Employers should be thanked, not punished

Arnold Kling’s 3-axis model says that liberals tend to see things along an ‘oppressed-oppressor’ axis. Liberals want to help the oppressed.

We see this clearly in their desire to increase the minimum wage. They see people working low-skilled jobs as the oppressed and employers as the oppressors.

I think this is an inaccurate and unproductive view of reality. You have to really stretch and twist to view workers in low skill jobs as oppressed.

These workers sought employment and agreed to the terms voluntarily. This job was better than their next best alternative. They can quit anytime.

I think liberals would say, but these workers don’t have much choice or options, so we have to make sure they can get by.

I think that’s also a distorted view of reality. Our country is filled with people who started in entry-level jobs and worked their way up to more lucrative jobs and more choices by learning, becoming more productive and understanding that there are two sides to the employer/employee relationship.

I think liberals tend to view jobs as the ends, as if it’s the employers’ duty and reason-for-being to provide jobs.

But, the employee is there to create value for the employer. When I dipped ice cream for a small shop in high school, I created value by allowing the shop to ring up sales without the owner being there. If there weren’t enough sales in those times to at least cover my wages and the ingredient cost of the ice cream, it wouldn’t have been worth it to the owner to pay me. And, he would have had no duty do provide that job for me.

Entry-level jobs are not meant to be lifelong, family-supporting careers. They are meant to provide low marginal productivity to employers. The trade-off goes both ways. The employee receives compensation and experience.

Viewing employers as oppressed and forcing a minimum wage above the marginal productivity of the low margin worker will reduce opportunities for low skilled workers to work in on-the-books jobs.

With higher wages, some companies will go out of business and those jobs will disappear. Some will find ways to use technology to replace more workers. I’ve seen robots that can flip burgers. Some will make other cost reductions that could hurt low skilled workers. Maybe they cut their perks and training programs for their employees. No more coffee in the break room or now employees have to pay for their own uniform.

There will be more demand for these jobs, which may make it even harder for people to change jobs and make it easier to for employers to treat the employees poorly. You don’t want to work overtime tonight? Tough cookies. I have 20 people who want your job. Should I give it to one of them?

The path to prosperity isn’t about setting a wage floor for entry-level jobs that reduces opportunities for people to get started. The path to prosperity to allow there to be as many entry-level opportunities as possible and encourage people to become more productive and develop marketable skills.


2 thoughts on “Employers should be thanked, not punished

  1. Pingback: Time for good-byes | Canada dawn light

  2. Pingback: Employers should be thanked, not punished II | Our Dinner Table


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