If There is a Social Obligation to Pay a "Living Wage," Why Does It Fall Only on Employers?

Jason Brennan at Bleeding Heart Libertarians raises some tough issues surrounding attempts to shame Wal-Mart (or other low-wage employers) for not paying employees enough to constitute what some consider a "living wage":

Now, suppose Bob works at fast-food chain McBurger in a competitive market economy where he gets paid his marginal product, $1/hr. Suppose that he therefore qualifies for government assistance, receiving an earned income tax benefit or basic minimum income, food stamps, and the like. Many on the Left would say that the government thereby “subsidizes” McBurger, because McBurger pays Bob less than it takes to keep him living well, and the government pays the difference. But this presupposes that if you hire someone for, say, 40 hours a week, you owe him enough money for him to lead a decent life....

Isn’t it more plausible to think that if there’s some enforceable positive duty to provide Bob with enough stuff to lead a life, that all of us, together share this burdensome duty, rather than just Bob’s employer?....

Imagine you argued for the following principle: “If you hire someone full-time, you have to pay that person enough to lead a decent life (defined as follows…), even if that person is so unproductive that you lose money by hiring him.” That kind of moral codes gives potential employers of the unproductive two options: 1) hire unproductive people at a financial loss, or 2) refuse to hire unproductive people. It forbids the middle ground–help out unproductive people (perhaps even, in the process, helping to make them more productive) by paying them what their labor is actually worth.

*Thus, a tip to people making the Walmart subsidy arguments: your arguments would be much better if you could establish, empirically, that Walmart employees are getting paid much less than their marginal product as a result of a market failure. 

Reason on "living wage" arguments.

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  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    The CEO is making millions off them, there each of the thousands of employees are individually worth millions. Duh.

  • Metazoan||

    Obviously they are exploiting the wage-slave's surplus value or some shit.

    /Marxist derptard

  • MJGreen||

    They'd have higher wages if the employer wasn't putting so much of the money into profits.

  • some guy||

    Indeed. They are free to go work for some other employer who isn't putting so much money into profits.

  • Sevo||

    And the workers NEED to live in expensive places.

  • sarcasmic||

    That kind of moral codes gives potential employers of the unproductive two options: 1) hire unproductive people at a financial loss, or 2) refuse to hire unproductive people. It forbids the middle ground–help out unproductive people (perhaps even, in the process, helping to make them more productive) by paying them what their labor is actually worth.

    But, but, but it's not fair to say that one person is less productive than anther! How do you measure that? That's like saying one teacher is better than another! How can that be quantified? It can't! So judgement must be based upon things that can be quantified, like years on the job or age or something! Now excuse me while I go look for my keys under the lamp! I know they're not there, but at least there I can see!

  • Aresen||

    But, but, but it's not fair to say that one person is less productive than another!

    FIFY.

    Mother Nature is like that, the Racist B***h.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    I would think that most people would be pretty miserable under a true "living wage".

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Slaves make a living wage, right?

    After all, slaves are alive...

  • Aresen||

    Depends whether you are on the program for the afternoon feature at the Colusseum.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    You exist to serve this ship, therefore, row well and live.

  • Jon Lester||

    There are numerous other injustices contributing to the high cost of living that are not the fault of any employer.

  • Jon Lester||

    Well, big box retailers, anyway. The real culprits don't have many hourly employees.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I have a living rage right now.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Please keep your rage to a minimum!

  • Pro Libertate||

    I can't loathe on minimum rage.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    See, it's people like you that still need union, manufacturing rages.

  • WTF||

    I'm pretty sure H&R's minimum rage requirement is a floor, not a ceiling.

  • BigT||

    Isn’t it more plausible to think that if there’s some enforceable positive duty to provide Bob with enough stuff to lead a life, that all of us, together share this burdensome duty, rather than just Bob’s employer?

    Why should there be an enforceable positive duty to provide Bob with enough stuff to lead a life on anyone? We voluntarily provide stuff to millions of Bobs. It's called charity. It's a virtue. Look it up. Forcing people to give stuff is not charity, it's robbery.

  • Metazoan||

    I imagine he was just taking the argument to its logical extreme, not actually advocating for something like that.

  • Zeb||

    "If" is a marvelous word.

