Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fun with numbers (Or how to tell someone is lying to you)

This is a rough summary of the logical inconsistencies and half-truths in a recent Forbes opinion piece found here. I won't quote the entire article, only the bits that stand out the most.

While Republicans and small business owners are sure to resist this push,
I am a small business owner, and I support a minimum wage increase wholeheartedly. People in this community making more money means they have more disposable income, which means that my services become more desirable and affordable.

it is important that everyone on both sides debates the issue with the correct facts.
I agree wholeheartedly, and that's why it's so shitty that Mr. Dorfman starts his post with the strawman that "it's bad for businesses" as an implied fact, with no attempt to support it. In fact, one could argue that exactly the opposite is true.

First, people should acknowledge that this rather heated policy discussion is over a very small group of people.
One in four Americans is not a very small group of people, buddy. 26% of private sector employees make less than $10 an hour. That means a minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour would affect a lot more than 26% of people.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are about 3.6 million workers at or below the minimum wage (you can be below legally under certain conditions). That is 2.5 percent of all workers and 1.5 percent of the population of potential workers.
Focusing on 2.5% of workers when 26% of workers would be affected by this is a distraction tactic. Everything he says that is related to this will be ignored, because 26% of workers make less than $10 an hour.

63 percent of workers who earn less than $9.50 per hour (well over the minimum wage of $7.25) are the second or third earner in their family
Let's ignore for a moment that your chosen group is completely arbitrary, given that you are talking about a proposed increase to $10.10. The group "All those who make less than $9.50" includes those who make below minimum wage. Adding "well over $7.25" to this group is again a distraction tactic, to make it look like this entire group of people makes well over minimum wage. Many people in this country do no make minimum wage, and are instead paid, say, $7.55 an hour. The way this is worded is a deliberate lie.

This group of workers is also shrinking. In 1980, 15 percent of hourly workers earned the minimum wage. Today that share is down to only 4.7 percent.
Wait, so 4.7% of hourly workers are at minimum wage? So what was that 2.5% you threw out earlier to make it look like such a small problem? One in 20 people is not a small number of people, and again, 26% of people will be positively affected by this increase.

Having established that the number of minimum wage workers is small and shrinking, that most minimum wage workers are not poor, and that most of them are young and working their way up the ladder rather than supporting a family,
None of those things have been established. You stated that 63% of your completely arbitrary group are second income earners. This means that 37% of them are not. Of those 63%, 43% live in a household which makes over $50,000 a year. Lets try something called math here.

You see, if 63% are second earners, and 43% of those are in $50,000 per year homes (which is hard to live on someplace like Maryland), then that gives us 27% of people who fall into both your categories.

That means that 73% of people who make less than $9.50 per hour are either the primary bread winner or live in households with a combined income of less than $50,000 per year. THAT DOESN'T SHOW THAT THEY AREN'T POOR!

At no point did you demonstrate that the majority of the 26% of people who would be affected by this are not poor, nor that they are young. Your own link shows that less than 20% of those at or below minimum wage would be considered "young workers." 20% of people is not "most."

I'm not even going to bother to read the rest of his article, because everything he has said up to this point has been a deliberate lie or misrepresentation of the truth.