Minimum Wage What do you guys think? (in Off-topic)
February 18 2007 4:21 PM EST
Okay everyone be honest. How many of you make minimum wage ie. 5.15 or whatever your state minimum wage is.
Approx. 8% of the US pop. makes minimum wage.
In July 2006 the population was 298,444,215.
298,444,215*.08=23,875,537.2 people making MW
23,875,537*5.15=122,959,015.55 Every hour Paid
122,959,015.55*40hrs=4,918,360,622 A week paid
Average per Working person is 206.00 Weekly...
Can you live off of that? This is for an Economics that my wife is taking.
February 18 2007 4:23 PM EST
Yes, you can...
...but why would you try to?
February 18 2007 4:23 PM EST
Not without a working roommate...
/me speaks from experience
February 18 2007 4:25 PM EST
I don't think you can...
Your telling me that you can live off of -64.00 a month?
you can live off that... the thing is, though, people on minimum wage expect the world. They don't realize that minimum wage is scaled to get you the base *minimum* in life. So if you're on minimum wage, you'll not be having a cell phone and satellite tv. You'll have enough for rent, and food stamps for food.
February 18 2007 4:28 PM EST
I only get $20 a week during the summer at my job, but I only work one day a week for about 4 hours. And I don't need to pay for anything yet so I'm good.
February 18 2007 4:28 PM EST
Not everyone can get food stamps NS.
February 18 2007 4:29 PM EST
and the 160.00 is the average for Water/ Gas and Electric.
February 18 2007 4:32 PM EST
Someone's not eating their Ramen Noodles
Why ask if you can live off of that if you already had an answer?
February 18 2007 4:33 PM EST
I'm looking for you honest opinions so i'm going to check back tonight before i go to bed. And we'll see what you all think.
JAD: if you only have $160 a week, you can get food stamps. No one is going to hand you a package to live like a king -- work is required in this world.
February 18 2007 4:45 PM EST
i know this NS, but some people that have 160.00 still don't qualify for food stamps, you would know this if you have ever applied.. It is very difficult to apply and receive.
I'm a student living on around £30 a month for food maximum.
Using that for two people calculated at a $2/£1 you should be able to be living off $120 at most although cooking for 2 is actually cheaper than cooking for 1 as well as the fact that most things in the US are much cheaper than the UK so I'd say it should be easily possible for you to live off around $100 a month for food.
Here's the thing -- who are those 8% you claim to be getting minimum wage? Many of them are teenagers or college students that don't have to support themselves. For them it's walking-around money. Also, as you alluded to, not every state has a min of 5.15. Here in Ohio it's 6.85, and that's a big difference.
More than half of the US has a min. wage higher than the federal minimum. You have to consider that in any discussion.
Hi im Jake
February 18 2007 7:55 PM EST
its called two jobs
"i know this NS, but some people that have 160.00 still don't qualify for food stamps, you would know this if you have ever applied.. It is very difficult to apply and receive."
If you don't qualify, then you don't have much ground to stand on to say that you can't live on minimum wage.
February 18 2007 8:34 PM EST
Yes, you can live off of minimum wage.
You can board in a house, that's $500 per month, and includes everything but food.
That leaves $324. Food should cost around $40 per week (or maybe even less) while still eating healthy, which leaves $164.
Other necessities such as toiletries (~$15 per month) and clothing ($30 per month) would set you down to ~$120 per month
Ideally, transportation would just be walking (free), or maybe by bicycle (also very cheap). If necessary, you could use public transportation ($80 per month?), which would still leave $40.
Any savings should be invested in a high interest savings account so that you could further your education/training to get a better job/pay.
Minimum wage is 6.50 here, and i think you CAN live off that, but its not gonna be easy.
February 18 2007 8:37 PM EST
Here in NY, as of Jan 1, 2007, minimum wage is $7.15 per hour. BUT, if you're under 18, they don't have to pay you minimum wage. If you're expected to get tips (waiter/waitress) then they don't have to pay you minimum wage either.
February 18 2007 10:18 PM EST
I have never worked for minimum wage in my life, the only reason they raised the minimum wage, is pressure from the unions (who support Democrates).
Why would the union, want minumum wage raised, you ask, when no union worker, works for minimum wage?
The unions want minimum wage raised because, in their contract, thier pay is tied to minimum wage.
For example, if the minimum wage goes up 2 dollars, most union workers get a 2 dollar raise.
This is a scam! The only thing a minimum wage hike will do is hurt small business, and cause inflation!
Since I'm English I'll give it in my terms and you can read up mastinox if you need to but in my opinion your statement is equal to that of a fantasy conspiracy writer.
I follow the Conservatives rather than Labour yet I can actually see good points in what the unions do.
Businesses all have a right to cut wages if they need to and a minimum wage means that there is a safety level for the workers if this were to occur (there are always news stories in England about problems regarding wages). Increased minimum wages also means that since most companies like to keep their rate a certain amount above the minimum, society can better handle inflation.
Imagine what it would be like 30 years from now if the minimum wage wasn't increased a penny yet inflation stayed at a steady 3% per annum, you wouldn't be able to afford to live the way you currently do and the class divide between wealth and poverty just increases further.
February 19 2007 2:20 AM EST
Unfortunately for those that believe they "deserve" a higher wage for "working their fingers to the bone" that is not the way market economies like the US and Canada work. I might suggest you try a command economy like North Korea or Cuba.
A fundamental principle of economics - whether or not you choose to believe it - is that demand curves slope downwards. In plain English, when the price of a product rises people will buy less of it. Higher movie ticket prices, fewer people go to the theaters.
