Labor reform...not going well


#61

Supply and demand is not strictly an economic phenomenon. It’s also political, cultural, and so on. There is overwhelming demand for the improvement of society, and the government has a mandate to be part of the supply solution. The demand for improvement includes the demand for a livable wage, the demand for a livable pension, the demand for enough rest time that people won’t die of karoshi and can actually have some enjoyment in life, and so on.

These are the labor related rights that Taiwan has promised to uphold, or “supply”, so to speak.

Article 6

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.
  1. The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

It’s hard to meet that demand without a minimum wage and maximum work hours.

Article 7

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

(a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:
(i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work;
(ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;

(b) Safe and healthy working conditions;

© Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence;

(d ) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays

It’s hard to meet that demand without a minimum wage and maximum work hours.

Article 8

Tl/dr: the right to form unions and do union stuff.

It shouldn’t be necessary if the government takes care of everything, but the government doesn’t take care of everything.

Article 9

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.

It’s hard to meet that demand without a proper pension system.


Finley has a very good point about all jobs not being equal, though I strongly disagree with his belief that anyone with a menial job is necessarily retarded, or even unskilled. People take menial jobs – or don’t take other jobs – for various reasons. And the more jobs disappear, the more skilled people will be stuck in menial jobs or unemployed.

There is another way, a basket of minimum wages, in recognition of the fact that entry level in one industry is not the same as entry level in another, and even within an industry you may find a lot of variation. Australia figured this out a long time ago(*) and has a whole set of minimum standards for basically every job you could imagine, plus a miscellaneous set of standards for all the jobs they didn’t think of. (This is what Aussies mean when they talk about “awards”.)

The system has some flaws, like the government not trying very hard to educate people about how it works. They tend to assume everyone – including foreigners – will ask them, so when people don’t ask, they tend to assume it means everything’s fine. Yet there’s no shortage of foreigners who don’t even know the system exists, and there’s a perception in some industries that employers prefer foreigners because it means they can get away with not abiding by the awards.

On top of the sliding minimum wages by job and by experience, they also have sliding minimum wages for young people, ages 15 to 21 (and 14 in some states) iirc. Great, you may say, young people will get experience! Now walk into a typical fast food establishment and see if you can spot a single staff member over 15, apart from the manager. :eek:

Meanwhile, you have locals who insist they are ignored by employers and can’t afford food and shelter, employers who insist the government needs to import more foreigners, a government that insists the solution to unemployment is basically to remove what food and shelter the unemployed have, and elites who say things like, “The reason young people don’t own houses is because they don’t have the courage to borrow money from their parents.” (Not an exaggeration.)

The business culture in most societies demands this kind of thing: reduce costs, increase profits, that is the meaning of life. That expresses the same thing most people want – improvement – just from a different angle. But when it manifests simply as reduce wages, increase working hours (for example equating working hours with productivity), it also displays a lack of long term thinking.

*Taiwan also recognizes that one size does not fit all, but Taiwan’s solution is basically to leave everything that doesn’t fit to the market. Most private sector jobs (and some public sector ones) are now within the scope of the Labor Standards Act. For any job on the Art. 84-1 list, the standards in key areas like working hours do not apply, and the contract prevails, as long as it doesn’t amount to exploitation. The question then is, without minimum standards, how do you determine whether or not a contract is exploitative? (Inequality of bargaining power is also an issue, obviously.)

Iirc, Taiwan used to have a lower minimum wage for child workers but recently abolished it (i.e. raised it to the adult level).


Let’s have another look at what the MOL said during the Ma years:

外勞工資如與基本工資脫鉤,對我國產業與社會之發展是否真正有利?
If foreign workers’ wages were decoupled from the Basic Wage, would it actually be beneficial for our country’s industries and social development?

反而不利。
It would actually be harmful.

(一)我國近年之平均薪資已實質未成長,外勞工資如與基本工資脫鉤,雇主競相使用較廉價之外勞的話,恐影響整體工資成長之動能,對台灣勞工不利。
(1) In recent years, our country’s average salary has not risen, and if foreign workers’ wages were decoupled from the Basic Wage, and employers competed for the cheapest foreign workers, we would risk a negative effect on wage growth [lit. fear of affecting the adjustment of the kintetic energy of wage growth], which would be harmful to Taiwanese workers.

