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davidm
08-11-2011, 11:10 AM
I know that a lot of people will say that an employee should only receive what their job is actually worth. But what is it worth?

It can be argued that a job that isn't worth the resources necessary to do it isn't worth doing. That strikes me as almost a tautology.

So is any job that is worth less than a living wage worth doing?

Aren't the resources needed by an employee to make himself available for that job (i.e. those things needed for him to stay alive, healthy, alert, and able to get to work and perform properly) ultimately resources that are necessary for the job in question to get done?

If an employer is not paying for all the resources necessary to do the job, isn't he shifting some of those costs to his employees and therefore, in a way, parasitising them?

If I hire a horse to pull my wares to the market, I understand that the man who owns the horse has to pass his costs for maintaining the health and strength of that horse onto his customers and that that will be reflected in what I pay him.

Should we treat employees differently from horses?

MichaelEmouse
08-11-2011, 11:21 AM
David,

"So is any job that is worth less than a living wage worth doing?

"Aren't the resources needed by an employee to make himself available for that job (i.e. those things needed for him to stay alive, healthy, alert, and able to get to work and perform properly) ultimately resources that are necessary for the job in question to get done?"


I was under the impression that the term "living wage" went beyond enabling an employee to stay alive, healthy, alert and able to get to work and perform properly. Googling the term does nothing to show that the concept is as limited as you make it out to be.


As for treating employees differently from horses; we already do, since horses don't get to consent to work contracts or leave them whereas employees do.

davidm
08-11-2011, 11:35 AM
David,

"So is any job that is worth less than a living wage worth doing?

"Aren't the resources needed by an employee to make himself available for that job (i.e. those things needed for him to stay alive, healthy, alert, and able to get to work and perform properly) ultimately resources that are necessary for the job in question to get done?"


I was under the impression that the term "living wage" went beyond enabling an employee to stay alive, healthy, alert and able to get to work and perform properly. Googling the term does nothing to show that the concept is as limited as you make it out to be.


As for treating employees differently from horses; we already do, since horses don't get to consent to work contracts or leave them whereas employees do.Maybe I'm misusing the term. I mean the amount needed to make themselves available to do the job. In other words, what's needed for them to be alive, alert, healthy, and available. Is there another term for that? Let's call it a "survivable wage".

The horse was just an example to illustrate the idea that a business should expect to pay what's necessary to maintain a resource (be it a human or a horse).

The horse doesn't have a choice, but most people really don't have a choice either. They need an income and, when their only choice is between less than they actually require, and nothing, they will take the insufficient amount. So your argument about the difference between humans and horses really isn't an argument as to why it's right for an employer to give them less, it's an argument as to why an employer is able to give them less and still retain them as an employee.

Voyager
08-11-2011, 11:41 AM
Workers wages must be lower than their productivity. But who controls the productivity? The worker to some extent, and workers who aren't productive in jobs where they can be get fired, and replaced by someone more productive. But productivity is also controlled by the employer. If the job is defined so that the worker can't contribute enough to get a living wage, the job needs to be redefined. If the worker doesn't have the tools needed to be productive, the employer needs to provide them.
Employers are doing this. I see even fast food workers handle in-store customers and drive-through customers at the same time. But given that wage increases haven't matched productivity increases, the connection seems to have been broken. Not just for low wage workers - high wage ones left after layoffs typically get more work, become more productive, and get no raises.
So, it is reasonable for an employee to expect a living wage and also to expect a job which allows him to contribute enough to pay for that wage, and it is also reasonable for an employer to expect the worker to be productive enough to make that contribution.

davidm
08-11-2011, 11:42 AM
MichaelEmouse,
I just googled "living wage" andf the Wikipedia definition is pretty close to the way I was using it, except for the addition of "recreation" which is a fuzzy concept. It could be argued that some minimum amount of distraction (e.g. recreation) may be necessary to health.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_wage
In public policy, a living wage is the minimum hourly income necessary for a worker to meet basic needs (for an extended period of time or for a lifetime). These needs include shelter (housing) and other incidentals such as clothing and nutrition. In developed nations such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland, this standard generally means that a person working forty hours a week, with no additional income, should be able to afford a specified quality or quantity of housing, food, utilities, transport, health care, and recreation.

davidm
08-11-2011, 11:44 AM
...and it is also reasonable for an employer to expect the worker to be productive enough to make that contribution.Of course.

XT
08-11-2011, 11:54 AM
I know that a lot of people will say that an employee should only receive what their job is actually worth. But what is it worth?

It's the amount one party is willing to pay another for some good or service. So, an iPad 2 is 'worth' what people are willing to pay for it. If you try and charge them more than they are willing to pay then you won't see as many...or any.

Your labor is 'worth' exactly what some company is willing to pay you for it. No more, though it could be less if you don't understand it's 'worth'...the price the market is willing to pay for it. As with anything, people will try and pay you less than you are 'worth' if you let them get away with it and don't shop smart.

It can be argued that a job that isn't worth the resources necessary to do it isn't worth doing. That strikes me as almost a tautology.

A job might not be worth doing for an individual in a specific circumstance, but if the rate is too low and no one will do it then either the rate has to be increased or the job won't get done. For instance, someone living in California might not take a job for $10/hour because the cost of living in California is too high to support such a low paying job...but someone in North Dakota might feel differently about the cost to benefit ratio. And someone in Mexico or China might be extremely happy to do that same job for a dollar an hour.

So is any job that is worth less than a living wage worth doing?

That would depend on the person and what 'living wage' means. A person with no job at all might feel that such a job (or several such jobs) ARE worth their labor, especially if their labor isn't worth very much on the open market (i.e. they don't have any special marketable skills or abilities). 'Worth', in this case, is going to depend on the individual and his or her calculation of what they think their labor should command on the open market.

Aren't the resources needed by an employee to make himself available for that job (i.e. those things needed for him to stay alive, healthy, alert, and able to get to work and perform properly) ultimately resources that are necessary for the job in question to get done?

No...the price point for a given job comes from what a company or individual is willing to pay to get a certain job done wrt what they can sell the good or service for and still make a profit on. If no one is willing to do a given job at a certain price point for their labor then an employer has the option of either charging more for their good or service (if the market will bear it) and hiring someone for more money, cutting down their profit margin (if possible), moving their operations somewhere that people ARE willing to take the job at the given price, or closing down operations for that product, good or service.

The employee gets to choose whether or not what's being offered for his or her labor is worth it to them to take, or whether they would be better off taking their labor somewhere else.

-XT

davidm
08-11-2011, 12:17 PM
You talk as if there's a large job market out there for the employee to choose from. We know that's not the case.

Often, especially in current times, an employee has to take what he can get. Something is always better than nothing even when that something isn't enough.

All the talk about what an employer is willing to pay versus what an employee is willing (often forced) to take, is an explanation of why an employer can pay lower than what is required. It is not an explanation of why it's right for him to do so. If the employee's costs are not covered by the employer than the employer is taking advantage of the economics of the situation and essentially stealing from the employee.

For example, the employee pays for food which is converted into the energy needed to do the work. If the employer does not cover the cost of that food then isnt't that theft?

If the employer doesn't pay for the gas to head the building, the gas company can rightfully cut him off. Verbal gymnastics about competing gas companies driving the price down below the actual cost of the gas don't make a lot of sense, do they?

For any other resource, a business' cost will include the suppliers' costs. Why are people, as a resource, different?

gonzomax
08-11-2011, 12:18 PM
All the power in an employee/company relationship is in the hands of the company when there is unemployment. Even though the company is making billions, they can cut salaries and benefits to workers at will. You are not on level ground when you face off with the company.
A company would have no problem hiring workers for wages that would not support them and their families. We allow corporations to exist with no responsibilities toward the country and the people. They have a prime directive to increase profits any way they can. That is fundamentally wrong.

davidm
08-11-2011, 12:28 PM
All the power in an employee/company relationship is in the hands of the company when there is unemployment. Even though the company is making billions, they can cut salaries and benefits to workers at will. You are not on level ground when you face off with the company.
A company would have no problem hiring workers for wages that would not support them and their families. We allow corporations to exist with no responsibilities toward the country and the people. They have a prime directive to increase profits any way they can. That is fundamentally wrong.Exactly my point.

Cheesesteak
08-11-2011, 12:46 PM
this standard generally means that a person working forty hours a week, with no additional income, should be able to afford a specified quality or quantity of housing, food, utilities, transport, health care, and recreation. What specified quality/quantity? Different people have different needs. A 22 year old man who lives in his mom's basement doesn't need to buy the same amount of these necessities as the 22 year old single mother who lives on her own. What works as a living wage for one is either a lavish paycheck or a quick road to homelessness, when given to the other.

Really, you shouldn't be able to raise a family of 4 by having a paper route, though I'm sure it can be a nice job for someone with other sources of income, or fewer needs than the family breadwinner.

gonzomax
08-11-2011, 01:08 PM
Workers at Verizon are on strike. The company wants to slash benefits and cut down on union workers. The company only made nearly 2 billion last quarter. But cutting salaries and benefits would make them even more. I understand, in America, most believe the company owes the workers nothing. But the battle is on. Anything the workers can get screwed out of is good business.

iamthewalrus(:3=
08-11-2011, 01:11 PM
For example, the employee pays for food which is converted into the energy needed to do the work. If the employer does not cover the cost of that food then isnt't that theft?Even in a high-price-of-living country, you can live on $3/day for food (http://www.miketuritzin.com/writing/eating-healthily-for-3-a-day/), so I don't think that's the bar you want to set. Housing is probably going to be a much bigger expense, but people certainly can live in small places with roommates, etc. The actual amount of money required to not die and be healthy enough to work is fairly low.

msmith537
08-11-2011, 01:20 PM
All the power in an employee/company relationship is in the hands of the company when there is unemployment.

So why doesn't everyone earn minimum wage?

Bloodless Turnip
08-11-2011, 01:20 PM
Businesses are in the business to make a profit. If they weren't, they'd soon be out of business.

Employees always have a choice. Get another job, get a new job, work towards advancement in the current job, etc.

Current employment market has nothing to do with it. If you have the skill the business needs, then you have the ability to negotiate what you believe to be a living wage (or even better!).

If the business is out of business because they failed to worry about making any money, they won't be hiring anyone.

Oakminster
08-11-2011, 01:25 PM
Y
All the talk about what an employer is willing to pay versus what an employee is willing (often forced) to take, is an explanation of why an employer can pay lower than what is required.


Bolding mine.

This is the disconnect in your argument. The employer is not forcing the employee to accept employment. That would violate the 13th Amendment.

The employer is not responsible for the employee's living situation. The employer has no duty to the world at large. The employer offers X wage for Y work. The employee is free to accept or decline. If he declines, the next guy in line will take the job. Or the guy after him. Labor is a buyer's market at the moment.

If the employee wants to earn more, it is incumbent upon the employee to acquire more marketable skills. Unskilled labor is the bottom rung on the ladder. Anyone can do it, so supply exceeds demand, driving the prevailing wage down. Skilled labor is a higher rung. Not just anybody can perform certain tasks, so there is more competition among employers for qualified workers, driving wages up.

A carpenter makes more than a ditch digger. This is because carpentry requires a degree of skill and precision that ditch digging does not.

davidm
08-11-2011, 01:47 PM
Bolding mine.

This is the disconnect in your argument. The employer is not forcing the employee to accept employment. That would violate the 13th Amendment.

The employer is not responsible for the employee's living situation. The employer has no duty to the world at large. The employer offers X wage for Y work. The employee is free to accept or decline. If he declines, the next guy in line will take the job. Or the guy after him. Labor is a buyer's market at the moment.

If the employee wants to earn more, it is incumbent upon the employee to acquire more marketable skills. Unskilled labor is the bottom rung on the ladder. Anyone can do it, so supply exceeds demand, driving the prevailing wage down. Skilled labor is a higher rung. Not just anybody can perform certain tasks, so there is more competition among employers for qualified workers, driving wages up.

A carpenter makes more than a ditch digger. This is because carpentry requires a degree of skill and precision that ditch digging does not.

You don't find the employer's amorality toward the living situation of his employees to be distasteful? I wouldn't want to work for such an unfeeling person (not that I haven't had to more than once).

I understand that different skill levels earn different amounts. We're talking about a minimum. And that minimum should cover the employee's costs for providing those services.

Unless they win the lottery, are born into money, are retired, or are able to live off a friend or relative, a person is forced to work. Not by any particular employer, but by the need to obtain the resources necessary to survive. So I stand by my words, your bolding notwithstanding.

XT
08-11-2011, 01:49 PM
You talk as if there's a large job market out there for the employee to choose from. We know that's not the case.

Well this part of 'we' does NOT know that this is the case. I think you are confusing high unemployment with a general lack of jobs. A lot of people are unemployed because the jobs they want or are trained for are unavailable, or jobs at a rate they are willing to work at in their specific area is unavailable. That does not mean that there isn't still a large job market for employees to choose from....it's just that their choices may be sub-optimal wrt either their skill set or a price point...or they may need to move to a new area.

Often, especially in current times, an employee has to take what he can get. Something is always better than nothing even when that something isn't enough.

That's simply not true. Employees CHOOSE to take what's offered because they may not want to move or commute, or because their own skill sets limit their choices (especially if, as noted, they are unwilling to move to somewhere else where their skills may be in greater demand, or where there is a scarcity of labor).