  • BakedPenguin||

    As someone who works a lot in MS Excel, I can vouch for this.

  • Sevo||

    "And" and "or" are pretty helpful, too.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Along with "but," they'll get you pretty far.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    c.f. Reducto Ad Absurdum

  • Agammamon||

    What's absurd about it?

  • Metazoan||

    Thus, a tip to people making the Walmart subsidy arguments: your arguments would be much better if you could establish, empirically, that Walmart employees are getting paid much less than their marginal product as a result of a market failure.

    I'm not a BHL hater, but I'm still not sure why this would really help that much. I mean, sure I guess it makes them sound less stupid, but so what if Walmart employees are paid much less than their marginal product? Wouldn't that just leave room for a better competitor to pay its employees slightly more and gain the edge?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    You just fell into the "economic way of thinking" -- get out fast, lest your understanding of the world mirror how things actually work.

  • some guy||

    Yep. "Hey, Target's offering 10% more to do the same exact job. I just have to wear a stupid red shirt instead of a stupid blue shirt and I have to look slightly less trashy. I'm going to go work at Target."

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And, in fact, a great many enterprises do exactly that. They charge more and give a more favorable shopping experience. Their employees tend more toward permanent full-time. Of course, I don't think the proglodytes would look all that fondly on having to restrict themselves to places like Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Sacks and Canyon.

  • Rasilio||

    "Wouldn't that just leave room for a better competitor to pay its employees slightly more and gain the edge?"

    Looking at Costco vs Sams Club I would say yes, yes it does

  • Rasilio||

    "Wouldn't that just leave room for a better competitor to pay its employees slightly more and gain the edge?"

    Looking at Costco vs Sams Club I would say yes, yes it does

  • Tak Kak||

    "Isn’t it more plausible to think that if there’s some enforceable positive duty to provide Bob with enough stuff to lead a life, that all of us, together share this burdensome duty, rather than just Bob’s employer?...."

    No, not more plausible. Just as silly, yes.

  • ||

    It is pretty amazing that "living wage" proponents avoid the elephant in the room which is "if you care so much, why aren't you helping people out, rather than attempting to force someone else to?"

  • Metazoan||

    Isn't this pretty much the story of the left?

  • ||

    Pretty much, yes.

  • albo||

    It's easier to sign a bill forcing other people to spend money than reaching in and pulling out your own coin.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you voted for the person who signed the bill, then you can feel all warm and fuzzy because by voting for that person you helped to force other people to spend money in a manner in which you approve but they may not have done voluntarily.

  • Enough About Palin||

    "Pretty much, yes."

    And that projection thing.

  • sarcasmic||

    Because there's no point in helping out if everyone else doesn't help as well! Individual action is pointless! Only collective action can achieve results! And the only way to have collective action is through threats of violence! Voluntary collective action like churches, charities, corporations, business, clubs, volunteer groups, and other organizations never achieve anything ever! Only government does, because it forces everyone to play along!

  • JW||

    Just think how much better off all these marginal workers are going to be, when O-Care kicks in.

    "What's that? Your full time position was just made part time? Bummer."

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but... Intentions!

  • Lord Humungus||

    monster!

  • Guy LaGuy||

    living wage is based on actual expenses. It considers what level of pay families need to be able to afford basic everyday things. A living wage isn't extravagant. It doesn't allow families to save for retirement, to save for their children's education or to service their debt. But it does reflect the cost of affording the basics of life -- something the minimum wage doesn't do.
    In short, a living wage would provide a greater degree of economic security than does the minimum wage. Ideally, the minimum wage would be a living wage, but we're not there yet. It starts by changing the conversation.
    The idea of a living wage allows for a different conversation than talking about the minimum wage on its own generates. When we talk about the minimum wage, the frame is always: Can businesses afford to pay that amount? The conversation descends into fear mongering about business requirements, not human requirements.
    When we start the conversation about what it takes for a family to meet basic needs, the question of pay gets situated within a very human dynamic. The frame becomes: Can working people afford to pay the rent, buy food, or pay the transportation costs necessary to get to work every day? We start talking about what it means for workers to have a decent standard of living, not just what corporations need to make more profits. We start talking about how to make work pay within real human terms.