(二)我國產業之發展,已從勞力密集轉型為資本技術密集產業。發展產業競爭力,應以提高勞動條件、改善工作環境、提昇人力素質為優先,以激勵勞工提高生產力,勞資才能共享經營成果。因此,外勞薪資若與基本工資脫鉤,將影響國家勞動素質及競爭力,反不利產業永續發展。使用廉價外勞本質上將使我國產業向下沉淪,產業發展將無法高質化,無法吸引優質人力,國外優秀人才也不會願意到我國就業,長期如此,我國將淪為落後國家。
(2) The development of our country’s industries has already transformed them from labor-intensive to capital- and technology-intensive. The development of industrial competitiveness should prioritize raising labor conditions, improving work environments, and increasing the quality of human resources, to encourage workers to increase productivity, and labor and management will then be able to share the economic result. Therefore, if foreign workers’ salaries were decoupled from the Basic Wage, it would affect the quality of the country’s human resources and competitiveness, harming the sustainable development of industry. Using cheap foreign workers would basically send our country’s industries down the drain, industrial development would have no way to move forward [lit. become high quality], we would have no way to attract high quality manpower, and the desirable human resources abroad would have no desire to come to our country for employment, and if this were to continue long enough, our country would become a backwater.

If you take foreigners out of the equation, the same principles apply within a society, more or less.

Whether you are pro-Beijing or pro-independence, take note: China and the US both value the island for its geographical location, and that will not change. What can change is how willing both sides are to bomb Taiwan back to the stone age if the other side refuses to let go. People used to say Taiwan’s valuable industries functioned as a shield because neither side would risk destroying them. If all you have is a bunch of rusty factories staffed by the unskilled, there’s little incentive to handle with care.


#62

Wages are also low when laobans take advantage of low wages to squeeze higher profits.

Those all you can eat chains that charge $700 -900 a plate then have the nerve to tack on a 10% service fee the servers never see. You see them at the bank literally depositing millions at a time (yes I know it’s not all profit). They could stand to pay higher wages without affecting the supply and demand chain.

Plus if wages don’t come into line, you just get brain drain. A friend of mine who is a nurse here already got her green card last right away as the USA has a need for nurses and doctors, engineers too. Why should they suffer with the garbage wages here, overwork, and never being given credit for a job well done. In the end Taiwan is stuck with the vat cleaners and door holders.

  1. Squeeze workers wages
  2. Demand the government stay out of it
  3. Watch skilled workers bail Taiwan
  4. ???
  5. Profit

#63

Sweden went through a successful industrial upgrade in the late 1940s by raising wages for manual workers, which forced inefficient businesses and companies making low profits out of the market.

The Swedish government also provided a vast array of resources for job training and hired many of the laid-off workers, which helped the government achieve the goal of upgrading the nation’s industry. By doing so, it helped struggling businesses that had no room left for further development.


#64

These are not “rights”. They are, as you correctly said, “demands”, and the physical nature of the universe says that demands can’t always be met. Otherwise we’d all be living like those omnipotent spoiled children that crop up in sci-fi stories.

I would quite like to sit around on my ass doing nothing and drinking beer. Is it my “right” to do so? If not why not? In some countries it is, and they pay for that right with terrible consequences. I’m not talking here of “social safety nets”, but ruling classes which deliberately guide the eloi into a life of ass-sitting and beer-drinking.

Pensions: is it really my “right” to have the government support me in old age? Why is it? In what way should they support me? Pay for my housing? Just my food? My beer? My medical expenses? For how long do I have a “right” to stay alive at everyone else’s expense? Where (or from whom) is that wealth to be drawn from? The devil is in the details.

The problem that we’ve got here is that the Taiwan government are viewing these things as “rights” - in other words, as a zero sum game. Not - as the Swedes did in your quote - as a technical/economic problem with a right way and a wrong way to solve it.

These issues require out-of-the-box thinking. What worked in 1940 won’t necessarily work now. Governments, unfortunately, are fond of demonstrating my favourite aphorism: “when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.


#65

Here we go again. Rights do not exist! Corporations do not exist! Nothing intangible exists! Except for demands, because that word helps to feed fear and resentment of the filthy peasants: “If we give in to their demands by setting minimum wages and maximum working hours, they’ll all become lazy alcoholics and bring down our whole society!”

It’s called the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for a reason.

It really is an amazing conspiracy you’ve got there. “The minimum wage that the elites keep saying signifies the end of the world is really a plot by them to increase the wealth gap and thus bring about the end of the world!” :wall:

Now the AI has something to say. :robot:

Let others join the conversation

This topic is clearly important to you – you’ve posted more than 20% of the replies here.

Are you sure you’re providing adequate time for other people to share their points of view, too?

I think it’s right. So I will wish you a pleasant weekend. :bowing:


#66

[quote=“dan2006, post:62, topic:158317, full:true”]
Wages are also low when laobans take advantage of low wages to squeeze higher profits.[/quote]
It isn’t possible to be lucrative that way. The labor market is also competitive and subject to supply and demand determining their price, just as any commodity. When conditions are such that production is maximum, then demand for workers rise and businesses compete with each other to get them so they can get in on the profits. An employer who doesn’t buy their services at market price, if too low rates, he will have difficulty finding workers or not the right kind to enable profits and will soon find out he’ll need to reach the market rate like his competitors or suffer consequences. This is the state we want to be in, that is how the dignity of labor is increased to everyone’s satisfaction, but how to increase productivity so that workers are needed? This should be the focus.

