Living Wage

Living Wage Odd Couples

Get a Room. The cost of crime is 2x to 10x that of raising all full-time workers to a living wage. It’s time for the two parties to commit. Welcome, and we mean WELCOME, to Strange Bedfellow Wednesday. Let’s dish on the odd couples for and against the WELCOME Middle-Class Act.

The problem is a shrinking middle class. Is the solution the Willing Employer Living Compensation Exemption? It’s a most WELCOME Tax Credit. Let’s dish on the odd couples for and against the Middle-Class Act. Both parties are hard on rhetoric but soft on crime.

Middle Class Act

A dollar-for-dollar tax credit to bring employees up to a living wage.
*Willing Employers Living Compensation Exemption. When you pay your taxes, the money is destroyed. How stupid is that? Inflation happens when demand is too high and/or supply is too low. We’re an industrious enough country to build what our citizens need without unwanted inflation.


The Middle Class has shrunk from 63% to 50% in five decades. Almost half of Americans don’t make a living wage. The Republicans have had control of the House, Senate, and Presidency over that period—and so have the Democrats. Two-party gridlock is to blame.


Shockingly, the US crime cost is between $680B and $3.41T yearly, probably 2x – 10x more expensive than WELCOME. People making a living wage aren’t knocking off liquor stores or gas stations. Child poverty alone costs America over $1T annually. Most domestic violence is about money. Here’s a simple solution.


If you’d prefer to role-play this week’s puzzle, first, now would be a good time to swoop over to You can read about this week’s political flap in our Monday Puzzle Drop article. Tuesday, we break the ties for the roles whose opinions are the most conflicted.

Odd Couples
In Favor

Moralist Republicans &
Rank and File Democrats

  • Initial Attraction: Moralist Republicans are seduced by WELCOME’s promise to uplift the moral fabric of society, while Rank and File Democrats are enamored by its potential to level the economic playing field.
  • First Fight: Republicans bristle at the thought of increased government oversight, while Democrats fret over potential corporate tax dodging.
  • Makeup Kiss: Both sides reconcile when they realize that WELCOME could be the aphrodisiac that revives the American Dream.

Liberty Independents &
Justice Independents

  • Initial Attraction: Liberty Independents swoon over WELCOME’s minimal state intervention, while Justice Independents are charmed by its social equity goals.
  • First Fight: Liberty fears that WELCOME might stifle entrepreneurial spirit, while Justice worries it won’t go far enough in addressing systemic inequality.
  • Makeup Kiss: They find common ground in WELCOME’s potential to be a catalyst for both individual freedom and collective justice.

USA Made &

  • Initial Attraction: USA Made is tantalized by WELCOME’s potential to boost domestic production, while Importers are thrilled by the prospect of a consumer base with more walking around money.
  • First Fight: USA Made is anxious about global competitiveness, while Importers are concerned about potential trade imbalances.
  • Makeup Kiss: Both find solace in WELCOME’s ability to stimulate both domestic and international markets, creating a win-win scenario.

Unions &

  • Initial Attraction: Unions are captivated by WELCOME’s promise of better wages for workers, while Entrepreneurs are excited about prosperity fueling their growth.
  • First Fight: Unions worry about the dilution of collective bargaining power, while Entrepreneurs are concerned about the immediate financial burden on the federal budget.
  • Makeup Kiss: They kiss and makeup when they see that WELCOME could be the spark that ignites both worker satisfaction and entrepreneurial zeal.

Odd Couples

Urban Part-time &
Rural Part-time

  • Initial Attraction: Both are drawn together by their fear that WELCOME could marginalize part-time workers in favor of full-time employment.
  • First Fight: Urban PT worries about the rising cost of living, while Rural PT is concerned about the loss of flexible work opportunities.
  • Makeup Kiss: They find unity in their shared concern that WELCOME could inadvertently make part-time work less viable for both urban and rural communities.

Activists &
Energy States

  • Initial Attraction: Activists are wary of WELCOME’s nudge to work full-time, while Energy States are concerned about workers being lured away to non-energy sectors.
  • First Fight: Activists argue over which is the best solution for income inequality, while Energy States worry about what a shrinking middle class does to their bottom line.
  • Makeup Kiss: Both conclude that their reservations about WELCOME stem from a mutual desire for a more nuanced approach to economic reform.

Social Media &
Civil Servants

  • Initial Attraction: Social Media companies are skeptical of WELCOME’s potential regulatory burdens, while Civil Servants are concerned about its impact on government budgets.
  • First Fight: Social Media frets over less political drama affecting engagement, while Civil Servants worry about losing their jobs.
  • Makeup Kiss: They reconcile over their shared belief that WELCOME could bring more complications than solutions to their respective lives.

Startups &
Big Ag

  • Initial Attraction: Startups are cautious about WELCOME’s potential to stimulate competition, while Big Ag is concerned about its impact on the labor market.
  • First Fight: Startups are intrigued WELCOME might stimulate demand, while Big Ag fears it could disrupt established business models.
  • Makeup Kiss: Both find common ground in their concern that WELCOME might be too blunt an instrument for their nuanced challenges.