  • Metazoan||

    Why should every job pay to support a family? Have you considered that some jobs simply don't generate enough wealth to do that?

    How dare you deny those who don't need to support a family (say, teenagers) the opportunity to make a few extra dollars on the side (and learn work experiences), while providing their employers with something valuable?

  • Guy LaGuy||

    Businesses wouldn't have to pay such a high living wage if there were better public supports, such as public child care, which would lower a family's cost of living. Businesses are approached as allies in public programs they've been conditioned to oppose. Suddenly, the conversation turns to the value of public programs as well as the value of decent paying work.

  • Metazoan||

    So you're literally saying there would be no job that produces less than this mythical living wage? And from where would the "public supports" come? They, too, would drain money from businesses! Sorry pal, but there's no free lunch here.

  • Guy LaGuy||

    And from where would the "public supports" come? They, too, would drain money from businessesexorbiant CEO bonuses and record proftis!

  • Metazoan||

    And please tell me how you know how much CEOs should be paid? If you don't, then you have no reason to call their pay exorbitant.

    Besides, I suspect that even confiscating 100% of the salaries of fortune 500 CEOs would not pay for the extensive "public supports" you want.

  • some guy||

    exorbiant CEO bonuses and record proftis!

    In the context of fast food and big box stores, profits are typically below 5%. And if you don't like how much a CEO makes, don't invest in his company!

  • Matrix||

    And what about a small mom-and-pop shop? Most of them have thin profit margins, and they must maintain lower prices to compete. They also tend not to pay very much to their workers. Yes, the owners tend to bring home a little bit more, but the risk is all on them. And they tend to work longer hours for whatever they take home. So are you saying that they should cut their own take-home salary so they can give their workers a better "living wage"?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Businesses don't have to pay *any* particular wage.: They can mechanize, streamline, liquidate, go bankrupt, go overseas, etc.

    Do you really suppose that monopsony power is such a problem?

  • WTF||

    Or maybe people should pay the consequences of their own choices, instead of looking to force others to foot the bill. Like, if you can't afford to care for kids, don't fucking have them.

  • Guy LaGuy||

    Force abortions for all!
    Chemical sterilization for the unemployed!

  • ||

    Anything but pro-death is a waste of breath!
    Abortions for some, tiny American flags for others!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    NO CONSEQUENCES! NO RESPONSIBILITY! IT'S ALL FREE ON MY EBT!!!!

  • some guy||

    Strawmen for all!
    Lies for guys!

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    No one said that.

  • WTF||

    Because that's the only way to not have a family you can't afford?

    Nice stawman, numbnuts.

  • Guy LaGuy||

    so someone lies about using a condom, and now they have a kid they can't afford.
    do you use government force to take the child away?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Guy, didn't you leave out certain assumptions necessary to your argument?

  • WTF||

    What do you think the result is of subsidizing such behavior, rather than letting the perpetrator of the behavior suffer the consequences of their actions?

    Not that I believe you actually 'think' rather than emote.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    No. A statist like you would do that, but people who believe in liberty wouldn't use government force to do anything against non-violent people.

  • some guy||

    I think his point is:

    1.Guy lies about using BC.
    2.Woman has an unwanted child (why not abort?)
    3.Woman neglects unwanted child.
    4.Government takes child away.

    So, yeah, he's leaving some assumptions out.

  • Metazoan||

    Wouldn't it be obvious that the guy wasn't using a condom?

  • Metazoan||

    On second thought, I guess I could imagine not. But if you have to ask....

  • sarcasmic||

  • G-dub||

    If Walmart were forced to pay a "living wage" it wouldn't be able to offer affordable merchandise that brings down the cost of living. The cost of living would then go up, causing the "living wage" to go up, ad infinitum.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "Have you considered that some jobs people simply don't generate enough wealth to do that?"

    I hate to be this guy, but...
    "FTFY"

    (For what it's worth, I agree with everything that you said.)

  • Marc F Cheney||

    *whoosh!*

  • Zeb||

    Ideally, the minimum wage would be a living wage

    Why? Why do you want all young people to be unemployed? Shouldn't people have the opportunity to work for what their labor is work so that they can gain experience and skills?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "In short, a living wage would provide a greater degree of economic security than does the minimum wage. "

    Actually, no it doesn't. You see not having a job that pays $15 per hour gives you a smaller weekly paycheck than having a job that pays $7.