There seems to be a superfluity of workers, too many in Taiwan because there isn’t enough production going on to justify them. And many bosses hire because the business is his playtoy, like a lord has his manor and serfs and likes walking around conscious of his beneficence to humankind as he sees it, and doesn’t really care to focus on profits as such would be democratic and make laborers independent and thus has no place in his pipedream.

Is this really happening? If so, I agree this is not right, and regulation would be justified for this. False advertisement, or something.

This is the condition in many countries, and this one example of what I mean that Taiwan mindset is still about lords and serfs. In many countries, genius is not rewarded as it should be, (since such workers helps companies make money). In Taiwan thinking, the lords look at the genius and think, who do you think you are, Mr. Whiz Kid? And his compatriots say this too; they are sensitive not to be seen this way at all in such society; to not stick out like a sore thumb. There is no room for genius, for special people in a society where everyone sees each other as serfs and lords; all serfs being equal, which has to include the lowest common denominator. Questions of profit and the rise of the labor class have no chance when this mindset is stubbornly adhered to.

Yes, geniuses come to America, (moreover, these are the immigrants we want, not the illegal bums) because we reward genius, at least more so than their native countries.

Here are some quotes from Mises on labor on a free market. A lot of this may not apply to Taiwan because like I said, there are still factors of lord/serf, which contravene profit-making democratic markets:

https://mises.org/library/human-action-0/html/pp/830

In the market economy the worker sells his services as other people [p. 634] sell their commodities. The employer is not the employee’s lord. He is simply the buyer of services which he must purchase at their market price. Of course, like every other buyer an employer too can take liberties. But if he resorts to arbitrariness in hiring or discharging workers, he must foot the bill. An employer or an employee entrusted with the management of a department of an enterprise is free to discriminate in hiring workers, to fire them arbitrarily, or to cut down their wages below the market rate. But in indulging in such arbitrary acts he jeopardizes the profitability of his enterprise or his department and thereby impairs his own income and his position in the economic system. In the market economy such whims bring their own punishment. The only real and effective protection of the wage earner in the market economy is provided by the play of the factors determining the formation of prices. The market makes the worker independent of arbitrary discretion on the part of the employer and his aides. The workers are subject only to the supremacy of the consumers as their employers are too. In determining, by buying or abstention form buying, the prices of products and the employment of factors of production, consumers assign to each kind of labor its market price.

What makes the worker a free man is precisely the fact that the employer, under the pressure of the market’s price structure, considers labor a commodity, an instrument of earning profits. The employee is in the eyes of the employer merely a man who for a consideration in money helps him to make money. The employer pays for services rendered and the employee performs in order to earn wages. There is in this relation between employer and employee no question of favor or disfavor. The hired man does not owe the employer gratitude; he owes him a definite quantity of work of a definite kind and quality.


#67

Remember, consumers are 100% of the market. So reduced costs are beneficial for labor as well because they are also consumers.

As for what the government says about labor, I’ll go back to what I said before. If minimum wages, labor reform reinforce supply and demand, the reality of the market, then they are redundant, and I wonder if many of the things in that labor manual is just government discovering that material wealth indeed has risen in Taiwan due to economics plain and simple, and so they hurry up and decree it albeit belatedly to make it seem like they have anything to do with it, which they don’t.

Or else, government decrees can go against the economy, the state of labor and its supply and demand, in which case, unintended consequences will occur, such as unemployment, which is not what government had in mind when they craft labor wages that are higher than the market price. The government can decree all they want about labor, but they can’t decree wealth, they can’t decree money grow on trees, they aren’t that powerful.

I think we are all on the same page as wanting to improve conditions for labor, but as Finley says, there is a right way and wrong way to do it. Unilaterally raising wage rates is easy, it’s too easy, there has to be some work and effort involved; life ain’t a free lunch.


#68

Humour me. What reason is that then?

Just because a bunch of public-school desk jockeys wrote a high-falutin’ document and used the word “rights” a lot doesn’t change anything.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a lawyer who believes he can fix What’s Wrong With The World by writing the correct words, because the fact is you can change the world by writing words. Just not necessarily in the way you intended.

Creation of rights must be matched with creation of responsibilities. You might think I’m being melodramatic, but there are countless historical examples of physically-impossible economic “rights” leading to misery, revolution and bloodshed.

Even something as apparently innocuous as fixing the price of bread or fuel can have horrific social consequences. If you say a loaf of bread must be sold for a dollar and the baker can’t make it for less than a dollar fifty, how’s that going to work out?

Here’s how it’s actually works:

  • If I have a right to drink beer, then I have a matching responsibility to not get ratarsed and glass someone.