All the talk about what an employer is willing to pay versus what an employee is willing (often forced) to take, is an explanation of why an employer can pay lower than what is required.

Of course. The employer is the one paying for the resource (labor in this case) after all. The employee doesn't have a gun to their head, however, and can always choose not to accept the deal as offered and to take their labor somewhere else. Even if it just means that instead of working at 7-11 they work at WalMart instead, it's still their choice.

As for 'required'....required by whom? Employers offer jobs at rates that they set based on various markets....including the labor market. If they set the rates too low then they won't get anyone (or the right people with the right skill sets), in which case they pretty much have to either do without labor or pay more. They have to compete with other, peer organizations, because despite your (and gonzomax's) assertions, people ARE free to take their labor elsewhere...or even to not work at all if they determine that is in their best interests.

For example, the employee pays for food which is converted into the energy needed to do the work. If the employer does not cover the cost of that food then isnt't that theft?

Um, no. The employer offers a specific deal for employment. It's up to the employee to determine if that deal is acceptable or isn't acceptable. If that deal, agreed upon by both parties means that the employee is unable to buy certain things (including food), then ultimately it's up to the employee to decide what to do. They have options. They could take their labor elsewhere. They could get a second job. They could apply to the federal or state government for assistance, or ask for assistance from friends, family or a private charity. It's not up to the employer to figure all of this stuff out. Again, if the employer is offering jobs at below the market rate for labor then they aren't going to get any/many people willing to take those jobs...in which case they will have to pursue their own options. If sufficient people with sufficient skills take the jobs then, by default their rates were acceptable at the market rate they are operating in.

For any other resource, a business' cost will include the suppliers' costs. Why are people, as a resource, different?

Because you are wrong right at the start. Businesses pay market rates on all resources, including labor. They don't pay extra costs to suppliers, they pay the rates agreed upon between suppliers and the business in question. If a business has to buy gas, they pay the market rates for gas. Included in those costs may be all sorts of loading...just like an employee has to load their own costs to determine if a given job at a given rate are acceptable. If they aren't, then just like the business buying gas, one of the parties will look elsewhere for the resources they need.

-XT

Peremensoe
08-11-2011, 01:58 PM
But productivity is also controlled by the employer.

This is pretty key to me. I think of it every time mandatory minimum wage is debated. In short, if you can't formulate your business and its constituent jobs in a way that every employee is worth more than minimum wage to you, you're a pretty crappy businessman.

Oakminster
08-11-2011, 01:58 PM
You don't find the employer's amorality toward the living situation of his employees to be distasteful?


No, I don't. Employers are not parents. They have no legal or moral duty to put a chicken in every pot. There already is a minimum wage law, and the employer is required to comply with that law (which includes exceptions for certain types of employment). Anything offered above that minimum requirement is a matter of private contract negotiated between the parties.

davidm
08-11-2011, 02:00 PM
All of which points out that the employer and the employee are not on a level playing field.

Businesses won't accept prices that don't cover their costs, no one expects them to. If they do, they'll eventually go out of business.

Yet employees are regularly expected to work below costs. It's expected. Yet, if an employee is forced (and yes, they are often forced regardless of protestations to the contrary) to work at below cost, he can't go out of business (unless he's willing to live under a bridge or simply die). All he can do is go deeper and deeper into debt, or not pay his bills at all (bringing us back to the bridge or death).

The consequences of failure for a business and the consequences of failure for a person are different. It's not a level playing field. This is where unions and minimum wages come in, in an attempt to level that field.

Oakminster
08-11-2011, 02:01 PM
This is pretty key to me. I think of it every time mandatory minimum wage is debated. In short, if you can't formulate your business and its constituent jobs in a way that every employee is worth more than minimum wage to you, you're a pretty crappy businessman.

Really? How much would you pay a janitor? Knowing that you can likely find someone to perform the work for minimum wage, why would you pay more? Why would anyone invest in your company if you're spending more on labor than you have to spend to operate?

XT
08-11-2011, 02:02 PM
This is pretty key to me. I think of it every time mandatory minimum wage is debated. In short, if you can't formulate your business and its constituent jobs in a way that every employee is worth more than minimum wage to you, you're a pretty crappy businessman.

And the practical side effect of this is that either you heavily automate and eliminate the jobs that ARE worth less than minimum wage, you use illegal immigrants who are willing to take less for those jobs or you move your production or services offshore to some place where the workers are willing to work at those wages. Which means that any way you slice it, you don't keep those jobs anyway, or if you do (and you are in fact paying more for labor than whatever good or service you are producing with that sub-minimum wage job is worth, price wise) you have to raise your prices...and be subject to the other companies who take one of the other alternatives.

-XT

Shodan
08-11-2011, 02:06 PM
We're talking about a minimum. And that minimum should cover the employee's costs for providing those services.Why wouldn't the employee be the one to decide if the job pays enough to accept?

ISTM that any time someone accepts a job, he is deciding that the job, overall, is better than all the other choices available. Including, I guess, no job at all.

But these kinds of living wage proposals founder on the same problem as they always do - you cannot, in a global economy, raise the value of someone's labor by fiat.

If your work produces $10 per hour in value, an employer can hire you at anything up to $9.99 an hour and still make a profit. If there is a law in place saying that you must be paid $10.01 per hour, because that is a living wage, you are not going to get hired.

Or suppose you pass a law saying that, if you have children, you have to be paid at a higher rate than singles. Very well intentioned, no doubt. The first thing an employer does in that case is fire all the single mothers working for him, and hire someone cheaper.

Good intentions are a fine thing. But they don't generally overrule the laws of supply and demand.

Regards,
Shodan

gonzomax
08-11-2011, 02:07 PM
The vast majority of minimum wage jobs are not able to be automated. They are cleaning, service and other jobs like clerking. If it could be automated , it has been or will be.

Oakminster
08-11-2011, 02:07 PM
All of which points out that the employer and the employee are not on a level playing field.



You're right, it's not a level playing field at that level. However, it is a level playing field in that everyone has the opportunity to become an employer, rather than an employee.

We live in a competitive world. Some will win. Some will lose. Some are born to sing the blues.

When the bell rings, you come out with your hands up and defend yourself at all times. Maybe you beat the other guy, and move up in the world. Maybe you get knocked flat on your ass. If so, you get back up and fight some more. Or you lie down and get counted out.

TANSTAAFL applies. Always.

Peremensoe
08-11-2011, 02:09 PM
...eliminate the jobs that ARE worth less than minimum wage...

That's what I'm advocating. I'm saying that the only reason that there could be jobs worth less than minimum wage (for non-disabled adults) is that the employers have done a poor job of formulating them.

If cleaners and clerks aren't worth more than minimum wage to you as a businessman, you're doing something wrong.

XT
08-11-2011, 02:11 PM
All of which points out that the employer and the employee are not on a level playing field.

It's more a buyer/seller dynamic. The seller doesn't HAVE to sell at a given prince point, and is free to try and get the buyer to pay more if they can. However, it's ultimately up to the buyer as to whether or not they are going to buy.

Yet employees are regularly expected to work below costs. It's expected.

No, it's not 'expected'. Again, think of it in terms of buying and selling. The buyer might 'expect' to buy at a certain price, but there isn't anything forcing the seller to have to sell at that price. It's up to the seller to DECIDE if the price offered is acceptable.

Yet, if an employee is forced (and yes, they are often forced regardless of protestations to the contrary) to work at below cost, he can't go out of business (unless he's willing to live under a bridge or simply die).

Horseshit. No one forces anyone to work in the US. It's illegal since it's basically slavery. Even if you live in an area where your options are limited and you have no legs and no car, you still have the option of federal assistance. Or working multiple jobs.

he consequences of failure for a business and the consequences of failure for a person are different. It's not a level playing field. This is where unions and minimum wages come in, in an attempt to level that field.

Exactly. Labor can pool itself as a collective resource and attempt to demand higher prices for what they are selling...labor in this case. This may work, or it may not, but it gives labor some leverage in negotiations.

-XT

davidm
08-11-2011, 02:15 PM
And the practical side effect of this is that either you heavily automate and eliminate the jobs that ARE worth less than minimum wage, you use illegal immigrants who are willing to take less for those jobs or you move your production or services offshore to some place where the workers are willing to work at those wages. Which means that any way you slice it, you don't keep those jobs anyway, or if you do (and you are in fact paying more for labor than whatever good or service you are producing with that sub-minimum wage job is worth, price wise) you have to raise your prices...and be subject to the other companies who take one of the other alternatives.

-XTWhich just illustrates the whole problem with our current way of doing things. You're making my argument for me.

We end up with businesses being able to play individuals against each other, either in the same town or around the globe. It ends up being a race to the bottom for the worker while the businesses prosper.

Before anyone accuses me; God knows I am NO communist. Free enterprise is the way to go. But something needs to change in the way we do it. We have a system where it's expected that people will work at jobs where their basic costs aren't even met.

That is wrong. I'm sorry, but it is. All the arguments against that that I'm seeing here consist basically of saying, "oh, but that's just the way it is".

Cheesesteak
08-11-2011, 02:21 PM
You don't find the employer's amorality toward the living situation of his employees to be distasteful? I wouldn't want to work for such an unfeeling personThe employer has to balance the needs of the worker with the needs of the shareholder. I'm not necessarily eager to put my money into a business that makes a habit of overpaying employees, to my financial detriment. It also does not help to treat your employees like chattel, you get high turnover, lose your best workers, have high cost to hire and train new people, it can be a bad business decision. Go into your local Circuit City, and see how trashing their highest paid/highest skill staff worked out for them.

The morality / greater good issues should be handled by the government, applying appropriate constraints to the labor market, all we should demand of companies is that they abide by the law.

XT
08-11-2011, 02:23 PM
That's what I'm advocating. I'm saying that the only reason that there could be jobs worth less than minimum wage (for non-disabled adults) is that the employers have done a poor job of formulating them.

But it's not the only reason. In fact, I'd say that the driving reason for jobs that are worth less than minimum wage comes down to price. People WANT to pay less for stuff. They like fruit that is cheap, or manufactured goods that are cheap. And at a certain price point they aren't willing to pay more for them. Certainly not if they can get that same good or service cheaper somewhere else.

If a job and the labor it value adds to a specific good or service is actually only worth $4/hour and you force businesses to pay $8/hour then you are decreasing value...especially if in fact there are folks who would take that job for $4/hour. And we all know that there are plenty of folks who would jump at $4/hour, especially in other countries.

I think that's the disconnect here. People are thinking of the US as an isolated entity or a closed system. We aren't. Companies today can literally get labor anywhere in the world, so if you want to compete for jobs you are competing with folks in India, China, Central and South American and everywhere else that someone COULD build a services or manufacturing center. The only balance point there is the cost to ship goods and services from where ever you are making them to someplace like the US. If the labor+logistics costs more than labor in the US, then you are going to use US labor. If not...then not. And if you aren't willing to allow low end jobs in the US below some arbitrary minimum wage then you have a accept that a lot of jobs are going to move somewhere else, or be automated (which means the same thing in terms of jobs for people wanting to work).

If cleaners and clerks aren't worth more than minimum wage to you as a businessman, you're doing something wrong.

Again, wrong. It's not me, as a businessman, who decides this...it's the consumers of my goods or services who decide. If my competitors are selling goods and services at X, but my costs are X+Y (where Y is a higher labor cost) then wrt price I'm at a disadvantage, so I'd need to convince the consumers as to why they should pay a premium for my goods or services, instead of pay less for my competitors. Businessmen don't set arbitrary costs for labor, and don't decide what a job is 'worth'...they load their costs in whatever it is they sell, and then have to look around to see what other companies producing competing goods or services are charging. THAT'S what ultimately sets the 'worth' of labor...the loaded cost of the good or service being offered, and what the consumer is willing to pay for it.

-XT

XT
08-11-2011, 02:34 PM
Which just illustrates the whole problem with our current way of doing things. You're making my argument for me.

So, what you want to do is to tear down the whole capitalist system and replace it with...?

We end up with businesses being able to play individuals against each other, either in the same town or around the globe. It ends up being a race to the bottom for the worker while the businesses prosper.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you are correct here. What's the solution? If you want to pay people more then it means that goods and services are going to cost everyone more. That's the reality. Unless you plan to nationalize all business and run it at a loss (or at least not at anything as dirty as a profit). What's your plan to make this work? How will you pay people a 'living wage'? Will you impose this globally or just in the US? Will you disallow imports or set high, heavy tariffs on any imported goods and services? How will you make people buy goods and services for more than they want to pay for them? How will you make them buy goods and services that attach a 'living wage' on the price?

Before anyone accuses me; God knows I am NO communist. Free enterprise is the way to go. But something needs to change in the way we do it. We have a system where it's expected that people will work at jobs where their basic costs aren't even met.

I don't think you are a communist, but what's your solution? You have to factor in some reality here. If you want to pay people a 'living wage' then surly you realize that this is going to increase costs...right? So, who is going to pay those costs?

That is wrong. I'm sorry, but it is. All the arguments against that that I'm seeing here consist basically of saying, "oh, but that's just the way it is".

No...people are attempting (badly in my case, obviously) to explain the reality of the situation to you. You can't simply wave a magic wand and give people a 'living wage'...especially if the cost of their labor is beyond the value their labor adds to the good or service they are using that labor to achieve. And the US isn't a closed system...there is a whole wide world of folks willing, even eager to work at prices far below our own minimum wage. So, what's your solution? Just saying that the status quo sucks isn't really enough if you don't have a viable alternative.