Labor services are a commodity, bought and sold in markets. Be clear here ... laborers are no longer bought and sold (except in professional sports, but I digress) ... labor services are bought and sold. The law of demand also follows here. The higher the price of labor, the fewer buyers there will be. If you increase the minimum wage, there will be fewer jobs available.
The minimum wage affects the youngest and least skilled members of society and it is these people that are most adversely affected by the minimum wage.
Those in favor of higher minimum wages ask yourself the following question. If McDonalds increased the wage they pay their employees to $20 per hour, would society be better off? Be sure to consider the fact that they would have to raise the price of a Big Mac to $10. Are you willing to pay $10 for a Big Mac so that McDonald's employees can make $20 per hour?
Clearly, the answer to the above question is "No, you are not". The evidence can be found in the massive US trade deficit with China. Individuals are more concerned with their own standard of living - buying goods at the cheapest possible price - than they are with the standard of living of people they do not know.
February 19 2007 2:37 AM EST
Meh. As a Libertarian I'm against even the principle of minimum wage for many reasons.
First of all I think it is a company's right to decide how much they are wiling to pay for a service, and the potential employee's responsibility to decide if they are willing to work for that amount. If a company feels they are only willing to pay a person $2 an hour for a job and a person is willing to take that position, why should the Federal Government interfere?
Also I believe too many people think they should be able to live off minimum wage. Sure, it's good for a temporary source of cash flow, but it should be used as a short-term way to eventually make more money (ie. go to school at the same time). Even for people on minimum wage/welfare, their standard of living is much higher in general than that of many European and Asian countries.
Along the same lines, many people on minimum wage have more than the "minimal needs" for survival. They take advantage of the system with which, once again, I disagree in the first place.
Cheap labor conservatives are disgusting.
At least the Conservatives knew how to run a country without drastically increasing its debt like Labour are doing, even with hidden taxes within already existing taxes they can't fund the country properly.
A party that constantly promises to reduce taxes and then constantly raises them and introducing new ones is a bad party. All politicians lie as we know but with taxes being most peoples main issues, at least the Tories are honest in saying they have to go up.
Or when they say they'll be reduced you know they will because to fund it they'll demolish all of the pointless departments within government and save a hell of a lot of money that way.
February 19 2007 11:25 AM EST
"Disgusting"? A bit much, don't you think, Nov?
He saw thir kitchens, obviously wasn't too impressed with the level of cleanliness :P
no I think it sums up my feelings quite well actually, the nausea, the throbbing pain of gritting my teeth in anger...yeah sounds like disgust to me
February 19 2007 12:13 PM EST
OK, while they may disgust YOU, that has a contextual difference from being "disgusting". *smile*
February 19 2007 12:37 PM EST
I'm with Nov on this. Disgusting is the right word. I'm so disgusted that I can't even post properly on this one. :/
February 19 2007 3:43 PM EST
anyone that thinks they can live off of minimum wage hasn't tried it. I live where there is no public transportation. The idea of riding a bike 15 miles away to the nearest grocery store when it's -20F in the middle of winter with over 2 feet of snow on the ground is an insane idea. cheapest place i can find for rent around here (trust me I've looked) is 675$ a month nothing included with electric baseboard heat (we have NYSEG here so that's an insane way to heat your house) I personally think that what I'm paid reflects in my output at work. minimum wage = minimum work. pay me more and I'll do more.
ok Sut, I'll append this little snippet just for you...
The calvanist morals that allow the wage disparity in this country to exist are what disgusts me, people who are trapped in the horrifying morass of insane archaic ideals that excuse our way of life deserve empathy as much as those suffering under it. It disgusts me that I'm one bitter hate filled thought away from being them. Honestly the wealth distribution worldwide is far more troubling and much much much more dangerous for us here at the top of the trash pile. We need to change, or it'll happen without us.
February 19 2007 5:04 PM EST
Cheap labor Conservatives? I don't know where that came from novice, but I'll defend my title. I never said anything about demanding cheap labor. Hell, if a company wants to pay someone $50 bucks an hour to pick fruit (thus making more than me) the that's perfectly fine, and not what I would consider "cheap." Is it really so hard to grasp the concept that a company should be able to decide how much they are willing to pay for a job and for an employee to either agree or refuse the position for that amount of money? Where is the fallacy in my logic?
Where is it the government's responsibility to interfere?
Cheap labor Conservatives? Does that then make you a welfare-thumping, bleeding heart, Liberal?
I wasn't speaking necessarily to you KL, but you get points for understanding the purpose of the phrase cheap labor conservatives, it generalizes people in the same fashion as BHL does, while in addition actually stating the goal of the group.
I don't even think the most fear filled angry xenophobe would actually advocate what you're talking about, we've come to accept, and even relish in our wage slavery here in the last fifty years, but no one wants to see what level of totalitarian hell could arise if no check was left in to stop corporations from taking profits to new levels on the twisted carcasses of millions and millions of people. As a representative government, the federalies only honest purpose is the safety of it's people in the long term, and holding the line that despite the inhuman nature of our current economic theory people shouldn't be killed for a little more profit. Without oversight by a legislative body, we're a half step from your question being "Is it really so hard to grasp that a company should be able to employ children to run the machines that build out bombs".
February 20 2007 6:53 PM EST
Ok Kevin, how about the people who cant afford to go work anywhere else and all the other businesses in the community know you have no where else to go so they lower your wage to an unlivable level. The big business man would just be making life unbearable for the people making him rich. There-by doing the above mentioned making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Now do you see why he called you disgusting.