  • If I have a right to land and home, then I have a responsibility to care for that land for the benefit of future generations, a responsibility to my neighbours to not be an asshole, and a responsibility to society to pay back the equivalent value of the land that is now my exclusive domain.

  • If my children have a right to education, then I have a responsibility to hold the teachers to account: to ensure that they are teaching something of value, and that they are not tools of the State spreading propaganda. And again, I have a responsibility to give back to society what the teachers give to me, or something equivalent.

  • If I have a right to employment, I have a responsibility to give back to my employer in kind whatever he gives to me; as opposed to moaning and whinging about how it’s all so unfair and I hate my job and my boss and I’ll show him that rich bastard.

And so on.

Forgetting about the second half of the equation just creates a society of spoiled, ignorant children who think the universe is there to do their bidding, and who throw tantrums when it doesn’t. I’ve seen it happen, in two different countries, and I really don’t think it’s a freak accident.


#69

Because some twits who went to British public schools (your worst nightmare for some reason) decided it should be so. There was no consultation with anyone but the filthy peasant masses, of course. And this is why civilization is collapsing faster in any given society according to how much the people there give a damn about the concept of rights. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Creation of rights must be matched with creation of responsibilities. You might think I’m being melodramatic, but there are countless historical examples of physically-impossible economic “rights” leading to misery, revolution and bloodshed.

How brilliant an idea, Comrade Finley! Rights contingent upon the performance of duties! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

If only someone had thought of that…

Oh, wait.

Constitution of the USSR (1977)

Article 59.

Citizens’ exercise of their rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of their duties and obligations.

Citizens of the USSR are obliged to observe the Constitution of the USSR and Soviet laws, comply with the standards of socialist conduct, and uphold the honour and dignity of Soviet citizenship.

Article 60.

It is the duty of, and matter of honour for, every able-bodied citizen of the USSR to work conscientiously in his chosen, socially useful occupation, and strictly to observe labour discipline.

Evasion of socially useful work is incompatible with the principles of socialist society.


Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People’s Rebpulic of Korea

Article 63.

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
the rights and duties of citizens are based on the collectivist principle: “One for all and all for one.”

Article 70.

Citizens have the right to work.

All able-bodied citizens may choose occupations in accordance with their wishes and skills and are provided with stable jobs and working conditions.

Citizens work according to their abilities.

Article 83.

Work is the noble duty and honour of a citizen. Citizens shall willingly and conscientiously participate in work and strictly observe labour discipline and working hours.


Constitution of People’s Republic of China (1975)

ARTICLE 9

The state applies the socialist principle: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat” and “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”


Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea

Article 14

It is the duty of all to defend and build the country together in accordance with individual ability and potential.

They were so economical with words, those Kampucheans!


I could bore you to tears with more examples, and not just from Communist countries (think Syria). But there are two important points:

  • Whereas the right to work can be found in many western constitutions, the concept of the duty to work cannot be found, with very few exceptions, namely Spain, Italy and Hungary. (Please tell me if I’ve missed any.) Western constiutions do mention duties, like the duty to pay taxes, but if they mention work as anything other than a right, the wording is usually to effect of no-one shall be compelled to work.

  • Countries with Communist heritage do not consistently keep the duty to work in their newer constitutions. For example Mongolia still maintains it, but Vietnam dropped it in 2013. In the PRC, it starts out in 1954 as the duty to observe labour discipline, in 1975 it becomes the line about not eating, and in 1982 it’s merely the glorious duty of every able-bodied citizen.

The duty to work does exist in the constitutions of Japan and South Korea, but you need to remember the subtext (think Confucius). Interestingly, the ROC constitution of 1947 lists only three duties for all citizens: taxes, military service, and education.

Let’s just have a few more examples, while we’re at it. :slight_smile:

In the US Constitution, this is the closest you get:

It’s mostly trumped by the 13th amendment, of course.
:idunno:

In Germany, there is almost nothing about the duty of the man in the street.

Article 12

(1) All Germans shall have the right freely to choose their occupation or profession, their place of work and their place of training. The practice of an occupation or profession may be regulated by or pursuant to a law.

(2) No person may be required to perform work of a particular kind except within the framework of a traditional duty of community service that applies generally and equally to all.

(3) Forced labour may be imposed only on persons deprived of their liberty by the judgment of a court.

:ponder: Can’t those Germans do any beter than that? I thought they were supposed to be hard-working! How they can prevent a societal collapse? Oh, I forgot, there’s another German constitution!

ARTICLE 24

(1) Every citizen of the German Democratic Republic has the right to work. He has the right to employment and its free selection in accordance with social requirements and personal qualifications. He has the right to pay according to the quality and the quantity of the work. Men and women, adults and young people, have the right to equal pay for equal work output.

(2) Socially useful activity is an honourable duty of every citizen able to work. The right to work and the duty to work form a unity.

