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Author Topic: Unions Explained  (Read 2945 times)
Rassah
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February 27, 2012, 09:51:57 PM
 #41

There are two explanations for that blue line:

1) The rich have been purposefully pushing down employees wages, stealing from their work instead of sharing the wealth fairly.

2) Due to technological advancements in robotics, computers, and communications, each worker has been able to become MUCH more productive without exerting any extra effort. Due to this, companies are able to create and sell much more for the same amount of human labor input, thus those who own those companies (including investors and the 1%) are able to get a lot more in profits, while the employees are still being paid for the same level of labor effort they were providing before.

Both are true, though in fact the second should say "same wages for more hours" in the case of male workers.

By the way, this answer is rather curious. How do you propose rich people push down employee wages? Are you basing this on an assumption that the value of any employee is either zero, or just enough for them to survive?

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February 27, 2012, 09:54:43 PM
 #42

There are two explanations for that blue line:

1) The rich have been purposefully pushing down employees wages, stealing from their work instead of sharing the wealth fairly.

2) Due to technological advancements in robotics, computers, and communications, each worker has been able to become MUCH more productive without exerting any extra effort. Due to this, companies are able to create and sell much more for the same amount of human labor input, thus those who own those companies (including investors and the 1%) are able to get a lot more in profits, while the employees are still being paid for the same level of labor effort they were providing before.

Both are true, though in fact the second should say "same wages for more hours" in the case of male workers.

By the way, this answer is rather curious. How do you propose rich people push down employee wages? Are you basing this on an assumption that the value of any employee is either zero, or just enough for them to survive?

Easily.  De-unionise the workplace.  Push down wages.  There is a surplus of workers so there is no risk of a strike and no downside for the employer.

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February 27, 2012, 10:38:47 PM
 #43


Both are true, though in fact the second should say "same wages for more hours" in the case of male workers.

By the way, this answer is rather curious. How do you propose rich people push down employee wages? Are you basing this on an assumption that the value of any employee is either zero, or just enough for them to survive?

Easily.  De-unionise the workplace.  Push down wages.  There is a surplus of workers so there is no risk of a strike and no downside for the employer.

Are you generalizing our something? How can a software developer make $50 an hour and a car mechanic make $12 an hour if there is a surplus of both, and worse, the latter is usually in a union and the former  isn't?

Or is your whole premise that only those workers, who do menial, usually low priority or unnecessary, work are the only ones who deserve to have their wages artificially held high because... so that those cheap unnecessary jobs can continue to be done because... instead of those workers seeing that those jobs are crap, they pay crap, and these workers are better off spending their union time and money on learning a more valuable skill set?

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February 28, 2012, 07:40:10 AM
 #44

Both are true, though in fact the second should say "same wages for more hours" in the case of male workers.

By the way, this answer is rather curious. How do you propose rich people push down employee wages? Are you basing this on an assumption that the value of any employee is either zero, or just enough for them to survive?

Easily.  De-unionise the workplace.  Push down wages.  There is a surplus of workers so there is no risk of a strike and no downside for the employer.

Are you generalizing our something? How can a software developer make $50 an hour and a car mechanic make $12 an hour if there is a surplus of both, and worse, the latter is usually in a union and the former  isn't?

Or is your whole premise that only those workers, who do menial, usually low priority or unnecessary, work are the only ones who deserve to have their wages artificially held high because... so that those cheap unnecessary jobs can continue to be done because... instead of those workers seeing that those jobs are crap, they pay crap, and these workers are better off spending their union time and money on learning a more valuable skill set?
[/quote]

There will always be a need for unskilled labour and there will always be people who are only capable of unskilled labour.  To argue that their wages are "artificially" held high by being in a union is to imply that its somehow right and natural that their wages be screwed down. 


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February 28, 2012, 02:48:21 PM
 #45

There will always be a need for unskilled labour and there will always be people who are only capable of unskilled labour.  To argue that their wages are "artificially" held high by being in a union is to imply that its somehow right and natural that their wages be screwed down. 

It is right and natural that their wages be screwed down. If there was a need for unskilled labor, it would pay higher. If it pays too little, people would look for ways to avoid that job and get better ones. To argue that keeping wages artificially high is to imply that, as Boss said, some people people don't need jobs or income at all, and worse, to imply that its OK to be mediocre and without any skills or education, because you'll still do fine without them.

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February 28, 2012, 03:17:20 PM
 #46

There will always be a need for unskilled labour and there will always be people who are only capable of unskilled labour.  To argue that their wages are "artificially" held high by being in a union is to imply that its somehow right and natural that their wages be screwed down. 

It is right and natural that their wages be screwed down. If there was a need for unskilled labor, it would pay higher. If it pays too little, people would look for ways to avoid that job and get better ones. To argue that keeping wages artificially high is to imply that, as Boss said, some people people don't need jobs or income at all, and worse, to imply that its OK to be mediocre and without any skills or education, because you'll still do fine without them.