February 20 2007 9:52 PM EST
"Ok Kevin, how about the people who cant afford to go work anywhere else and all the other businesses in the community know you have no where else to go so they lower your wage to an unlivable level. The big business man would just be making life unbearable for the people making him rich. There-by doing the above mentioned making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Now do you see why he called you disgusting."
Hm, now lets think about this one. These people can't afford to work anywhere else? What in the world does that mean? Give me an example in which a person cannot afford to work somewhere else.
But that aside, isn't some money better than none? Sure, a business may set up somewhere it knows it can pay lower wages but for the people in that community to afford its product they'd have to lower costs. If, however, you are referring to outsourcing the production of shoes, clothes, etc. to third world countries for cheaper wages, isn't that better than nothing? You are still providing jobs to that area. If you force a company to pay certain wages what is the incentive to start a business in a poor community?
Lastly, no, I still do not see why someone would refer to me as "disgusting" (btw, novice I knew you weren't speaking directly to me, I was just joking around taking offense to what you were saying...lol). Maybe you could try harder by showing examples/statistics to clarify it for me.
a short question.... why do all major sport t-shirt maker (Nike. adidas, etc) make their t-shirts in Asia? It is because it is cheaper. Child labour and all... The clothes that they make are cheap but the prices that they sell are crazy. I blame the Big corporates.
However, all these factories making these t-shirts are contributing the local economy eventhough the people know that they are being exploited. Would they want Minimum wage? Yes! of course! But would they want it if less people or less factories are being opened? I think not!
February 21 2007 6:09 AM EST
Here some real stats that Jad was asking.
If a quote from the text
There is no evidence of job loss from the last minimum wage increase.
A 1998 EPI study failed to find any systematic, significant job loss associated with the 1996-97 minimum wage increase. In fact, following the most recent increase in the minimum wage in 1996-97, the low-wage labor market performed better than it had in decades (e.g., lower unemployment rates, increased average hourly wages, increased family income, decreased poverty rates).
Studies of the 1990-91 federal minimum wage increase, as well as studies by David Card and Alan Krueger of several state minimum wage increases, also found no measurable negative impact on employment.
New economic models that look specifically at low-wage labor markets help explain why there is little evidence of job loss associated with minimum wage increases. These models recognize that employers may be able to absorb some of the costs of a wage increase through higher productivity, lower recruiting and training costs, decreased absenteeism, and increased worker morale.
A recent Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) study of state minimum wages found no evidence of negative employment effects on small businesses
February 21 2007 7:21 AM EST
Minimum wage in the UK gets you about 600 sterling a month after tax and deductions. Equivalent to about 1100 USD. So, yes our minimum wage earners are probably better off moneywise than they would be in the US. But:
A minimum wage earner finds themselves in the middle tax bracket. That covers between 7000 sterling a year and 33000 sterling a year. The tax rate for that bracket is 22%.
Average rent for 1, 2 or 3 bedroom properties is 750 sterling per month. So forget living by yourself on one minimum wage. You will either still be living with parents, or sharing a flat with either a partner or flatmates.
Average utilities is about 100 sterling per month - gas, electric, water.
Council Tax (for those outside of the UK; this is a tax paid to the local borough authority) average of 80 sterling per month.
So not counting food here; just bills can set you back an average of 930 sterling a month if you are attempting to live on one minimum wage.
There are benefits you can claim, the local borough authority can find you a home if you are a family; but waiting lists can be years long.
If you are single and living on minimum wage though forget any help. You won't get any.
And these figures are averages. If you live in London....
Average rent in London is 850 sterling a month. Average council tax in London is 100 sterling a month.
So average London bills for somebody renting: 1050 sterling.... approximately 2050 USD. And that's before food and household essentials.
So, can one person live off a UK minimum wage job, by themselves? Not a hope. Especially if you live in London.
February 21 2007 8:50 AM EST
"Not without a working roommate...
/me speaks from experience"
--[TH]Carnival of Carnage, February 18 2007 4:23 PM EST
February 21 2007 10:30 AM EST
We've got a disconnect here...
KL is talking about theory, ideas, "big picture" economics.
Other folks are making daily expense lists.
No one is talking about the same thing.
The KL side, as interpreted by Sutekh T. Destroyer:
KL is not saying "die, poor people, DIE!" He is not even saying that poor people are lazy. I don't see anything deterministic or Calvinistic (necessarily) in his posts. He is simply saying that the market should decide what wages are. NOW, from there, you can say things like: "But then the money-grubbing capitalist pig-dog corporations would pay everyone in sand!" OK, prove that. At least discuss it in a civilized fashion. Making a list to show that people can't live on minimum wage has nothing to do with theoretical monetary wage policy. Use history, use facts, use whatever: show that the minimum wage is necessary for "the market" to pay people fairly. Prove that the Invisible Hand needs a slap.
The novice, et al, side, I suppose, as interpreted by Sutekh T. Destroyer:
Minimum wage is necessary because "the market" is too slow, too fat, too greedy, too varied, too _everything_ to function fairly. If the market decided wages, some people might be better off, but a lot of folks would end up in hovels, in work camps, essentially, because the minimum wage itself ALREADY does not provide. Corporations honestly don't care, as we see in third-world countries, as we see in board rooms where folks only care about stock price, as we see in consumerist America itself where suburbanites' only concern is to find out when Disney is going to release the next "rare" movie from it's vault or who's going to get voted off the Survivor island. One doesn't have to look far to see true corporate intentions. Even if one doesn't avidly despise these corporations, one needs to stop being naive and realize that the Invisible Hand not only needs a slap, it needs to be stuck in a garbage disposal.
