Chanting Points Memo: Our Spunky, Cute, White Underclass

The fact is, I have a lot of questions about the minimum wage debate.

Of course, the uncountably vast majority of people who are earning minimum wage are kids, or others who are just entering the workforce.  People who haven’t yet developed even the most rudimentary work skills – like showing up on time, much less running the shake machine or the deep fryer with authority.

But there are people earning the minimum wage who do, in fact, have themselves and others depending on their income.

If you’re a conservative, you no doubt suspect that that sad state is because of poor choices; partying too much in high school and not getting an education; having children out of wedlock; working on the easy crime career before developing the boring straight career.

Of course, not every person is affected by their own choices.  When you party you way into your twenties, do jail time, get knocked up and wind up having to raise a family on a wage that wouldn’t support a single person, you are very likely passing a lot of problems on to the next generation; you’re passing your bad, shortsighted, immature and/or stupid choices on to them.  “Personal Responsibility” is great when it’s just your own choices affecting you – but when your parents, and grandparents, were idiots or drunks or screw-ups, what’s a kid to do?

(And if you’re the progeny of a couple of generations of people who made good choices, worked hard, got good jobs and dedicated themselves to helping you make good choices, too, then thank whatever it is you believe in.  It’s a major leg up in life).

Now, I’m not sure how many of Jessica English’s choices were her ancestors, and how many were hers.  But the media certainly is playing up the results – the state of Ms. English’s life today:

Jessica English is the face of a newly revived effort to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage.

Ms. English, speaking at the Minnesota State Fair, illustrating the dangers of poverty to cute, white women from Wayzata who choose to work in art.

She earned minimum wage while working in rural western Minnesota, places such as Fergus Falls, Ortonville and Kerkhoven. A case worker called it the “land of the minimum wage.”

Now, the 35-year-old divorced mother said she faces losing custody of her four daughters, ages 6 to 15, because she earned so little, even though her finances improved a bit since moving to St. Paul.

On the one hand?  That sounds scary – being 35 and up against it like that.   Now, I have no idea what got Ms. English to this point in her life – single, four kids, job skills worth $6.15 an hour.

(As to the “losing custody” bit, though?  Er, if she was a single father – presuming that’s who Ms. English would be contesting for custody – would the media even care?  What if the father is better able to provide a decent life for the kids?  The double standard is nothing new).

But the fact is, one does make choices in one’s life.  I’ve made a few; I left radio, my first career, when I was married and had two kids and another on the way, and was making $6.50/hour, and painstakingly taught myself how to convince managers I was a competent technical writer.  I adapted.  I did what it took to develop a skill that would get me and my family out of poverty.  I don’t want, or deserve, a cookie for that – that’s what you do when you have a family; you take care of them.  I had some blessings, of course; I’d gotten a passable education when I had the chance, I’d avoided doing any jail time, that sort of thing. Perhaps my greatest blessing?  Growing up in a place and time when “not being ready to raise a family when I had one” still had some moral weight.

And it’d seem Ms. English has learned that lesson, at least in part.  The article notes that her financial situation has “improved a bit since moving to St. Paul”.

Where she works – for an inadequate wage, perhaps, although we don’t know – as a “community organizer” for “The Coffee Party”, the beyond-astroturf liberal-plutocrat-funded “response” to the Tea Party. 

In other words, one of the liberal-plutocrat-supported non-profits that’s agitating for a “living wage” apparently won’t provide one. 

Judging by Ms. English’s rap sheet, she spent the last several years working in the public/non-profit art business – a famously penurious racket, usually the province of trust fund babies, bored housewives and young, no-strings-attached arts majors.

I don’t know Ms. English.  But how much weight should the media give the testimony of a person who has apparently dedicated herself to finding and remaining in poverty?

And how much should Minnesota’s real working poor – the 20 year olds scrambling for their first jobs at Burger King, who will be the first to get laid off when the robots do finally take over the fast food business, the immigrants who are working as many minimum wage jobs as they can while they learn English and develop other skills, the poor kids who need to some some reassurance that there’s a future in working the straight and narrow rather than turning to crime – have to pay for such dilettantism?

Because it’s their jobs – not the “Community Organizer” jobs for fashionable lefty non-profits – that’ll be disappearing.

UPDATE:  Someone emailed “aren’t you being a bit condescending?”

Me?  Not a bit.  There’s a reason that the poverty pimps are trotting out an attractive white woman instead of a 30 year old Somali immigrant.  Put another way – the proponents of the minimum wage hike are doing the condescending, here.

21 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: Our Spunky, Cute, White Underclass

  1. You’re on thin ice, Mitch.

    She chooses to spend her time on pleasant activities that earn no money. That’s none of your business. Your business is to pay for it.

    When Sandra Flake insisted Obamacare should pay for her birth control, I pointed out that nobody paid for my hobbies so why should I pay for hers? Oops, big mistake, I was way out of line. I was being judgmental.

    Careful there, big guy. You’re pushing it.

  2. Community Organizer? I say she is padding her resume for a presidential run. She already has the victimhood card up her sleeve.

