Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pamela Leavey on the Minimum Wage and the EITC

While following up on some comments that I left on various other blogs regarding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), I had the dubious pleasure of engaging one Pamela Leavey over at The Democratic Daily. Although I have enraged quite a few people on the Internet over the years, it's fairly rare for me to do so unintentionally, and I was quite surprised at the sort of vituperous venom that Ms. Leavey displayed without any provocation whatsoever. To wit, rather than simply responding to my position that an expansion of the EITC would be a much more efficient and equitable way of helping the working poor than raising the minimum wage, Ms. Leavey scrutinized my online resume, did her best to dish out some dirt on me, and then started looking for a way to compete with me for victim status, asking me (quite inappropriately) whether I had ever been poor and volunteering that she herself has been poor, "I mean really poor." (You'll find the relevant threads here and here.)

It took me a while to respond to Ms. Leavey because I was unaware that she had replied to my comments. Whenever I respond to a comment that someone leaves on one of my websites, I try to contact them by e-mail and let them know, assuming that they provide me with contact information. However, Ms. Leavey made no attempt to notify me of her response. What she did do was scrutinize my online resume and post a comment in one of the threads on her website alluding to the fact that some 10 years ago I was the Vice President of my law school's chapter of the Federalist Society. This was the same thread where she asked me whether I had ever been poor while volunteering that she herself had been poor, and that she was a single mother.

I am not a public figure, nor do I have any desire to be, and as a general rule, I am loathe to introduce personal information about myself into discussions of larger social issues because I think it's somewhat egocentric. Likewise, I think it's pretty absurd for anyone else to introduce anecdotal personal information about themselves into discussions of larger social issues, a fortiori when they do so in an attempt to claim victim status. There are exceptions to this general rule, none of which applied to the exchanges that I had with Ms. Leavey on her website. Her objective was to out me as a fat cat conservative and suggest that my opinions should simply be dismissed as right wing propaganda. When that failed, she attempted to invoke a breach of civility on my part.

Unfortunately for Ms. Leavey, it turned out that I am not a fat cat conservative. I am a libertarian whose affiliation with the Federalist Society is based upon the fact that it embraces free speech ideals. And as a libertarian, my support for the EITC is based upon the fact that it is an excellent way of protecting a vulnerable segment of society from oppressive taxation. I pointed out all of this to Ms. Leavey, and she promptly changed the subject, asserting that I obviously had no firsthand experience with poverty, and that my "opinions" (read: inconvenient facts) were an "insult to the working poor." Once again, she was wrong.

My firsthand experiences with abject poverty have been relatively brief, but there have been times when I did not have a place to call home, had no cash or credit, and had no friends or relatives that I was willing to turn to for help. During these times, I had to rely upon minimum wage jobs that paid me the same day and the kindness of strangers who befriended me. Unlike most of the working poor, I have an education and marketable skills, so I have always been able to recover from any untoward circumstances that I have encountered, but not a day goes by that I do not encounter someone who makes me think, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." In sum, I know the hardships of the working poor, and I sympathize with their plight, which is why I have always been willing to volunteer my time and talents for those who are less fortunate than me and do more than my fair share of pro bono work. Consequently, Ms. Leavey's attempts to claim victim status for herself struck me as somewhat self-centered, self-righteous, and hypocritical.

Notwithstanding Ms. Leavey's contentious personal style, I assumed good faith and tried to redirect her personal attacks against me to a dialogue regarding an expansion of the EITC as an alternative to raising the minimum wage. And had Ms. Leavey simply ignored me, I probably would have ignored her as well and moved onto other online venues. That's what I usually do when people are not interested in what I have to say, as I am under no obligation to save anyone from his or her ignorance, and I have no desire to do so. However, after editing my comments to remove no less than two links to my supporting citations, Ms. Leavey took the radical step of completely deleting my most recent comment on The Democratic Daily, one step beyond what the cowardly censors at did when they simply disabled my login, so I decided to post this article on my own blog narrating Ms. Leavey's cowardly censorship and offering to interested parties the citations that she conveniently edited out of my posts on her website. Here are those citations:

* The Low Wage Labor Market: Challenges and Opportunities for Economic Self Sufficiency. Does the Minimum Wage Help or Hurt Low-Wage Wokers?
This is a publication from the United States Department of Health and Human Services that points to the fact that only 16.4 percent of those who would benefit from a minimum wage increase are currently living below the poverty federal poverty line and fully 71.3 percent of minimum wage earners have a family income that puts them 150% or more above the federal poverty line.

* - The downside of a hike in the minimum wage
This is an article from a monthly column in the Indianapolis Star written by Peter Z. Grossman, Professor of Economics at Butler University, in which he points out that only 520,000 workers earn the minimum wage, but that 1.5 million workers make less than the minimum wage.