POLI had support as NEARLY UNANIMOUS. Our editors were a bit less convinced. Nevertheless, we predict a 78% ±3 (8 roles) VAST SUPERMAJORITY of roles in this country to support the WELCOME Living Wage Employer Tax Credit, including a majority of each of the four sides of the political tablemaking this a US Public Policy Leaderboard (US-PPL) worthy idea. 

80% – 89% Near Consensus
60% – 66% Supermajority
50% – 59% Majority

By Contrast

SCOTUS’s approval rating is 40%,
the media is 27%, and
Congress is 13%.

is based on the
Four Kinds of Love 

Self-sacrifice is giving of one’s self with no expectation of reciprocation. Think of a firefighter rushing into a burning building. 

Nurture is helping someone grow into their potential and keep up their momentum. Think of a coach, a parent, or a mentor. 

Tough-love is being able to invest in the personal pain of watching someone learn from their mistakes. Think of a boss, teacher, or a loved one drawing a line in the sand. 

Self-love isn’t narcissism. It’s knowing you can’t love another until you take care of yourself. Think about putting on your oxygen mask in an airplane before helping someone else. 

It’s ironic how much hate there is arguing about what kind of love should dominate public policy. The Golden Rule barely holds on to be worthy of the US Public Policy Leaderboard. What’s your mix of the four kinds of love on your best day?

The Four Dark
Political Emotions

Envy in Politics

  1. Consumers: Jealous of affluence, some support luxury taxes, disregarding potential harm to small businesses.
  2. Workers: Envious of higher pay, some advocate for wage caps, ignoring potential skill disincentives and loss of professional standards.
  3. Professionals: Chasing perfection, they may push for rigorous industry standards that, while well-intended, can limit consumer options.
  4. Owners: Coveting government influence, some call for privatization of liberty, causing less justice for others.

Spite in Politics

  1. Consumers: Upset with corporations, some call for tough rules, forgetting that this can increase costs for professionals and themselves.
  2. Workers: Angered by robots taking jobs, some want trade barriers, overlooking trade wars that hurt consumers and the economy.
  3. Professionals: Unhappy with industry shifts, some cling to old ways, missing the chance for growth and innovation that owners can bring.
  4. Owners: Annoyed by unions, some move their businesses overseas, neglecting local workers and weakening demand for their own products.

Sloth in Politics

  1. Consumers: Unhappy with product quality. Some abstain from political action, allowing poor regulations to persist.
  2. Workers: Dissatisfied with wages. Some avoid labor unions, missing an opportunity for change.
  3. Professionals: Aware of flaws, some stick with the status quo, risking harm.
  4. Owners: Comfortable in their lifestyle, they don’t reinvest in their businesses to increase capacity and profits.

Greed in Politics

  1. Consumers: Drawn to low prices, some buy imported goods that risk local jobs.
  2. Workers: Attracted to job security, some back grandfather clauses harming new hires.
  3. Professionals: Eager for profits, some lobby for lax regulations that compromise ethics.
  4. Owners: Focused on the bottom line, some advocate for lower safety standards, risking worker well-being.


When taken too far, each political strength is prone to a political weakness.

Self-Sacrifice – Envy: Individuals who prioritize the needs of others might be prone to envy, as they may feel overlooked or undervalued compared to those they’re helping.

Nurture – Spite: Those who nurture and care for others may be more susceptible to spite when they perceive harm or injustice being done to those they care about.

Tough-Love – Sloth: Someone who employs tough love might feel it’s not reciprocated or effective, leading to a tendency toward sloth—why bother pushing others if it yields no result?

Self-Love – Greed: A focus on self-love could tip into greed, where self-care becomes self-serving to the point of disregarding others.

Politics goes negative fast. Does it have to? A political parrot by any other name would smell as funky.


Politics 1.0 is each party wanting to be a one-party system. Then, Politics 2.0 is the two-party gridlock that blocks the silent supermajority from getting what it needs. Next, Politics 3.0 is all the noise from special interest groups trying to influence us to see things their way. Finally, Politics 4.0 ranks solutions with a nonpartisan score and lets the best ideas rise up the leaderboard so people can choose.

The Four Laws of
Public Policy Formation

The First Law of Public Policy Formation is that people with short-term focus will naturally protect their wages, jobs, status, profits, and wealth.

The Second Law of Public Policy Formation is that people with a longer-term focus place bets to make life better, longer, easier, or different.

The Third Law of Public Policy Formation states that the short- and long-term clash causes noise, angst, conflict, and harm.

The Fourth Law of Public Policy Formation is that nonpartisan scoring can rank ideas.

(OPNT) One-Page
Narrative Tool

Uses the following ground truth:

There’s a time to save
and a time to spend,
a time for freedom
and a time for laws.
Where can we agree?”

This yields four legs of the political table: Abundance, Thrift, Governance, and Commerce, poetically our Political DNA, ACGT.