(3) The right to work is guaranteed:

  • by the socialist ownership of the means of production,
  • by the socialist planning and management of the social process of reproduction,
  • by the steady and plannedgrowth of the socialist productive forces and labour productivity,
  • by the consistent implementation of the scientific and technological revolution,
  • by the constant education and further training of citizens, and
  • by the uniform socialist labour legislation.

That’s the stuff! :smile:


So much for constitutional safeguards against social parasitism. What about criminal law?

It really makes fascinating reading. :2cents:


Now back to you, Comrade.

Here’s how it’s actually works:

  • If I have a right to land and home, then I have a responsibility to care for that land for the benefit of future generations, a responsibility to my neighbours to not be an asshole, and a responsibility to society to pay back the equivalent value of the land that is now my exclusive domain.

Property tax and not disturbing the peace are not radical concepts these days. However, if you want radicalism (by Anglo-Saxon standards) in the property department, see what those whacky Germans have done.

[…] article 14 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic (its constitution in everything but name): “Eigentum verpflichtet. Sein Gebrauch soll zugleich dem Wohle der Allgemeinheit dienen.” This pithy morsel translates as “Property comes bound with duty. It must also be used to serve the public good.” Grasping this – and remembering that even the inhabitants of Hamburg’s red light district can quote it at you – is key to understanding why only around 45 per cent of Germans are owner-occupiers. People are more comfortable renting here as there is a widespread feeling, reaching up into the political echelons, that landlords should not be able to simply dispose of their tenants on a whim. This is reflected in legally enshrined rights and in the sometimes absurdly generous tenancies on offer.


  • If I have a right to employment, I have a responsibility to give back to my employer in kind whatever he gives to me; as opposed to moaning and whinging about how it’s all so unfair and I hate my job and my boss and I’ll show him that rich bastard.

Either you think employment and independent contracting are the same thing, or you think they should be the same thing, which means your interpretation of labor related jurisprudence is even more radical than that of Uber’s lawyers.

You guys are very idealistic: people are equal, ergo there is no reason for the law to treat an employee and an employer differently. @jotham’s latest von Mises tract even says outright that the employee is a merchant and the employer a customer.

If it’s all about commerce, why not treat all contracts as commercial, merchant-customer contracts? Marriage is a commercial activity: selling child-bearing in exchange for protection (with some other things thrown in). Education is a commercial activity, even for children: selling attention and homework in exchange for instruction and a certificate. And so on.

Most societies agree that it’s better to use different rules for different types of contracts, including different rights and duties for the different parties in different contract types.

Is there a reasoned pattern in these imbalances of rights and duties? Why should some people like property owners and employers have more duties than others like tenants and employees?

  1. Society is not just a pile of numbers. People care about their lives, not just their wallets, and the future of a society also depends on its people, not just things. An economist who fails to grasp this is simply myopic.
  2. As I’ve explained before, inequality of bargaining power is a thing.
  3. The trend in recent decades – the widening wealth gap – won’t be reversed by giving more power to employers. Which brings us to Finley’s second greatest fear:

Forgetting about the second half of the equation just creates a society of spoiled, ignorant children who think the universe is there to do their bidding, and who throw tantrums when it doesn’t. I’ve seen it happen, in two different countries, and I really don’t think it’s a freak accident.

Oh, wait, you’re talking about the unwashed masses becoming spoiled, right? For a moment I thought you were talking about the children of the laoban class! :smile:

But humor me. Your two disaster countries are the UK and _________?


#70

Every human interaction IS commerce. This is what leftists refuse to acknowledge. That’s why they can’t admit the obvious fact that big government IS a monopoly.

Human rights are reciprocal, or else they aren’t human rights. That’s why we execute murderers.


The Pope and China
#71

There was no consultation with anyone or anything except their own navels. I fear twits who went to public schools because I am one. Awfully nice chaps and chapesses, they are, but what they know about “the poor” could be written on their Lexus keyfobs; and I know that because I spent most of my formative years living with poor people. I never considered myself ‘poor’ despite having no money, because being poor has nothing to do with money.

@yyy: I rarely agree with rowland, but he’s got the point and you missed it by a mile.

Somehow, you’ve painted me as simultaneously a Fascist wingnut and a Marxist-Leninist. I must be the only person on the planet who’s pulled off that particular feat.

Here’s the thing though: do you realise why those communist states framed their “right to work” in such a way? Because those are the only conditions under which full employment is possible. They might have been assholes, but they weren’t entirely stupid. A genuine right to work necessarily involves the right to be unemployed.

Nowhere did I say that “right to work” should be replaced with “duty to work”. I simply said that for every right received, one must be prepared to grant some broadly-equivalent right to another person. I thought I made this pretty clear with the examples. It’s not commerce. It’s simple good manners. It is Civilisation.

