Why a Woman Won’t Marry an Idle Man: Hands Across the Table (1935)

hands-across-the-tableIdleness is “an inclination not to do work…”1 Synonyms include laziness, indolence, and sloth.In Mitchell Leisen’s Hands Across the Table (1935), Theodore Drew III (Fred MacMurray) is an idle man who has never worked to earn a living. An important theme in the film is that a woman will not marry a man who refuses to get a job.

One reason why Theodore doesn’t want to work is he is a man-child. When Regi Allen (Carole Lombard) first meets him, he is playing hopscotch in the hallway. Later, when she lets him stay in her apartment, he asks to be tucked into bed. Years earlier, he joined the navy, but his father pulled him out. Theodore is a man-child because his father never taught him to be responsible for his own financial needs.

Theodore’s refusal to work forces him to choose between marrying for money or marrying for love. Before he met Regi, he planned to marry Vivian Snowden (Astrid Allwyn) and live off of her wealth. However, when he falls in love with Regi, he wants to break off his engagement, and be with her, but she refuses.

There are two unstated reasons why Regi sends Theodore away. As a manicurist, she is a low-income earner, and doesn’t want to remain poor by marrying a man with limited job prospects. She tells him he’ll have to “scratch for a living.” Secondly, she may fear that she will have to support him financially.

In the end, Regi agrees to marry Theodore because she realizes how much she loves him, and he promises her that he will find work. The film suggests that a man must take financial responsibility for his own life if he wants to attract a wife. This was true in 1935 and is still true today.

According to a 2011 survey by ForbesWoman and YourTango, 75% of female respondents said they would never marry a man who was unemployed.3 Women today may not want a man to financially provide for them, but they are reluctant to marry a man they will have to provide for, especially if he is healthy and able to work.

While there are valid reasons for a man being unemployed including health issues, raising children, and the need to retrain for a career, if a healthy, able-bodied man refuses to work, he may ruin his chances of getting married. Women (on average) earn less money than men do,4 and hence are less likely to want to financially support a husband. Therefore, if an idle man wants a wife, he should start looking for a job.

Notes

  1. Merriam Webster, s.v. “Idleness,” accessed February 12, 2017, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/idleness
  2. Ibid.
  3. Megan Gibson, “Study: 75% of Women Wouldn’t Marry A Man Who Was Unemployed,” Time, June 23, 2011, http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/06/23/study-75-of-women-wouldnt-marry-a-man-who-was-unemployed/
  4. “Women’s earnings 83 percent of men’s, but vary by occupation,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 15, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/womens-earnings-83-percent-of-mens-but-vary-by-occupation.htm

Why a Higher Minimum Wage Can Result in a Lower Unemployment Rate

map_blog

Those who argue in favor of raising the minimum wage often point to examples of when the unemployment rate fell after the government increased it. One reason why this can happen is the unemployment rate only includes people who are actively looking for work. As a result, the more people who give up looking for work, the lower the unemployment rate will be.

One of the most popular statistics reported by the government is the unemployment rate: “the percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed.”1 However, this statistic is not an accurate measure of unemployment. If a person has not searched for a job in the past four weeks, they are no longer counted as a member of the labor force.2 The U.S. government classifies them as a discouraged worker: someone “who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment.”3 If a higher minimum wage results in companies laying off employees or hiring fewer new ones, then more people will become discouraged workers. Although increasing the minimum wage is supposed to help reduce income inequality, it can have the unintended consequence of driving more people out of the labor force due to a lack of job opportunities. Ironically, this can cause the unemployment rate to go down.

To measure the true economic impact of a minimum wage increase, the labor force participation rate is a better statistic than the unemployment rate. The labor force participation rate is “the percentage of the population that is either … working or actively seeking work.”4 For example, in June 2015, the U.S. added 223,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3% from 5.5% in May.5 However, the size of the labor force decreased by 432,000 as the labor force participation rate fell to 62.6% from 62.9%.6 The unemployment rate fell by .2%, but the labor force decreased by .3%. The unemployment rate went down because of the sharp increase in the number of discouraged workers.

While a higher minimum wage can sometimes result in a lower unemployment rate, forcing companies to pay a higher price for labor will not benefit all workers. According to the law of demand, “all other factors being equal … the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded.”7 If all other factors remain the same, the higher the price of minimum wage labor, the less hourly units of labor a company will purchase from workers. Raising the minimum wage is an economic policy that is motivated by good intentions, but it will not produce good results for everyone who wants a job.

Notes

  1. Investopedia, s.v. “Unemployment Rate,” accessed May 10, 2016, http://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/unemploymentrate.asp
  2. “Labor Force Characteristics,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 10, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/cps/lfcharacteristics.htm#discouraged
  3. Investopedia,v. “Discouraged Worker,” accessed May 10, 2016, http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/discouraged_worker.asp
  4. “Labor Force Participation,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 10, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/bls/cps_fact_sheets/lfp_mock.htm
  5. Claire Zillman, “U.S. economy adds 223K jobs in June as unemployment dips to 5.3%,” Fortune, July 2, 2015, http://fortune.com/2015/07/02/june-2015-jobs-report-unemployment/
  6. Ibid.
  7. Investopedia, s.v. “Law of Demand,” accessed May 11, 2016, http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lawofdemand.asp

How a $15 Minimum Wage Creates Winners and Losers

15 dollar

In the United States and Canada, many municipal, state, and provincial governments are raising the minimum wage to $15 in the hope of reducing poverty and income inequality. Unfortunately, good intentions do not always produce good results. Raising the minimum wage to $15 will create winners and losers in the job market because of a basic economic principle: the law of demand.

