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January 5, 2011
Posted at 7:01 am
 

Why ends don't meet any longer ...

Being an OF and remembering all those tales of wearing flour sack
dresses and scrounging old nylons to make rag rugs and dipping a
chicken carcass on a string into a pot of boiling water containing
half an onion 'n two carrots to make chicken soup, then carefully
setting the dipped carcass aside fer next week's pot o' soup ... these
were Depression stories told me on Granny's knee when I was a kid ...
I'm in mind of a great series published on SOL not long ago by Lazlo
Zalezac called "Commune."

If you haven't read it yet, go do it. It'll get you ready fer 2011 'n
beyond.

Meanwhile this month is the anniversary of Henry Ford's great
productivity experiment. He cut the work day at his auto plants from 9
hours a day down to 8, and he doubled the minimum wage he paid his
workers. He increased it to $5 for an 8 hour day, which immediately
raised a firestorm of criticism that any worker paid that outrageous
sum would feel rich, quit, and retire to the nearest saloon to drink
hisself to death, therefore creating a nation of widows and orphans.
Or somethin' like that, dire and unlovely.

Bein' a curious ol' fart, I looked up what that would be in today's
Federal Script that passes for coin o' the realm. Using a consumer
price index calculator, one finds that $5 in 1914 is the equivalent of
$110.85 in 2011. Hmmmm ... we've come a long way, Baby!

(Now, you might disagree with that CPI adjustment thing, but it's hard
to come up with anything else ... unless one uses Speaker John
Boehner's reality distortion machine in which a family of four can
live on less per hour if everyone will just buckle down and work more
earnestly.)

Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr, times 8 hours = $58 day. Seems we've
taken a helluva a reduction since the days of H. Ford's experiment.

WA state minimum wage, which is reputed to be recklessly generous and
is driving all the hourly jobs out of WA over to Idaho where former
Senator Steve Symms successfully destroyed the "Right to Work"
provisions, is ...

... increased to $8.67 this month. That's $69.36 per 8-hour day. Still
not enough to retire to the local saloon and drink oneself stupid.

Also, there's that little thing of payroll and withholding taxes and
sales tax on everything, which didn't exist in H. Ford's day. So it
looks like working a full-time minimum wage job and taking a big tax
bite, you'd better hang onto a chicken carcass and a string iffen you
want chicken soup very often

But, gettin' back to the original proposition: comparing H. Ford's
reckless experiment in 1914 to what the equivalent pay would be today,
it's obvious that he destroyed the economy and America went tits-up in
1915.

Again, go read "Commune" by LZ. It's a pretty good survival manual.

=GB=