-XT

Voyager
08-11-2011, 02:43 PM
This is pretty key to me. I think of it every time mandatory minimum wage is debated. In short, if you can't formulate your business and its constituent jobs in a way that every employee is worth more than minimum wage to you, you're a pretty crappy businessman.

Unnaturally low wages might be detrimental to productivity, and not just for the obvious reasons of high turnover and low commitment. I heard a presentation about factory automation projects. Many projects which would make sense here don't make sense in Asia because salaries are so low that it is cheaper to hire lots of people to screw screws in than to capitalize a machine to do it for you. But in this case you are giving up on quality improvements, riding the curve to even better machines, and reducing the need to simplify your products.

Oakminster
08-11-2011, 02:47 PM
We have a system where it's expected that people will work at jobs where their basic costs aren't even met.




Only at the lowest level of employment. If you have shit skills, you get shit pay. Want more pay? Get more skills.

Algher
08-11-2011, 02:47 PM
I can not legally ask during the hiring process about someone's expenses to feed their family. This would make it a bit difficult for me to alter the living wage that I would need to pay someone, or to fiscally make any plans.

Living wage for a single, non-drinker, shares an apartment with a buddy? Or is it a home of their own, with enough cash for Xbox, cable, and a couple of premium channels? Do I need to pay enough to cover their stay-at-home spouse and 2.1 kids?

Screw that - I offer competitive market wages. I give raises when someone gets more skills, shows more ability, or they acquire enough institutional knowledge that replacing them would be a bitch. Replacing workers that leave costs me 3-6 months of pay, easily.

I do try to pay the minimum I have to, so that I can either pay myself more or expand. But I will pay what someone is worth, plus a bit to keep them from looking for another job.

Voyager
08-11-2011, 02:48 PM
The vast majority of minimum wage jobs are not able to be automated. They are cleaning, service and other jobs like clerking. If it could be automated , it has been or will be.

I don't know. We've automated vacuuming at our house, thanks to our Roomba. You can't eliminate clerking jobs with automation, but you can make them more productive and thus better paying, assuming the employer is willing to share productivity gains with employees. If people like bank tellers now handle primarily difficult transactions, they deserve more.

Voyager
08-11-2011, 02:55 PM
Well this part of 'we' does NOT know that this is the case. I think you are confusing high unemployment with a general lack of jobs. A lot of people are unemployed because the jobs they want or are trained for are unavailable, or jobs at a rate they are willing to work at in their specific area is unavailable. That does not mean that there isn't still a large job market for employees to choose from....it's just that their choices may be sub-optimal wrt either their skill set or a price point...or they may need to move to a new area.

-XT
Please give a cite that the total number of unfilled jobs in the US today is anywhere close to the number of officially unemployed plus those who have dropped out of the search and are no longer counted. And don't bother to link to managers complaining about the shortage of people meeting some very specific requirements and able to start right this second, trained by another company, since these managers don't want to train anyone.

I've got an opening, but it requires several years of post-graduate education in a very specialized area. It does nothing to help the laid off carpenter to find work.

TheMightyAtlas
08-11-2011, 02:57 PM
I don't know. We've automated vacuuming at our house, thanks to our Roomba. You can't eliminate clerking jobs with automation, but you can make them more productive and thus better paying, assuming the employer is willing to share productivity gains with employees. If people like bank tellers now handle primarily difficult transactions, they deserve more.

Except that bank tellers used to have to be able to count fast and accurately. Then we had cash counting machines, so they are more productive but also less skilled and more easily replaceable, so maybe their wages should go down, and the guy who invented and produced the cash counting machines should share the gains in both productivity and lower wages.

Bank tellers used to have to know a lot of procedures and rules, that are now implemented into the software they use. Most of the goof-ups they could have made in 1960 are caught by the system now. So again they can be less educated and more easily replaceable. Again the employer can and should pay them lower wages than (say) a janitor, whose job is at least less pleasant and maybe no more taxing intellectually. So the gains from higher productivity and lower wages should go to the software companies/developers and the banks that employed them, not the tellers.

Voyager
08-11-2011, 03:02 PM
Businesses are in the business to make a profit. If they weren't, they'd soon be out of business.

Which is why we need government. Businesses can maximize profits by dumping their sludge in our rivers, hiring child labor, colluding with competitors, as well as paying the absolute minimum the market will allow. Or selling mortgages to people who can't pay them off. Someone needs to look at externalities and prevent businesses from doing things in their short term best interests but against the interest of society as a whole. If a business can't make a profit without screwing the rest of society, it needs to change its model or go out of business..

Voyager
08-11-2011, 03:13 PM
Except that bank tellers used to have to be able to count fast and accurately. Then we had cash counting machines, so they are more productive but also less skilled and more easily replaceable, so maybe their wages should go down, and the guy who invented and produced the cash counting machines should share the gains in both productivity and lower wages.

But by counting faster (and only once) they serve more customers, and so make more money for the bank. This is a good example of employer bought productivity, since the bank needs fewer tellers (and the machine inventor of course makes money too.)

Bank tellers used to have to know a lot of procedures and rules, that are now implemented into the software they use. Most of the goof-ups they could have made in 1960 are caught by the system now. So again they can be less educated and more easily replaceable. Again the employer can and should pay them lower wages than (say) a janitor, whose job is at least less pleasant and maybe no more taxing intellectually. So the gains from higher productivity and lower wages should go to the software companies/developers and the banks that employed them, not the tellers.

In my bank the ratio of specialists who open new accounts and such to tellers has climbed a lot over the past 20 - 30 years. You can get a better class of teller if you need to hire fewer of them, tellers who not only count money but who also sell bank services and deal with the kinds of transactions ATMs can't deal with. I almost never use a teller, except to get into my safety deposit box, but the better paid checkers at my Safeway versus the nearer Lucky's are a big reason I spend my money there. They are empowered to take care of the little problems that the Lucky's checkers have to call managers for, speed the line, and make us feel they actually care about our business.
Low ball pay for customer facing clerks, and you get the stereotypical fast food worker who clearly doesn't want to be there. Pay decently, leverage productivity, and you build sales and keep customers.

CurtC
08-11-2011, 03:18 PM
All the talk about what an employer is willing to pay versus what an employee is willing (often forced) to take, is an explanation of why an employer can pay lower than what is required. It is not an explanation of why it's right for him to do so.

Is your solution then to impose your own rules about payments on their relationship?

If consenting adults want to do something together, and it's not harming me, why should I get to tell them they can't?

XT
08-11-2011, 03:20 PM
I've got an opening, but it requires several years of post-graduate education in a very specialized area. It does nothing to help the laid off carpenter to find work.

I never said it did. We have 4 positions that have gone unfilled in the last year an a half, but they are all for specialized IT personnel (and they are also asking too little, which gets back to my point about having to adjust what one is willing to pay if no one is willing to take the job at the offered rate). A lot of carpenters are out of work right now due to the downturn in the housing and construction and related fields. Those people might not be able to fill IT positions, and might not be willing to take box boy positions at WalMart or something comparable...but that doesn't mean those jobs don't exist.

Please give a cite that the total number of unfilled jobs in the US today is anywhere close to the number of officially unemployed plus those who have dropped out of the search and are no longer counted. And don't bother to link to managers complaining about the shortage of people meeting some very specific requirements and able to start right this second, trained by another company, since these managers don't want to train anyone.

You are adding on a lot of conditions here that go beyond what I was talking about there. Why not bother with very vertically oriented work, or work that pays very little? I said right there in what you quoted that there is often a disconnect between work people are trained in and what jobs are available....and that this disconnect can broaden when you look at what jobs are available in some specific geographical area, or the price point and individual is willing to sell their labor at (for instance, your carpenter might not be willing to take a job at Walmart paying minimum wage, even if there are plenty of such jobs available).

-XT

Shodan
08-11-2011, 03:44 PM
Yet employees are regularly expected to work below costs. It's expected. So why doesn't everyone earn minimum wage?

It ends up being a race to the bottom for the worker while the businesses prosper..So why doesn't everyone earn minimum wage?

Regards,
Shodan

An Arky
08-11-2011, 04:49 PM
I'm a dang old bleeding heart liberal, but I can't get behind this living wage stuff. Should employers be discouraged from paying exploitatively low wages? Yeah, but employees also should sack up and pull themselves out of that situation, which I realize is difficult, but so is life. I do advocate for there being some assistance for those wanting to better themselves but lacking the means to do so; emphasis on the "wanting to better themselves" part.

Wesley Clark
08-11-2011, 04:54 PM
I know that a lot of people will say that an employee should only receive what their job is actually worth. But what is it worth?

It can be argued that a job that isn't worth the resources necessary to do it isn't worth doing. That strikes me as almost a tautology.

So is any job that is worth less than a living wage worth doing?

Aren't the resources needed by an employee to make himself available for that job (i.e. those things needed for him to stay alive, healthy, alert, and able to get to work and perform properly) ultimately resources that are necessary for the job in question to get done?

If an employer is not paying for all the resources necessary to do the job, isn't he shifting some of those costs to his employees and therefore, in a way, parasitising them?

If I hire a horse to pull my wares to the market, I understand that the man who owns the horse has to pass his costs for maintaining the health and strength of that horse onto his customers and that that will be reflected in what I pay him.

Should we treat employees differently from horses?

We really don't 'need' much to survive. Basic food, a tent, very basic health care (mostly public health) and most people will survive. Everything beyond that is arguably a want.

Wages are also determined by what employers think they can pay. If engineers in the US make 50k a year, none will work for 5k. But an engineer in China will work for 10k a year since the alternative is to work on a farm for far less.

It is reasonable to expect a living wage. Virtually all developed nations (and many middle income nations) have minimum wages as well as guarantees of other standards of living (health care, education, security, etc) that people get irrelevant of how much money they earn.

Wesley Clark
08-11-2011, 05:04 PM
I'm a dang old bleeding heart liberal, but I can't get behind this living wage stuff. Should employers be discouraged from paying exploitatively low wages? Yeah, but employees also should sack up and pull themselves out of that situation, which I realize is difficult, but so is life. I do advocate for there being some assistance for those wanting to better themselves but lacking the means to do so; emphasis on the "wanting to better themselves" part.

There aren't as many good jobs anymore. Benefits are decreasing, and in the latest recession the trend has continued, high paying jobs are gone and low paying jobs are coming.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/higher-paying-jobs-lost-but-lower-paying-jobs-gained/


According to NELP:
Lower-wage industries (those paying $9.03 -$12.91 per hour) accounted for just 23 percent of job losses, but fully 49 percent of recent growth.
Midwage industries ($12.92 -$19.04 per hour) accounted for 36 percent of job losses, and 37 percent of recent growth.
Higher-wage industries ($19.05 -$31.40 per hour) accounted for 40 percent of job loss, but only 14 percent of recent growth.



The problem with 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps' is that there is not always a better place to climb to. Not everyone can earn a million dollars a year. As a society we accept that and don't constantly ream people who earn less than that. But we are also a society where a lot of people who work at jobs will not be able to find open positions that pay a living wage.

Der Trihs
08-11-2011, 05:16 PM
It can be argued that a job that isn't worth the resources necessary to do it isn't worth doing. That strikes me as almost a tautology.

So is any job that is worth less than a living wage worth doing?You seem to be confusing "profitable" with "worthwhile". There's any number of jobs that aren't profitable but are very important; paying people to do those jobs is part of the government's function.

You're right, it's not a level playing field at that level. However, it is a level playing field in that everyone has the opportunity to become an employer, rather than an employee. Nonsense. You need excess money to hire other people.

We live in a competitive world. Some will win. Some will lose. Some are born to sing the blues.

When the bell rings, you come out with your hands up and defend yourself at all times. Maybe you beat the other guy, and move up in the world. Maybe you get knocked flat on your ass. If so, you get back up and fight some more. Or you lie down and get counted out.Oh, please. In reality to use your metaphor, employees are shoved into the ring and are expected to take a beating without fighting back. All the ruthlessness is supposed to be on the side of the employer. If employees typically acted like employers no one would dare employ them, they'd be too dangerous.

AndyLee
08-11-2011, 05:50 PM
Just go to any resort area and look. Jackson Hole Wyoming, Key West, Florida, there full of rich people and cesspools of poverty because the workers can't afford to live there anymore.

Places like NYC can exist because poor people can always commute in. When I visited Key West, I was astonished by the raw poverty of people working for minimum wage and having to live like a 3rd world country.

On a similar note, I'm going to be laid off soon, so I am looking and one thing I noticed was how employers get around paying a living wage. I answer a job for full time and the guy says "We define 24 hours a week as full time."

I'm sorry but 24 hours a week in no world is ever full time work.

I remember the episode from Malcom in the Middle where the mother tells Malcom employers will pay you less than your worth but just enough to keep you from quitting.

ratatoskK
08-11-2011, 06:03 PM
Your labor is 'worth' exactly what some company is willing to pay you for itr....the price point for a given job comes from what a company or individual is willing to pay So if all the corporations decide to treat everyone like slaves who have to work 20 hours a day and eat gruel, then that's OK I guess.

Oakminster
08-11-2011, 06:31 PM
Nonsense. You need excess money to hire other people.


And everyone has the opportunity to earn/save money to start a business if they're willing to make the sacrifices requires to do so.