Giving stuff away to the poor is literally casting pearls before swine. I know this will give you apoplexy, but poor people are poor because they want to be. More specifically, they want to behave in certain ways that can have no other possible outcome except poverty. You could give the poor a billion dollars today and they’d be knocking on your door tomorrow with a hangdog expression asking to borrow a tenner.

If you re-apportion parts of the economy, or parts of the national capital, to those people who are least able or willing to make best use of it, you’ve just made everybody slightly worse off, including the people you’re supposedly trying to help.

So: I don’t disagree with the idea of a minimum wage in principle, as long as employees realise that employers will not pay minimum wage unless they get a minimum level of labour in return.

If that social agreement isn’t in place, what you get is the Philippines, which is (and I don’t think this is an understatement) an unholy nexus of left-wing Blessed Are The Poor bullshit coupled with right-wing State control of absolutely everything. There, the hoi polloi are forever clamouring for jobs. And that is indeed what they want: jobs. Not, I will make quite clear, an opportunity to work. Working doesn’t come into the equation. What they want is a regular salary, and a nice desk at which they can piss around on Facebook all day. And the government supports them wholeheartedly in this endeavour, nurturing them from cradle to grave with lots and lots of Rights, which end up doing nobody any good at all. Employers, meanwhile, are the scum of the earth, to be persecuted and prosecuted at every possible opportunity; or if the government can’t find something they’ve done wrong, at least taxed until they squeal.

I’ll do a rant about the UK when I have a bit more time. Different process, similar outcome.

Of course they’re not “the same thing”. They’re different, but equally valid, ways of exchanging labour for currency.

I find it frankly worrying that you’re so vague on the philosophical underpinnings of your own career. A contract is a promise; that is all. Each party promises to do certain things for the other. In the case of a ‘fair’ contract, these promises are (often in inscrutable ways) “equivalent”. Each party gets the same amount of benefit, according to their own personal metrics. Emphasis on “personal”: if someone truly believes he has entered into a fair contract, it’s nobody else’s business to convince him otherwise.

Incidentally, in countries where promises count for nothing, contract law falls flat on its face. It simply does not work, at all, because people don’t grok the idea of making mutually-beneficial promises.

Contracts that involve a consideration (money) are a smallish subset of the larger set of contract possibilities. Money is the root of all confusion: governments like transactions to involve money because then they become taxable, but a surprising number of contracts could be made without money being mentioned. Marriage, at least in the western tradition, is an obvious example.


#72

[quote=“finley, post:68, topic:158317, full:true”]
Even something as apparently innocuous as fixing the price of bread or fuel can have horrific social consequences. If you say a loaf of bread must be sold for a dollar and the baker can’t make it for less than a dollar fifty, how’s that going to work out?[/quote]
So true this. As Joe Salerno says, some governments intervene against price gouging, but in emergency situations, this actually hurts the consumers than helps them. In emergencies, such as a harsh winter where gas is scarce, the prices will raise as demand increases. This helps consumers because people will tend to buy less which leaves more for others in a crisis on the demand side of the equation. On the supply side, it is like diffusion, or air pressure, supply will be driven to areas faster when prices are allowed to rise, reflecting the reality of the situation, thus ensuring consumers needs will be redressed much faster than if government intervene and lower the prices, which only worsens the crisis as redress doesn’t occur.

Examples abound of government interfering because they think something is unfair, which betrays their lack of knowledge how the real world operates. Just arm-chair theoreticians.

I really enjoy Joe Salerno’s lectures on economics, he seems genuinely interested in economics as academics without being really political about it.


#73

Those communist manifestos decreeing the duty to work is exactly what I’m talking about governments decreeing something in spite of economics. In communist countries, there is a real problem with workers not producing much, and the reason is that they aren’t rewarded if they work hard for the consumer, as in a market system. In a communist system, they get equal treatment as decreed by government no matter the quality of their work, so why give your best? These manifestos are an example of government decreeing things trying to make it all work out because they’re not working with the market and everything’s going kaput.

Just like in the West, they decree, perhaps the opposite of communist societies, that the laborer gets better treatment than the market would because government intervention has created a situation not conducive to production, which causes wages and the dignity of the laborer to come down; and so the government tries to put a band-aid on their bad policies.

Thus, government trying to patch up the consequences of their intervention (for example, low prodution, low wages caused perhaps by overtaxing the capital of would-be entrepreneurs) is just more intervention (raising wages) causing more chaos (unemployment). You can’t defy market forces. It’s like the weather, if you create low pressure here, high pressure will rush in. If you create high pressure there, it will move over to lower pressure until there is stability again.


#74

[quote=“finley, post:71, topic:158317, full:true”]
Somehow, you’ve painted me as simultaneously a Fascist wingnut and a Marxist-Leninist. I must be the only person on the planet who’s pulled off that particular feat.[/quote]
Far from it, Old Boy. Even I fall victim to this false dichotomy. When I stand up for workers’ rights, suddenly I’m a leftist. When I stand up for the rule of law, suddenly I’m a rightist. When I explain that workers’ rights are part of the law, confusion and disbelief follow. (See your own comments in the Uber thread, for instance.)

