Jesse Ventura seems like a genuine and fun guy: he has been involved in professional wrestling, movies, television and politics. Ventura is honest, well-spoken and blunt when he rages against the state. If he ran for president he would surely gain a lot of supporters if he made his way to the stage debates.
He has correctly condemned the Bush administration, he has been right to attack the Obama administration and its support for continuing much of the Bush-era policies and he has always been consistent in criticizing the United States government’s intervention in foreign affairs.
Indeed, if Ventura threw his hat in the race for the Oval Office a lot of libertarians would cast a vote for him…that is until they listened to him speak on domestic issues, such as the economy, the minimum wage and business.
Last week, Ora.tv’s “Off The Grid” sent out a news release to media outlets highlighting that the former Minnesota governor supports raising the minimum wage. Ventura alluded to the fact that he used to work for the minimum wage when he was a dishwasher, which he said was a “brutal job.”
“I used to work for the minimum wage at a little restaurant in south Minneapolis called Mama Rosa. The job I did washing those dishes was one of the most brutal jobs I’ve ever had,” said the former Navy SEAL. “Minimum wage workers. Somehow they make them seem like what they do has no importance because that’s why they’re paying the minimum wage or the fact that it’s physical labor. What really gets me in the world today is how if you do something that requires great physical labor you get paid less than a person who pushes a pencil around. Why do you get paid less for sweating generally and get paid more for not sweating? Why are these jobs minimum wage? That part of society as a whole gets me. Dick Cheney couldn’t dig a ditch; he’d drop dead of a heart attack.”
Ventura added that someone who works a 40-hour work week should not have to be subsidized by the government and that the wages that person earns in that time should be enough to live off of. He explained that raising the minimum wage would stimulate the economy and consumption is what fuels the economy.
He concluded that both capitalism and socialism have “proven they can’t survive,” adding that the U.S. had “pure capitalism back in ’08. They robbed us blind! The government has to be there to put some type of regulations on it or the thieves will rob you to death.”
Over the weekend, Ventura posted this tweet:
— Jesse Ventura (@GovJVentura) May 30, 2014
Again, Ventura is a great guy and could very well serve as a dependable statesman, but some of the comments he has made really have no basis. Let’s take a look at some of his remarks in his statements:
A Dishwasher’s Value
The problem of individuals debating wages is that they never put out a dollar figure that is backed by any economic model or theory. Politicos and pundits throw out random numbers. The same thing can be said about labor and value.
In order to gain employment, the worker must have education, experience or skills to do the job. By having a set of skills then they can offer value to the company that justifies a wage. Also, a person’s skillset must be in demand and skills or a degree that isn’t quite common. This way, a company gains by hiring this worker and the employee gains by being offered a competitive wage because they are one step ahead of someone else.
Whether we like to admit it or not, it takes a lot of knowledge, skill and work ethic to handle multi-million-dollar accounts at companies. We also have to understand that tens of thousands of fans want to see a basketball player or a musician perform their particular skillset. Millions of people don’t want to see a person dig ditches or wash dishes.
Indeed, being a dishwasher can be a very difficult job at times. However, most people know how to wash dishes and it isn’t a skill that has only been attained by a select group of professionals. Therefore, a dishwasher doesn’t prove to be worth $30 per hour. Fortunately, though, if a restaurant feels the dishwasher is cleaning 300 dishes per hour, which is producing value for the company more than the wage they are being paid then their hourly income will be increased.
Physical Labor = No Value?
Ventura is incorrect when he says that a physical laborer is viewed as someone unimportant and who makes very little. It’s unclear as to where he has gathered this information or if he is just speaking emotionally, but some of the highest paid jobs nowadays are those that are physically intense.
Here is a list of five jobs that contain manual labor and earn much more than the minimum wage:
– Boilermakers | average hourly wage: $27.23.
– Commercial divers | average hourly wage: $28.19
– Elevator installers and repairers | average hourly wage: $35.37
– Electric power line installers and repairers | average hourly wage: $28.58
– Petroleum pump system operators | average hourly wage: $28.99
Obviously these jobs just offer a snapshot to assess how much blue-collar, physical labor jobs pay and are in demand. A liberal arts graduate who has a Master’s degree in ancient history wishes he could make that salary at Starbucks.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney couldn’t dig a ditch? Agreed. He is an example of crony capitalism and being a symbol of collaboration between corporations and big government, whether he was an oil executive or second in command at the Oval Office. Hardly a beacon and shining example of capitalism.
40 hours, wages and living well
Ventura is absolutely correct in his assessment that someone working 40 hours a week should be able to live a comfortable life unsubsidized. It’s no secret that many of these workers can’t live a decent lifestyle, but there are various elements as to the reasons why:
– The Federal Reserve devaluing the purchasing power for Americans
– A rising cost of living because of the central bank’s monetary policy
– The average middle-income family paying 40 percent of their income to the government
– Government intervention into the economy that has hurt businesses everywhere
– Artificially low interest rates that deter people from saving and investing for the future
Of course, anyone who works 40 hours every single week should not be subsidized. In addition, Americans are adaptable creatures and can overcome adversity, even if it’s tackling government hurdles. This means that if someone wants to earn more than the minimum wage then they must attain credentials, qualifications and skills that can allow them to compete in the labor market.
Consumption fuels the economy?
This is a common misconception that most people have: consumption is what fuels and flourishes an economy. Since the U.S. economy is two-thirds consumers then it’s understandable where this misnomer derives from.
What the former governor and wrestling commentator fails to realize is that the economy thrives and survives because of individuals saving and investing. Purchasing a television with money you don’t have isn’t stimulating the economy. Working for money, saving money for a rainy day and purchasing an item you desire with saved money is what keeps an economy going.
If raising the minimum wage and buying stuff were to fuel an economy then the government should mandate a $1,000 minimum wage and order everyone to consume $5,000 worth of stuff a month. Obviously this is a foolish sentiment.
Capitalism & Socialism
History has shown us that socialism cannot survive on its own. Wherever you find tyranny, you are likely to find socialism. Socialist systems have produced extreme amounts of poverty, starvation and suffering. Capitalist systems, meanwhile, have produced middle classes and households that take buying a carton of milk at the corner store for a couple of bucks for granted.
What perhaps might have been the most asinine statement coming from Ventura was when he said the U.S. had a “pure” capitalist society in 2008. How did he come up with that conclusion? At the time and to this date, the country has experienced immense corporatism and government expansion.
Collusion between the Fed, the government and Wall Street is not the definition of capitalism or free markets. If the U.S. had a “pure” capitalist system in 2008 then the major financial institutions would have gone under, Washington wouldn’t have bailed out the auto sector and the government wouldn’t have given everyone a house.
Regulations instituted by the government are there to protect their big business friends and hurt the little guy. Whether it’s anti-trust legislation or eminent domain laws, these are government measures in place to help themselves and their friends on Wall Street. These kinds of legislation don’t prevent any bureaucrat or pencil pusher from robbing anyone.
Sorry, Mr. Ventura, the U.S. didn’t have a “pure” capitalist system in 2008. What can you expect from a guy who has praised Fidel Castro and Karl Marx? If the anti-government crowds want a wrestler who wants to run for public office then the libertarian movement should back Glenn Jacobs, otherwise known as Kane.