So, that's my interpretation. KL isn't some sort of devil for simply pointing out a differing viewpoint on wage policy. And novice feels he has good reason for using words like "disgusting", thinking it is as plain as day that corporations have got some issues.
But one thing that is abundantly clear is that no one is really talking to each other here. For example, no one has pointed out the fallacy in KL's logic other than to say, "that's crap and just won't work". Tell him WHY you think it doesn't/won't work.
February 21 2007 3:31 PM EST
Thank you Sut, it is very much what I have been trying to say. Still waiting for replies...
In response to Duke:
I find minimum wage DOES hurt the economy
not just through unemployment, but in pricing as well,
and I'm not even speaking in terms of major corporations.
As a side note, I also DO believe that minimum wage laws are unconstitutional. The Federal Government has no constitutional right to determine wages paid by employer to employee. I say this in passing, however, because it is not the focus of my debate with minimum wage, which is that it simply does NOT work.
Johnny (or should I call you Wizard now?), your last statement is another key concept I want to point out. I'm paraphrasing because I don't want to backspace, but you said something along the lines of "You can't live in the UK on minimum wage job, at least not in London." Many people say this statement, but in other ways: "You can't live in Los Angeles on minimum wage...You can't live on minimum wage in New York... You cant ______" This may be very true, but in no way is a person FORCED to live in a certain area. For example, housing in my area is very cheap, especially if you have roommates (I have 4 and we have a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house). I pay $250 a month plus utilities, which comes out to about $300 a month. Hey, no one says you have to have your own place, or even your own room.
But another thing one must keep in mind when discussing minimum wage is that the majority of workers earning minimum wage are NOT the primary income earners in their family. I believe this point has already been stated, but I feel the need to reiterate that fact. Most people earning minimum wage are people
under the age of 25.
Now please, lets have more real debate and less "Are you able to live on minimum wage in my area?" math, because although the exact question Jad is trying to ask is unclear from his initial post, we'll be nibbling at the bun instead of digging in to the meat of the hamburger that is minimum wage.
We've seen Supersize Me, havent we? (though to be honest it made me want to get a hamburger afterwards, so maybe this isn't the greatest analogy)
February 21 2007 3:55 PM EST
Well, KL, you can actually reply first, and more directly to what these other folks have been saying... For example, let's start with history...
You know that early on in the Industrial Age, it was very common for families to live in shanty-towns constructed near work sites (textile mills, mines, heavy agricultural areas). Children were forced to work. People were very obviously paid just enough to live, but not enough to "get out" of their areas. You keep mentioning that people can move...well, back then (and some would argue even now), they actually _couldn't_. They didn't have the means. People who tried to move and did it wrong, might very well die (not all unlucky travelers were frontiers-people).
I am sure you have heard of indentured servitude? In early days, days of much more "laissez-faire" capitalism, people were basically indentured servants because business law, civil rights, labor laws, and travel abilities were all very much different then they were now.
An obvious rebuttal to all of this is, "Sute, it ain't 1870 any more!" This is true, I understand that. But we learn from history. There are aspects of business where the Invisible Hand does appear to fail in practice. In those spots, government steps in.
What are your views on:
These mechanisms grew out of history, and some economists would even consider them essential to an "honest" market. Monopolies are bad. Dishonest stock trading is bad. Labor unions grew in response to wage issues, abysmal work conditions, and desire for personal freedom.
I understand labor unions are a touchy subject -- at times the unions seem unfair to me, but I know of their historical and keep-corporation-honest importance. These are tough issues...
Allowing companies to completely get the decision on wages assumes a lot of things. It assumes people can easily move from place to place. It assumes job availability is relatively distributed. It assumes no other systems are in place to mess with the "free market" (tariffs, taxes, cheap foreign labor, etc.) That's not reality, at least not the reality folks like novice are seeing.
Finally, your stance (correct me if I am wrong) has an underlying assumption that all opportunities are the same -- we all can do whatever we want. Environment, education, jobs, etc. are open to all of us in equitable fashion. At least I assume you are believing that if you believe that the market should get to decide all. Minimum wage is, in my opinion, a compromise of pragmatism. It admits that while we all ostensibly have the same freedoms of choice and opportunity, there is a "lottery" of sorts involved. Some people have it "harder". Sure, we all know about the ghetto kid who works hard and becomes a brain surgeon. Or we hear about the rich socialite who does nothing with their lives. We rebel against luck and embrace the pulling up by the bootstrap approach. Is that always realistic?
These are tough questions. And I don't consider any answer (or the people giving the answer) as "disgusting" unless the person is just trying to be mean-spirited or is completely disregarding all facts. Odds are very good that a person is ignorant instead of being disgusting.
I could make it easily on $200 a week, not sure my GF would be happy with that though! ;)
But seriously, spending 40 hours a week working under bad conditions isn't worth any amount of money. I think another factor is general self-worth and happiness.
If you felt like you weren't trying very hard and you were generally happy, would you be happy working minimum wage (assuming you were working in good conditions)? I can't speak for everyone, but I know I would be.
Now if you were trying very hard, and you weren't happy, then you would be very unsatisfied with your life if you ended up making minimum wage.
Some factors of being happy are:
- Are you eating regularly? (can you afford food for you and everyone you support)
- Are you doing something fulfilling? (spirtual, pragmatic or otherwise)
- Do you get to spend time with other people? (family, friends or coworkers)
- Can you relax every now and then? (always busy tending to someone else, or working more then one job, stressed and unable to sleep)
February 21 2007 5:57 PM EST
At the risk of over simplifying, yes you can live of the minimum wage. It was designed to allow people to "just get by" and does so.