Oh, please. In reality to use your metaphor, employees are shoved into the ring and are expected to take a beating without fighting back. All the ruthlessness is supposed to be on the side of the employer. If employees typically acted like employers no one would dare employ them, they'd be too dangerous.

If you want to be the boss, you have to earn it. And have some good luck along the way. The world owes no one a living. You're entitled to whatever you can lawfully earn with the skills you have and the new skills you are able to lawfully acquire.

XT
08-11-2011, 06:34 PM
So if all the corporations decide to treat everyone like slaves who have to work 20 hours a day and eat gruel, then that's OK I guess.

Conversely, they could just sell straw. It's apparently on sale...

-XT

Invisible Chimp
08-11-2011, 06:36 PM
This is why we need more unions. Individual employees don't have the bargaining power against businesses. If businesses could get away with it, almost all of us would be serfs or slaves.

XT
08-11-2011, 06:38 PM
Nonsense. You need excess money to hire other people.

I don't know where you got that idea, but it's not necessarily true. You can get a loan (in the US anyway) from the SBB if you have a decent business plan. My sister and brother in law, who don't have two dimes to rub between their fingers, are currently in the process of getting just such a loan to start a business. They definitely do not have anything like 'excess money', and in fact owe a considerable amount for student loans and other things...and they have a VERY good chance of getting a substantial loan from the SBB to kick start their new business.

-XT

msmith537
08-11-2011, 08:49 PM
Yet employees are regularly expected to work below costs. It's expected. Yet, if an employee is forced (and yes, they are often forced regardless of protestations to the contrary) to work at below cost, he can't go out of business (unless he's willing to live under a bridge or simply die). All he can do is go deeper and deeper into debt, or not pay his bills at all (bringing us back to the bridge or death).


You are expected to live within your means.

However much you earn, there is probably someone out there who gets by on half that.



So if all the corporations decide to treat everyone like slaves who have to work 20 hours a day and eat gruel, then that's OK I guess.



What? Like all of the thousands of corporations decide together? I guess that will work until one of them decides they want to pay a little extra for the good employees.

Der Trihs
08-11-2011, 09:05 PM
And everyone has the opportunity to earn/save money to start a business if they're willing to make the sacrifices requires to do so.No they don't. People need to eat, they have all sorts of expenses they can't ignore.

If you want to be the boss, you have to earn it. Oh, please. Since when did being a boss have much to do with "earning it"? We don't live in some meritocracy.

The world owes no one a living. An attitude that goes wholly one way; the little people are told they are owed nothing, while being told they must give and give to their self appointed superiors.


What? Like all of the thousands of corporations decide together? I guess that will work until one of them decides they want to pay a little extra for the good employees.And gets crushed by the cooperating corporations. Barring the government forcing them not to, corporations can and will cooperate, and gang up of those who don't go along. That after all is why laws against price fixing and such were passed. Corporations are not run by ideological free marketeers who will refrain from cooperation out of some fanatic, selfless dedication to the free market; if not competing profits them more, then they'll cooperate.

Oakminster
08-11-2011, 10:03 PM
No they don't. People need to eat, they have all sorts of expenses they can't ignore.

Yes, they do have the opportunity. Not all will make it.


Oh, please. Since when did being a boss have much to do with "earning it"? We don't live in some meritocracy.


Since approximately the dawn of time. The strongest caveman banged the hottest cavewoman, and ate the best cavefood. The best athletes make the starting lineup. The best students get the best grades. The best employees get the best promotions. That's the way the world works.


An attitude that goes wholly one way; the little people are told they are owed nothing, while being told they must give and give to their self appointed superiors.


I owe you nothing. If it's me and you, and food enough for one, whichever one of us is the baddest will eat it. Again, that's the way the world works.

The Tooth
08-11-2011, 10:34 PM
It's reasonable to expect a living wage if one's employer doesn't want employees to bolt, presuming the job is generally a paying one. There's a law of diminishing returns at work here. Engineers (ahem) can expect a living wage. Line cooks, less so.

Kozmik
08-11-2011, 10:38 PM
I owe you nothing. If it's me and you, and food enough for one, whichever one of us is the baddest will eat it. Again, that's the way the world works.Food enough for two. :eek:


Emphasis mine.

Tell me again how the world works, Oakminister?

Der Trihs
08-12-2011, 01:17 AM
Since approximately the dawn of time. The strongest caveman banged the hottest cavewoman, and ate the best cavefood. The best athletes make the starting lineup. The best students get the best grades. The best employees get the best promotions. That's the way the world works.


I owe you nothing. If it's me and you, and food enough for one, whichever one of us is the baddest will eat it. Again, that's the way the world works.
Nonsense. The war of all against all is incompatible with civilization. What you are describing is psychopathic behavior, not the way modern civilized societies run. What you are describing is some hypothetical society where the UK riots are not a short term aberration, but normal behavior; rob, loot, burn; the strong take what they want and to hell with anyone else. Good luck maintaining a civilization like that.

Your "the strong take what they want" vision is parasitic; it is dependent on most people not agreeing with you. Because if they did, they'd stab you from behind (metaphorically or otherwise) or just gang up on you and take what you have.

Voyager
08-12-2011, 01:21 AM
Yes, they do have the opportunity. Not all will make it.

Right. The alternative to trying to get a bit more money is to take out loans to start a business which typically has a >> 50% chance of failing - in which case you are in far worse shape. Great plan.


Since approximately the dawn of time. The strongest caveman banged the hottest cavewoman, and ate the best cavefood. The best athletes make the starting lineup. The best students get the best grades. The best employees get the best promotions. That's the way the world works.

I love how libertarians always think of themselves as the toughest trog in the cave.


I owe you nothing. If it's me and you, and food enough for one, whichever one of us is the baddest will eat it. Again, that's the way the world works.

Read your Hobbes. We have civilization for a reason.

Leaper
08-12-2011, 01:42 AM
I owe you nothing. If it's me and you, and food enough for one, whichever one of us is the baddest will eat it. Again, that's the way the world works.

Perhaps, but I don't believe you've defended why it should be the way the world works, or to what extent we should allow it to be the way the world works (unless you advocate being able to punch or shoot your way to anything you want).

Icerigger
08-12-2011, 06:05 AM
Not if you are a believing Catholic, shame we don't hear many Catholics embracing these teachings today. I wonder why conservative religious folks like our redoubtable Bricker do not promote the social teachings of the church when it comes to labor and wages. Hell, Rerum Novarum even supports unions.

Furthermore, the employer must never tax his work people beyond their strength, or employ them in work unsuited to their sex and age. His great and principal duty is to give every one what is just. Doubtless, before deciding whether wages are fair, many things have to be considered; but wealthy owners and all masters of labor should be mindful of this - that to exercise pressure upon the indigent and the destitute for the sake of gain, and to gather one’s profit out of the need of another, is condemned by all laws, human and divine. To defraud any one of wages that are his due is a great crime which cries to the avenging anger of Heaven.

Rerum Novarum

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html

Acid Lamp
08-12-2011, 06:51 AM
Part of this issue is the idea that business owners or shareholder think that they are entitled to a certain number regardless of economic conditions. That is simply not true. If the market dictates the price of the widget, then your profit margin is determined by your ability to drive sales and limit costs. All this is basic, but there is no reason why the human cost should be considered a resource like the power bill. It is because that businesses as an entity act in a sociopathic manner that we are forced to create laws like minimum wage standards and OSHA rules. If we didn't they would quite happily maximize profit at the expense of anything else until it became unprofitable to do so. The we would be back to work houses and burning rivers. To get back to my point though, if you made 200% on your widgets and netted a couple million when thing were good, your shareholders have no objective right to expect the same pay off when things are in the shitter. They have no "lost money", nor does anyone need to "pay for that". The business was less profitable this year and everyone suffers. That is how it works in small businesses. Corporations have managed to insulate themselves from the market, and are determined to please the higher ups at any cost, which is driving unliveable wages and abuse of immigrant labor.

Shodan
08-12-2011, 07:16 AM
This is why we need more unions. Individual employees don't have the bargaining power against businesses. If businesses could get away with it, almost all of us would be serfs or slaves.Then why aren't almost all non-union employees earning minimum wage?

Regards,
Shodan

An Arky
08-12-2011, 07:29 AM
One thing I think might help would be to localize the minimum wage; $7.25/hr. goes a lot farther in Arkansas than in New York. The govt. does this sort of thing with per diem rates, and it seems like it could be done for wages, as well.

John Mace
08-12-2011, 08:19 AM
One thing I think might help would be to localize the minimum wage; $7.25/hr. goes a lot farther in Arkansas than in New York. The govt. does this sort of thing with per diem rates, and it seems like it could be done for wages, as well.

It is already done that way. Some states have MWs higher than the federal MW.

As for the OP, yes it's reasonable for an employee to expect a "living wage". And so it is incumbent on the employee to make sure he has skills that are worth a "living wage".

davidm
08-12-2011, 08:43 AM
Yes, they do have the opportunity. Not all will make it.



Since approximately the dawn of time. The strongest caveman banged the hottest cavewoman, and ate the best cavefood. The best athletes make the starting lineup. The best students get the best grades. The best employees get the best promotions. That's the way the world works.



I owe you nothing. If it's me and you, and food enough for one, whichever one of us is the baddest will eat it. Again, that's the way the world works.So you advocate going back to the law of the jungle?
I think you have a distorted view of even that. There is, for example, archaeological evidence that bands of humans cared for injured and handicapped individuals who were able to contribute very little, if anything, to the survival of the band.

An Arky
08-12-2011, 09:00 AM
It is already done that way. Some states have MWs higher than the federal MW.

As for the OP, yes it's reasonable for an employee to expect a "living wage". And so it is incumbent on the employee to make sure he has skills that are worth a "living wage".

Right; I know that some states and localities have that, but I think I'd rather see it done at the federal level in order to help avoid it being a local political football for either side of the argument, whether it's someplace like San Francisco, which would probably be more likely to institute a rate higher than is good for business, or someplace in the South making it too low in order to appease the red meat crowd.

I'd want it to be indexed to actual cost of living and other statistics and not politics, though obviously, some amount of politicking is unavoidable.

davidm
08-12-2011, 09:02 AM
It is already done that way. Some states have MWs higher than the federal MW.

As for the OP, yes it's reasonable for an employee to expect a "living wage". And so it is incumbent on the employee to make sure he has skills that are worth a "living wage".And if someone has the time and the resources to learn those skills, that's great. I grew up in a blue collar family where my father had a union job and they were able to continue to feed and house me while I attended a state college on government guaranteed student loans which I've since payed back.

Notice the words "union job" and "state college" and "government"? Right now I make a good living running the IT department of a small but growing corporation. I don't need a union because I have skills that aren't a dime a dozen. But would I have gotten here without those guaranteed loans? Would I have gotten here without that state college? Would I have gotten here without my fathers union job? His father was a coal miner in Appalachia and my father grew up in poverty with no opportunity for an education beyond high school. Without that union the same may very well have been true for me.

Acid Lamp
08-12-2011, 09:34 AM
It is already done that way. Some states have MWs higher than the federal MW.

As for the OP, yes it's reasonable for an employee to expect a "living wage". And so it is incumbent on the employee to make sure he has skills that are worth a "living wage".

That's the point though John, a living wage should be the absolute minimum allowable wage for the lowest skilled workers. Below that you are unable to care for yourself and must use assistance. I think that most people would define a living wage as one that allows a person to support his or herself without other state assistance. So for most areas that would mean housing, utilities, and food for one. That doesn't include niceties like private transportation, insurances, children, pets, dinners out, leisure, etc. Proponents of the living wage want a person to be able to support themselves on a single full time job. If a position requires skills that are below that level and cannot be phased out or automated, they should be filled by the mentally disabled or those otherwise needing state care or assistance.

Now the fed level is about three dollars short of that in most areas. at 10/hr 35-40 hrs a week most people could maintain a minimum level efficiency apt, pay their utilities, feed and clothe themselves. I don't see that level of existence as having to merit a superiour skillset to achieve.

People who are able to care for themselves are less likely to commit crimes, use drugs, abuse the system, or otherwise cause trouble. They are far more likely to try to better themselves as they have the minimum abilities to do so. Those do not, can remain in an existence that at the minimum is providing them with all the necessities of life.

gonzomax
08-12-2011, 11:31 AM
Not every worker can learn skills that will make him worth a good rate of pay. There are plenty of people who are under average intelligence.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done that does not require education or special skills. Does this board suggest they should work long and hard and make practically nothing. The company should pay them practically nothing and they should get government assistance? That is a WALMART system for all.
These people would be without heathcare, dental care, and opportunities to change their lives. Since they would be nonunion, the company could fire them at will. Then of course we would somehow have to work until 70 to get Social Security.

John Mace
08-12-2011, 02:00 PM
So, if my wife has a decent paying job that supports us reasonably well, I will be unable to go out and just earn some extra cash unless I have skills that rate a "living wage"? If I want to bag groceries at Safeway so we have some spending money, Safeway has to pay me $10/hour?

Here's the thing. Entry level wages are just that-- entry level. If your goal in life is to be earning Min Wage when you're 40 years old, I really don't want to subsidize your lifestyle by paying you more than you're worth. Get roomates, share a car, or do whatever when you're young and unskilled so you can save money or do whatever you have to do to get some skills. You can clean houses where I live and make at least double the minimum wage as long as you're smart enough to have your own business and not get suckered into working for someone else and having them pocket the management fee.

