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Need help: Living wage problem

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:) My sociology teacher (actually it is a Family Structure class) has sent out an email asking for help in doubling the wage of tomato pickers in Florida. The email came out today, and I know that she is going to bring up the topic tomorrow. What I want is some well thought out arguments using objectivism in opposition of people being paid more because they are too incompetent to find other employment. Below is the website asking for people to publicly speak out against the incompetent making less money than the competent.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/...1080772727&sign

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Well, firstly, man does not have a 'right' to be given a job by default. Jobs are created by the prime movers in a society who use their minds to set up companies, etc. Employment exists as a product of a company, not the other way around. Therefore, a company should be free to set whatever wages they like, keeping in mind that:

A. If the wages are set too low, no-one may want to work for you.

B. If you want great minds to work for you, you need to pay them accordingly.

If workers think that they are being paid two lowly for their efforts, they are free to not work (and deal with the consequences), find a better paying job (and deal with the consequences), or set up their own organisations and do whatever they like (and deal with the consequences).

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By what standard are you deeming tomato pickers incompetent? These people are doing hard work, and if they're picking two tons of tomatoes a day, well, that sounds like they're pretty darn competent at what they do. Now, before you jump on me, I'm not endorsing this petition, and I'm not bringing the issue of wages into this. That's up to the companies who employ the workers - though I'll wager that if enough of their customers complain, the companies will raise the workers' wages, in order to protect their own profits.

But the point is, these tomato pickers are probably people who came to America from much less free and prosperous nations, and found whatever job they could without speaking much English or having proper education. I don't think that's incompetence; rather, I admire their resolve and desire to work hard and get by in whatever way they can. Any admirer of Ayn Rand should understand that hard work and dedication to one's job are virtues, and as not all people are on the same level of intelligence and skill, some people are best suited to a job like this. But while that doesn't entitle them to a CEO's salary, it doesn't make them incompetent either. There's no reason to insult these people by suggesting they are some way inferior, without knowing a thing about them, especially when they are clearly hard workers. What I'm saying is, it's possible not to endorse this kind of petition, but still respect these hard workers for what they do. Am I wrong?

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I don't think there is anything wrong with using one's voice as a consumer to try to negotiate how a product is made. (as long as you are willing to pay the price, you can negotiate to have them dance the salsa while humming porn tunes while they pick tomatoes if for some reason that thought helped you enjoy tomatoes more)

The problem is why you would WANT to. if for instance you do not think that Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan is worth the $100,000,000 that Nike pays them, but that the people who make your quality sneakers provide more value to you and you want them to get a raise for some reason. (such as a belief that your shoes might be more sturdy if the people working 20 hour days could feed their family well and were not distracted by anxiety about that)

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By what standard are you deeming tomato pickers incompetent?
Skywalker, I made that judgment based on the information that the workers are unable to find a job that pays a decent amount of money for the hours that they work. According to my dictionary the definition of incompetent is "not properly qualified or not legally qualified." The article implied that the workers on the farms have the right to more money because they cannot find jobs elsewhere (i.e. illegal immigrants).

I have spent several years working in the food service industry in Mississippi and Arkansas. The Latino and Hispanic population in those areas are large enough that people who cannot speak a little Spanish cannot communicate with their coworkers. For the hours that the tomato pickers are putting in they could be making twice as much washing dishes, bussing tables, serving tables in Mexican Spanish themed restaurants or other types of labor that do not require a working English vocabulary. The fact that they are tomato pickers does not make them incompetent; it is the fact that they lack the willingness, legal ability or mental/physical ability to find the better jobs that are out there.

But the point is, these tomato pickers are probably people who came to America from much less free and prosperous nations, and found whatever job they could without speaking much English or having proper education. I don't think that's incompetence; rather, I admire their resolve and desire to work hard and get by in whatever way they can.

I agree in part, however not having a proper education or the ability to communicate cannot be seen as being competent. Instead of asking for a penny more the activists should be seeking legal changes that would give illegal immigrants who are working the right to work without the fear of being deported back to a nation like El Salvador, Chili or any other nation where the only thing waiting for them is literal starvation. The freedom to seek the employment that they would be best at would be more beneficial than a slight pay increase.

One of the reasons I am asking for help is because of misunderstandings that arise when I use words like “incompetent” and forget that others hear something more than the literal translation. Thanks for your response, it has helped.

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Has anyone read the EU constitution? Its usage of the word "competence" is just as devoid of meaning (connotation) as Samoht wants the word here.

Samoht, you're exactly right in your analysis and solution. The only two things required for success are freedom and will (let's stick to normal people - ie, without handicap).

You could argue, then: in the case of the lazy unwilling, they don't deserve higher wages. When was the last time anybody deserved free money for mindlessly picking up and putting down heavy boxes all day? It is only the mind that can create value; the lazy forget this and try letting the body create value. As in all evasion, it doesn't work.

In the case of the unfree laborers, the ones with the will but who are blocked by immoral laws, the solutions is decidedly not to enslave the hirers; the solution is to free the laborers.

You may want to reword that, though, if the dainty sensibilities of sociology professors are easily offended by non-politically-correct emotive propaganda.

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...demands that pickers be paid one penny more per pound of tomatoes, a modest measure that would almost double the workers' daily pay!

With language like this, I am guessing that this petition will not be sent to Yum Brands, but to the government. There is nothing wrong with using your voice as a consumer, but there is everything wrong with using your voice as a voter.

Also, it should be noted that doubling the pay of every tomato picker is hardly a modest measure.

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What does the sociology teacher want for the tomato pickers? What is the ultimate end she wants to see achieved? The matter is an economic one and not sociological. There are sociological implications, but determining the means to achieve the desired ends is outside her field of expertise. Choices of means will likely involve using either force or persuasion and then its a matter of figuring out the consequences (economically and sociologicaly). Interference in the free market will likely have unintended consequences that result in the desired end not being achieved. In the case of tomato pickers, any artificial wage increase could result in loss of jobs, increased local prices that lower the purchasing power of the inreased wage dollars, etc... Rather than trying to come up with "solutions" or arguments for or against a perceived problem, the best method to address such topics is to ask questions and force the teacher to argue or justify the validity of the problem and her position on it.

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Instead of arguing why minimum wage is morally wrong, try forcing your professor to his own logical conclusions.

Suggest that minimum wage be raised to 200$ per hour. Then all the workers will be rich!

When he replies, "then how could anyone hire a worker?" say "Exactly!"

If your teacher really cared about people, he'd be a capitalist.

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You also might point out that tomatoes are easy to grow in the back yard or just not eat at all. I will most likely plant some tomato plants this year as the ones at the store are always rotten by the time they get put out for sale.

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