What is a job? Part III

Arnold Kling defines a job here.

I have to previous posts with the same title as Arnold’s here and here for more reading on the subject.

I think this is a good discussion because the concept of a job is simple, yet easy too bastardize in the political process.

In its simplest form, a job is paying the neighbor kid to shovel snow off your driveway.

To illustrate Kling’s definition, shoveling the the driveway is the context in which the neighbor kid exchanges his performance of a small set of tasks (removing snow from your driveway) to gain the means ($20) to obtain goods and services produced by a far larger set of tasks (uses the $20 to help by a video game).

But, when we step away from this simple and concrete concept of a job where we are the employer seeking to gain something of value and discuss jobs abstractly, a job quickly transforms into an entitlement, as does the wage paid.

Do we owe the neighbor kid a job? Of course, not. Should we pay the neighbor kid a living wage? Absolutely not.

We clearly envision the value of achieving a snow and ice-free driveway without the back-breaking labor of shoveling. We clearly see the neighbor kid is thankful for the job and the chance to earn a few extra bucks.

We don’t see the need to burden that simple exchange with other expectations because we clearly see how both parties come out ahead. We don’t expect the neighbor kid will only rely on shoveling our driveway for his livelihood in the future and, frankly, we’d think somebody was not the sharpest tool in the shed for suggesting that he should.

We’d think the same thing if they suggested that there should a minimum, “living wage” rate for shoveling snow from your driveway. Hey, from now on, if you’re going to pay someone to shovel, the minimum is going to be $100. How can you expect someone to be able to feed their kids off a $20?

If that did happen, your first thought may be, how much is that snow blower?


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