And others have already mentioned the fact that, like it or not, we are in a global economy, and the more you raise the price of your labor beyond what the economy tells you it is worth, the more you are going to be uncompetitive. That is the way of the world.

CannyDan
08-12-2011, 02:47 PM
Is pushing a broom a low skill job suitable for the lowest pay scale? If not, what is, just so I have some standard of comparison?

If so, then I submit that although it shouldn’t be anyone’s goal to still be at that level after being a member of the work force for 20 years, it may very well be the actuality. As Acid Lamp suggests, self improvement in skills may be difficult or impossible to achieve when one is struggling to feed, clothe and house oneself at certain wage levels. And it may be impossible for some others merely because of intrinsic characteristics such as illiteracy or physical impairment. If wages are less than actual living costs, how are these people going to support themselves without public assistance even while they work full time? The poor are already sharing housing, riding public transit (if it exists) or sharing rides, and “doing whatever” to keep from living under a bridge. What more “whatever” can they do?

Really, this isn’t something that can be resolved merely by boot strapping. The circumstances of poverty, and its vicious cycle, are far too complex to be ameliorated by such simplistic methods.

Just as illness or injury to the uninsured forces care expenses to be externalized onto society at large, paying workers a non – living wage does the same. Societal costs are increased while corporate costs (wage levels) are decreased. Is that higher corporate profit of sufficient societal benefit as to negate or overcome the societal cost?

This is the argument for a “living wage”.

Shodan
08-12-2011, 03:05 PM
That's the point though John, a living wage should be the absolute minimum allowable wage for the lowest skilled workers. How do you make up for the difference between the amount that someone is paid, and the amount that they produce?

Joe Blow produces $10 an hour. Due to living wage legislation, he is paid $13 an hour. Where does the extra $3 an hour come from?

Regards,
Shodan

Acid Lamp
08-12-2011, 03:22 PM
How do you make up for the difference between the amount that someone is paid, and the amount that they produce?

Joe Blow produces $10 an hour. Due to living wage legislation, he is paid $13 an hour. Where does the extra $3 an hour come from?

Regards,
Shodan

You don't. You either eat it in your profit margin just like your rent and utilities or you find a way to phase out Joe. If his job can be done more efficiently by a machine or better software, invest in it. Productivity studies are pointless, how do you define what 10$ worth of work IS? If you are in physical production you could measure that out, but of course most modern production is done by machine. What is not performed by automation is either currently unable to be done, thus Joe is "worth" his wage regardless, or it is a less tangible type of "work".

Let's say Joe answers the phones. Your studies indicate that employees need to answer 10 an hour to be "productive". If Joe answers six, but has a higher sales percentage than the other guys is he not earning his money? What does 10$ worth of design skills amount to physically? 10$ of retail associate service? The numbers are meaningless unless you are in a business that can directly connect A-work time to B physical production or dollars earned.

Voyager
08-12-2011, 03:34 PM
How do you make up for the difference between the amount that someone is paid, and the amount that they produce?

Joe Blow produces $10 an hour. Due to living wage legislation, he is paid $13 an hour. Where does the extra $3 an hour come from?

Regards,
Shodan

is the job inherently one which produces $10 / hour? If it can produce $20 / hour, and an employee can only do $10, the employee is not suited to the job. Living wage is not the same as lifetime employment. If the job is defined as producing only $10 an hour when the prevailing wage rate is $13, the employer needs to figure out how to redefine the job to be profitable, or else he will soon go out of business.

furt
08-12-2011, 03:44 PM
You don't. You either eat it in your profit margin just like your rent and utilities or you find a way to phase out Joe.And when he does the latter, you're totally cool with that? Joe wants $10 an hour, employer will pay $10 an hour, but if they won't pay $13, Joe should stay home and get nothing.

Hero to the working man, eh?

Shodan
08-12-2011, 03:52 PM
You don't. You either eat it in your profit margin just like your rent and utilities or you find a way to phase out Joe. As furt points out, this living wage thing isn't panning out too well in terms of benefiting the poor working stiff. Instead of working for ten bucks an hour, now he doesn't work at all.
is the job inherently one which produces $10 / hour? If it can produce $20 / hour, and an employee can only do $10, the employee is not suited to the job.
Same problem. If the living wage is pegged at $11 an hour, the employee isn't suited to any job.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It appears in this case, the road to unemployment used the same crew. And I bet they got paid more than minimum wage doing it.

Regards,
Shodan

Bloodless Turnip
08-12-2011, 03:55 PM
Why stop at $10? You can't live off that in NYC can you?

Acid Lamp
08-12-2011, 05:37 PM
And when he does the latter, you're totally cool with that? Joe wants $10 an hour, employer will pay $10 an hour, but if they won't pay $13, Joe should stay home and get nothing.

Hero to the working man, eh?

Oversimplification. Either a job is necessary or it is not. If it is not necessary that it be performed by a human, then companies should have every right to figure out a way to make themselves more profitable. I have nothing against efficiency or profits providing it does not result in negative consequences for society in general. If it is NOT necessary, and they don't want to pay a living wage then they can phase out the job. There is only so much of that they can do before it affects their productivity though. Considering that most businesses are at the limits of what they can wring out of their employees I don't see it causing massive lay offs. If a job is performed by a human, then that human should be paid a living wage.

MichaelEmouse
08-12-2011, 05:58 PM
Oversimplification. Either a job is necessary or it is not.

I like how you announce the tone of your statement before making it.

You are treating jobs in a black and white fashion whereas you should be analysing them in terms of marginal utility and marginal opportunity cost. Economics is about trade-offs along slopping curves.



Prices send signals which give information and incentives regarding the relative scarcity of a good which itself reflects its utility and opportunity cost. Any floor or ceiling either has no effect (if the ceiling is above the market rate or the floor is below the market rate) or it tends to prevent the production of goods even when their utility is above their opportunity cost*.

I like the idea of giving people enough to live on, at least minimally. Even Milton Friedman agreed with that. Not by messeing with prices-signals, though. After-market solutions can be much less distorting.


* I have to add a caveat for non-excludable and non-rival goods but your arguments are not linked to these goods.

An Arky
08-12-2011, 06:28 PM
Well, there are small businesses who assert that they can't afford to pay decent wages and that if they have to pay their share of taxes, they'll go out of business, to which I say you have no business being in business, if that's the case.

davidm
08-12-2011, 06:30 PM
...I like the idea of giving people enough to live on, at least minimally. Even Milton Friedman agreed with that. Not by messeing with prices-signals, though. After-market solutions can be much less distorting.Can you enlarge on that? What after-market solutions are you suggesting?

John Mace
08-12-2011, 06:37 PM
Oversimplification. Either a job is necessary or it is not.

So, if I you currently clean your own house, and I offer to do it for $.50, you'll just say: No, that job is not necessary, so I will continue to clean my own house.

MichaelEmouse
08-12-2011, 06:42 PM
Can you enlarge on that? What after-market solutions are you suggesting?

A direct transfer. Friedman was in favor of it in the form of a tax credit. I think a monthly check would be preferable; a check feels more real to most people than a tax credit, most people budget on a monthly basis and inflation can vary significantly from month to month. The last factor is relevant if such a direct transfer were varied for economic-stimulus reasons.

You might ask where the money would come from. Taxation and/or increasing the supply of money. The latter should only be done when there is insufficient demand until aggregate demand is a few percentage points above aggregate supply. Reasonable people can disagree on whether "a few percentage points" should be 2, 3, 4 or 5% inflation.

Wesley Clark
08-12-2011, 06:43 PM
So you advocate going back to the law of the jungle?
I think you have a distorted view of even that. There is, for example, archaeological evidence that bands of humans cared for injured and handicapped individuals who were able to contribute very little, if anything, to the survival of the band.

Not to mention the fact that the law of the jungle in social animals is largely bunk. A team of 10 individuals can overpower any 1 individual, no matter how strong that isolated individual is (as an example, most cops and correctional officers are far weaker as individuals than high risk criminals, but they still win 99% of the time) so there is massive selection pressure to have individuals cooperate together as a team/culture/nation. People generally can't/won't accept how dependent we are on each other since it flies in the face of all that.

Ruken
08-12-2011, 06:48 PM
Does anyone know if the stats for "who earns minimum wage? (http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=who+earns+minimum+wage)" have changed much in the recent downturn? Last I checked, only a couple percent of workers earned federal minimum wage, and >50% of minimum wage (or less) earners were under 25. "Minimum wage or less" includes folks who might actually make more than minimum wage after tips are included.

I'm often puzzled where living wage numbers come from. They often seem high. Roommates, rice and beans, and working more than a piddling 40 hours a week will get you far on very little. When I was in grad school I was expected to be in lab 72 hours/week 48 weeks/year, including holidays. That $25,000 stipend comes out to less than minimum wage. But by having roommates, eating cheap, and knowing where babies come from, I was able to stuff $5k/year into an IRA, not work on Sundays, travel 1-2 times a year, and pay for health insurance on my own.

I felt pretty well off, and when I didn't, I just needed to look at my Uzbek friend who, on the same wage, was supporting a child and stay-at-home wife, and sending money back to his parents in Uzbekistan.

Acid Lamp
08-12-2011, 06:59 PM
So, if I you currently clean your own house, and I offer to do it for $.50, you'll just say: No, that job is not necessary, so I will continue to clean my own house.

If I need that $.50 that badly then yes. I used to run a small business, a pet store. Payroll was always treated as a non negotiable overhead. I have x amount of work and y amount of employees to do it. If I have more work, then I need more employees. If the market is fluctuating then I have to make the choice of retaining my employee's services as a guard for when I need them versus the savings of not having them. I understood that I would not always get my money out of them every hour. When I needed them though, their help was indispensable. Employee's salaries were never up for negotiation. If things got tight, my partner and I profited less, we bought less stock, or bought locally to avoid shipping. We could adjust hours to be more efficient and looked at other non essential services we might be employing. You can negotiate with your suppliers to get a better price on goods, etc. If a business is run so tightly that increasing payroll 30% would put them under, they aren't even solvent NOW.

So while I may not like paying an employee highly who is not always working at optimal utility, it ultimately is my decision to determine my NEED. I would suggest that business that employ a large number of non essential services consider employing those workers on a contract, commission, or other performance type basis if they do not want to employ them directly and pay them properly.

Acid Lamp
08-12-2011, 07:12 PM
Missed the edit.

Let me give an example.

At peak, we had a large aquaria section that had roughly 80-100 tanks running. Keeping up with the cleaning and general duties could easily eat up 1 and 1/2 normal work days for one employee. Now it is arguable that I am quite capable of doing that duty myself, and I likewise could delegate it to a "floater" employee who could keep up with it when they aren't otherwise occupied. However, aquaria is a specialized field, and a busier section of the store. An employee who is dedicated to that area is a luxury, but one that is providing a valuable service. So my scales have to weigh the ease and potential profitability of a dedicated aquariaist against the savings and additional workload upon myself and the floaters. What they make is really not relevant to the discussion of the need for their services. It is my position to set the price I'm willing to pay for those services so any overpayment is my mistake.

My position is that any employee regardless of services provided should make a living wage because those who skills are so menial they do not merit such, are arguably either non essential or luxury services anyway.

MichaelEmouse
08-12-2011, 08:05 PM
Acid,

How do you define "essential" and "necessary"? You used the term "indispensable". Did you really mean this or was it hyperbole? Do you think there are categories of goods in-between essential and luxury? Do all goods fit either in the former or the latter? Do you think luxuries should be dispensed with? Do you think anything non-essential goods ought to be dispensed with?

Acid Lamp
08-12-2011, 08:41 PM
Acid,

How do you define "essential" and "necessary"? You used the term "indispensable". Did you really mean this or was it hyperbole? Do you think there are categories of goods in-between essential and luxury? Do all goods fit either in the former or the latter? Do you think luxuries should be dispensed with? Do you think anything non-essential goods ought to be dispensed with?

Essential: Those services needed for a business to function at a minimum level without loss of revenue due to inability to serve it's customers, or meet its production commitments (different from goals or projected sales). Essential services allow a business to break even and produce that minor profit needed for emergency purposes.

Luxury: All goods and services that allow a business to maximize profits through specialization, or reduction of menial workload upon higher skilled employees or management. Examples in a retail setting might include janitorial staff, dedicated phone workers, or dock staff in a store that does not need professional warehouse services. All of these services allow for greater profit in good times but are non-essential and can be adequately performed by general staff.

I meant what I said. During busy season, we had enough customers that I had to hire additional seasonal staff to keep up with them. Having to mess around with the aquatics department would not have been feasible without that employee. We would have lost a great deal of revenue though an inability to serve all our customers, and a need to perform routine tasks necessary to ensure the health of the animals.

There is no category of goods in between essential and luxury with perhaps the lone exception of food and clothing goods which are both.

I see no reason to dispense with luxury goods or services. those that can afford them should be free to purchase or invest in whatever they like.

gonzomax
08-12-2011, 09:07 PM
So, if my wife has a decent paying job that supports us reasonably well, I will be unable to go out and just earn some extra cash unless I have skills that rate a "living wage"? If I want to bag groceries at Safeway so we have some spending money, Safeway has to pay me $10/hour?

