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When a person is desperate, 'voluntary' starts to lose all meaning.

If you are dead broke and half starved and I offered you a take it or leave it offer to work carrying rocks for $2 an hour so you can get a sandwich and you agree, is that really voluntary?

I do agree with you about teenagers and other people that don't need the money in order to live. For dependents and people that agree not to get public assistance (e.g. retirees), I don't think there should be any minimum wage at all.




> When a person is desperate, 'voluntary' starts to lose all meaning

An honest assessment of the tradeoff is that we eliminated cheap labour OP's homeless person might have done to remove pricing pressure from the restaurant worker. That is, the homeless person might have done Task A at $2/hour and the restaurant worker Task B at $6/hour. By setting the minimum wage at $7/hour, the restaurant worker gets a bump and the rock-carrying job is eliminated.

Without the minimum wage, someone hiring for Task B could threaten the restaurant worker with unemployment under the bogeyman of the homeless person taking their job at $5/hour. The bogeyman is not real. The homeless person, we assume here, could not be trained to do Task B. But expecting the restaurant worker to know that, and negotiate competently on it, is not a responsibility we ask workers to bear, and with good reason.

TL; DR people doing Task B vote while people who could do Task A don't, or at least not in an organized, politically-coherent fashion.


Yes, it's much better to prevent any employment opportunity for that person.

Situation A: I can choose between no employment (bad), and exploitative employment (slightly less bad).

Situation B: With the benevolent intention of a minimum wage legislated into existence, I can "choose" no employment (same bad as before).

You don't make someone worse off by increasing the number of options.

You don't make people better off by arguing for the goodness of an intention.

Measure results of your policies. Keep in mind foundational economic principles. Do good.

Ninja edit for pedants: adding additional options to a baseline set of options. "Live peacefully -> (join my army | die)" is a greater number of choices, but I don't have the option of sticking with "live peacefully". I hope this helps clarify my sentence above.


This all assumes that time is worthless.

The actual equation is [80 hours usable time] vs. [40 hours useable time + some small amount of money].

If I can use that 40 hours to find a better job or train for the future, I would be better off.


I didn't say that the person should take the exploitative job.

The term you're looking for is opportunity cost. And yes, the opportunity cost of A is !B. Similarly the opportunity cost for B is !A. We could come up with all sorts of stuff that happens in the time that would otherwise be devoted to the exploitative job, but that wouldn't clarify the point being made here.

We are in adversarial agreement.


Exploitative employment can be defined as one being paid much less than one's time is worth. So the 'slightly less bad' assessment of the exploitative employment is incorrect because having all of the time at full value is better than selling some for lesser value.


Even assuming that working a low-paying job is worse than not working at all, it doesn't mean that low-paying jobs should be illegal. Adding more options doesn't generally make things worse. Maybe for some people having a low-paying job is better than not having a job at all.


You do realize that you're adding a third scenario?

You are saying that I can choose (no employment | exploitative employment | non-exploitative employment), whereas my post you originally responded to had (no employment | exploitative employment).

I agree with you. Expanding the set of choices is a good thing.


Is this the only place in town that needs rocks toted?


Higher minimum wage means the robotics revolution happens faster.


As an employer seeking to exploit the working poor in order to improve profits and justify my seven digit salary, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment.


Yes, that is voluntary. It stops being voluntary when you make it a long term contract.


A long-term contract isn't necessary; only a continued razor thin margin of financial error that can devolve, more or less immediately, into desperation again.

/Tens of Millions/ of Americans live their lives there.


You have to remember that the guy's other option in this example is not working at all, and getting no money. He demonstrably prefers the working situation, by doing it. It's of no risk to him and he can back out at any time.

Edit: I also think your expectations of relative difficulty in finding new work and doing it might be the result of minimum wage and other legally imposed on boarding costs. There would, for example, be a much more fluid market of sign spinning jobs with no minimum wage or employment regulations which for some reason want to designate people "employees" with "rights."


Yes, but the 'why' of his preference is important here. Preferring something to avoid pain or death doesn't lead to net positive transactions, in general.

If I ask you whether you want your leg or your left hand cut off (and I have the power to make either happen) you can have a preference and still lose.


> Preferring something to avoid pain or death doesn't lead to net positive transactions, in general.

Actually, it does. Because avoiding pain or death, in a preferable way, is by definition a net positive.

> If I ask you whether you want your leg or your left hand cut off (and I have the power to make either happen) you can have a preference and still lose.

That's not the shape of the example here. The employer isn't the only job in town, and the employer didn't impose a situation of joblessness on the guy. There are other employers he could do menial low-trust work for.

The answer of imposing a minimum wage, by the way, means you get your leg and hand cut off.


Do you assume that the person will be in the $2 job forever?

Social Security is a transfer from current workers to retirees. Does that meet your definition of public assistance?




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