Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Minimum Logic

Rate this topic


Robert Baratheon
 Share

Recommended Posts

http://wp.me/p4yevN-5L

 

 

We’re told that today is Fast Food Workers’ Strike Day, although you might not have known it if, instead of watching sensationalized media coverage of the event, you visited a fast-food restaurant where it was extraordinarily unlikely anyone was actually on strike.

 

Each year, the world’s largest labor union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), eggs on or pays a handful of people to stand outside fast food joints protesting while the union contacts the media to drum up coverage. This year’s message was that fast food workers should be paid an absurd $15/hour – more than double the national minimum wage and over 50% more than even the nuttiest progressive states have set their minimum wages.

 

If you believe a six-figure union boss earnestly cares about the plight of the fry chef, you probably haven’t worked in a union environment before. Two years ago, I found myself in a large collective bargaining unit when a series of budget cuts came down the pike. Rather than all take a slight cut in our pay or benefits so everyone could keep his job (my personal choice), the union took about 10 seconds to instead demand that every contract worker in the organization be laid off so the bargaining unit wouldn’t be affected.

 

It’s predictably about money in the end – lots of it. Union dues run as high as $400-1000 or more per year, so with millions of fast food workers under the SEIU’s umbrella, that would equate to billions of dollars in guaranteed additional revenue – a whopper return on the initial investment.

 

fast_food_sign.jpg?w=375&h=250

"Would you like a side of fries for just $7 more?"

 

Setting aside what reasonable economists immediately recognize - that there must be an entry level below “living wage” to prevent all still-dependent young adults from being priced out of the job market entirely – if someone is still making minimum wage after more than a few years of employment, that is indicative of a serious underlying problem with that worker. In my brief stint in the fast food industry, I learned this much: anyone who stays put more than 6 months with the same company is guaranteed regular pay raises and a fairly reliable track to lower management. But there lies the rub - most fast food workers flit about from company to company and sacrifice any seniority and experience with every lateral movement they make. Besides getting the equivalent of $15-20 of free food and drink every day – no small perk in itself – it was made quite clear to me that my wage was just a temporary starting point and there would come increased levels of pay and responsibility once I proved I wasn’t a total flake by staying more than a few months (in fact, I didn’t, so there you have it).

 

At least if Glassdoor reviews are any indication, most fast food workers aren’t buying into the sob story. On the lower end of the satisfaction scale, McDonald’s still manages a respectable employee rating of 3.1 out of 5. Most of the 560 employee reviews echo the sentiments above, stressing the ample room for advancement that comes with just a smidgen of company loyalty. Progressive-vilified Chick-fil-amazingly scores a 3.8 out of 5, 0.2 higher than employees rated working at Microsoft.

 

There is nothing wrong with organizing together to improve one’s working conditions, but when unions employ the mechanisms of the state to drive their own narrow revenue and agenda, that no longer falls under the tree of free association. If unions really do provide a great value for their members worth their hefty dues payments, they are hard-pressed to explain why the fast food workers on the whole don’t seem very interested, and for that matter why unions tend to lose half their membership as soon as employees are afforded the option of not joining.

 

Edited by Robert Baratheon
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a rhetorical question.

 

Union organizers continue to try to organizing the labor force of an existing enterprises. If they are so confident of the benefits they have to offer, instead of trying to organize the labor forces of existing enterprises, just use some of that cash to open a competing venue across the street featuring all of the same products and services only with union labor.

 

Open a Union-mart to compete with Walmart. Open a McUni-alds to compete with the McDonalds across the street. Start a United States of America to compete with the Son's of Liberty - oops - I think this last one's already been tried . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a rhetorical question.

 

Union organizers continue to try to organizing the labor force of an existing enterprises. If they are so confident of the benefits they have to offer, instead of trying to organize the labor forces of existing enterprises, just use some of that cash to open a competing venue across the street featuring all of the same products and services only with union labor.

 

Open a Union-mart to compete with Walmart. Open a McUni-alds to compete with the McDonalds across the street. Start a United States of America to compete with the Son's of Liberty - oops - I think this last one's already been tried . . .

The union organizer who figured out a way he could do this... would immediately see he could make money... leave the union, become a businessman and hire non-union workers to compete even better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The union organizer who figured out a way he could do this... would immediately see he could make money... leave the union, become a businessman and hire non-union workers to compete even better.

