On Not Being a “Tribal”

When I first heard that many/most economists argued the minimum wage law cannot help low-skilled workers, I was working 25¢ above the legal minimum wage rate.

I was intrigued. I had never heard of this notion before.

So I read quite a bit about it. I even started to read economic theory.

I tried to understand.

Here is something odd, though: when most people hear about this notion, they reject it as “stupid” or “obviously wrong” or “capitalist propaganda” or some such. I have encountered this reaction many times, in conversation on the Net and off.

Very rarely do people who say they are concerned about the working poor and the unemployed raise an eyebrow and honestly look into the matter. Mostly they look for some way to “debunk” the idea. They look for “studies” (Card?) that back up the program they favor.


My theory is that while I cared about a class of people to which I belonged, or nearly belonged, most people say they do but do not.

They care about their policy. They care about seeming to care. They care about using force through government.

But actually helping the poor? Not likely. If they did they would approach the subject differently. If they cared, they would earnestly seek to learn if the challenge were true.

I investigated these matters in 1980. It was one of two policies that weighed heavily on my mind at the time. I probably read a dozen relevant books on this subject, and a few on the other. I began to read economics and the old political economy, as well as continue my course of social philosophy and the social sciences.

And since then I have developed a deep suspicion: most people have very little interest in the things they say they have interests in. They have interest in belonging to this tribe or that — to the tribe that is associated with the causes they talk about. They are tribals. That was the term I used way back when: tribals. (Imagine my surprise when Crocodile Dundee used the term, later.)

I believe most people to be these “tribals.” And I have always striven to avoid thinking tribally. It is why I have often criticized my own kind.

For I do have my own kind.

But I am so uncomfortable with tribal thinking I adopted a moniker that that my fellow tribesmen and -women do not use: LocoFoco.

A little distance. I define. Let others scramble to understand. They could use the mental exercise.

So that’s my general perspective. I do not really think most people are earnest about their politics, not on a philosophical level. I think most are ooga-boogas.


Once every week or so, on SoundCloud, Apple, Google, Pocket Casts, and Spotify.