May 24, 2006

Minimum wage = Minimum work

Should, in a free market system, the degree or intensity of ones labor be directly correlated with the dollars supplied for that unit of labor? Should there be an assumption that regardless of the rate of pay, that a worker should always expend maximum effort? I ask these questions as a result of the debate on immigration and the effect of immigrant labor upon the African American workforce and how and why the Hispanic worker is favored by employers over African Americans.

It must first be noted that one man’s perception of exploitation is another man’s perception of opportunity. Different environments and experiences create different conditions and hence conditioning. Black people have existed in an environment of America under the conditions of racial oppression for the purpose of exploitation for financial gain, for over 300 years. Subsequently, in their freedom, they are averse to volunteer to be exploited, likely much more so than those who are not descendants of slavery in these American lands. Consequently, this aversion is seen and interpreted as laziness by outsiders, because some believe that one should provide maximum work, notwithstanding, minimum wages.

What we are talking about here is the expenditure of human energy. That is why jobs are called “Work”. Thus, should there not be a free market correlation between human caloric energy expenditure and the dollars paid per unit of work, such as an hour? If a minimum wage exists, and it does, then should it not be mapped to the expectation of minimum work? In the free market for commodities is it not expected that “you get what you pay for”? I mean no one expects to get a high end new car for the cost of a low end one, so why does the employment market expect to get high end human energy expenditure, labor, for the lowest possible price?

Of course, maximizing the efforts of labor, while minimizing the price paid for labor, is the closet that "the system" can get to slave like profits in a free society. What the system needs to pull this off is dependency on the system to provide jobs in order that those dependant may survive, and to have a larger supply of people without jobs than there are job openings. When this is achieved, job creators can use the oversupply of labor to bid down wage rates and increase profit margins. That’s what globalization and immigration provides "the system" and American businesses. It increases the supply of labor relative to demand which in turn puts downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on profit margins for businesses, at least in the short run.

Many, if not most, of the Hispanic immigrants coming to America are desperate. The risk they take to get here is often evidence of that desperation as the average person would not take them. People who are desperate are prime candidates and targets for exploitation. There needs are taken advantage of. Thus, these are the people who voluntarily will do work that American citizens will not do for the same low wages.

Hispanic immigrants, due to the conditioning of the environment that they left and their need for work here in America, are willing to provide maximum work often for less than minimum pay, due to their lack of options. Reduced options results in reduced freedom as many people in America are less free than others and the least free are prime targets for exploitation. Desperate immigrants are the least free and hence most exploited. African Americans do not have that same degree of desperation, although many would like them too, and black people have a great distaste for being exploited and treated bad, born from their history. Its also worth nothing Hispanics who are US citizens are not willing to do the work, for the same pay, as hispanic immigrants who are not citizens, either.

In light of this, African Americans are the least favored worker in America. Blacks, more than any other group, due to the conditioning of our mistreatment and forced labor, practice free market economics in that the degree of labor we supply is directly correlated with the price paid for it. In other words, the more you pay for labor the harder black folks will work and the less you pay the less black folks are willing to work hard. That conflicts with business interest because their sole motive being profit, their profit is inversely correlated with pay. In other words, the less they pay their worker the more profit they make, if and only if, they can maintain productivity or the same degree of effort notwithstanding less pay. Hence, the more people are willing to be exploited, the more profits businesses can make. Thus, black people’s aversion to exploitation makes them the least favorite workers while desperate immigrants have become the favorites.

To be fair, not all businesses that pay low wages are exploiting their workers. Many businesses simply cannot afford to raise prices in order to pay workers more, without losing customers. Hence, their break even point, the point where revenues meet expenses, is determined by prices that people are willing to pay for the good or service, which they have no control over. However, that being true does not give license for the expectation that a minimally paid person should be working as hard as a maximally paid person. If the free market rule is that one gets what they pay for, then when one is paying very little it should come with the expectation that they will get an effort level correlated with the pay level, especially for a dead end job that has remote prospects for advancement. To have an expectation that the level of pay for labor have no relation to the level of effort provided by labor is to remove incentive from the market system, when it is in fact one of the psychological pillars of the capitalistic system.

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