No one likes to feel as if they are being exploited, and many people on wages a lot higher than minimum feel as if they are. That's life I'm afraid. Capitalism is built on enterprise and the ability to make the best out of your environment and situation. Communism failed not because it is flawed but because humans are greedy.
We'll always have a class of people on the breadline - it's what keeps those above it in their 4x4's and holiday homes.
February 21 2007 7:50 PM EST
Sut says it in more complex terms, but to answer you on the point that nobody is forced to work in the more expensive areas; sorry but that's rubbish. I work in engineering. Underground Railway engineering to be exact; where all the work is based in London. I simply cannot work anywhere else if I want to remain in my industry. You_Go_Where_The_Work_Is.
Work does not come to you. And I'm lucky that I can get paid far more than minimum wage to do my job. But still I cannot go and live somewhere much cheaper because my work dictates where I live.
And actually if you want to earn more in the UK you have to come to London, because for the most part London wages are higher than the rest of the country. An equivalent job to mine based in a cheaper city would pay two thirds of what I can get in London.
Those people who are earning minimum wage; and I'm not talking younger people, student for example, who don't have the same outgoings as a father of three; those people may have no choice on what job they do. What does your Libertarian belief system say about people like them? Should they not also have the 'freedom' to be paid a decent wage for a hard days living?
People who are against minimum wage are for exploitation of the workforce. There is no two ways about it. You can say employers should have the right to pay what they want. You try working for much less than you need to live a decent standard of living; and by that I mean the ability to feed and clothe yourself and pay the bills, not luxuries; you try that and then you tell me that employers should have the right to pay whatever wage they see fit; and that if you don't like the wages you are paid go and work somewhere else.
Try it and see how it tastes to you afterwards. I can guarantee that you will change your mind.
People who believe that have never had to go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food.
February 21 2007 8:00 PM EST
And don't get me started on Unions. My family have always been involved in unions. My great grandfather was heavily involved in the mining unions in West Virginia, before he came home to the UK and helped develop the same for Wales and the UK.
Without unions we would not have basic rights for workers, basic health and safety, basic wages. Any job you have worked in, all the things that you take for granted, like a nice environment to work in, the 'freedom' to be safe from injury, a regular wage, the ability to take action against an employer if they mistreat you; all those things came from unions.
And yes, a lot of people on minimum wage are younger. When I was twenty I was on the equivalent of minimum wage; I've been unemployed and lived on lless. But there are people who have no choice in the matter. There should be a standard for living. Minimum wage is supposed to be aimed at helping people at least live at a standard that is suitable for somebody in a supposed First World Country.
But, you obviously have your beliefs. I'll stick to mine thanks.
"Minimum wage is supposed to be aimed at helping people at least live at a standard that is suitable for somebody in a supposed First World Country."
Actually, no, that's what the EITC is aimed at. Minimum wage is a tool for a different purpose.
February 21 2007 8:15 PM EST
Sut, believe me, if the issues you just brought up were brought up sooner I would've discussed then sooner! I'm not going to simply argue every point possible unless someone brings it up in this thread.
"You know that early on in the Industrial Age, it was very common for families to live in shanty-towns constructed near work sites (textile mills, mines, heavy agricultural areas). Children were forced to work. People were very obviously paid just enough to live, but not enough to "get out" of their areas. You keep mentioning that people can move...well, back then (and some would argue even now), they actually couldn't. They didn't have the means. People who tried to move and did it wrong, might very well die (not all unlucky travelers were frontiers-people)."
First off, for any of you who may read more into what I have to say than is actually said, I am in no way a supporter of child labor. It has ended and I am glad it has. But I believe the Industrial Revolution, in all its dirtiness and sweat-filled years, actually was good because it brought a RISE in the standard of living of all people. Many people worked long hours, many people did dangerous jobs, and yes, many people died, but the lasting effect of the industrial revolution has made life better for us all.
"I am sure you have heard of indentured servitude? In early days, days of much more "laissez-faire" capitalism, people were basically indentured servants because business law, civil rights, labor laws, and travel abilities were all very much different then they were now."
I do not disagree that laissez-faire capitalism had its shortcomings in the early days, however, these poor business practices hurt the consumer AS WELL AS the businessmen. In the long run it is not beneficial for an established business to rip off its customers.
"What are your views on:
These mechanisms grew out of history, and some economists would even consider them essential to an "honest" market. Monopolies are bad. Dishonest stock trading is bad. Labor unions grew in response to wage issues, abysmal work conditions, and desire for personal freedom."
I think labor unions have their pros and cons...they certainly have the right to existence, but are they always the best? I don't think so. Like you said I have mixed feelings as well. I especially dislike it however, when unions try to force you to unionize.
I know its hard to understand but I am against Anti-Trust laws; they really aren't as great as many people think. Along the same lines, I believe the only monopoly is one that government establishes itself. Anti-Trust laws were created to protect consumers from unfair business practices, yet in the end they serve no purpose. Lets take Microsoft for example. Microsoft was in the news a couple of years ago for violating Anti-Trust laws and so on and so forth, however, the outcomes that came from those court hearings did nothing but leave the company in disarray. In reality, this hurts the customer by disorganizing a company that HELPS consumers, businesspeople, and the everyday person. I, like Nobel Prize winning Milton Friedman, believe that "instead of promoting competition, antitrust laws tended to do exactly the opposite, because they tended, like so many government activities, to be taken over by the people they were supposed to regulate and control." I also agree with Alan Greenspan when he said "No one will ever know what new products, processes, machines, and cost-saving mergers failed to come into existence, killed by the Sherman Act before they were born. No one can ever compute the price that all of us have paid for that Act which, by inducing less effective use of capital, has kept our standard of living lower than would otherwise have been possible." (Yes, I will be honest, I wikipedia'd this quote because I forgot exactly what he said, and where it was found)
In regards to insider-trading, there are two types, one which I agree with, and one I don't. The first is the legal version, which the US SEC defines as "when corporate insidersofficers, directors, and employeesbuy and sell stock in their own companies." The second form of insider-trading I am against because they undermine the consumer, giving false representations of a businesses financial status, essentially lying to the consumers. A good example would be the Enron scandal in California. They lied to their shareholders, gave false reports, and even convinced their accountants to lie for them.