Our society will always have a huge percentage of people who are unskilled.  It also has a percentage of people who inherit huge advantages including wealth.  There is nothing right and proper about making the poor poorer and the rich richer.  You are confusing what is possible with what is desirable.

On a purely selfish basis, take a look at countries or states with poor worker protection and compare them to the rest of us.  Within the US, the anti-union states leech off the pro-union states.  Worldwide, the better the protection for workers, the more prosperous the country.  Even if you are happy for the poor to be reduced to begging, its in your own interest to make sure you live in a country where it doesn't happen.

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February 28, 2012, 04:31:21 PM
 #47

Our society will always have a huge percentage of people who are unskilled.  It also has a percentage of people who inherit huge advantages including wealth.  There is nothing right and proper about making the poor poorer and the rich richer.  You are confusing what is possible with what is desirable.

On a purely selfish basis, take a look at countries or states with poor worker protection and compare them to the rest of us.  Within the US, the anti-union states leech off the pro-union states.  Worldwide, the better the protection for workers, the more prosperous the country.  Even if you are happy for the poor to be reduced to begging, its in your own interest to make sure you live in a country where it doesn't happen.

Agreed, with two caveats:
1) Countries that don't have any unions or minimum wage laws (India, China, Russia, Brasil) used to have a lot of poor people, but now, despite having a large wealth divide, they are the fastest growing economies in the world, and their population of poor is shrinking. Adjusted for living expenses,in some cases they are better off than people living here.

2) The system we have here may not be sustainable. National debt is increasing, and that's only in part due to unnecessary military spending. Depending on how exactly the drain to support a minimum wage level and consequent unemployment is handled, we will either run out of borrowing power leading to the situation in Greece, or will severely stifle our economic growth and get surpassed by those other developing nations. We will become the country of unskilled labor, and ours won't even be cheap. Our only saving grace with those nations is that the corruption level in developing countries is still sky high.

So, how do you believe our economy will progress in the world, when we already have to compete against others without a minimum wage, and the only thing separating two competing companies is what legal requirements they have to follow?

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February 28, 2012, 05:21:46 PM
 #48

...snip...
So, how do you believe our economy will progress in the world, when we already have to compete against others without a minimum wage, and the only thing separating two competing companies is what legal requirements they have to follow?

You have to maintain a domestic economy with a class of salaried people who buy the consumer goodies that keep the economy going.  For 40 years, the US has provided this consumer market to the world and the world has grown as a result.  Now it needs other countries to open their markets if it is to keep its market open.

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February 28, 2012, 06:34:35 PM
 #49

...snip...
So, how do you believe our economy will progress in the world, when we already have to compete against others without a minimum wage, and the only thing separating two competing companies is what legal requirements they have to follow?

You have to maintain a domestic economy with a class of salaried people who buy the consumer goodies that keep the economy going.  For 40 years, the US has provided this consumer market to the world and the world has grown as a result.  Now it needs other countries to open their markets if it is to keep its market open.

What do you mean other markets need to be open? I thought the problem was that for 30 years US kept their markets somewhat closed, where we exported stuff but limited imports, and other countries didn't have much of a market at all, but now suddenly for the last ten years the whole global market opened up, and we are forced to compete in an open market?

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February 28, 2012, 06:48:10 PM
 #50

...snip...
So, how do you believe our economy will progress in the world, when we already have to compete against others without a minimum wage, and the only thing separating two competing companies is what legal requirements they have to follow?

You have to maintain a domestic economy with a class of salaried people who buy the consumer goodies that keep the economy going.  For 40 years, the US has provided this consumer market to the world and the world has grown as a result.  Now it needs other countries to open their markets if it is to keep its market open.

What do you mean other markets need to be open? I thought the problem was that for 30 years US kept their markets somewhat closed, where we exported stuff but limited imports, and other countries didn't have much of a market at all, but now suddenly for the last ten years the whole global market opened up, and we are forced to compete in an open market?

Hmmm.  The US has always been one of the most open markets in the world.  Go to China and try selling them US made goods and see how far you get before you get arrested.  Then try the same in reverse.  It won't take you long to see which is the open economy and which is behind a wall of protective laws.

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February 28, 2012, 07:12:47 PM
 #51

So, your claim is that US is an open economy, and the rest of the world is not, and by extension, US not being able to sell our products to other countries is why we have wage and unemployment problems?

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February 28, 2012, 10:57:58 PM
 #52

So, your claim is that US is an open economy, and the rest of the world is not, and by extension, US not being able to sell our products to other countries is why we have wage and unemployment problems?

Its a big part of the problem.

I actually think the libertarian economists like Tyler Cowen identify a lot of other serious problems.  US society is going to have a lot of unemployed people for the foreseeable future.  Find a way to provide for this economic dead weight is a challenge that no politician dares to address.

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