Here's the thing. Entry level wages are just that-- entry level. If your goal in life is to be earning Min Wage when you're 40 years old, I really don't want to subsidize your lifestyle by paying you more than you're worth. Get roomates, share a car, or do whatever when you're young and unskilled so you can save money or do whatever you have to do to get some skills. You can clean houses where I live and make at least double the minimum wage as long as you're smart enough to have your own business and not get suckered into working for someone else and having them pocket the management fee.

And others have already mentioned the fact that, like it or not, we are in a global economy, and the more you raise the price of your labor beyond what the economy tells you it is worth, the more you are going to be uncompetitive. That is the way of the world.

Somebody like you should be paid 2 bucks an hour.

MichaelEmouse
08-12-2011, 09:21 PM
Essential: Those services needed for a business to function at a minimum level without loss of revenue due to inability to serve it's customers, or meet its production commitments (different from goals or projected sales). Essential services allow a business to break even and produce that minor profit needed for emergency purposes.

Luxury: All goods and services that allow a business to maximize profits through specialization, or reduction of menial workload upon higher skilled employees or management. Examples in a retail setting might include janitorial staff, dedicated phone workers, or dock staff in a store that does not need professional warehouse services. All of these services allow for greater profit in good times but are non-essential and can be adequately performed by general staff.

I meant what I said. During busy season, we had enough customers that I had to hire additional seasonal staff to keep up with them. Having to mess around with the aquatics department would not have been feasible without that employee. We would have lost a great deal of revenue though an inability to serve all our customers, and a need to perform routine tasks necessary to ensure the health of the animals.

There is no category of goods in between essential and luxury with perhaps the lone exception of food and clothing goods which are both.

I see no reason to dispense with luxury goods or services. those that can afford them should be free to purchase or invest in whatever they like.


Why did you say "My position is that any employee regardless of services provided should make a living wage because those who skills are so menial they do not merit such, are arguably either non essential or luxury services anyway."

What was the relevance of saying they were non-essential/luxury if not to say that it doesn't really matter if they're dispensed with?



You talk about how essential employees have for goal "a minimum level without loss of revenue due to inability to serve its customers". If an employee doesn't come in to work which makes you lose revenue due to inability to serve your customers but your business doesn't go bust, was that employee luxury?

Also, do I understand correctly that if I hire people to make widgets and that, to break even, I need to sell 500 widgets, the employees who make the first 500 are essential whereas all others who make the same goods are luxury?

What if, to break even, I need to free up the time of my higher skilled employees by hiring someone, is that someone essential or luxury?


I'm used to thinking in terms of marginal cost and marginal gain. I'm used to asking myself if one more unit of something is worth it at a given cost. This essential/luxury dichotomy confuses me.

davidm
08-12-2011, 09:39 PM
A direct transfer. Friedman was in favor of it in the form of a tax credit. I think a monthly check would be preferable; a check feels more real to most people than a tax credit, most people budget on a monthly basis and inflation can vary significantly from month to month. The last factor is relevant if such a direct transfer were varied for economic-stimulus reasons.

You might ask where the money would come from. Taxation and/or increasing the supply of money. The latter should only be done when there is insufficient demand until aggregate demand is a few percentage points above aggregate supply. Reasonable people can disagree on whether "a few percentage points" should be 2, 3, 4 or 5% inflation.
What do you think of the idea of a Basic Income Guarantee?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_guarantee
Everyone gets a check with no means testing. This cuts back on bureaucracy. You would fund it the same as you would a tax credit along with also collecting it back in taxes on the higher brackets that don't need it.

Maybe I should start a separate thread on it.

MichaelEmouse
08-12-2011, 09:55 PM
What do you think of the idea of a Basic Income Guarantee?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_guarantee
Everyone gets a check with no means testing. This cuts back on bureaucracy. You would fund it the same as you would a tax credit along with also collecting it back in taxes on the higher brackets that don't need it.

Maybe I should start a separate thread on it.

I don't want to defend all its details, but yes, that's pretty much what I was thinking about. And if anyone calls you a commie for wanting this, remind them Friedman and Hayek were in favor of it : )

davidm
08-12-2011, 10:14 PM
I don't want to defend all its details, but yes, that's pretty much what I was thinking about. And if anyone calls you a commie for wanting this, remind them Friedman and Hayek were in favor of it : )Something like it, along with universal health care, would solve so many problems.

There'd be plenty of work for those who wanted it; both because there'd be plenty of demand for goods and services, and because many people would choose not to work full time.

There'd be huge savings in both government and private bureaucracy. No Social Security, no unemployment insurance, no employer sponsored medical coverage.

People could move from job to job as they choose, or not work ar all if they're happy with just the basics, or have a full time career if that makes them happy.

tomndebb
08-12-2011, 11:01 PM
Somebody like you should be paid 2 bucks an hour.Someone like you should not be posting in this thread.

Go start a BBQ Pit thread if you need to insult other posters.

[ /Moderating ]

randy054
08-12-2011, 11:23 PM
Yes, they do have the opportunity. Not all will make it.

I owe you nothing. If it's me and you, and food enough for one, whichever one of us is the baddest will eat it. Again, that's the way the world works.

Which is also the exact ideology that is happening in our corrupted government and those in bed with them rotating between the public and private sector to stuff their pockets at the rest of the countries expense.

Which is why I am voting for Ron Paul for a smaller government, and end to lobbying and cutting to defense to border protection only. The gravy train for the mega corporations and financial sector needs to come to an end. They have had a free ride for a long time with Sugar Daddy Uncle Sam, where he has protected them in their business and financial dealings around the world, and reaped the most benefits and shafted everyone else at my tax dollars expense.

They need to slap on their bootstraps and quit relying on Uncle Sam to be their Big Stick and Bail Out free card, as well as law making machine to help themselves out in order to stifle competition.

Magiver
08-12-2011, 11:48 PM
Is it reasonable for an employee to expect a living wage?
No, it’s not reasonable for an employee to expect a living wage. That suggests that the purpose of a job is to provide a wage. Even from a Marxist perspective that assumes all wage earners require a living wage and are not just looking for a little extra money.
I know that a lot of people will say that an employee should only receive what their job is actually worth. But what is it worth? A job is worth the money consumers pay minus the profit associated with the risk of operating the business.
Aren't the resources needed by an employee to make himself available for that job (i.e. those things needed for him to stay alive, healthy, alert, and able to get to work and perform properly) ultimately resources that are necessary for the job in question to get done?
If the resources needed to do the job exceed the value of the wage then it doesn’t make sense for that individual to enter in to a work agreement. This varies greatly from person to person and includes transportation, child care, physical ability, etc. that also applies to the employer. If the wages and resources needed to make a product or service drive the price beyond what the public is willing to pay then it doesn’t make sense to engage in the business.

foolsguinea
08-13-2011, 02:16 AM
"All that a man has is his time." If you sell chunks of your life away for cheap, you're shortchanging yourself as well as anyone in competition for the same job.

Acid Lamp
08-13-2011, 06:58 AM
Why did you say "My position is that any employee regardless of services provided should make a living wage because those who skills are so menial they do not merit such, are arguably either non essential or luxury services anyway."

I was speaking from the position of an ethical business owner. Any employee should make a living wage, full stop. In my opinion, if a persons skills are so small, or their contribution so minor that it does not equate to paying them a living wage then they must be viewed as either non essential (unneeded eliminate position entirely) or, luxury: (useful, but ultimately could be eliminated by spreading work around).

What was the relevance of saying they were non-essential/luxury if not to say that it doesn't really matter if they're dispensed with?

There is difference in how you dispense with the position. Non-essentials could be replaced with machines, or people who must depend on state assistance for living and thus do not need to be paid a higher rate to be self sufficient. Luxury positions are ones that an owner must truly balance his benefit against the pay rate of retaining a full time employee at a living wage rate. If I don't want to pay it, let them form their own business for their services and contract with me a periodic service. For example, the Aquariaist position was essential for 6 months of the year, and became a luxury for the other six. My choices were to retain them at full rate and have them continually available to me, cut their hours in off season and risk losing them, or move them to a contract rate in which I saved money but still retained their services in the busy season while limiting them to basic periodic (weekly) service in the off season.


You talk about how essential employees have for goal "a minimum level without loss of revenue due to inability to serve its customers". If an employee doesn't come in to work which makes you lose revenue due to inability to serve your customers but your business doesn't go bust, was that employee luxury?

Of course not. Any solid business is run with a built in safety net for such occasions.

Also, do I understand correctly that if I hire people to make widgets and that, to break even, I need to sell 500 widgets, the employees who make the first 500 are essential whereas all others who make the same goods are luxury?

Sort of, but the comparison isn't really accurate. In the widget world you are engaged in direct production. Employee's time can be directly tied to widget goods. However, if your widget has a very limited application and you have only made commitments for 500, then that would be correct. You only NEED to make 500 widgets. If your demand (of any type) rises then you need more employees. Having a surplus of widgets isn't good if you cannot sell them, nor does it make sense to have more employees then you need to make your production goals. Essential/luxury comparisons are more useful in jobs where the services are less tangible.

What if, to break even, I need to free up the time of my higher skilled employees by hiring someone, is that someone essential or luxury?

The key there is "to break even". That person would be essential; at least until whatever is going wrong is fixed if the problem is temporary in nature.

I'm used to thinking in terms of marginal cost and marginal gain. I'm used to asking myself if one more unit of something is worth it at a given cost. This essential/luxury dichotomy confuses me.

It is more useful in the service sector. Like I noted above, production models are easier to look at.

msmith537
08-13-2011, 07:09 AM
I was speaking from the position of an ethical business owner. Any employee should make a living wage, full stop. In my opinion, if a persons skills are so small, or their contribution so minor that it does not equate to paying them a living wage then they must be viewed as either non essential (unneeded eliminate position entirely) or, luxury: (useful, but ultimately could be eliminated by spreading work around).


So why is getting paid no wage better than getting paid a less than living wage?

fruitbat
08-13-2011, 07:28 AM
So why is getting paid no wage better than getting paid a less than living wage?

Strangely his argument is really pretty rational. That is exactly what would happen if every employer were required to pay a 'living wage', whatever that means.

In the immortal words of Calvin Coolidge,

"When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results."

Presumably the next step would be to pay them a living wage for being umemployed as it would be exploitative to let the person take the job for a $1 less than the prescribed amount.

The Tao's Revenge
08-13-2011, 08:37 AM
Only at the lowest level of employment. If you have shit skills, you get shit pay. Want more pay? Get more skills.


ITT: simplistic suggestions, from total ignorance of real world problems people have.



I assume you have a cite handy that someone getting "shit pay" is in always in a position for "getting more skills" to be a realistic option. Otherwise please retract.

The Tao's Revenge
08-13-2011, 09:54 AM
ITT: simplistic suggestions, from total ignorance of real world problems people have.



I assume you have a cite handy that someone getting "shit pay" is in always in a position for "getting more skills" to be a realistic option. Otherwise please retract.

On second thought my past post was hypocritical in that it was simplistic.

Here's my experience and understanding on getting more skills. I grew up poor, lived poor, and now am not poor with a promising future.

I grew up in a poor family. Not saying others didn't have it much worse, but the majority did have it much better. Sometimes the bills would add up and food was limited to potatoes, sometimes less than that. I'd get free lunch in school so there was that, further when food stamps became an option when got those.

I'd like to stop right here and point out this is a very important point. Poor people rely on social services a lot more than people with living wages for life necessities. Take home point: People who pay crap wages make your taxes higher. People have to eat. You, the tax payer, paid for my appendectomy when I was 15 because my mom's employer did not provide health insurance, nor a wage compatible with acquiring it separately.

Eventually I became an adult. However growing up poor, well there was a saying I heard growing up "the poor have poor ways". That saying is very true in that both the poor have methods to deal with problems inherent in poverty, and that they stay poor because of what they know. I started out in a hole that I didn't know how to climb out of.

Here is another point poverty is generational. You learn from your parents, and you're supported by your parents. If your parents are poor they won't be able to give as much support or options as rich parents, further you'll learn what they know.

Also it didn't help matters my short term memory is kind of hazy. Complicated fast paced things would just sort of confuse me. My long term memory is sharp. I remember things people long term things people long ago forgot.

However if a customer's order has made it to long term memory, well that was too slow.

As a result an opportunity to "use a job as a spring board to better things" didn't show up. I looked like clueless klutz, because in that environment I was one. I tried factory but I couldn't move quick enough.

When I was 25 I had enough. Lived with my grandfather and went back to school. I was extremely fortunate that at this point in life I didn't have a family to support, nor massive debt, and that I had external support. Anyone of these not being true could have torpedoed me. This was when so many were upside down in their mortgage and unemployed in early 2009, with kids.

Further on this very forum I learned something very important: "college is where you learn how to learn". I wish I could remember which doper first said that. I took those words to heart and learned everything I could about my subjects, going so far as to answer questions, including true/false questions, with cited reasoning why the book answer was wrong, or just if the book answer, if it was correct.

Had I not approached college with that attitude, as so many others did. I think things might have went very different.

Further I took the bike a lot because of car trouble. 25 miles round trip. If my body hadn't healthy enough to support that, no class for me.