...If his personality type wasn't a whiny good-for-not-much, stuck in some arbitrarily-chosen status quo of whatever period was the least productive -- and thus easiest to passively get used to -- during his time with the company.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Such an ugly truth .... but good point.

What strikes me about "but the more seasoned and savvy propagandists would say non-union retailers are competing unfairly bh exploiting workers, so all stores need unions to level the playing field." is the desire to "-'equally' handicap all".  A form of egalitarianism, if I'm not mistaken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that's always bothered me about thinking about labor issues is this: we need these people.

 

We base our assumptions on the idea that all of them will improve their plight, will get out of those low-paying jobs, and so on. But that begs the question: what happens when they all leave their low-paying jobs? Who is going to flip burgers for us? Mow our lawns? Do our laundry?

 

In the end, the answer is: we're going to need to pay them more. That's what supply and demand dictates.

 

Right now we all enjoy a world where there's lots of extremely cheap labor. Chances are you are typing on a keyboard made by near-slave-labor from China right now. But it was cheap. What happens when all of those workers are free to organize themselves into unions and demand higher wages?

 

Freedom, unfortunately, is not free...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's the same thing as asking, "What will the world do with itself when everyone is wealthier?" It will do greater things than it does now, with new wealth.

The main thing that will give people higher real wages is increased productivity, yielding more wealth for all. Focusing on wages is putting the buggy before the horse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that's always bothered me about thinking about labor issues is this: we need these people.

 

We base our assumptions on the idea that all of them will improve their plight, will get out of those low-paying jobs, and so on. But that begs the question: what happens when they all leave their low-paying jobs? Who is going to flip burgers for us? Mow our lawns? Do our laundry?

 

In the end, the answer is: we're going to need to pay them more. That's what supply and demand dictates.

 

Right now we all enjoy a world where there's lots of extremely cheap labor. Chances are you are typing on a keyboard made by near-slave-labor from China right now. But it was cheap. What happens when all of those workers are free to organize themselves into unions and demand higher wages?

 

Freedom, unfortunately, is not free..

 

Burgers will never be free.  It is not unfortunate but a testament to the free market.

 

No one here, I hope, would grumble about the cost of anything in a truly free market. 

 

The less skilled at brain surgery will always have a higher probability of being hired to flip burgers than those more skilled at brain surgery who will have a higher probability of becoming a brain surgeon. 

 

People in general will always pay higher per minute of brain surgery to save his/her life than per minute of burger flipping buried somewhere in the total cost of a burger.

 

Far from unfortunate, this is perfect.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that's always bothered me about thinking about labor issues is this: we need these people.

 

We base our assumptions on the idea that all of them will improve their plight, will get out of those low-paying jobs, and so on. But that begs the question: what happens when they all leave their low-paying jobs? Who is going to flip burgers for us? Mow our lawns? Do our laundry?

 

In the end, the answer is: we're going to need to pay them more. That's what supply and demand dictates.

 

Right now we all enjoy a world where there's lots of extremely cheap labor. Chances are you are typing on a keyboard made by near-slave-labor from China right now. But it was cheap. What happens when all of those workers are free to organize themselves into unions and demand higher wages?

 

Freedom, unfortunately, is not free...

is this sarcasm?

"what happens when 'they' leave these jobs?" No one else will be able to do that job, or there will be no one to do it??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

We base our assumptions on the idea that all of them will improve their plight, will get out of those low-paying jobs, and so on. But that begs the question: what happens when they all leave their low-paying jobs? Who is going to flip burgers for us? Mow our lawns? Do our laundry?

Robots. I'm 100% serious. Burger flipping is a job robots can already do.

 

Not sure how accurate/reliable this story on McDonalds Europe installing touch-screen cashiers. https://ca.news.yahoo.com/mcdonalds-replace-cashiers-touch-screen-computers-200601087.html

 

It's okay to raise wages, but technology is a viable alternative and probably more cost-efficient.