By virtue of Ms. Leavey's decision to engage in no less than three cowardly acts of censorship, I have assumed that the virtual gloves are completely off, which is why I am posting this admittedly unkind article about her on my blog. However, I will stop short of the cheap shots that she made against me on her own website, leaving room for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, someone hacked into her website without her permission and censored me in an attempt to make her look bad. And in the interests of comity, if Ms. Leavey is still interested in claiming victim status, I am willing to concede that she is a bigger loser than I am, and a sore loser at that. You win, Ms. Leavey! Or rather, . . . you lose.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting - it seems that Ms Leavey did actually respond to your expanded EITC concept, after enquiring if you had ever been poor...

"I disagree with using the earned income credit - it’s based on how much a person earns yearly. The less you make the less you get. If you owe any taxes - the taxes come off the earned income credit. How is that helping people?


In 2005 a person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage ($5.15 x 40 = $206 before taxes)is entitled to $399 (with 0 children) in earned income credit for the year.

The goal is to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. A person working a 40 hour week would then be making $290 before taxes. The difference weekly would be $84 before takes. It would take 5 weeks, just 5 weeks, for that minimum wage earner to accumulate the average earned income credit. In a year they would make over $4000 more than they are making now.

An increase in the earned income credit is an insult to the working poor of this country.

To be fair at this point, with all the cuts the federal government has made in aid to the poor in this country, the minimum wage and the earned income credit should both be raised."

Reading through the one thread you pointed to, Ms. Leavey provided much data to back up her arguments. If saying "your plan stinks" is vituperous you should grow a thicker skin.

No small wonder that you have enraged people on the internet. Your post is a blatant attack on Ms. Leavey, who appeared to be quite cordially responding to you.

Yes she did note your Federalist Society connection, which you make public in your profile. The minimum wage battle is fueled by many partisan arguments, no doubt Ms. Leavey was pointing to your concept of using the EITC as a partisan concept.

3:04 PM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger Internet Esquire said...

A pathetic anonymous coward writes in the comment above, "Reading through the one thread you pointed to, Ms. Leavey provided much data to back up her arguments. If saying 'your plan stinks' is vituperous you should grow a thicker skin."

First of all, there were two threads. Second of all, I have a very thick skin, and the only thing that I enjoy more than outing and shaming self-righteous censors such as Pamela is engaging pathetic anonymous cowards such as yourself. More often than not, these anonymous sock puppets end up being the alter egos of the cowardly censors that I have outed. Third, it's pretty easy to win an argument by censoring the opposition, and that's really what this particular blog post was all about. Any fool -- certainly either you or your friend Pamela -- can understand that.

A pathetic anonymous coward also wrote, "Your post is a blatant attack on Ms. Leavey, who appeared to be quite cordially responding to you."

How does censorship of free speech qualify as a cordial response? You'll note that I allowed your comment to go through, even though it's anonymous. I might add that I sent Pamela an e-mail pointing her to this thread, and she responded to my e-mail with a very equivocal response, stating, "Thank you for sharing David." As such, absent an apology from Pamela for her heavy-handed censorship of opposing views and an unequivocal disavowal of her authorship of this particularly cowardly anonymous comment, I will assume that Pamela is the author to whom I am am responding. If you're not Pamela, you're just as cowardly as she is and even more wrong to defend her.

As for the merits of Pamela's arguments that she presented AFTER CENSORING MY POSTS, her assistant editor had it all over her in terms of poise and eloquence, and Pamela would have done much better to remain silent and let him take me on. It's not unlike watching Tony Blair outshine George Dubya at a press confernce.

3:52 PM, July 12, 2006  
Blogger Internet Esquire said...

Update: I just received another e-mail from Pamela Leavey, this one stating that the deletion of my most recent comment at The Democratic Daily was unintentional, and that she is not the person who posted the anonymous comment above, so it is entirely possible that the censorship that I thought I encountered at Pamela's website was simply a big misunderstanding. What remains an unexplained mystery is why the various citations that I posted at The Democtratic Daily were edited out of my previous posts, but it is also quite likely that this too could have been the result of a technical snafu. As such, I am going to take Pamela at her word and apologize for referring to her as a sore loser in the above post. Moreover, in a separate blog post tomorrow, I will respond in a more civil tone to the merits of the arguments that Pamela and her assistant editor raised on Pamela's website. Once again, Pamela: I am sorry for referring to you as a sore loser in the above post. Furthermore, I appreciate your taking the time to send me an e-mail to clear up this misunderstanding.

12:21 AM, July 13, 2006  

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