Somewhere in a parallel universe a poster known as The Tao's Forgiveness lived my life, except they didn't read that thread, and became just another face in the crowd. *

My dedication to being factually correct, if stubborn, made quite an impression on my computer teacher. This lead him to arrange an interview, and recommendation as an assistant working on the school website. When my boss quit I had already graduated, and was working transfer classes for a 4 year degree. I didn't think I had a shot at the job at all, but when I saw the requirements were only "bachelors degree preferred" I decided to apply. Luckily I'm pretty smart with computers. This combined with working hard made quite an impression on my boss. She gave me a recommendation, and that combined with letters from all my teachers at that school got me the job.


I'm now working a job that pays above a living wage. I feel so rich compared to where I was. It's like I was in a giant corkscrew, and someone had been tightening it my whole life, and suddenly it broke and all that pressure fell away. I feel so light and optimistic.

Further it's flexible enough to support continuing my education, and I'll be continuing it. Dr. Tao sounds nice, que no?


So the point being, I did go out and get better skills, but getting those skills, and where they took me were both a function of hard-work, and a function of luck.

I do not think the unlucky should be consigned to a life of "shit pay".

Further looking at society, if everyone went out and got better skills, well the value of skills falls, and there would be highly skilled people scrubbing toilets for minimum wage.

We call this degree inflation.

*If me and that poster ever come in contact, both universes will be destroyed. It was on Star Trek so it must be true.

Oakminster
08-13-2011, 12:22 PM
ITT: simplistic suggestions, from total ignorance of real world problems people have.



I'm not so ignorant of real world problems associated with poverty as you seem to think. I've practiced law for about 16 years now. A little over 10 of those years have been spent in poverty law. First collecting child support for the welfare department, and currently in a grossly understaffed legal aid program.

That said, I applaud your success. You've done exactly what it takes to escape from poverty. You're absolutely right that it takes a lot of hard work and some degree of luck to do what you've done. Not everyone can do it...but everyone has the same opportunity to try, which is my point.

Palo Verde
08-13-2011, 01:18 PM
My 15 year old son wants a part time job to earn a bit of spending money. He has no special skills or training. Why should he be paid a 'living wage'? He doesn't need to buy a place to live, food or any of the things one needs to live. He is perfectly content getting minimum wage and working his way up to better pay as he gets more skills.

Any employee should make a living wage, full stop.

So why should my son be paid a living wage?

Magiver
08-13-2011, 01:50 PM
This was an excellent post by way of stark honesty. I’m going to disagree with some of your premises by looking at them at a different angle. On second thought my past post was hypocritical in that it was simplistic.
Here's my experience and understanding on getting more skills. I grew up poor, lived poor, and now am not poor with a promising future.
I grew up in a poor family. Not saying others didn't have it much worse, but the majority did have it much better. Sometimes the bills would add up and food was limited to potatoes, sometimes less than that. I'd get free lunch in school so there was that, further when food stamps became an option when got those.

I'd like to stop right here and point out this is a very important point. Poor people rely on social services a lot more than people with living wages for life necessities. Take home point: People who pay crap wages make your taxes higher. People have to eat. You, the tax payer, paid for my appendectomy when I was 15 because my mom's employer did not provide health insurance, nor a wage compatible with acquiring it separately.
At this point, I’d say that you should have been younger (born at a later date). Without going into a huge argument over anecdotal examples we should be able to agree that we are, as a society, capable of controlling our reproduction. The working poor are responsible for creating this public debt. Nothing of what you said changes except perspective. Parents are responsible for the debts they incur and that includes children. From a general point of view it is up to adults to prepare financially for the advent of becoming parents. As a society we give tax breaks for more children which encourages bad planning. Unless there is a population growth problem maybe we should rethink this approach.
Eventually I became an adult. However growing up poor, well there was a saying I heard growing up "the poor have poor ways". That saying is very true in that both the poor have methods to deal with problems inherent in poverty, and that they stay poor because of what they know. I started out in a hole that I didn't know how to climb out of.

Here is another point poverty is generational. You learn from your parents, and you're supported by your parents. If your parents are poor they won't be able to give as much support or options as rich parents, further you'll learn what they know.
I have stated repeatedly that poverty is mostly a social problem and is not directly related to money. My great depression parents were certainly poorer than you were by any monetary standard. The difference was their parents. They were “boat people” and their work ethic drove their children to do well in school. My grandparents insisted that my parents do well in school including speaking a language that they struggled with. This was the blueprint of success for their generation.

I’m not saying that wealthy parents don’t bring something to the table. Certainly they do. But it is their social structure first and foremost that produces a higher level of success with their children. If that is rejected by a child then that child is more likely to fail.
Also it didn't help matters my short term memory is kind of hazy. Complicated fast paced things would just sort of confuse me. My long term memory is sharp. I remember things people long term things people long ago forgot.

However if a customer's order has made it to long term memory, well that was too slow.

As a result an opportunity to "use a job as a spring board to better things" didn't show up. I looked like clueless klutz, because in that environment I was one. I tried factory but I couldn't move quick enough. Here you’re describing everybody on the planet. We each have a mix of skills that lend themselves to some jobs and not others.[/quote] I have no memory at all but I have mechanical skills that translate well in computer related jobs. I see everything in a mechanical sense and can solve a problem by reverse engineering it. I look at the desired outcome of an object or process and back through it until it breaks down into natural modules of problems to solve. But with a bad memory I would seriously struggle with classes like anatomy so I will never work in the medical field.
When I was 25 I had enough. Lived with my grandfather and went back to school. I was extremely fortunate that at this point in life I didn't have a family to support, nor massive debt, and that I had external support. Anyone of these not being true could have torpedoed me. This was when so many were upside down in their mortgage and unemployed in early 2009, with kids. I agree that your success was based on more than one element . I also agree that you could have been torpedoed by any one of these events. However, in the case of those who lost everything in this recent recession there is a certain amount of planning that would have reduced the number of people who were financially ruined. I survived 3 ˝ years of unemployment in part because of my financial planning. I saw the housing bubble 20 years ago and paid the house off. Recessions are frequent enough to also demand a certain level of rainy planning. Luckily, I had enough money in reserve to handle the multiple unexpected bills that came up. All of this was because of what my parents taught me. While they may have been poor in their youth and their parents may have been poor they were not socially poor. Their mindset encouraged success which in this case means the desire to be self reliant.

Further on this very forum I learned something very important: "college is where you learn how to learn". I wish I could remember which doper first said that. I took those words to heart and learned everything I could about my subjects, going so far as to answer questions, including true/false questions, with cited reasoning why the book answer was wrong, or just if the book answer, if it was correct.

Had I not approached college with that attitude, as so many others did. I think things might have went very different.
I actually had this conversation with someone at work this week. Not only are you expected to learn how to learn in college but the degree is considered a license to learn. That applies to most disciplines that require a certification. A college degree is looked on by employers as proof that the person has learned how to learn as well as what was learned.
Further I took the bike a lot because of car trouble. 25 miles round trip. If my body hadn't healthy enough to support that, no class for me.

Somewhere in a parallel universe a poster known as The Tao's Forgiveness lived my life, except they didn't read that thread, and became just another face in the crowd. *

My dedication to being factually correct, if stubborn, made quite an impression on my computer teacher. This lead him to arrange an interview, and recommendation as an assistant working on the school website. When my boss quit I had already graduated, and was working transfer classes for a 4 year degree. I didn't think I had a shot at the job at all, but when I saw the requirements were only "bachelors degree preferred" I decided to apply. Luckily I'm pretty smart with computers. This combined with working hard made quite an impression on my boss. She gave me a recommendation, and that combined with letters from all my teachers at that school got me the job.


I'm now working a job that pays above a living wage. I feel so rich compared to where I was. It's like I was in a giant corkscrew, and someone had been tightening it my whole life, and suddenly it broke and all that pressure fell away. I feel so light and optimistic.

Further it's flexible enough to support continuing my education, and I'll be continuing it. Dr. Tao sounds nice, que no?


So the point being, I did go out and get better skills, but getting those skills, and where they took me were both a function of hard-work, and a function of luck.

I do not think the unlucky should be consigned to a life of "shit pay". Life is not fair. Statistically we all get a share of good luck and bad luck. The unlucky are those who were trained as children not to learn. As a society, we accommodate them as poor adults. If you acknowledge that social poverty breeds more social poverty then we, as a society, subsidize the behavior. Instead of taxing the labor hours of the poor directly (the only way possible) we forgive the debt and transfer the wealth of others without any expectations. There are no demands of the poor. As a democratic society that means people are free to fail.

Further looking at society, if everyone went out and got better skills, well the value of skills falls, and there would be highly skilled people scrubbing toilets for minimum wage.

We call this degree inflation.

*If me and that poster ever come in contact, both universes will be destroyed. It was on Star Trek so it must be true. If we ran out of people to clean toilets then either the wage of said job would go up or we would see more self cleaning toilets. The idea of degree inflation exists mostly during temporary downturns in the economy. As for parallel worlds, I’m hoping my other self got the woman he loved instead of finding out she is riding out a loveless marriage for the sake of her children.

John Mace
08-13-2011, 01:54 PM
If I need that $.50 that badly then yes. I used to run a small business, a pet store. Payroll was always treated as a non negotiable overhead. I have x amount of work and y amount of employees to do it. If I have more work, then I need more employees. If the market is fluctuating then I have to make the choice of retaining my employee's services as a guard for when I need them versus the savings of not having them. I understood that I would not always get my money out of them every hour. When I needed them though, their help was indispensable. Employee's salaries were never up for negotiation. If things got tight, my partner and I profited less, we bought less stock, or bought locally to avoid shipping. We could adjust hours to be more efficient and looked at other non essential services we might be employing. You can negotiate with your suppliers to get a better price on goods, etc. If a business is run so tightly that increasing payroll 30% would put them under, they aren't even solvent NOW.

So while I may not like paying an employee highly who is not always working at optimal utility, it ultimately is my decision to determine my NEED. I would suggest that business that employ a large number of non essential services consider employing those workers on a contract, commission, or other performance type basis if they do not want to employ them directly and pay them properly.

So, are you no longer saying that "Either a job is necessary or it is not." I can't tell from your reply. I was just asking a yes or no question since you made an absolute statement.

John Mace
08-13-2011, 02:07 PM
On second thought my past post was hypocritical in that it was simplistic.

Here's my experience and understanding on getting more skills. I grew up poor, lived poor, and now am not poor with a promising future.

I grew up in a poor family. Not saying others didn't have it much worse, but the majority did have it much better. Sometimes the bills would add up and food was limited to potatoes, sometimes less than that. I'd get free lunch in school so there was that, further when food stamps became an option when got those.

I'd like to stop right here and point out this is a very important point. Poor people rely on social services a lot more than people with living wages for life necessities. Take home point: People who pay crap wages make your taxes higher. People have to eat. You, the tax payer, paid for my appendectomy when I was 15 because my mom's employer did not provide health insurance, nor a wage compatible with acquiring it separately.
And I'd like to stop right there, too, because there is such an obvious flaw in your reasoning that I'm finding it hard to believe you missed it.

You are assuming that an employer has only two choices: pay "crap wages" or pay a "living wage". One other choice is to pay no wages at all-- ie, don't offer the job in the first place.

You also have to realize that the price of the goods and services you buy are based on how much money people are willing to pay for them. If everyone suddenly has more money, everything will suddenly cost more. You will be chasing the "living wage" forever since prices will rise to make yesterday's "living wage" today's "crap wages". Or you'll just make the market drive for more automation and fewer jobs.

Voyager
08-13-2011, 03:19 PM
Same problem. If the living wage is pegged at $11 an hour, the employee isn't suited to any job.

Regards,
Shodan

And there will always be people like that, such as the mentally handicapped. They can be given subsidized jobs, unless you think they should starve. But most people can do enough work to cover a living wage, though employers might have to be a bit smarter than they are now. Sociopaths who won't show up for any job, or who refuse to do $11 of work - fire 'em.

Acid Lamp
08-13-2011, 04:08 PM
So, are you no longer saying that "Either a job is necessary or it is not." I can't tell from your reply. I was just asking a yes or no question since you made an absolute statement.

No I stand by that position. The necessity of a position is determined by a number of changing factors, but at any given time it is one or the other.

Acid Lamp
08-13-2011, 04:18 PM
So why should my son be paid a living wage?

His skills or circumstances have nothing to do with the discussion. What those in favor of a living wage advocate, is that the base rate for any non contract, non exempted status, job shall be enough to afford minimal self sufficiency. His skills, yours, or mine have no objective worth. Their value is determined by the market. Most likely such a system would eliminate in the short term, such positions held by dependent minors in favor of unskilled, or lowly skilled adults. He would have to find exempted, or contractual/ private work to make his fun money. That is not a bad thing. The job market should be primarily open to those that need to provide for themselves, not dependents, whether they be minors or wards of the state due to disabilities. A living wage would be a good way to begin eliminating abuse of minors, illegals, and other groups that are traditionally underpaid for physical labor.

John Mace
08-13-2011, 04:25 PM
His skills or circumstances have nothing to do with the discussion. What those in favor of a living wage advocate, is that the base rate for any non contract, non exempted status, job shall be enough to afford minimal self sufficiency. His skills, yours, or mine have no objective worth. Their value is determined by the market. Most likely such a system would eliminate in the short term, such positions held by dependent minors in favor of unskilled, or lowly skilled adults. He would have to find exempted, or contractual/ private work to make his fun money. That is not a bad thing. The job market should be primarily open to those that need to provide for themselves, not dependents, whether they be minors or wards of the state due to disabilities. A living wage would be a good way to begin eliminating abuse of minors, illegals, and other groups that are traditionally underpaid for physical labor.

