Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why I am Pro Maximum-Wage

If you've ever been to a theme park you know that for most high speed roller coasters they have a height restriction, a barrier to safely experience the ride. Usually it's around 4 feet, so in effect they're instituting a 'minimum' to ensure little Johnny doesn't go flying the fuck off the ride on one of those loop-de-loops.

What you may not know is that many coasters also enforce a 'maximum'; that is, when a dude as large as Peter from Family Guy tries to squeeze his way into one of the seats, he is often booted off simply because he is too large. I saw it happen to an obese couple just a couple months back at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. They were pretty humiliated. The couple seemed flummoxed when the kid came by and said, "We can't securely lock the belt so unfortunately I'm going to have to ask you to step off." Yikes. The same problem would affect a person Shaq's size as well because the chance of getting decapitated is too great and although that'd be one helluva spectacle in a place like an amusement park I have a feeling Budweiser (who owns it) wouldn't want the bad PR.

So what you have in effect is a 'minimum' and a 'maximum'. Obviously if you spent the entire day as the ride conductor you would see thousands of variations of folks in between who safely meet the criterium. It isn't overly restrictive, 99% of people can still safely participate and have their brains jarred voluntarily.

Maybe you see where I'm headed now.

If you watch the GOP and Democratic debates, you hear the audience and moderators repeatedly ask the wrong questions and subsequently the politicians refuse to even answer those. For instance, "Do you support a minimum wage?" A reasonable question. The answer may be something like, "The economy in the United States is robust and the middle class is sick of....." It's pretty fucking unlikely that you'll get a simple yes or no.

Sometimes that's a good thing, the more shades of grey you see in this world the more inherently reasonable and well adjusted you are. But other times these non-answers are just typical political deflection and obfuscation.

What I want to hear at the next debate is: Are you pro-maximum wage?

This is an issue I've been harping on for years as the wage disparity in the U.S. and worldwide continues to widen. A minimum wage is only a starting point and it actually can have adverse effects on the very people it's supposed to help.

For example, most of the big corporations where we spend our money (e.g. Starbucks, Chipotle, McDonald's, Walgreens, Safeway, CVS, etc..) are public companies. That means they have a duty to their shareholders to increase profits each and every year. If a minimum wage is implemented, do you think the first thing that occurs is that the CEOs get together and say, "Fuck man, gotta take a pay cut this year." It's not. And often that's because they are now forced to still squeeze the juice out of a smaller orange. The shareholders aren't going to accept a measly return for a few years. If anything the CEOs get raises for navigating turbulent markets. Instead of voluntarily reducing pay for themselves, they will raise the price of their goods kicking the 'minimum-wage raise' unto consumers -- many of whom are the employees of that store (think WalMart another public company).

Whew, okay. So we can see that a minimum wage is not the panacea we hoped it would be. It can also have beneficial consequences but it's akin to applying a Band-Aid to a cut that requires stitches.

Input: Maximum Wage.

My old theory (which I still espouse) is a one line federal law that should take no longer than reading this paragraph: "No employee of any company in America should make more in total compensation than (insert reasonable exponent) x the lowest paid employee of same company." Let the lawyers alter that and gussy it up but one or two lines max. It would work wonders for our entire economy.

As an alternative, I'm willing to support a minimum and a maximum wage. Minimum wage allows the CEOs and other high-level executives to just move the goal posts down the field. A maximum wage precludes the possibility for an executive to make 750x the cashier who helps the business each day.

I don't think we have to cap this at 2 or 3 or 4 or even 5x. Some people are worth more than others and capitalism is an economic system with many commendable ideals worth preserving. What we are doing is implementing some semblance of balance so that we can all succeed while preserving the positive elements of capitalism. Some may claim that loopholes (stock options, bonuses, etc.) would ruin this proposal which is why the total 'compensation' clause is key. Not exclusive to just annual/hourly pay. It's a concern but maybe if we extend the provision another paragraph or two we can refine it a bit.

Will it be a panacea and solve all the market's ills? No. Nothing will. But it's a worthy starting point and something that should be getting more (some!) attention.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Final Shots of Peru

We were racing this train on the way to Machu Pichu. 
 Side by side for awhile but it beat us at the turn. We yielded. Smart move. 
 Repping BMC and DC Tri Club. 
 Candid shot! 
 View from our hotel room in Cusco. Where my brother hooked up with a local girl. And evicted me from the room one night. True story. Used to be the other way around! 
 Cruisin' Cusco. 
 Very cool place. If you ever make it to Peru make it a point to spend a couple days here. 
 The city center square of plaza. 
 They preserve the architecture by permitting fast food establishments only if they advertise within the existing infrastructure and in that same color scheme. 
 Would be a beautiful view each night if you lived on those hills. 
 Great big church where I found this beautiful painting I went searching the city for later in the trip. 2 Hour search and never saw it again. :(
 Much more crowded than it appears. We watched a 5k race down this road one morning. 
 Farmers Market. Of mostly chocolate and coffee. So a fucking utopian farmer's market! 
 Samples, por favor. Si, mas. Gracias. 
 No trip anywhere is complete without Jesus. 
 Many tourists but locals too. 
 Chocolate yes. 
 We watched a military parade outside the church on Sunday. God and guns. Can't beat 'em.
 Also got to see some young girls here posing for a wedding. Was really cute. 
 They weren't this young...close though. 
 Not as warm as it appears. 60 degrees. 
 Great view. Cycling here. 
I make it down before everyone. Take a selfie. Then ride back to the top and do it a second time. 

 Was a very fast and easy downhill. Passing busses and cars. Going up was much slower. 

 Is this what you imagined Machu Pichu looked like? 
 About what you thought? 
 Sorry wifey but these girls were so hot. Hey, it was a long trip, alright!
 Can really 'ruin' your day. 

 I carried a wooden staff with me that I found. Like Gandalf. 
 Gives you an idea of the steepness. 
 The elevation was high but not like other places we visited.
 Peering down on Machu Pichu.
 Snakes? Bears in there? Eh, Dylan. You can go first. 
 It's warm but I'm wearing layers to prevent mosquitoes from devouring me. 
 Those mates below are about 2/3 of the way there. No breaks. Not on my watch.
 To the north of Machu Pichu. 
 The view at the peak. Incredible feeling. 
 Like Jurassic Park. 
 Pops, despite his wicked foot infection trudged on all day. Tough Papa. 
 Dylan who is supposed to share with our Mom apparently. 
 The owner liked his busty women. 
 Aussie dude chowing down. This was a cool place. The ambience was very warm. Wooden topless women in the background. 
 There's the 5k I was talking about. 
 Driving very close to the edge here. Like those crazy roads you read about in Belize. 
 Tried to capture the color at dawn. Amazing. Sayonora Peru.