  • Dweebston||

    Unless you account for mssr.'s extensive welfare programs, in which case not having any job is more valuable than having a $7/hr job, and after factoring the tax gradient, the $15/hr job is only marginally more valuable than the $7/hr job. Progress!

  • some guy||

    If you can't afford a family, you shouldn't have a family. Why should the rest of us support your stupid decisions?

    Incidentally, I lived on less than a "living wage" for several years. It was an enormous incentive to better myself.

    Finally, many minimum wage workers are not going it alone, they are but one of several contributors to a household income. I believe living wage calculations assume 1 breadwinner in a household, which is not always the case.

  • Metazoan||

    If you can't afford a family, you shouldn't have a family. Why should the rest of us support your stupid decisions?

    Why is this such a difficult concept?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "Entitlement"

  • WTF||

    I was gonna go with "the children".

  • Rhywun||

    basic everyday things

    Who gets to decide what that is?

  • WTF||

    Who gets to decide what that is?

    Top. Men.

  • Sevo||

    Guy LaGuy| 7.17.13 @ 1:30PM |#
    "living wage is based on actual expenses. It considers what level of pay families need to be able to afford basic everyday things"

    You're full of shit; it does nothing of the sort.
    It is someones guess as to what would make them happy; no more, no less.

  • MJGreen||

    So, you admit that, when the discussion shifts to living wage, you don't even bother with the question of whether a person will be employed at all.

    A "living wage" would just be a higher (and, inevitably, always growing higher) minimum wage. The question of whether a company can afford it / is willing to pay it rather than look for alternatives is not elided.

  • Adamsmith1776||

    If you change the focus from economic realities to economic needs like how to make work pay within real human terms you need to actually look at what the human in question needs. A worker who needs to support a family needs more than a worker who lives alone. Accordingly, shouldn't the living wage" require higher pay to mother than a single woman who has no children? With three kids, shouldn't I get more than someone who works longer because they don't need to take their kids to activities?

  • ||

    If There is a Social Obligation to Pay a "Living Wage," Why Does It Fall Only on Employers?

    Duh, because employers are evil and exploit workers.

  • WTF||

    And apparently also because CEOs make a lot of money.

  • Guy LaGuy||

    nobody needs to make over $250,000/year

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Who the hell are you to decide what people should earn? Much less impose a salary cap by threat of government violence?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except need's got nothing to do with it. Barring fraud or coercion, some people earn more than $250,000 in a year. You know what that means? Earn? It means they created wealth that someone else values more than $250,000 and was willing to exchange that $250,000 for their product. IT'S THERES! Not yours. Not mine. Not society's. And sure as hell not the government's. Confiscating their wealth is a third rate euphemism for theft. Stealing. And it's wrong.

  • WTF||

    Why do you get to decide what anyone needs?

    And anyway, in a free society 'need' has got nothing to do with it.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • some guy||

    And yet damn near every job is created by someone who wants to make over $250,000/year.

    If you want to cap your own salary, no one is stopping you. If you don't want to do business with anyone making over $250,000/year, you are free to do so.

  • Guy LaGuy||

    I'm not free to do business without the president.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Without the president of what?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Do you think it's a retard with a sockpuppet, or just a retarded sockpuppet?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That, Gozer, is a Zen koan that is worth at least 20 years of intensive meditation.

  • Sevo||

    Gozer,
    I bit also, but to be honest, I think it is a regular or a staff person socking.
    The name is too bland, the comments are almost always archetypal lefty fare, and it's rare that GL ever returns after tossing a stone among the pigeons.
    But he got me this time...

  • Sevo||

    Well, GL is tossing more pebbles, but, sorry, I'm not biting again.

  • JW||

    Do you think it's a retard with a sockpuppet, or just a retarded sockpuppet?

    QUANTUM TROLLING

  • WTF||

    I'm not free to do business without the president.

    What is this, I don't even...

  • ||

    Dammit, friggin' toll got me again. When will I learn to giving them 'batin material?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    and that one triggered the spoofer flag to fly at full staff.