Nowhere did I say that “right to work” should be replaced with “duty to work”.

You said the right and the duty go together, and so did all those non-western countries I mentioned. (Well, maybe not Democratic Kampuchea…)

I know this will give you apoplexy, but poor people are poor because they want to be.

When you see a sight like this, you must think to yourself, what a dirty rotten liar.

So: I don’t disagree with the idea of a minimum wage in principle, as long as employees realise that employers will not pay minimum wage unless they get a minimum level of labour in return.

That’s what Art. 11 and 12 of the LSA are for, as I’ve told you. When you as an employer are unsatisfied, you have two ways of disposing of your lazy/incompetent workers. If you can’t squeeze more than $133/h worth of value out of them, and you can’t find more efficient replacements, society’s consensus is that you aren’t running an efficient business and should make room for someone who will, as in the Swedish example. (Oh but they’re collapsing under the weight of their terrorist attacks, so we can learn nothing from them! :roll: )

Either you think employment and independent contracting are the same thing, or you think they should be the same thing

Of course they’re not “the same thing”. They’re different, but equally valid, ways of exchanging labour for currency.

I find it frankly worrying that you’re so vague on the philosophical underpinnings of your own career. A contract is a promise; that is all. Each party promises to do certain things for the other. In the case of a ‘fair’ contract, these promises are (often in inscrutable ways) “equivalent”. Each party gets the same amount of benefit, according to their own personal metrics. Emphasis on “personal”: if someone truly believes he has entered into a fair contract, it’s nobody else’s business to convince him otherwise.

Brilliant logic again. If Joe Peasant thinks his contract is fair, he’s right, because peasants are smart enough to know what’s what. If Joe Peasant thinks his contract is unfair, he’s wrong, because peasants are too stupid to know what’s what.

Fairness is not the easiest concept for people to agree about. That’s why we have courts and so on…

Contracts that involve a consideration (money) are a smallish subset of the larger set of contract possibilities. Money is the root of all confusion: governments like transactions to involve money because then they become taxable, but a surprising number of contracts could be made without money being mentioned. Marriage, at least in the western tradition, is an obvious example.

Consideration need not be monetary. You agree with Rowland’s statement (basically the same as Jotham’s) that every human interaction is commerce. I’ll try to phrase this more clearly: why have different contract types at all, when it’s always about the same thing, the commercial exchange of one valuable thing for another?

Look at Taiwan’s Civil Code. There are 26 types of contract, not counting sub-types (and not counting family law, which is too important to be in the same category).

Some of them involve the provision of labor. When you have a disagreement over the type of contract, one party claiming it’s employment (hire of services in the official translation) and the other claiming it’s not (usually choosing mandate), the courts consistently use the criterion of subordination to determine the true nature of the contract and the legal rights and obligations of each party, invalidating any part of the contract that doesn’t conform with the legal standards.

So for example, if the parties have a mandate contract, the standards are very low, basically whatever they agree is correct, except for some rules about juridical acts and representation, e.g. authorization to perform certain acts must be in writing, not just oral.

If they have an employment contract, there is no need for it to be in writing, but there are other rules, e.g. if the employer decides to bugger off for the day instead of opening the shop, the employee still has the right to be paid (Art. 487), whether the contract includes this provision or not.

What I’m getting from you is that you find this abhorrent because all contracts should have the same set of standards, essentially whatever the parties agree is correct.

[quote=“finley, post:71, topic:158317, full:true”]
There was no consultation with anyone or anything except their own navels.[/quote]
I think you’re missing a bit of history there. But for argument’s sake, let’s talk idealism. In Finleyndia, what does a proper labor reform committee look like? Who gets to sit at the table?


#75

Well said, King Cnut. Or in the words of a famous Chinese who recognized the existence of a “market” for change:

World progress is like a tidal wave. Those who ride it will prosper, and those who fight against it will perish. 世界潮流,浩浩蕩蕩,順之則昌,逆之則亡。

He got some things wrong, obviously. But he was right about the market’s existence. :2cents:


#76

[quote=“yyy, post:74, topic:158317, full:true”]
You said the right and the duty go together, and so did all those non-western countries I mentioned. (Well, maybe not Democratic Kampuchea…)[/quote]
I said a right and a duty. Some sort of quid pro quo. You’re putting words into my mouth here for strawman purposes. I think it was jotham put it a bit better than me: the right is reciprocal (or, if you prefer, the duty is reciprocal). The most qualified people to decide which quids match with which quos are the persons signing the contracts.

What does that guy have to do with anything? He’s not a poor person. He just temporarily has no money. What makes him not-poor is the asset in his head, which has motivated him to offer a win-win trade. A poor person, in contrast, would assert his right to food by painting a sign saying ‘please give me food’.

