Monday, November 21, 2005

Study: We hate the free market

Study says Wal-Mart Supercenter jobs would lower Central Oregon wages
“Working people are told that if they get a job and go to work every day, they will move up the economic ladder,” says Michael Funke, chairperson of Central Oregon Jobs with Justice, a labor-community group that works for economic justice. “But far too many people are forced to take low-wage jobs that keep them mired in poverty. A job should lift you out of poverty, not keep you in it.”

“We don’t need more Wal-Mart jobs that continue the downward spiral of wages in our community,” says Funke of Jobs with Justice. “We don’t really have a ‘labor shortage’ in our community. We have a wage shortage created by employers who don’t pay a decent wage. Central Oregon workers deserve living wage jobs that can support their families.”

Central Oregon workers should be paid the wage that their labor is worth. If you are a drunken high-school dropout who doesn't have an ounce of ambition and isn't interesting in improving your skills then a job should not lift you out of poverty.

Again, I say that Republicans should propose making the minimum wage $90K/year. They could give testimony prattling on about "a Cadillac in every garage" and get all teary when they talk about how some families don't have vacation homes.

I would love to hear Democrats argue against this. How could they? By their logic (by logic I mean stupidity) this is the best idea since sliced bread.

Bottom line: There is no difference in raising the minimum wage $0.50 or $50K, a person is either paid what their work is worth or they aren't.


Anonymous said...

Daniel -- I can only conclude from your extreme free-marketeer logic here that you must welcome undocumented immigrants and the "pure" competition they provide in the labor market? The more I think about it, if you really believe in the free market, you must cringe at the thought of national borders in the first place. Isn't the free market a universal concept? Doesn't it seek ultimately to transcend national borders, a la NAFTA? If goods and capital can flow freely across the borders of nation-states, why should labor be any different? Isn't the free market anti-discriminatory, simply paying an individual what his or her labor is worth regardless of some petty detail such as national origin and documentation status?

If you fail to catch the sarcasm in the above questions here's one that is more direct: How can you simultaneously be so vehemently anti-illegal immigration and so rabidly pro-free-market? These two stand in utter contradiction to one another.

Jon said...

Lower the min wage to what? I know someone in southern Oregon that works at Walmart...she is a checker and makes more than $13/hr, works 40 hours plus per week, and has full benefits. It could be worse...she could still be at her old job at Fred Meyer for $8.00/hr, 32 hours per week, no benefits because she isnt full-time, etc. But Walmart is evil...

Gullyborg said...

anon fails to grasp one important aspect about free markets and illegal immigration:

if all the people coming across the border were subject to the same market conditions as those already here, it would be fine. then employers could either hire local workers, or incoming workers, and pay them all the same minimum wage, plus the same benefits, plus the same hidden costs like social security contributions and unemployment insurance.

but that's the problem: the illegal aliens aren't subject to the same market forces. if you hire an illegal alien, you can avoid paying minimum wage. to whom is the illegal alien going to complain at the risk of deportation? you can bypass the social security contribution, since the illegal alien doesn't have a valid SSN anyway. And benefits? What benefits?

When you look at the total cost of employing someone legitimately, the actual cost to the employer is far more than $7.50/hr. It's more like $18/hr. And that's for grunt work, unskilled labor. So if you can get some illegal aliens to agree to do the work fro $6/hr in cash, even taking into account that you can't deduct the wages from your own income for tax purposes, you are way ahead.

So the so-called "free market" totally breaks down, and legal residents are put at a serious disadvantage.

Now there are two possible remedies: one is to open up the borders and let everyone compete on the same playing field with the same minimum wages. The other is to keep up the immigration policies, but reduce the burden on employers. Either one will push towards more of a "free market" approach. I hope you can see that the first possibility will create more problems that it cures!

By the way, your argument also makes another mistake: it assumes that in a global free-market for employment, travel is one way, from employee to employer. Reality dictates that it is far more economical for an employer to move to an area of low cost employment than it is for an entire labor force to relocate to an area of better wages. Hence, outsourcing.

So the more we artificially raise the costs of employment here, the more jobs we drive overseas. Is that the solution you want?

Tim Lewis said...

Anonymous...that is so racist. Are you saying illegal immigrants' labor is worth less?

Ric said...

An argument I over-heard over the weekend went something like ...

We ( the people of the US ) need immigrant labor cheaply or we could not afford the products we seek - how much would a head of lettuce cost for example, if you didn't have immigrant labor.
Walmart is evil because they don't pay 'living wage'.

Now, either we need low wages, or we don't.

I like inexpensive items from Walmart. And, I believe people can choose to work for a certain wage and they are not forced to. There are times when a low-wage sucks. But a job is better than no job.

Illegal immigrants tend to increase the labor supply and drive down the jobs supply.

Daniel said...

Anon #1, I am talking about America's free market. I can do that because I believe in national sovereignty, because I know that a free market doesn't exist when you don't have equal partners and many other nations do not have the same ecomonic freedom that we do. (ex. China won't float their currency)

Oh, and illegal immigration is against the law. It's kind of like I'm opposed to a "free market" where you can sell ripped-off copyright goods.

Tim Lewis said...

Daniel, you beat me to saying illegal immigration is against the law. That's why it's ILLEGAL, a point that anon admits in his "non-sarcastic" comments.

Terry said...

I agree that workers whould be paid what their wage is worth. In other words, employers should be free to pay what that labor is worth, and in the absence of government-imposed minimums. By the same reasoning, housing providers (developers, landlords) should be free to provide housing at whatever standards people can afford: the private sector should be free to provide housing affordable to someone earning $1 per hour, even if that housing does not meet prevailing middle class standards. Unfortunately, too many conservatives support a free market in labor but not in housing.