According to the law of demand, “all other factors being equal … the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded.”1 For example, if the cost of an airplane flight to Hawaii increases by 25%, consumers will demand less plane tickets. Minimum wage labour is not immune from the law of demand because labour is a service purchased by companies. If all other factors remain equal, the higher the price of labour, the less hourly units of labour a company will purchase from workers.

The central problem with raising the minimum wage is the government can control the wage, but companies control the number of hours that they buy. The consequence of increasing the minimum wage to $15 is some workers will receive a wage increase with little or no reduction in hours, while other workers will have their hours reduced or be laid-off.

When the government increases the minimum wage, a company has numerous options to reduce labour costs. These include

  • Reducing its hours of operation.
  • Reducing the number of staff working per hour.
  • Hiring part-time employees instead of full-time and no longer paying benefits.
  • Relocating to another state, city, or country where wages are lower.
  • Investing in labour-saving technology.

Advocates of a $15 minimum wage believe that companies can simply pay for the increased labour costs out of their profits. While many large, successful corporations might be able to afford to pay some (or all) of their workers $15 per hour, this does not mean that all companies can do so and remain profitable, especially smaller businesses. More importantly, if a company cannot make a profit due to increased labour costs, it will go out of business, and workers will earn $0 per hour.

While advocates of a $15 minimum wage believe it is about achieving fairness for workers, forcing companies to pay more for labour has unintended consequences. The most experienced and productive workers might earn more, but inexperienced and less productive workers will earn less. At $15 an hour, there are many workers that companies will no longer employ (or hire) because they can’t make a profit from their labour. In the private sector, making a profit is more important than what is “fair” for workers. Profits are to a company what blood is to the human body. Without profits, a company cannot exist.

Notes

  1. Investopedia, s.v. “Law of Demand,” accessed April 10, 2016, http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lawofdemand.asp

The Reason Justin Trudeau Broke His Balanced Budget Promise

trudeau deficits

In the 2015 federal election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised to balance the budget in 2019. The Liberals would run annual deficits of less than $10 billion for three years, and then balance the budget in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.1 This was a bold strategy, to borrow money in order to “invest” in infrastructure. Trudeau’s deficit plan set him apart from Tom Mulcair, the NDP leader, who promised four years of balanced budgets.2 After Mulcair’s announcement, Trudeau told his wife Sophie Grégoire, “I’m pretty sure we just won the election.”3 Trudeau believed that his short-term deficit plan made the Liberals more attractive to voters than the NDP.

Two months after winning the election, Justin Trudeau still planned to balance the budget in 2019.4 However, when the Liberal government unveiled its first budget on March 22, 2016, the balanced budget promise was abandoned. Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a $29.4 billion dollar deficit for 2016-2017, $29 billion for the following year, $22.8 billion for 2018-2019, and $17.7 billion for 2019-20 with no plan to balance the budget in subsequent years.5

The reason Justin Trudeau broke his balanced budget promise is because the Liberal fiscal plan did not add up. The Liberal plan included $146.5 billion in new spending and tax cuts over four years.6 If Trudeau kept the 2016-2017 deficit to less than $10 billion, he would not be able to keep all the spending promises he made during the election. He broke his balanced budget promise so that he could keep his spending plans intact.

Justin Trudeau’s promise of a balanced budget by 2019 was a clever deception to win the election. If he told Canadians that he would not balance the budget, it is unlikely he would have won a majority government. Trudeau promised three years of deficits totaling $25.1 billion.7 Now, with their first budget, the Liberals plan to increase the federal debt by more than $100 billion in their four-year term. Justin Trudeau deceived voters during the 2015 election, and he should apologize to the nation. The Liberal fiscal plan was a fraud.

Notes

  1. “Justin Trudeau says Liberals plan 3 years of deficits to push infrastructure, CBC News, August 27, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-liberals-infrastructure-deficits-1.3205535
  2. “Tom Mulcair says NDP’s balanced budget commitment was his idea,” CBC News, October 11, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/tom-mulcair-says-ndp-s-balanced-budget-commitment-was-his-idea-1.3266310
  3. Ryan Maloney, “Trudeau: NDP’s Balanced Budget Pledge Was Moment I Became ‘Pretty Sure’ Liberals Would Win,” Huffington Post, March 17, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/03/17/justin-trudeau-ndp-balance-budget-pledge_n_9486576.html
  4. Andy Blatchford, “Justin Trudeau says vow to balance budget in 4 years is ‘very’ cast in stone,” CBC News, December 17, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-budget-deficit-1.3369459
  5. Pete Evans, “Ottawa forecasts $29.4B deficit — with lots more red ink to come,” CBC News, March 22, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/budget-deficit-infrastructure-1.3502940
  6. “Liberal fiscal plan outlines $146.5B in spending, tax cuts over next 4 years,” CBC News, September 26, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-liberal-fiscal-plan-1.3245239
  7. “The Liberal Fiscal Plan and Costing,” http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2434195-the-liberal-fiscal-plan-and-costing.html#document/p7