Edited by Eiuol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's an open question whether the jobs that were lost in the recession will ever come back or if large portions of the population simply aren't wanted or needed in the workforce anymore. Workforce participation is the lowest it's been in four decades and "disability" is skyrocketing, sweeping such individuals under the rug. We'll have to wait to see if the robots need swaths of unskilled labor to maintain and operate them as happened in the industrial revolution, or if we really are past the point where many can meaningfully participate in society.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If a human still has his rational faculty, he will always be able to meaningfully participate in society in some productive capacity. If welfare didn't exist, entertaining thoughts of men not being able to find a way to support themselves would be laughed at.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JASKN - What is your basis for the belief that there will always be productive labor available for anyone in the workforce? I can easily imagine a future in which technological advances and productivity gains have become so great that there is simply little use for unskilled labor anymore. What will happen when crops pick themselves...when roads no longer deteriorate...when manufacturing plants have no living human being on site (some like this already exist). Not everyone has the intelligence or the skill to participate in an economy like that. While I'm skeptical and detest the welfare state, I think it's very much an open question whether that trend has begun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took a little bit of liberty. People aren't being immediately productive as they search for new work or improve their skills, but even these activities can be viewed as part of the productive process.

At the end of the day, every man needs to support himself. Given the alternative of supporting himself and starving, he will do the former if no one volunteers (or steels to "volunteer" others) to do it for him. Even if all he can do is rove through the woods, he will do it.

But, that will never happen. History has proven again and again that all people can be put to productive use by savvy businessmen with a purpose. The reason we don't have 0% unemployment today is because of government controls on the economy.

Edited by JASKN
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm more agnostic on the subject than you are. I don't think history is a good indication because there could be a point in technology beyond which low intelligence or ability becomes a bar to meaningful participation in the workforce. Maybe we are there now, or maybe it is 200 years from now. If robots are performing all the menial labor, those who can't perform skilled labor will be left out of the equation. Maybe they don't need to be on welfare - family or charity can take care of them (or they can convert sunlight to energy through their genetically modified skin or something) - but they won't be working if there is no unskilled work that needs doing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is too far sci-fi for me to even guess, but I personally don't foresee any future where humans aren't in any way part of human progress. So, I don't foresee human ingenuity pushing humanity forward while also leaving humanity behind. "Work" in some distant future will, of course, not resemble work of today, just as today people have devised ways to eliminate almost all hard physical labor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As the world modernizes, more skills are needed to keep it going. Yet, it is unclear if (say) the 20th percentile person today [ranking by "skills"] needs skills that are more difficult to learn than the 20th percentile person from 3 or 4 generations ago.

[Maybe this topic should be split.]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that's always bothered me about thinking about labor issues is this: we need these people.

dictates.

Who's we? The leftist politicians who raise minimum wage as high as they can? Sure, they need these people, they're the ones voting for them.

I don't need them. I'd be happier if it was still high school and college kids serving my burger, instead of a person in their 30s living off welfare by proxy. My burgers would cost less, and I'd be more understanding when they screw up my order.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robots. I'm 100% serious. Burger flipping is a job robots can already do.

Exactly!

 

If robots are performing all the menial labor, those who can't perform skilled labor will be left out of the equation.

No, they won't.

 

If McDonald's were to replace its entire workforce with robots (which is completely feasible right now), these robots would not simply fall from the sky; someone would have to design them.  Someone would have to build them.  Someone would have to install them and regularly maintain them.

The teenager who had once flipped burgers does not simply lose his niche; he becomes the teenager that keeps the robots clean and functional.  The only difference is the level of mental effort required for that minimum-wage job; it increases. 

And such increases in one's mental requirements is simply what Capitalism does.

---

 

Now, mental requirements aside, would you find it preferable to flip burgers for minimum wage or maintain burger-machines for minimum wage?

I don't know about you but the "skill" involved in any job directly correlates to my interest in it.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is too far sci-fi for me to even guess, but I personally don't foresee any future where humans aren't in any way part of human progress.

Precisely.

 

Technological advances do not eliminate jobs; they simply move them into other areas.  The only way to truly create an unemployment problem is through violent compulsion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People are free to organize now. I'm not sure I understand the reasoning. Minimum wage (or below) is what the market indicates the labor is worth.

 

Not in places like China, India, etc. they are most certainly not. In those places (and dozens of other squalors around the world) there is a government which oppresses people and essentially locks them into menial labor for low pay.

 

All I'm saying is, when (if?) that is ever unlocked, and freedom comes to those people, then the price of manufactured goods will skyrocket.

 

And yes, your iPhone is in some sense the product of slave labor.

 

My example of domestic labor was a confusing/incorrect one and actually detracted from my first point--it's a somewhat different topic. Here my concern is that all of the progress we speak of doesn't create net-new jobs (which is somewhat contradictory if you think about it), they simply make life easier for everybody. It's not that everybody will get richer, its that everybody can work less and still survive. That has different implications.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...