  • ||

    nobody needs to make over $250,000/year


    Nobody 'needs' a computer, or a car, or house to own, or a puppy, or a wife, or a family.

    Hermitic sages lived in caves, a perfectly fine life for them. I however 'want' a car, want a wife, want a puppy, want a house, and want a computer with which to connect to others. Who are YOU to tell ME what I want or need?

  • ||

    Surprised that what I would only call a C+ (at best) troll has gotten this many responses.

  • WTF||

    I think he sucked us in with his somewhat elaborate first post, then it was all downhill from there.

  • ||

    Yeah, the first post was a thorough regurgitation of left wing talking points, such that I could see someone wanting to debunk the nonsense. But the "nobody needs..." post seemed too close to a wink.

  • mr lizard||

    Ya that was like catching a big fish... Or the other way around

  • Dweebston||

    I see nothing wrong with feeding the trolls. It's entertaining watching archetypal "social consciousness" arguments trashed by better thinkers.

  • Overt||

    Yeah, I think people get too wrapped up in the meta-discussion.

    Remember that there is a CHANCE that people interested in discussion are viewing these comments. It kinda sucks that you have to wade through lines of forum navel gazing to get to good arguments that we can take to non-libertarians out there.

  • Ballz||

    How can I earn manufacturing plastic dog shit?

  • Zeb||

    There is very little that a person needs to survive. The fact that nobody needs a thing is not a reason to restrict that thing. Nobody needs anything but adequate nutrition and protection from the elements. And that can be provided for much less than a current minimum wage earner makes working part time.

  • ||

    Thus, a tip to people making the Walmart subsidy arguments: your arguments would be much better if you could establish, empirically, that Walmart employees are getting paid much less than their marginal product as a result of a market failure.


    This sounds too much like economics. The idea that a person's labor is worth less than what it costs to live is an anathema to those making such arguments. Besides, you don't need math to hate.

  • sarcasmic||

    Make me think of this Mexican dishwasher I used to work with. He wasn't getting paid anything special. Just normal dishwasher wages. Yet by eating frugally, living with other people, not having a car or cable or other luxuries, he managed to put money in the bank. Then one month a year he'd go back to Mexico and live like a king. He was the respected businessman who went to American and came back with dollars! Granted he was treated like shit the other eleven months, but still.
    Living wage all depends on how you choose live.

  • Brett L||

    This is cool and all, but I just got my Shadowrun Returns key for Steam. So in eight days, I get to bring my Troll Shaman back.

  • Ska||

    I got mine two days ago... and I'm not giving a fuck about the other games I bought during the summer sale. I'm picturing a role-playing intensive XCOM:EU experience in my near future. And a shit ton of user produced runs to download within a couple weeks.

  • Brett L||

    This alone makes Kickstarter a net good to humanity.

  • albo||

    "Living wage" arguments are beloved by the Left because it's pencil-whipping a problem into submission. Just pass a law and the problem is solved. Give everybody $20 an hour and we're all prosperous.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal."

  • WTF||

    Hell, make minimum wage $50 an hour, and everyone will be making six figures.

    Problem solved!

    /derp

  • albo||

    $50 an hour? I'll be a living GOD!

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Bernanke, Yellen, and Friends are working on it!

  • PRX||

    in other words, Guy LaGuy employs no one and pays no one a living wage. the perfect person for business advice.

  • John||

    The way Libertarians should approach these laws is that they make it illegal to give someone a chance. Liberals will never get it. They think that businesses print their own money and thus can't go broke. The reality of course is that it prevents people from being able to discount their services to get an employer to take a chance on them. If I am a teenager with no work history or I just got out of prison and haven't worked in forever, there is no way I am going to get someone to hire me at minimum wage. Why hire a teenager or a con and take the chance they won't cut it when you can hire someone with a real work history who is less of a risk? The only reason you would would be if you could pay them less and be able to get some benefit for taking the risk.

    To put it in liberal language, shouldn't a guy or a girl who really needs a break and can't convince someone to pay him full wages be able to offer take half wages just to get a chance? Why do liberals hate second chances?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Yes, this is the appropriate way to think about the issue, namely, in terms of developing human capital.

    You can spend money developing your human capital, or you can be compensated over a certain amount while doing so -- but nothing in between!

