by federal, state, and local governments with money from my own accounts. There is no such thing as "withholding" in my world. There also isn't any such thing as employer-paid FICA taxes, or for that matter...employer paid anything. I suppose I should be grateful that I don't live in California since if I did, by the time I paid both halves of my FICA tax, my federal estimated income tax, my California State taxes, real estate and personal property taxes and a thousand other transaction fees for the privilege of doing business there, nearly 60% of my mountain would have been taken by government. Since I'm a Virginian, it's only around 42%. 

But notice who never gets called greedy in this cartoon? Government is never accused of being greedy, even though their appetite for our money is unquenchable. It's always that tight-fisted business owner at the top of a mountain of cash with the GREED tag. Because the cartoon always gets drawn after the hand of government has been filled and safely out of the picture. 

But, it's no use asking anyone to think of the government as greedy. In much the same way that we are told that African-Americans cannot be racist, I suppose that government simply cannot be greedy either. Besides, they are here to help us and they know what's best for us, even when...especially when, we don't. The fact that the men and women who have comprised that government over the past fifty years have managed to wrack up nearly 20 trillion dollars of debt just means that they are working really, really hard to help us. And if we knew what was good for us, we would be grateful.