A New Year and a New Minimum Wage?
Earlier today Bloomberg View columnists Margaret Carlson and Ramesh Ponnuru met online to chat about their New Year's resolutions. Below is a lightly edited transcript.
Margaret: Ramesh, happy New Year and good luck on your resolutions, if you made any. Several articles told me not to be too ambitious so mine are kind of small. For example, I have a bad habit of eating ice cream just before bed. If I took one scoop, I'd be fine. But since I'm only going to eat a bite, I eat it out of the container. That means I eat far more than just one scoop of Trader Joe's Ultra Chocolate, the very best chocolate ice cream, but since I don't get a bowl out and I'm cooled by the open freezer door, I'm not taking in any calories. This year, I vow to scoop, replace and close. I wish I drank more, that would be an easier habit to limit, but I can't go down from one glass of wine. I also have some high-minded wishes, like Miss America, for world peace, but I'll spare you those.
Ramesh: My resolution is to make this year's resolve to get fit last a little bit longer than last year's. If I keep doing that eventually I'll get on track. My other resolution is to sleep more (children permitting). So I guess you could say I've set myself a pretty low bar. Do people in other countries go in for these annual resolutions as much as we do? All this self-improvement seems awfully American.
Margaret: Sleep is the new sex, a friend of mine with a newborn said. She longs for it, thinks about it, plans for it. I'm beyond newborns but among "Type A" personalities sleep is underrated. Read any human-interest story on a successful person and he or she will boast about needing only 5 hours of sleep. As for resolutions in other countries, I suspect a once-a-year moment for wishing to be our best selves is universal. When I move to France for the single-payer health care, I'll let you know.
Ramesh: The Ponnurus are still more in Christmas than New Year's mode, being sticklers for the 12 days. We went up to New York the weekend before Christmas -- and now I'm especially glad I did, because the kids got to take a horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park. It turns out that getting rid of this menace is one of the first ways the new mayor is going to be deploying the energy of the executive. The horse didn't seem to be cruelly treated. If only we could make New Year's resolutions for others. Mine for incoming government officials would be not to start off by closing down lines of work.
Margaret: I'm with you on the horses. I would stop granting animals feelings until we take care of all the humans who need tending to. We have no maximum wage in this country as best I can tell. Bloomberg just did a new calculation of billionaires and how much richer they got this year. Every time the subject of raising the minimum wage comes up, those making far more ask: Where does it all end? At $15? They get more credulous: $20? Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co. makes somewhere around $20 million despite costing his company a record $13 billion in fines last year. Let me raise my one glass of wine for the day to voice my vote for a little more for those at $7.50 an hour.
Ramesh: And don't forget those many making $0 an hour because they're out of work. Let's hope we don't raise the minimum wage so much that we increase their numbers. I'm pretty sure Dimon, meanwhile, has made a lot more for his company that he has cost it in fines/payoffs. Now that I think of it, though, there is a drawback to those horse-drawn carriages: My girls have gotten a taste for them at home. I'm the horse.