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't understand. The businessman is rich. They're all rich. They can afford to take a hit to give someone a chance. After all, they're rich. Why is it fair that they are rich while someone else is poor? What makes them so special? It's just not fair. They should be forced to pay a living wage because they can afford it. Just take it out of their obscene profits (I repeat myself since all profits are obscene).

    See?

  • John||

    If the business can't afford to pay an excon with no work history or marketable skills or a teenager who has never held a job in their life and needs to be taught how to count change a living wage with full benefits, they really shouldn't be in business in the first place.

  • Sevo||

    John| 7.17.13 @ 2:10PM |#
    "If the business can't afford to pay an excon with no work history or marketable skills or a teenager who has never held a job in their life and needs to be taught how to count change a living wage with full benefits, they really shouldn't be in business in the first place."

    I read this 'argument' often, and parsed, it simply says we'd rather have no jobs than one that doesn't pay what I want.

  • John||

    Exactly. Better to be a bum than take a job that is exploitative and beneath you. Sick shit.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    ...like Saul on his way to Damascus!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    They would just see the convict as the kind of easily exploited person those laws aim to protect, and teenagers should be in college you know with you and I subsidizing it.

  • sarcasmic||

    /sarc off

    The way I try to sell it is by asking what gives government the right to set a minimum price for which someone is allowed to sell their labor. Why should one person be prohibited from selling their labor for less than another person? Especially if the labor is of a lower quality. If it is of a lower quality, why can't a laborer voluntarily sell their labor at a lower price? Why must a young person with no experience be prohibited from selling their labor at a lower price than an older, more responsible and experienced person?

  • John||

    Exactly. The minimum wage is not a restraint on employers. It is a restraint on employees. But liberals are so fucking stupid they will never see that. The reality that there is a supply and demand for labor and business don't get to unilaterally set their employees' wages never occurs to them. To a liberal, the only reason the Heat are not paying La Bron James $2 an hour is because of the players' union and the minimum wage laws.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    I'm going to be an annoying hair-splitter and take issue with something you say here: The minimum wage *is* a restraint on employers, but just not in the way that the typical progressive dipshit imagines.

    It all depends on the particular industry, the demand curve they are facing, their competition, etc.

  • John||

    Yes. It can be a restraint on employers.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Like I said, I've heard their answer to that: it's a restriction on the employer indirectly because it takes a position off the table for the worker that otherwise the employer would be able to pressure the worker into, but with the law they can't 'go there.'

    I always argue the point I made above: if you care about poor people then the first thing to do is lower the taxes they pay on things poor people buy a lot of. If the city is too expensive for poor people, make it less so.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    MONOPSONY POWER!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    They'll give the same answer as to why some people oppose organ donation or prostitution: some people are more prone to exploitation to a certain level 'society' doesn't want to allow to be on the table.

    Not saying I like it, but it's what they will say I'm betting.

  • Harvard||

    I know more than most about organ donation. Enough to know I'd be a recipient but never a donor.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    If DC is so worried about poor working people not being able to make it on their salaries why not start first by lowering their relatively high income tax, general sales and 'sin taxes' (which are very regressive)?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • WTF||

    SF'd the link.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Guy LaGuy||

    The job of the business man is to give you "the business".

  • Matrix||

    Living wage is BS. I had roommates to help to cut down on rent and utilities. We had no public assistance.

    Kids? If you can't afford them, then put them up for adoption.

  • Guy LaGuy||

    Who's going to enforce that?

  • Matrix||

    No one's going to enforce it. But you won't get public assistance. Maybe people in society would be kind enough to assist you, but no one should be required to give assistance to someone else.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    The problem with that is you and I are going to end up funding all that orphan care.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    This is why I have actually softened over the years, going all Charles Murray (if not true BHL)...

    You get a guaranteed minimum income, and after that, you can go beg or fuck yourself. Too many kids to support yourself and them on your guaranteed minimum income? Tough shit -- which is a feature and not a bug.

  • Matrix||

    There are plenty of middle and upper class folks who are willing to take the kids. And churches can take care of that as well.

  • Zeb||

    There are plenty of people who want to adopt babies.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Maybe, but there are a lot of parents out there who won't take care of their kids absent government assistance. I don't see charities picking all that up, so the government would just pay that way. It's not like the government would stop regulating the entire practice either.

