Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Minimum Wage! Hah! (Sound of whip cracking)

You might remember They Might Be Giants, a two man band that trafficked in short, cerebral and often surreal little ditties. My understanding is that they are still a working band, but they have not really had much prominence since the early 90s. One of their funniest little songs was one called "Minimum Wage," whose lyrics are captured just about in their entirety in the caption to this post. The royalties for that song probably have contributed to the estates of the TMBG members. More on that in a moment.

Whenever I hear the debate about raising the minimum wage, I think of that song. The minimum wage is largely a fiction, since nearly every job in America pays more than the minimum, which is currently $5.15 per hour. Even the crappiest temp jobs I've seen listed pay at least double that amount. You have to be especially inept to make the minimum wage in this country.

As a result, raising the minimum wage will do very little to help anyone. However, eliminating the estate tax would be very helpful. There has been a lot of carping about linking these two items, especially since eliminating the estate tax is seen as a "tax break for the rich," which makes it EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL. The really rich rarely pay it, because they can afford financial advisors who set up lawful means to avoid it. Those who lose out because of the estate tax are largely heirs to a family farm or business; they are often forced to sell or close their farm/business/enterprise to pay the tax. It's always difficult to see how the estate tax is anything but destructive in those instances. To use just one example, the brilliant attorney Amy Klobuchar seems to think repealing the estate tax will somehow benefit Paris Hilton. I would wager that Ms. Hilton's money is already well-protected. And even if it weren't, it's difficult to understand why a law should punish Paris Hilton just because she is rich.

If you have an estate, the money in it was likely taxed at least twice - once, when you earned it, and a second time after you've invested it. I wonder how many times the government really needs to reach into our wallets.

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