You do realise, incidentally, what he’s doing would be illegal in yyylandia? Or more accurately, he’d be allowed to hold the sign, but anyone offering him food for work would go to jail, do not pass go, etc.

That’s fine. But why not allow people to decide for themselves whether they want to be bound by those articles? They really just amount to standard terms that could be inserted into any contract, and there’s no logical reason why they couldn’t be replaced by different ones. One size rarely fits all.

As I said, I don’t have a problem with this as long as - as in the Swedish example - the government fill in the blanks properly, ie., supporting training and national standards.

This has nothing to do with being smart or stupid. People know what’s valuable to them, personally, and what person X thinks is good for him might not accord with your view of what’s good for him. Lots of people want things that will destroy them. The eternal struggle for society is to decide what we should force people to do, and what we should try to convince them to do.

It might surprise you to learn that, compared to you (or me), poor people have very different views on self-actualisation. Their life goals are not your goals. That’s why they’re poor, and it’s why I said they “want to be poor”.

I spent many years eating, drinking and sleeping with “poor people”. That life actually has something to be said for it; I have a certain sense of nostalgia for it. As long as the government keeps a roof over your head and a dole cheque in your pocket, it’s a stress-free life, mostly free of nasty surprises (except for those one brings upon oneself), and with far more free time than most people can ever hope for.

No, not really. I’d say that commerce is just a certain unremarkable type of human interaction. Commerce is only remarkable to governments because it’s the only chance they have to skim the cream; hence the common insistence from TPTB to reframe every interaction as commerce.

Because otherwise there would be fewer jobs for lawyers? :slight_smile:

There’s nothing wrong with establishing some standard boilerplate for employment contracts. Over time, it will come to be expected, and employers who don’t include it will be avoided as bad employers. Except, as I said, one size doesn’t fit all. Let’s say you have a gas platform employing divers. In some jurisdictions you might have The Law describing these divers as employees, and the employer therefore responsible for their welfare and provision of equipment. The reality is that divers tend to be contractors, for the simple reason that nobody is more concerned for their own welfare than they are themselves. They provide their own kit, and they charge fees accordingly.

Actually I do understand what you’re getting at: sometimes we do things just because it’s the right thing to do. And of course you’re correct. The problem here, though, is that a minimum wage is a facile solution to a much deeper problem, viz., the fact that some people (perhaps even a lot of people) are quite happy being poor. Yes, of course they’d like more money. Wouldn’t we all? But mostly we recognise that our remuneration reflects what we give to others. If there are some people with little or nothing to give, then that’s what needs fixing.

Anybody who wants to waste time drinking tea and eating ginger biscuits. All their reports and conclusions would be carefully collated, then burned. They’d then be patted on the head, told they’ve done a great job, and sent home to watch funny poor people on TV hoping to become singing stars.


#77

One size doesn’t fit all, but several sizes fit most. Let people choose amongst a selection of standard contractual arrangements, all well understood by everyone. Give each a legal name, so a contract can be very short indeed. Just name the type of agreement and the parties to it. Allow custom contracts just in case, but very few will trust them.

This is how a lot of legal terminology came into being. But there are forces of entropy complicating things, and so it never became as simple and well organized as it might have. Time for a code review and refactoring.

I worked in software for years, so I tend to see a lot of parallels… except that a CPU is way less temperamental than a judge. But a typical legislator or regulator is like a bad programmer, writing really bad code and lots of it.

Having a businessman as president is an improvement over what we’ve become used to. But I’d love to see a good systems software engineer in that job.

No, not Gates or Zuckerberg. They suck.


#78

Funnily enough, I was thinking exactly the same thing. Have you noticed that no unqualified Joe would consider himself able to design a bridge or a car, but absolutely everyone thinks they can design and write software without any formal training?

Likewise, it’s ridiculous that lawyers think they can sort out economic or social problems on the basis of having a law degree; or in the case of legislators, having lots of opinions. Despite all my ranting here, I’d hate to see Finley in charge of fixing What’s Wrong With The World.


#79

At this point, having Linus Torvalds sort out government regulations in some country would be worthwhile, if only as an experiment. Even if he bungles, there are lots of places that can’t get much worse.

And of course the Donald presidency is one yuuuuge experiment. Never had anyone quite like this character before.


#80

I can’t imagine Linus do much different from what Mayor Ko proposed early on in his administration. Ko wanted an open government, making most information and policy decisions public and have people vote on it. Ko’s Open Government, iVoting, and Issue raising platforms are built on the concept of open source and open input.

Although at the same time, Linus Torvald is known to be a bit of a tyrant who sometimes just speaks his mind, which is often ladened with curse words. So in that respect, he and Mayor Ko really has a lot in common.

By the way, you do know Linus, as a Finnish person, is extremely progressive in the eyes of conservative Americans?