  • Brett L||

    I don't see charities picking all that up,

    Why not try it and see? There's an awful lot of money in private hands.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I just don't have any faith it won't turn out differently. There was a time when people would have been ashamed to live off of assistance, now they'd be upset to leave it to work. And lots of those people have kids, and when kids seem in peril the government swoops in.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    I hate to say this, but you have just made an excellent argument for forced sterilization...

    "You have how many kids? And you can't support any of them?
    ...That's fine, but we'll just be taking those... (not the kids)."

  • Floridian||

    Not it the orphanage is a charity and not publicly funded.

  • Fluffy||

    Bring back the Shakers.

    Heck, in most places their villages were preserved under glass as museums. Just turn them back over and get them started up again.

  • Ted S.||

    I expect those orphans to provide me good child labor before I fund them, goddamit!

  • Invisible Finger||

    Can't you just eat them like any other livestock?

  • SIV||

    Fuck those crypto-commie BHL guys.

    I did find this amusing tidbit by a Jacob Levy:

    I’m of course a liberaltarian (an ugly word I nonetheless prefer to BHL) and a cosmotarian (a word that amuses me, and, I think, everyone to whom it is applied.)

    Our cosmotarian comenters don't find the word so amusing ;)

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I find it amusing. The yokeltarians basically trying to insult me by calling me educated, stylish, wealthy, and connected.

  • Ted S.||

    "Comsotarian" seems to mean something different to everybody who uses it; to me, I think of the people inside the Beltway (or the Northeastern metropolies or certain other big cities/state capitals) who call themselves libertarians, but want to be liked by the folks who throw the cocktail parties and tailor their writing appropriately.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I think of the people ... who call themselves libertarians, but want to be liked

    So again, I'm supposed to be insulted by someone going "hey! you're one of those non-asshole libertarians, aren't you!"

  • ||

    and tailor their writing appropriately.

    Is the part they don't like. The claim is that these people are compromising their moral integrity in order to be more accepted.

    My problem with the use of the word is the vapid inconsistency with which it's used. The writer of this piece, for instance, isn't actually in favor of the proposed Walmart legislation at all, he's just trying to use the "arguments" (if you can call them that) against the arguers. Debating how you can make your ideas appeal to outsiders isn't anywhere near the same as compromising libertarian principles to be more accepted.

    It's my opinion that the term "cosmotarian" is generally used as a cultural, rather than a political slur; that is, people who use it act like it's about political differences when it's really used in reference to cultural sympathies and phrasing rather than substantive differences in political position.

  • Acosmist||

    Since culture is more important than politics, that makes it worse, js.

  • John||

    One other way to think about the minimum wage that will drive liberals insane. The combination of the minimum wage and the prevalence of unpaid internships, is what class warfare looks like. Middle and upper class kids whose parents can afford to support them are allowed to discount their services to $0 in return for developing a work history and getting training. Poor kids whose parents can't support them and must make some kind of a living, are not allowed to discount their services and told to either find a full living wage job or go on welfare with no hope of ever getting off. That is called keeping the poor poor and making sure they never compete with the middle and upper class for jobs.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    There are leftists calling for an end to unpaid internships these days.

    Again, human capital cannot be developed apart from government programs or something.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Isn't that pretty much why Charles Murray (wrongly, to my mind) suggested doing away with unpaid internships, namely, to make the upper classes feel a little of the pain and to slow the current trend of class divergence?

  • John||

    Yes. The liberal response is as usual to ensure that no kids can get ahead rather than letting all kids have the opportunity to do so.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Charles Murray is not a liberal.

  • Fluffy||

    He is an advocate of mass social engineering to produce greater egalitarian outcomes.

    Sounds like a liberal to me.

    The only reason he's seen by anyone as a conservative is because he says that IQ is heritable and that having kids without getting married will damage your life prospects.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    He wrote a couple books explicitly pushing libertarianism too.

    Sure, ending internships (by government fiat?) doesn't sound libertarian. But bigger name libertarians have gone off the reservation on bigger issues (think Ron Paul on immigration) and don't lose their libertarian street cred.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    You have to take Murray issue-by-issue (which is quite acceptable to me, as I am more libertarian but essentially the same).