But let me also say, insider trading (the second form) is simply BAD for the company. Not only does it tarnish one's credibility, but it also has no positive effects on a business. Keep in mind, insider trading wasn't outlawed by the SEC until the 1960's. THE 1960's, well AFTER the Great Depression of the 1920's & 30's. If insider trading is so beneficial and tempting for businesses, why didn't MORE business-people get OUT before the stock market crashed? Instead you have pictures of ex-millionaires jumping out of buildings.
There are some, however, who believe insider trading should be even LEGALIZED, and I think they have some interesting points. If insider trading was legalized we wouldn't have as many scams to consumers. If a business is going down it would be reflected through the stock dealings of the people within the company long before a company ever went bankrupt, saving the stockholders both money and time.
"Allowing companies to completely get the decision on wages assumes a lot of things. It assumes people can easily move from place to place. It assumes job availability is relatively distributed. It assumes no other systems are in place to mess with the "free market" (tariffs, taxes, cheap foreign labor, etc.) That's not reality, at least not the reality folks like novice are seeing."
I think the only thing that is assumed is that businesses are out to make money in the long run (otherwise it would be a scam which SHOULD be illegal), that a business needs to make their products affordable to consumers, including the ones they hire, and that it is in their best interests to keep those consumers happy. I don't think these are "far-out" concepts, they are logical and present in every successful business in America.
"Finally, your stance (correct me if I am wrong) has an underlying assumption that all opportunities are the same -- we all can do whatever we want. Environment, education, jobs, etc. are open to all of us in equitable fashion. At least I assume you are believing that if you believe that the market should get to decide all. Minimum wage is, in my opinion, a compromise of pragmatism. It admits that while we all ostensibly have the same freedoms of choice and opportunity, there is a "lottery" of sorts involved. Some people have it "harder". Sure, we all know about the ghetto kid who works hard and becomes a brain surgeon. Or we hear about the rich socialite who does nothing with their lives. We rebel against luck and embrace the pulling up by the bootstrap approach. Is that always realistic?"
Why is it that although a minority in America, in general, Chinese (and Asians in general) are so successful? They come from a country with extreme poverty and their currency is about 7 yuan to 1 USD, meaning they need to have a lot more money to have even a little money in the US. And yet they have one of the lowest crime rates and are so successful in a country with these kinds of opportunities? Could it be the work ethic rooted in Asian culture? Darn right I believe pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is realistic and very much possible today. Especially as the standards of living continue to rise.
Thank you for such interesting and important questions Sut. Please, lets have more of this intellectual debate!
February 21 2007 8:42 PM EST
"Sut says it in more complex terms, but to answer you on the point that nobody is forced to work in the more expensive areas; sorry but that's rubbish. I work in engineering. Underground Railway engineering to be exact; where all the work is based in London. I simply cannot work anywhere else if I want to remain in my industry. You_Go_Where_The_Work_Is.
Work does not come to you. And I'm lucky that I can get paid far more than minimum wage to do my job. But still I cannot go and live somewhere much cheaper because my work dictates where I live."
I'm sorry, but how do you use yourself as an example when you 1. obviously DO have options and 2. are not living off minimum wage? You have chosen a profession in an area that costs more. You could have chosen another profession in another area but you didn't. With the higher expenses comes higher pay. I don't see where there is a blip in the equation. For a person on minimum wage it is not necessary for them to live in London, is it? Aren't there jobs in other areas more affordable to one on minimum wage?
I realize how ironic it is for me to be justifying one's ability to live off minimum wage when I am against it in the first place. However, since it is already established I have to do what I have to do...
"And actually if you want to earn more in the UK you have to come to London, because for the most part London wages are higher than the rest of the country. An equivalent job to mine based in a cheaper city would pay two thirds of what I can get in London."
Like I said above, they pay you higher wages to cover higher expenses. If no one who worked in London could afford to pay the living expenses one of two things would happen: businesses would have to pay you more or else they won't have workers, or living expenses would decrease because no one would be living in the city. Once again, no blip in the equation.
"Those people who are earning minimum wage; and I'm not talking younger people, student for example, who don't have the same outgoings as a father of three; those people may have no choice on what job they do. What does your Libertarian belief system say about people like them? Should they not also have the 'freedom' to be paid a decent wage for a hard days living?"
I'm glad you brought up this point. Minimum wage does not exist for fathers of three to make enough to provide for their entire family. That is what charity is for. Secondly, what is a father of three doing on minimum wage? Did he lose his job? OR, did he make poor decisions like sex without condoms or use of birth control? I will certainly donate to charity to help people have second chances, but should I be FORCED (as a businessman) to pay someone extra for their bad decisions? And if it is due to job loss I would expect/hope that person is qualified in other areas to get other jobs that are above minimum wage. Though this may not be universally true, it is for the most part. My father was laid off 4 times due to cutbacks before he finally found a stable job and could still provide for my family of 6.
