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Capitalist economies with no welfare state (laissez faire) converge to an economy where people have to work to survive

How horrible. If only we could get rid of that pesky market, everyone could lie about eating lotus flowers. Wait -- who is going to grow the lotus flowers for us?

it's the good kind because it represents a wealth transfer away from legacy and in favor of labor

First, why is taking away the fruits of one's labors to give it to another, less productive person, good?

Second, you're wrong. minimum wages cause unemployment in the very lowest ranks. Thus, minimum wage laws are a transfer of money from the very poorest people to the next rank above them.




That is my understanding of minimum wage as well.

If we raise the minimum wage to $20/hr, fast food will no longer be cheap. Some McDonalds will turn into nice restaurants, but as the minimum price of going out rises, more people will seek alternatives such as cooking at home (likely paying themselves a lot less than $20/hr, ironically). The net effect is to destroy an industry.

You can pity someone working for $4/hr doing hard agricultural work. But if you apply minimum wage to the situation, you don't raise his wage, you destroy his job. He likely needs the money; that doesn't help!

Hence, I have come to regard minimum wage as an act of oppression, and unmitigatedly evil. It should be abolished.

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>>How horrible. If only we could get rid of that pesky market, everyone could lie about eating lotus flowers. Wait -- who is going to grow the lotus flowers for us?

Umm.. the exact same people that grew them under communism, mercantilism, feudalism and non laissez faire capitalism. "The market" is a way to allocate 'capital': money, labor, and general stuff. It's not the only possible way. Further, an attack on laissez faire capitalism is not the same thing as an calling for the abolition of capitalism as a whole.

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the exact same people that grew them under

My point was that somebody MUST work if we all want to eat. There is no solution to the problem that does not force people to work for their survival.

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Surprising fact: most people like working. Many people hate being told what to do and when to do it, but people have a fundamental desire to work.

Here's how to do basic income. Starting with 2010 GDP as a base, 50% of all GDP after that goes into a basic income fund that's distributed to everyone. It starts out small and eventually grows to a point where no one has less than a 1/2*N share. For example, let's say GDP/capita is $40000 in 2010. If it rises 2% to $40800, then $400 goes into the basic income fund.

If the result of the basic income is that people become lazy and don't work, the basic income falls or is phased out and we call the experiment a failure.

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To be fair there is some evidence that in certain cases raising the minimum wage can, because of anchoring, raise wages overall without having a harmful effect on employment. But in general you are right.

What there is less evidence for is the entire thesis of the grandparent post.

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By definition, a person who is working only because he must will not get a fair wage. One side has leverage, one does not. So the worker gets screwed.

The ideal society is one in which no one has to work but everybody does. A basic income grant (which everyone, working or not, gets) would get us pretty close to this, because most people would still work for reasons of pride and the desire for a better lifestyle than what's available if they don't. Those who would use the grant as an excuse to slack off are the least productive members of society anyway, so we'd not be losing much if they stopped working.

Minimum wage has its problems, because it's a very clumsy implementation of basic income that falls hardest on those who are trying to employ low-end workers. Better would be to give everyone enough basic income to live at a reasonable standard, and let a free market decide what's a fair wage. If that's 75 cents per hour, that's fine because work isn't the person's only source of income.

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> By definition, a person who is working only because he must will not get a fair wage. One side has leverage, one does not. So the worker gets screwed.

By the same definition, a person who is hiring because he must also will not get a fair wage. He needs to get the job done, so the laborer can charge him an unfairly high price.

Of course, it doesn't work that way. While a person needs to work, he doesn't necessarily need to work at your job. And while an employer needs a job done, he doesn't necessarily need you to do it.

Wages are fair in a free market because workers hunt around to find the highest employers will offer, and employers hunt around to find the lowest laborers will settle for. The result is a nice compromise between the lowest people will work for and the highest people will pay.

Do you have a better definition of what would make a wage fair?

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