Yes, imagine the gall of some 15-year-old wanting to work part time. Why doesn't he just make his parents to give him a nice, fat allowance?

But leaving that issue behind, you seem to be distinguishing between "exempted" and "contractural/private" work as opposed to "jobs". If "jobs" need to be paid a "living wage" then I'll just convert everything to contract work. I don't know what you mean by "exempted" or "private" work.

gonzomax
08-13-2011, 04:30 PM
We have long made provisions for teens to work. Their hours and the kind of work has been limited. Regulations have attempted to keep them safe and keep them from working so much it, harms schoolwork.

Acid Lamp
08-13-2011, 05:17 PM
Yes, imagine the gall of some 15-year-old wanting to work part time. Why doesn't he just make his parents to give him a nice, fat allowance?

But leaving that issue behind, you seem to be distinguishing between "exempted" and "contractural/private" work as opposed to "jobs". If "jobs" need to be paid a "living wage" then I'll just convert everything to contract work. I don't know what you mean by "exempted" or "private" work.

Contractual jobs are those services provided by self employed people who set their own rates that are usually not hourly. Exempted positions are things like serving or bussing in restaurants where tipping is the bulk of income. Private work is things like mowing lawns for the neighbors, paid in cash, under the table.

Sarcasm aside, I would rather see unemployed adults in low level positions earning a living wage then part time teens who earn less and thus set the rate at the lowest common denominator, usually federally mandated minimum. In reality this discussion is about raising minimum to a liveable standard, nothing more.

John Mace
08-13-2011, 05:30 PM
Contractual jobs are those services provided by self employed people who set their own rates that are usually not hourly. Exempted positions are things like serving or bussing in restaurants where tipping is the bulk of income. Private work is things like mowing lawns for the neighbors, paid in cash, under the table.
So, like I said, I'll just make all my jobs "contract" and sidestep the whole living wage thing.

Sarcasm aside, I would rather see unemployed adults in low level positions earning a living wage then part time teens who earn less and thus set the rate at the lowest common denominator, usually federally mandated minimum.

So, you are suggesting making it illegal for a teenager to work?

In reality this discussion is about raising minimum to a liveable standard, nothing more.
OK, so tell us how it works. Tell us how you set the wage and how you deal with the inflation that will result. And the automation, elimination of jobs, or just driving the jobs out of the country.

gonzomax
08-13-2011, 05:34 PM
I suppose if they keep grasping and looking they can find an example that they think will make sense.
If a kid wants to work in his family's restaurant to help keep it open, wouldn't that prove a living wage is unreasonable? There must be some reason that a company should be allowed to pay peanuts to workers. If we justify it once, then it is justified everywhere,

MichaelEmouse
08-13-2011, 05:52 PM
His skills, yours, or mine have no objective worth. Their value is determined by the market.

That's a bit rich coming from someone who wants a legal price floor.



You want to exempt contract work so that contract work doesn't have to pay the equivalent of a living wage.

Your point earlier is that "if a persons skills are so small, or their contribution so minor that it does not equate to paying them a living wage then they must be viewed as either non essential (unneeded eliminate position entirely) or, luxury: (useful, but ultimately could be eliminated by spreading work around).


Whether it's done through an employment contract or a contractor doesn't matter, in both cases, the individual has skills/contribution which don't warrant a living income. Why is it ok for a contractor to work at a task when his skills/contribution don't warrant a living income but not an employee? In both cases, it isn't worth it.


Also, you make a distinction between non-essential and luxury goods. Yet earlier you said : "There is no category of goods in between essential and luxury with perhaps the lone exception of food and clothing goods which are both."

If there is no category aside from essential and luxury, there should therefore be no distinction between non-essential and luxury. There are only 2 categories, remember? If you draw a distinction between non-essential and luxury, that gives us 3 categories: essential, non-essential and luxury.

Acid Lamp
08-13-2011, 06:52 PM
That's a bit rich coming from someone who wants a legal price floor.



You want to exempt contract work so that contract work doesn't have to pay the equivalent of a living wage.

Your point earlier is that "if a persons skills are so small, or their contribution so minor that it does not equate to paying them a living wage then they must be viewed as either non essential (unneeded eliminate position entirely) or, luxury: (useful, but ultimately could be eliminated by spreading work around).


Whether it's done through an employment contract or a contractor doesn't matter, in both cases, the individual has skills/contribution which don't warrant a living income. Why is it ok for a contractor to work at a task when his skills/contribution don't warrant a living income but not an employee? In both cases, it isn't worth it.


Also, you make a distinction between non-essential and luxury goods. Yet earlier you said : "There is no category of goods in between essential and luxury with perhaps the lone exception of food and clothing goods which are both."

If there is no category aside from essential and luxury, there should therefore be no distinction between non-essential and luxury. There are only 2 categories, remember? If you draw a distinction between non-essential and luxury, that gives us 3 categories: essential, non-essential and luxury.

I don't want anything. We already have it and the world didn't end nor did our dollar suddenly inflate to bizarre proportions. Increasing it 30% won't end the world either.

COntract work is exempted because it is performed on the individual's terms rather than the employer's . A contractor can charge say, 100$ a month to wax the floors. At 25.00 a visit on a large place, he may not be making the minimum, but he makes it up in volume on the little jobs that don't take so long. If he wants to do that, he should be able to. The difference is that a dedicated janitor at the same facility spends all his time at one place and cannot increase his check, so it should be set a minimum that is liveable.

Lastly, there is no distinction, but food and clothing are intangibles impossible to quantify. There is no basic human chow, or standard generic base set of clothing. Thus they are both a necessity and can be luxury depending on number, type and quality.

MichaelEmouse
08-13-2011, 07:08 PM
I don't want anything. We already have it and the world didn't end nor did our dollar suddenly inflate to bizarre proportions. Increasing it 30% won't end the world either.

COntract work is exempted because it is performed on the individual's terms rather than the employer's . A contractor can charge say, 100$ a month to wax the floors. At 25.00 a visit on a large place, he may not be making the minimum, but he makes it up in volume on the little jobs that don't take so long. If he wants to do that, he should be able to. The difference is that a dedicated janitor at the same facility spends all his time at one place and cannot increase his check, so it should be set a minimum that is liveable.

Lastly, there is no distinction, but food and clothing are intangibles impossible to quantify. There is no basic human chow, or standard generic base set of clothing. Thus they are both a necessity and can be luxury depending on number, type and quality.


It doesn't matter that it can be performed on the contractor's term rather than the employer's. Look at your argument, please, just reread your argument. You said that if someone's contribution isn't worth a living wage, it should be dispensed with. Your argument was related to whether a task is worth doing as reflected in the money paid for it and that when the money paid for it reflects that the contribution isn't worth a living wage, it should be dispensed with. Is it about whether the contribution/skills are worth a living income or not?


If your argument is that people should have enough income for a given living standard, fine, but that isn't the argument you made and income doesn't have to come from wage. You made the argument that if it isn't worth paying a living income, it should be dispensed with. If we take your argument seriously, we should dispense with contractors whose skills/contribution aren't worth a living income.


You do want a price floor on labor. Wanting a minimum wage or living wage is wanting a price floor. The fact that a price floor already exists doesn't preclude the fact that you want a price floor yet said that the value of labor is determined by the market.


You didn't get my argument regarding categories: You, acid lamp, stated that there are only two types of goods: essential or luxury. Yet you're now saying that there are essential, non-essential and luxury goods. That's 3 categories.

Palo Verde
08-14-2011, 10:17 AM
You seem to view teen jobs are some minor aside, not really relevant to the discussion. But I'd argue that the issue is completely relevant.

If the work the teens do is valuable and worthy, they should they be paid the same amount (a living wage) as full adults? If you make another category that teens can be paid less, then there will be a hue rush to hire teens for lesser skilled jobs, knocking adults out of work.

If you make it so they can't be hired so they have to do your definition of 'private' work, they how are they ever going to learn the skills necessary to do a regular job? You can't just jump in at a higher level, without staring at the bottom and working your way up. It just doesn't make sense.

Acid Lamp
08-14-2011, 10:44 AM
Michael, I've addressed your points twice now, and I don't know how I can be clearer. I can agree to disagree with you, but I'm not going to re-hash it over again.

Paolo, there is no such animal as "teen jobs". There are only jobs. Any job that is a full or part time position with a company, as opposed to a self employed contractor or someone who make's their living on tips, should be paid a living wage for their time. Who a company hires for those positions is not relevant to me. If they want to hire teens so be it. There is no particular reason that teens should be paid less than an adult counterpart for performing the same work.

I would predict that many companies would rather hire adults at such rate though as they don't have to deal with the restrictions of employing minors. Considering the unemployment levels, that wouldn't be a bad thing overall anyway. Teens would have to compete like everyone else or find work in those fields that are not subject to the same rules.

MichaelEmouse
08-14-2011, 10:49 AM
Acid,

I'm just not getting if your argument is A) people should have a living income and a living wage is the way to do it or B) if a task is not worth a living income, it should not be done. Is it the former or the latter?

Acid Lamp
08-14-2011, 10:52 AM
John, if you think you can run your business solely with commissioned employees go right ahead and try. Most fields have far too much turnover, or the model isn't applicable for that to be successful in the long term.

Consider this: I can hire 3 full timers or six contract workers. Either way my manpower is identical because i can only afford so much payroll. My three workers make a living wage, work for me full time and know the buisness in side and out. they are there to for rapport with my customers, and gain skills and experience twice as fast as my contractors. Additionally, my contractors are based on sales, or some sort of per job rate, so they only spend a little time at my business, spitting their work between other employers. They have less loyalty, little stability, and little interaction with regular clients. Sure I might save a few dollars in payroll, but I'm willing to be my teeth that sales, and all other aspects of my business will suffer.

Acid Lamp
08-14-2011, 10:58 AM
Acid,

I'm just not getting if your argument is A) people should have a living income and a living wage is the way to do it or B) if a task is not worth a living income, it should not be done. Is it the former or the latter?

Neither.

A. You are correct.

B. It isn't that such jobs should not be done. They must be accomplished. My position is that those tasks must be evaluated based upon each owners individual criteria to establish it as a critical job, or one that can be eliminated and performed in some other manner than employing a lone individual to do it. As circumstances change, the needs of any give business will change as well. Solutions to that problem might include delegating those tasks to other, more critical employees as additional work, automation, or possibly hiring private contractors who work on a commission or other basis that affords you their labor only when it is needed.

MichaelEmouse
08-14-2011, 11:04 AM
Neither.

A. You are correct.

B. It isn't that such jobs should not be done. They must be accomplished. My position is that those tasks must be evaluated based upon each owners individual criteria to establish it as a critical job, or one that can be eliminated and performed in some other manner than employing a lone individual to do it. As circumstances change, the needs of any give business will change as well. Solutions to that problem might include delegating those tasks to other, more critical employees as additional work, automation, or possibly hiring private contractors who work on a commission or other basis that affords you their labor only when it is needed.

Ah, I get the distinction you were making earlier about splitting jobs into essential vs luxury.

Now, the heart of the matter is why must a living income be assured through the particular means of a living wage?

Acid Lamp
08-14-2011, 03:06 PM
Ah, I get the distinction you were making earlier about splitting jobs into essential vs luxury.

Now, the heart of the matter is why must a living income be assured through the particular means of a living wage?

I think that might be another thread entirely.

MichaelEmouse
08-14-2011, 03:10 PM
This thread is about whether an employee should have a living wage. If the reason someone wants a living wage is to ensure a living income, then the question of whether a living wage is the best way to ensure a living income is pertinent.

Acid Lamp
08-14-2011, 06:14 PM
This thread is about whether an employee should have a living wage. If the reason someone wants a living wage is to ensure a living income, then the question of whether a living wage is the best way to ensure a living income is pertinent.

Fair enough, what would you suggest as an alternative?

John Mace
08-14-2011, 06:18 PM
Fair enough, what would you suggest as an alternative?

I believe someone already mentioned the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Let the market do it's job of setting wages and prices. If we, as a society, want to ensure that adults have a minimum amount of money to live on, we can pay for that out of the general fund. One advantage of that system is you know exactly how much that social policy costs. When you do it by jiggering with wages, you have no way of knowing.

MichaelEmouse
08-14-2011, 06:34 PM
I believe someone already mentioned the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Let the market do it's job of setting wages and prices. If we, as a society, want to ensure that adults have a minimum amount of money to live on, we can pay for that out of the general fund. One advantage of that system is you know exactly how much that social policy costs. When you do it by jiggering with wages, you have no way of knowing.

Yup, a tax credit or a cash transfer. Davidm and I talk about this upthread.

Paul Krugman talks about it here:
http://www.pkarchive.org/cranks/LivingWage.html

Milton Friedman argued for it in Capitalism and freedom, chapter 12 if I remember correctly.

Wikipedia tells me Hayek was in favor of it in The road to serfdom but I can't confirm.

John Mace
08-14-2011, 06:39 PM
Missed the edit window...

But keep in mind that you don't eliminate the inflationary forces if you switch from a MW to an EITC. Small changes at the margins, like we do with MW increases, are usually not enough to have a measurable effect, but surely you realize that, at some point, if everyone has significantly more money there is going to be price inflation.

MichaelEmouse
08-14-2011, 07:23 PM
Would it break forum rules to post 2 pages of a book by Friedman published in 1962?