"People who are against minimum wage are for exploitation of the workforce. There is no two ways about it. You can say employers should have the right to pay what they want. You try working for much less than you need to live a decent standard of living; and by that I mean the ability to feed and clothe yourself and pay the bills, not luxuries; you try that and then you tell me that employers should have the right to pay whatever wage they see fit; and that if you don't like the wages you are paid go and work somewhere else."
Yeah, you're right, I just hate the common worker, those lazy imbeciles. And all that economic stuff? I was just making it up. Let's exploit the workers!
But on a more serious note, one must realize how difficult it actually is to exploit workers. There are more than enough reasons for a business to pay its workers a fair wage. A business has to pay enough for people to want the job right? Thats one reason. A business has to sell its product affordably right? There's another. A business has to keep its workers and consumers happy right? There's a third. A business has to maintain a level of respectability and prominence to be trusted by both consumers, workers, and stockholders alike, no? There's a fourth.
"Try it and see how it tastes to you afterwards. I can guarantee that you will change your mind.
People who believe that have never had to go hungry because they cannot afford to buy food. "
True, personally I have never been in poverty myself. I can say however, that both my grandfathers who came over from China were. One worked jobs until he saved up enough money to purchase a grocery store in East LA. The other was working full time while attending a college in San Francisco, sleeping on average 4-5 hours a night. But no, personally I have never been in poverty so I wouldn't have even the slightest clue what it would be like.
February 21 2007 9:56 PM EST
KL, I see your point, and you are consistent. I, however, have a differing philospohical viewpoint (which is what this is coming down to).
I don't know your background, but I am betting you weren't born in an inner city USA ghetto. I bet you didn't go to school in a place where the teachers sit there and read the paper, forced even by their administration to "just get the kids through". And I bet you had/have opportunities for higher education.
These are the choices you are telling JohnnyWas to take/change. I don't agree with Johnny's "you have to go where the work is"... You can make decisions to be more "generic" to start with. Johnny made that choice, and therefore has to live with it. And these are the choices you are basing your argument upon -- choices that some folks honestly do not have.
I work hard. I could work harder. I have been blessed with a decent intellect and good opportunities. No, my life hasn't been ideal, but I have never been cornered by mere circumstance. I do believe that some people are.
It's a sharp drop-off. Once you believe, to any extent, that there are circumstances out of our control, that we live in a life lottery, the white becomes gray. There starts the slippery slope. That's OK, I accepted the slippery slope a long time ago. It makes it harder to find consistency, harder to find any "real" solutions, but it seems more real to me.
Not everyone can pull themselves up, and here's why: other people have power. And once they get there, they can hold onto it. That skews the top-end. So, we've got mechanisms on the "low end" to equalize that. There's nothing anyone can say to make me belive the powerful don't have more means than "normal" to hold onto their power. So, if they are allowed to change the "odds" in thie so-called free market, by what means can someone out of power compete? You don't even believe in anti-trust law! Law meant simply to keep power from begetting power. Where would it end with you? Let's take it to the limit -- I become super-powerful and own half the world: what could anyone do to stop me from owning the other half?
Like I said, philosophy. That's what it comes down to for me.
February 22 2007 3:52 AM EST
Even if you make your choices more generic I still stand by my view that you have to go where the work is. Where my parents live the only jobs available are low wage; if you want to earn more, regardless of what you do, you have to travel into the bigger cities.
But in my particular case I had very few options. Unemployment was very high at the time I started working. On average 500 people and higher were applying for a single job in my area. Even low wage jobs. I didn't have the choice of getting further education either. At the age of 16 I went to work in order to help my mother pay the rent and bills. I got into a job and held onto it as hard as I could. Then I worked my way up in that particular industry. And yes, I could retrain, I could gain qualifications in other areas. That's actually something I'm doing right now, in order to gain skills that are transferrable. But it costs money. And I'm not talking about money that I may have only spent on luxuries or leisure. I'm talking money that I need to pay my bills, my rent, money I need to live basically.
It's very easy to say people have the choice. But unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes, limiting those choices.
February 22 2007 4:15 AM EST
"But on a more serious note, one must realize how difficult it actually is to exploit workers. There are more than enough reasons for a business to pay its workers a fair wage. A business has to pay enough for people to want the job right? Thats one reason. A business has to sell its product affordably right? There's another. A business has to keep its workers and consumers happy right? There's a third. A business has to maintain a level of respectability and prominence to be trusted by both consumers, workers, and stockholders alike, no? There's a fourth."
Um. Right. 1. There are far more potential workers than there are jobs. And actually the better the job, the more likely it is that an employer can get away with paying less than the job is worth. If people are desperate for work they will accept any wage, the fact of being employed is sometimes what people need, for their sense of self worth, for all sorts of reasons other than simply money. 2. The way most businesses sell product affordably is by cutting costs. That's how you make a profit. That's why many companies force staff into taking on more work than they can do. Where I work, in order to cut costs, raising profits for the shareholders, if staff leave they are not replaced. Which forces those remaining into taking on their work. And yes you have a choice to leave also. But only if you have a job to go to. Bills to be paid remember? 3. Some businesses do work hard to keep their staff happy. But they are few and far between. More potential workers than jobs remember? Most companies take the view that there is always somebody to do a job. Keep the customer/client/consumer happy by all means. That's where the money comes from in the end. Most of those don't care how happy the worker is, so long as they get what they pay for. 4. A level of respectability? The bottom line for shareholders for the most part is how well their stock is doing. How much profit they are getting.
Exploitation in the workplace is still common. In the UK at least, we had a government that believed firmly in 'laissez faire' economics. A government that believed that employers should be free to carry out their business the way they saw fit. A government that set about smashing unions, removing workers rights in favour of the employer. A government that destroyed communities in the process. They shut down local industry, because it was cheaper to go elsewhere to buy fuel, goods, than to make/build/supply here. Thus creating huge unemployment, creating a work market that was in favour of the employer. Removing the choices that you talk about.
