Tag: Workers

Decentralizing Business: How Less Government, Not More, Will Help the Workers

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Business is bad – or at least that’s the contemporary cultural outlook. To the disdain of the Randian acolytes, society really hates businessmen. They are seen as gross, mean, and evil cheaters that act for nothing but profit. They would see the world burn for the fattening of their checkbooks. This seems to primarily be the product of the modern film and television industry. The mantra “it’s just business” has infected our entertainment and shows no signs of going away.

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Marx is Wrong About the Workers

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

In my recent reading of Marx and Engels’s The Communist Manifesto, I was kind of surprised by the characterization made of the relationship between the employers and the workers. Marx calls the relationship exploitative multiple times throughout the work. The workers produce, and then the employer steals away the product of his or her labor. With this characterization, it is no wonder people are so against modern-day capitalist relationships. But this characterization is not the reality of the situation. It is based on loaded language and misrepresentations of the market process.

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Prop A: Missourians Vote Against Proposition A

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

On Tuesday Missourians voted on whether or not they would uphold or repeal the contested Senate Bill 19 legislation that established a right-to-work law in the state.

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Minimum Wages Only Hurt the Economy

By Jack Parkos | United States

Recently, a couple states have been not only playing with the idea of a minimum wage, but trying to pass bills on it. However, this is a bad idea. Not only is raising the minimum wage going to hurt the economy, but any minimum wage is detrimental. It hurts workers, business owners, and consumers.

The concept of a minimum wage implies that the government owns a business and its money. To believers in minimum wage laws, I have a simple question to ask. What gives the government the right to decide wages? The answer is, simply, there is none. A business is the property of the owner, not the government. The economy, not the government, is ultimately responsible for deciding wages.

This brings me to my next point. Many economists agree, a minimum wage is bad, let alone a higher one. Let’s assume we go with Delaware’s proposal to raise minimum wage to $10.25 by 2021. This is a $2 increase to the current price floor for labor. This may not seem like a lot, but for a business owner it could be disastrous. Raising the minimum wage to $10.25 an hour, or $15 an hour like many advocate, would be a disaster for the restaurant industry. On average, restaurants make only 5 dollars in profit for every 100 dollars in sales. It is already hard enough on restaurants to pay employees (which is why waiters get tips in exchange for lower wages). However, this is not always the case, and in many cases, employers would be forced to cover the full increase in the minimum wage.

This will lead to two major detriments. First of all, employers may need to cut back on their staff. A small business with a low profit margin may not be able to pay its employees a higher wage. As a result, the employer will likely lay off some workers to afford the wages of others. Also, a minimum wage increase may lead to an increase in prices. To afford to pay higher wages, employers are likely to have to raise their prices. However, any government policy that leads to price hikes is bad for the economy. Prices and wages should go up and down based on market forces of supply and demand.

Conversely, proponents of the minimum wage argue workers will be taken advantage of. Many claim workers will not be paid their fair share. Yet, this is simply not the case, and economic competition disproves the notion. Prices on labor follow the same economic forces as prices on goods. Just as nobody will pay 20 dollars for a cheeseburger, no one will work a job that pays 10 cents an hour. Thus, a business owner will look at profits and determine a wage that people would be willing to work for. That’s how it works for all jobs, and laws cannot substitute this process efficiently.

My final point is that minimum wage jobs are simply not meant to be a career. They ares stepping stones to that point. Many people’s first jobs are minimum wage jobs. The jobs are often marketed to high-school or college students trying to gain experience. Also, many of these workers, given good performance, receive a raise in their first year. Clearly, wages would be determined by the economy, not by government.


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How the Government Held Back the Second Industrial Revolution

By Mason Mohon | USA

Between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th century, the American economy experienced growth like no country had ever seen before in the entire history of the world. The discovery of lots of oil, along with the progression of electricity, expanded logging industries, and advancements in mining gold and silver created profound economic growth. New investments from overseas stimulated the American economy and migrant workers provided cheap menial labor. The development of steel lead the railroad system to a great multitude of new locations.

This age in American development was also seemingly plagued by the ills of the free market and was only held through because of government intervention. That is what historians see, and that is what the textbooks teach. Labor conditions were horrible, income inequality increased, and robber barons took over the oil industry. The issue with this, though, is that people look at it with no depth. They take everything at an economically uneducated mainstream face value. A deeper look into the issues afflicting America must be taken if we want to truly see what harmed and benefited the United States during this time.

In the first place, we must look a bit at what did not happen, and where funds did not go. This is important because of what Bastiat described as the seen versus the unseen. In one of his most famous essays, he wrote the following “There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.” What this means is that we saw the consequences of what happened in history, but to find out if what we did was as beneficial as it could have been, we need to look at the consequences of the potential action that was not taken. This is especially important for the second industrial revolution., because the government did intervene, and growth did happen, but correlation doesn’t equal causation. We must look to what we know to be economic law, and what is true in all instances, and look at what did and didn’t happen.

Many argue that the government’s subsidies and land grants to the railroad industry allowed the economy to boost, and even more, that they were instrumental and critical to the economic growth that happened. This is not true at all. The subsidies that went to the railroad industry went there because the money was taxed from people around the United States. This was money that could have gone places consumers wished for them to go. There is no way to gauge demand for a government agency, so instead, they must bring in scientists who make a guess as to where the best place to promote industry would be. An astounding amount of money went from the government, after it had been stolen to the taxpayers, and went to what there wasn’t necessarily demand for. The railroad industry would have flourished, and maybe even in more economically strategic places without the government’s “help.”

Furthermore, this was seen as the age of the “robber barons,” with men like Rockefeller, Morgan, and Carnegie dominating economic industries, both by cutting prices to beat out competition and by buying out the entire process of producing the good that dominates their industries. Many do not like what these men did and see it as sensible as to why antitrust laws were passed soon after. The issue, though, is that many men of great industry in these times colluded with government to benefit their industry. When it comes to monopolies, you can achieve one in two ways: the natural way, which means serving consumer demand better than everyone else, or the unnatural way of working through government subsidy and regulations to get a foot up on the industry. The second method was the one used primarily in these days because of the lack of lobbying laws. It was not a flaw in the market that these men climbed to the top, but rather it was collusion with the state, the ultimate organization of violence.

Lastly, the poor working conditions and the profound income inequality is seen by many to be a flaw in the upgrading capitalist system. The issue with this is that the workers may have had a tough working environment, but it was better than the alternative of starving by not working or the economy staying behind and everyone continuing to live in a sort of agrarian post civil war economy. The real wages of the workers increased in these times because the development of chain companies, steel for transport, and electricity, which all worked to drive down the price of goods. The conditions of each worker was actually improving from what it had been. At the same time, inequality in income is not an inherently bad thing. The way capitalist economies have tended to work is the rich get richer, and the poor get richer at a slightly lower rate, contrary to the Marxist joke.

In the end, we must realize that we cannot take what happened during the second industrial revolution at face value without looking at economic law and applying it. The point of studying history is to learn from the mistakes of those in the past, so what we must mainly learn is that government subsidies put money into places where there is not necessarily demand and that corporate lobbying is the primary cause of unnatural and harmful monopolies.