A Level
Playing Field

The four sides of the table are…

Abundance Governance (AG)
National Public Sector and NGOs,

Abundance Commerce (AC)
Technology and New Businesses,

Thrift Government (TG)
Local Municipalities, Guilds, and Consumers, and

Thrift Commerce (TC)
Established Supply Chains and Jobs.

Each side has a bias for change and a bias for the status quo. We scan these eight Information Walls for Key YES and NO Reasons, no cherry-picking.


The Political Parrots have a key reason they don’t want us to know about because it ruins their argument. We search for these, like a treasure hunt, and sort them using our EMIT format: Emotions, Money, Information, and Timespan. We listen for these key signals in the political noise.

Key Reasons can look similar, so we edit for redundancy and look for errors, omissions, and innovations.

We search for solutions with the highest hypothetical nonpartisan rating. Something that would solve 80% of the problem with the simplest 20% solution. The Pareto principle, hence a Parrotopia.

Definition of
Political Parrots

Are you making up your own mind or marching to the beat of a political parrot?

  1. Political Parrots get paid to squawk the same thing over and over again.
  2. They don’t listen if you’re not paying.
  3. They don’t fully understand what they’re saying.
  4. They are charming and sport every color.

We look to filter out the GRIFTERS, Gaslighting, Red-herrings, Idolizing, False-dilemmas, Tunnel-vision, Exclusions, Reductions, and Straw-man arguments. 

You can make up your mind. Where can we agree?

Birds of a Feather

Once the Key Reasons are set, we use the Birds of a Feather AI for loose ties to beliefs, attitudes, values, and ethics. Over 16 million combinations are possible for the 128 roles. The game board starts balanced at zero, with an equal bias for change and the status quo.

We then prescore the puzzle using 56 arch-type roles that most embody each of the 56 loose ties. This yields a general bias for change or status quo and reveals ties.

The editors break the ties and review all 128 roles for specific reasons to overrule the general AI where necessary. These are noted in the Tuesday Tiebreaker article.

Then, we finish the puzzle by applying the most fitting YES or NO reason per role on all four sides of the Political Table: eight Information Walls, sixteen Subcultural Windows, sixteen Bias Columns, and sixteen Influence Rows.


When the scoring is done, a second AI looks for inconsistencies using the SAT9 AI filter (Situational Assessment Tool). This is 256 ‘supreme courts’ where each role is the chief justice in a presumed 5-4 and 4-5 bench. This generates a ± error margin.

The engine for the AI is our One-Page Narrative Tool (OPNT), which we gamified for role-playing at We call our AI, POLI for Political Omnibus Leadership Initiative. Soon, you can use it as your Political Digital Twin and generate a personal public policy advisor report on any PolicyKeys puzzle.

You can read more about PolicyKeys™ in the upcoming book, Politics 4.0: How Gamification, AI, and National Idea Leaderboards Can Help You Depolarize the World. The Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recognized PolicyKeys™ for digital engagement.


We seek to partner with a lead university to host a national collegiate PolicyKeys association for political depolarization, innovation in public policy, idea competitions, team competitions, AI upgrades, polling, data science, and journalism. Just respond on social media, @policykeys on Mastodon.

new PolicyKeys™
Where Can We Agree?® puzzle 
drops every 
Monday at 7 a.m. Eastern 

PolicyKeys™ Where Can We Agree? is a real-life role-playing game. Each week, there are sixteen sets of eight ‘rival’ roles. Sit awhile in each of their eight chairs and predict whether most people in those roles would say Yes or No to the week’s question.

The best ideas land on the US Public Policy Leaderboard (US-PPL) if a majority of each of the four sides of the political table agree. You can play this week’s puzzle at


Cue the
Patriotic Music

Imagine an America not paralyzed by political squawking. A Parrot-otopia oasis in a desert of division. Where the sounds of the silent super-majority drown out the droning of the hyper-partisan parrots.

We’ll be freed from the cages of entrenched ideology to fly higher in the big sky of American beliefs, attitudes, values, and ethics. To boldly go where no political parrot has gone before—rating solutions with a nonpartisan score.


Where Can We Agree? 
(Why Don’t You Want To Know?)


Chart of the Day, or Century?
American Enterprise Institute

How the Middle Class Has Changed in Five Decades

Corporate Tax Hit an All-Time High in 2021
Tax Foundation

Income Inequality: Most Disturbing Side Effect: Homicide
Scientific American

What is a Living Wage?
Global Living Wage Coalition

Living Wage Calculator

Four-Sided Facts About Poverty in America
Civil Majority News

Does Lower Income Inequality Lead to Lower Crime?
World Bank Blogs

Gini Coefficient by US State
US News & World Report

Why American Exceptionalism is Different
Heritage Commentary

Foreign Trade Barriers

The Middle Class Has Shrunk by 11% in 40 Years
Pew Research

Aggregate Cost of Crime
from the University of Chicago

Government Accountability Office on Cost of Crime

The Underground Economy of Unreported Income

The Greatest Wealth Transfer in History

Where can we agree?
Finding out takes guts from all four sides of the political table