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On minimum wage

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Can you trust the government to fairly or competently discern proper wages?

More than a company, of which its only goal is to make more money.

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Alright.

So there are problems with the structure in the first place.

I'm interested in hearing them. What is the moral problem with sole voluntary, mutual consent?

As I said, nothing is wrong with a voluntary mutual agreement, but when one party is coerced to consent to an agreement that is counter to her best interests then that "agreement" is more accurately described as veiled slavery.

 

This is a result of labor being a market commodity. The equilibrium wage when labor supply is high (as it increasingly becomes with population growth) settles only at the expense to keep the laborer alive to labor another day.

A minimum wage holds this market at a false equilibrium above what the invisible hand would settle upon, that is, a wage that only supports the laborer to sustain her day-to-day existence and maintain a continuation of labor.

 

In the way that markets work, this false elevation of equilibrium (equilibrium only offering a machine-like existence for the laborer) causes a disproportionate supply of labor compared to demand (unemployment) and only the laborers who best sell themselves are able to sustain their existence.

Barring outside influence, the laborer must sell herself or die.

 

Which returns us to the problem of the power imbalance that results in coercion.

Where we see that the laborer must sell her labor or starve, the benefactor of her labor is at the same time able to improve his position. While not selling his own labor, profit margins arise from monopolies, barriers to entry, and other means of falsely elevating commodity price and he gains the ability to sustain his upper hand while at the end of the day, the laborer has only gained her continued survival.

 

So, given the complexities of the market for labor, it is absurd to present the situation as simply a voluntary, mutual agreement. If the rights of all persons to life, liberty, and such is good, then the power imbalance in labor markets must be addressed.

 

Also, Wesker would be able to explain this way better than me; most of this is from my reading of Marx's 1844 manuscripts which also offer a far superior explanation than I have.

Edited by Ananas

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Please explain how you have the moral authority to place restrictions on a voluntarily mutual agreement between two people, and initiate force against them if they do not comply with these restrictions.

I want to try to create an extreme scenario to explore this question.  I don't say this is really possible; it's a thought experiment.

 

Suppose in an increasingly free-market dominated future, income disparity increases to the point that the following is true:

  • There is a small set of wealthy people who own literally all capital on earth. (Land, water, factories, money, raw materials, etc. I said it was extreme)
  • The is a large set of poor people who own literally no capital.  Any durable possessions they have are rented from the wealthy people.
  • The poor people are wholly employed by the wealthy people at subsistence wages. 
  • The wealthy people collude with their vast resources to make sure that no poor person accrues any capital.
  • All interactions are strictly voluntary, but the wealthy people will refuse to hire anyone who does not conform, and there is not enough food among the poor people to support any sizable number of non-conformists.
  • This state persists for at least one poor person's entire natural lifetime.

Was the poor person who was born, lived and died under this regime afforded the natural rights of life liberty and property you described?  This person had the liberty to choose to claim property and forego life, or to live and forego property. 

 

If an external power had the ability change one or more of these rules, would they have the moral authority to do so against the will of the wealthy people?  If the answer is yes, where does that moral authority end?  We don't live in the above world, but we do live in a world where fewer and fewer people own more and more capital.

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I hope I answer this right, but since you are asking about the moral authority on the issue, I find that society as a whole has the responsibility, or authority if you will, to set standards such as minimum wage. I find this interacts in morality because since we are all "society" we must take responsibility and care for one another, and in general make sure that the community is provided for.

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I hope I answer this right, but since you are asking about the moral authority on the issue, I find that society as a whole has the responsibility, or authority if you will, to set standards such as minimum wage. I find this interacts in morality because since we are all "society" we must take responsibility and care for one another, and in general make sure that the community is provided for.

So, based on Cato's question, does the community have the moral authority to force people within to only trade labor and wages under certain conditions, under threat of fines or jail?

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I want to try to create an extreme scenario to explore this question.  I don't say this is really possible; it's a thought experiment.

 

Suppose in an increasingly free-market dominated future, income disparity increases to the point that the following is true:

  • There is a small set of wealthy people who own literally all capital on earth. (Land, water, factories, money, raw materials, etc. I said it was extreme)
  • The is a large set of poor people who own literally no capital.  Any durable possessions they have are rented from the wealthy people.
  • The poor people are wholly employed by the wealthy people at subsistence wages. 
  • The wealthy people collude with their vast resources to make sure that no poor person accrues any capital.
  • All interactions are strictly voluntary, but the wealthy people will refuse to hire anyone who does not conform, and there is not enough food among the poor people to support any sizable number of non-conformists.
  • This state persists for at least one poor person's entire natural lifetime.
Was the poor person who was born, lived and died under this regime afforded the natural rights of life liberty and property you described?  This person had the liberty to choose to claim property and forego life, or to live and forego property. 

 

If an external power had the ability change one or more of these rules, would they have the moral authority to do so against the will of the wealthy people?  If the answer is yes, where does that moral authority end?  We don't live in the above world, but we do live in a world where fewer and fewer people own more and more capital.

What a fantastic response.

I have thought about this exact scenario - in fact, this scenario is exactly why I think it is very plausible that pure anarchy (or a night watchman state) is what lead to the existence of monarchies (your 'heir' is merely who inherits your fortune.)

As of now I cannot find any moral flaw with this situation. I'll have to think. Furthermore, the creation of a "just totalitarian monarchy" in this way makes revolution an immoral act of aggression!

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