Sut talks about the gray areas. He's right. Your beliefs aren't bad ones. I don't disagree with them necesarily. But they are an ideal. Like socialism. These things don't work in the real world. Because they ignore the gray areas.
February 22 2007 5:28 AM EST
I'm still stuck on this attitude that you don't have to go where the work is....
Especially coming from people living in America, a country that was built on people going where the work was, where the better life was. (Because in the end that is what you're chasing when you're chasing a better wage; a better life.)
It's always been the way, and it still is today. Only a small percentage of people get to have the choice. And normally they are the ones who can afford to have that choice.
"1. There are far more potential workers than there are jobs. "
And why is this? Because the Labour government don't understand why stricter immigration laws are a good idea.
If you stop such a large number (I don't mean stop completely) of people coming from Asia to work for us then as a whole it would be much easier to choose who you work for.
As it is, I see a ridiculous number of the Asian community mainly within the health and finance sectors which currently is forcing our graduates to emigrate to Australia and the U.S. which then has a knock-on effect in those countries.
February 22 2007 9:01 AM EST
hmm. Zog, the previous government, Conservative, under Thatcher imposed very strict immigration laws. Strangely at the same time we had the highest unemployment figures this country has ever seen.
They also put a stranglehold on financing the health sector, keeping wages low, cutting jobs. The drain of homegrown talent to foreign shores in that particular field started back then. They went where the work was. And they continued to go where the work was overseas, forcing us to take on workers from other countries.
The public private partnership set up by this Labour government hasn't helped however, because running the health sector like a private business means cutting costs to raise profits for shareholders. PPPs are Labour's biggest mistake, but they were a Conservative idea. They would have happened if the Conservatives had remained in power in 1997.
February 22 2007 10:19 AM EST
Was, in a capitalist country, like the USA, one _never_ has to go where the work is. One can start one's own business any time. Sell lemonade, change tires, mow yards, grow vegetables... How is that going where the work is? You think the three partners that founded the law firm I work for had to "go where the work" was? They started here (by choice), worked their way up (by choice), took the risk of buying into the firm to become equity partners when the original partners left/died (by choice), and the rest is history. They MADE work. They CREATED my job. They MADE it happen. And while they are nice blokes, they aren't special. I'm not saying it doesn't take the right type of personality to be a leader/entrepeneur, but that opportunity (allegedly) exists for EVERYONE.
That is the main thrust of KL's side... KL, correct me as soon as I am wrong, but I would say KL believes everyone has the same choices, and has to live by those choices. Don't like being an engineer and having to go where tunnels are? Get a different degree. Don't like the city? Move to the country and farm, or have a huge commute. Don't like farming? Move to the city. Want to live a really frugal life where you have total control? Then don't get married and/or have kids.
These are ALL choices, Was. No one promised you a wife, or family, or a nice flat, or a car, or even employment. The "market" provides opportunities, the people make choices, and the world goes round. That macro-economics from 30,000 feet.
In other words, KL believes that "life" per se, can never get in the way because you and your choices ARE life.
It's like someone in a democracy blaming the government, and someone else responding, "well, you ARE the government...one voice one vote, right?" That's the theory, anyway.
Now I'll share more of my personal thoughts, starting with the example I just mentioned. Sure, we are all the government and we could all do better at making the country a better place, etc. And we even have some power to do so, and mechanisms meant allow a critical mass of people to invoke change (referendum, etc.) But I do believe there ARE things out of our control. For example, our voting system is seriously flawed, and it would be very, very, trivially, simple to change it to something like instant run-off voting. Let's get a President in there that the people actually vote for. But alas, I doubt we will see any serious strides in that regard in my lifetime, because the Republicans don't want that. The right is very good at voting more lock-step than the left, so instant run-off voting scares the heck out of them (personal opinion). So, while I may be the government, that doesn't mean things don't get in the way, things out of my control. And it doesn't mean the people already in power don't need extra watching, extra rules, extra watch-dogging. Power begets power, and that is one issue that oure theory doesn't address -- the simple inequality of the powerful ALREADY being in power, already calling the shots. That aspect takes time (decades, generations) to change. It can take more than an entire lifetime, and no amount of choice is going to change that.
That's why my last post was more philosophical. I TOTALLY see where KL is coming from, and on a logic/consistency front, it/s bulletproof. As long as KL stands by every decision and doesn't ever try to pass the buck from himself, he can't really be faulted. That includes education, getting married, having kids, what car to buy, Coke vs. Pepsi -- everything. If KL gets a degree in, say, electronics, and ten years down the road his job is out-sourced overseas or simply doesn't pay as well, KL will move, re-educate, whatever it takes. If he doesn't do so, and if he complains, then there goes his consistency. It's a live by the sword/die by the sword thing. Once you say every decision is your own and you mold your own destiny completely, then you had better be sure you are prepared to make all those decisions and take responsibility for them.
The other side of that is that I do believe that some people are "screwed by life"... I am not talking about victim mentality, woe is me, entitlement... But I would have to be pretty arrogant and pretty blind to say that a poor inner city Chicago minority woman has all the same choices and opportunities that I (not-poor, white, male, well-educated) have/had. There are things that I don't understand and things for which I have no agency to speak. I can try to understand and can try to make a difference, but when it comes down to it, I need to punt. I feel I need to support things that help alleviate the choice/opportunity differences that I can't possibly understand. The minimum wage is one such alleviation, in my opinion.
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