  • Dweebston||

    This. He was something of a bête noire for the left even before The Bell Curve melodrama for his work on welfare and poverty in the 80s. Unfortunately, like every academic he's a bit addled by the pervasive something must be done attitude, and occasionally loses his credibility as a critic of social policy.

  • AuH20||

    Feature, not a bug. The poor stay poor and continue to vote Democrat. The middle and upper middle class, attempting to better themselves, work their asses off and build businesses to tax. The upper class has their kids go into non-profits, leaching from all those below.

  • paranoid android||

    I was always tickled during the heyday of Occupy that their number one grievance was the concentration of corporate power, and their number one demand was (if I recall correctly) a "$20 per hour minimum wage, regardless of employment status".

    I mean, I'm not sure I could come up with a better idea for wiping out every small business in the country and consolidating all economic power in the few corporations that could actually afford to do that even if I tried.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    I know that you are being partially tongue-in-cheek, but it would just crater the entire legitimate economy and create an enormous black market.

  • Fluffy||

    The Wal-Mart argument is a thinly veiled attempt an Unsolicited Merchandise Fraud.

    Basically, the unsolicited merchandise scam is when you send an item to someone via the mail even though they never ordered it. Once they sign for the item, you attempt to bill them for it. This used to be a big problem, until the Postal Service clarified that if someone send you unsolicited merchandise in the mail, you're allowed to keep it and don't have to pay for it.

    All social program spending is the moral equivalent of unsolicited merchandise sent in the mail. YOU, THE STATE, decided to send these benefits out. You don't get to bill Wal-Mart for them now. If you're upset that Wal-Mart's employees are collecting benefits, repeal the benefits programs.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Well put, very well put. I'm going to use this.

  • Rasilio||

    This is true, it is the one thing wal mart attackers always miss.

    The problem is not Wal Mart (here at least, there ate lots of very good reasons to hate Wal Mart this just isn't one) the problem is the subsidy programs themselves.

  • Rasilio||

    "your arguments would be much better if you could establish, empirically, that Walmart employees are getting paid much less than their marginal product as a result of a market failure. "

    First, regardless of the value produced by actual Wal Mart Employees this line of reasoning ignores the motivations of those employees. Even assuming that Wal Mart is properly pricing their wages based on the worker productivity this does not prove that those same employees in those same positions could not generate additional value with sufficient motivation. The pay structures of other retailers like indicate that this is at least theoretically possible.

    Basically engaged motivated loyal employees produce more value and it is entirely possible that Wal Mart could raise wages significantly and see a net increase in profits as a result.

    Second, this assumes that without the subsidies that Wal Mart would be able to attract a sufficient quantity of employees to actually staff their stores and distribution centers. It stands to reason that without the subsidy that working at wal mart would no longer be financially tenable to some of their workers, if your job pays so little that you would be eating out of garbage cans anyway then why bother wasting your time with the job?

    IMO we are not subsidizing Wal Marts profits, or even their low prices with welfare that it's workers get, what we are doing is subsidizing their poor management structure and inefficient work practices

  • Harvard||

    [Basically engaged motivated loyal employees produce more value and it is entirely possible that Wal Mart could raise wages significantly and see a net increase in profits as a result.]

    Which model Wally is free to pursue, but without government force and coercion, please.

  • Acosmist||

    Yes, it's entirely possible that WalMart is systematically underpaying people, resulting in their imminent destruction in the retail market...

    ...which is why so many of them are going out of business, yes?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Understand that the statists, especially progressives, want a return to feudalism. "Living wage" shit, along with all the other policies like employer-paid insurance that keep people stuck in a job, are basically their way of reviving the serf-lord relationship. They believe it isn't feasible for the employer and employed to be equal, so why not go back to a system that is based on a presumption of inequality? The serf gets physical and social security and resources to make productive, the lord gets a share of his produce. The king keeps the lords in line, dividing them against one another while rallying them to his banner for political and economic support. The church convinces all the peasants that the king is God's representative on earth, that his authority and justice are beyond reproach, and that he should be loved and obeyed.

    All this liberal, constitutional democratic republic shit is getting in the way of that beautiful dream.

  • Acosmist||

    That is NOT what the church did, wat.

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