  3. Well, if she’s only getting $6.50, it’s a fact that her employer doesn’t value her work. She has the alternative of finding a new job that pays more. One place that was paying $7.50 an hour more than a decade ago for beginning workers is Burger King. A shift-manager there starts at $10. It seems she could double her wages if she has a little initiative.

  4. She sounds really poor until you remember SNAP, WIC, rental assistance, childcare assistance, medical assistance, and the like, which pushes her $15k or so per year up to a total of around $50k annually.

    Or, quite frankly, about the same as an engineer starting out with the same number of kids. Cry me a river, Ms. English, you’re doing pretty darned good for having skipped calculus and playing artist/Obama wannabe for the past couple of decades.

  5. I read a piece in the Pittsburgh newspaper last week from a guy with a degree in “Classical Antiquity”. This fellow was teh pissed because he couldn’t find anyone out there that valued his education enough to pay him what he thought an antiquitist should make.

    I swear I could see tear stains on the copy.

    Anyway, his big plan was to parlay his tutoring job into…wait for it….a job in academia.

    That’s when my head exploded.

  6. Well said, Mike. It reminds me of the fact that a lot of TSA screeners were/are there because they cannot get a better job at…..McDonald’s. Can anyone say “work ethic” on the left?

  7. And of course the never asked question because one comes off sounding so cruel- but I’ll ask it. And you had 4 children along the way…why? Just because “you wanted to”? Don’t know your situation- maybe your ex had a lot of money. If so, disregard. But in most cases……

  8. The Forum article linked to is written badly.

    Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson likened the minimum wage effort to one that produced a law allowing gay marriages. She said that minimum wages are being discussed throughout the state and soon most Minnesotans will agree to a higher wage.

    The state minimum wage “is not close to being enough,” she said.

    At $9.50 an hour, workers would put $470 million more a year into the state economy, Knutson said. About 360,000 workers now earn minimum wage.

    Winkler said that studies show “there is no economic downside” to raising the wage.

    But Republicans say a higher minimum wage would hurt the economy.

    “When you raise the minimum wage, you raise labor costs that lead to one of several things: raising prices on goods and services, reducing hours for staff or layoffs for workers,” Rep. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said.

    “At $9.50 an hour, workers would put $470 million more a year into the state economy, Knutson said. About 360,000 workers now earn minimum wage.”
    “Winkler said that studies show “there is no economic downside” to raising the wage.”
    These statements are so dumb they never should have printed.

    “But Republicans say a higher minimum wage would hurt the economy.”
    The quotes from R’s that follow talk about the effect on jobs of raising the minimum wage, not the economy.
    Fire the reporter.

  9. My parents rent out the ancestorial farmland in Western Wisconsin. Small operation that they break even on. But next door is a large dairy operation. The owner says that every one of his employees are Mexican. White folk don’t want to work on a farm. Too hard. Too dirty and smelly. Too odd hours.

    If Ms English is from West Central Minnesota, I’d say there are probably several farms who would love to hire her. Has she applied at any?

  10. The St Paul Pioneer Press is begging for delivery people. Does she have a car? She can work in the early morning, then go to work during the day at a second job. I’m working two jobs right now. I have no sympathy for someone who says she doesn’t have enough money, but won’t work 2 jobs.

  11. Anecdote is the singular of data. So a divorced white female with four kids can’t seem to get her crap together to find a decent job. I happen to know a woman who managed to keep her knees together a few more times but is also more skilled at job interviews and getting jobs. She won’t be the DFL poster child for minimum wage because she believes in working hard to better her situation. She isn’t a millionaire, but neither is she a ward of the state or a pathetic excuse for a human being.

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  13. Ok, I have been pondering this question for a long time no…how does poverty perpetuate itself?

    This woman is only a victim of her own bad decisions…she chose to bear four children..she chose to enter into a temporary relationship, although she may not have known it at the time…it ultimately is just that…a temporary relationship, one that brought four children (the real victims here) into the world.

    Ms. English, it is your and the fathers responsibility to care for these kids. Some growing up might be in order.

  14. It’s the signs. The signs are a dead give-away.

    Poor people don’t have professionally printed signs in eye-catching colors spouting trendy slogans in several languages. Poor people write on cut-up cardboard boxes with an El Marko. And truly poor people are too busy staying alive to organize media coverage for simultaneous demonstrations in several cities.

    There’s powerful money and organization behind this. I’d bet a shiny new nickel these people are being used as props for unions who can’t negotiate a raise in The New Economy so they’re trying to legislate one instead.

  15. Unionthugs could care less about this woman or her kids. They’re just interested in raising the benchmark to boost the prevailing wage for their next extortion note contract.

    Only low information voters can’t see the facts.

  16. Jessica English, Sandra Flake, Cindy Sheehan. Democrats used them then dumped them like Kleenex. It’s as if there were a Left-Wing War on Women.

  17. I had placed this comment on a different blog, about a completely different woman…Debbie Wasserman-Schultz…but it is indeed relevant:

    Women of intelligence are a threat to liberal lunacy.

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