For once, I wasn't in a rush so I gave him a dollar and asked what his situation was. He explained that he's a laborer and been unable to get work.
I asked why? He said, because employers prefer Latinos over Blacks--"They work like dogs for minimum wage."
That reminded me:
- of the tension between Blacks and Latinos, who often compete for the same jobs.
- of the costs and benefits of uncontrolled immigration.
- most emotional to me, that real estate developers live in mansions on the backs of poor people willing to kill themselves for minimum wage.
Today, I dropped my dog at Alfonso, the groomer. (I don't like primpy dogs but I don't want my baby, Einstein, to get matted--it's uncomfortable.) I asked Alfonso if the slowing economy is hurting his business. He said no but that the cost of food and other basics was making it difficult for him to get by. Alfonso is the best-regarded dog groomer in Oakland, who owns his own business, and even he struggles to get by.
Something is wrong. Something is wrong when real estate developers, lawyers, bond traders, and insurance salespeople are rich and the best groomer in Oakland is worried about whether he can afford to eat.
I do believe that small government and free-market solutions are, in the end, best. I was just listening to Obama call for yet more regulations to try to keep financial firms from failing. And that reminds me of how harmful government regulation so often is. For example, corporations spend billions trying to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley's phalanx of accounting requirements, and by all accounts, it has done little good other than to waste money and force thousands of human beings to devote their lives to filling out meaningless paperwork. Government cannot control greed or incompetence.
In another part of Obama's speech today, he promised to bail out all those investors and homeowners who used "no-qualification" loans to pay for a house or other real estate they knew they couldn't afford, but hoped would go up in value. It's wrong for government to take tax dollars from honest people to prop up those who chose to speculate with money they don't have.
And I'm virtually certain that Obama's expensive schemes to fund alternative energy, yet bigger spending on education, and mass legalization of illegals will be very poor uses of taxpayer dollars and a net negative on the nation.
And yet maybe, just maybe, in light of the huge gap between rich and poor, it's time to see what would occur under that perfect storm of liberalism: a hard-lefty Obama, with a liberal congress, and an ever-more-baldly liberal media.