Income “Justice”

Mickey Kaus has some good stuff on unions and “distributive justice”, i.e., using unions to ensure income equality and redistribute wealth.  Unfortunately, Kausfiles doesn’t have links to individual sections, so you just have to keep scrolling down for more.

All this discussion of unions has been spurred by the UAW drag on US automaker competitiveness.

The discussion makes me think of a truism I realized a few years back in discussing business with my brother-in-law: great gain only comes about through great cost/risk, and heavy responsibility.

You have to pay the cost of researching the market, getting the education, earning (or persuading others to provide) the capital before you can start a business, and then you assume the risk and responsibility of running that company.  You don’t have the luxury of calling in sick when you don’t feel like working, or your business (and income) will suffer.  You don’t have the luxury of working just 40 hours/week and forgetting everything as soon as your work-day ends.  You don’t have the luxury of wasting time to get to the lunch hour or quitting time…not if you want to have a successful business.

You have to be driven, not lazy; you have to spend your time and effort, not just give the minimu; you have to take responsibility, not let others take responsibility for your employment, health care, disability, unemployment insurance, etc; you have to strive to be the best, not just “good enough”.  If you do these things, wealth will flow to you.

If you do not, if you just do your 40 hours and come home, wealth will not naturally flow to you.  You will be paid low wages.  Those low wages might not even be enough to live on.  Time does not have a set value/worth.  If you do not give quality hours to the creation of value, then you do not deserve to be the recipient of wealth.

One of the reasons I will not and cannot vote Democrat is because the party’s platform is based on the idea that they can artificially channel wealth away from those who work to earn it to those who merely exist.  Democrats place an extremely high minimum value on all human lifestyles, and attempt to create a social system to support that belief.  It sounds all good and shiny, of course…but I don’t assign values to anyone.  I let people assign values to themselves by the amount of effort they put in to their lives.  And being smart about how you apply that effort is a force multiplier (that’s USAF speak for: you increase your effectiveness by applying force at the correct point). 

If someone works really hard at, say, creating/finding art in the defecation of hooved animals, I’d say they were wasting their time and not deserving of any wealth being shunted to them that they didn’t earn for themselves in the art marketplace.

“Art” isn’t intrinsically valuable.  Subsidies for Art are ridiculous, in that Art is when Soul cries out to Soul, and receives a reply.  Many people may want to be Artists, but it is only when they connect that they truly manifest Artistry; struggle is part of the Art, so by subsidizing Art, we are actually preventing Art from being produced.

Likewise, most jobs are paid very close to what their value is.  There is some artificiality, of course, but not much.  I remember seeing a woman complain that garbagemen and plumbers are paid so much when she had to have so much more education to get her Junior College teaching job (or some such thing).  Well, formal education is an artificial job requirement, and not really that hard, difficult, or odious.  The obvious suggestion for this lady is: if you want to earn more money, go be a garbage collector.  She apparently is not willing, like many, many other people; the combined effect of this is that if they do not pay garbage collectors enough, no one will be willing to do it, and her garbage will rot, stink, attract vermin, and endanger health right outside her door.  Her disrespect for those who do necessary jobs simply because they don’t have the education she does is unfair, and only because she values education more than she values having her garbage taken away.

The thing is, if all you want out of life is to not have a difficult or hard job, you probably won’t earn much money.  If it’s easy, everyone wants to do it and the glut of supply drives down supply. 

Somewhere else, some other woman* was complaining about having to work long hours as a supermarket cashier with no health insurance for her carpal tunnel syndrome.  The thing is, 40 hours a week isn’t really that long.  Because I take ownership of my job, I often work 55-60 hours a week.  To tell the truth, when I was right out of college, I worked 60 hours each week as an assistant manager at a restaurant and felt horribly overworked; now it is routine, and I get zero overtime.  I get the same whether I work 40 hours or 60 hours.  I can tell the difference in my leisure time between the two, but like I said: I take ownership of my job, and of my life.

If your focus is on your leisure time, you are not really taking ownership of your life.

One final thought in this semi-incoherent, clearly disorganized rant: you know who has the most comfortable life of all?  No responsibility at all, just eating and relaxing?  Aside from Congress, I mean?

Animals who are being raised for slaughter. 

You want to be a sheep?  Fine.  Don’t expect my efforts to pay for it.  More thoughts on this later.

*I’m not trying to emphasize that women are complainers.  However, they were women who complained.  You can take that anecdotally or scientifically as you will.  In my opinion, I do think that US/Western society does not do very well in teaching people about natural consequences of choices, but is particularly bad about teaching girls that.



Filed under economics, leadership/parenting, philosophy, Politics, rant, Social Issues

7 responses to “Income “Justice”

  1. I am not disagreeing with you by any means, but I want to ask if the workers income isn’t a little overrated? Compared to the higher ups it seems to me like the payment of the workers is nothing. (Not saying both can’t contribute to the problem, just the way my thought process has been taking this.)

    • chiefmuser

      But when you compare the responsibility to the higher ups, the responsibility of the workers is also nothing.

      If the CEO/President makes bad decisions, everyone is out of a job, or everyone makes more money. No single worker can have anywhere near that level of influence.

      Part of the whole concept is just a numbers game. The bottom of a pyramid must necessarily be far broader than the top, and exponentially so. If you took the $1 million an average CEO made at a medium-sized company, and spread it out among all the workers, they would all get a raise of like $13/year. It’s almost like Superman 3 (if you remember that), or Office Space: take all the fractions of pennies that are rounded off in all the pay transactions, put them into one account, and you end up with hundreds of thousands, or millions, or billions, depending on the size of the company…but the individual worker never sees it, because he wasn’t going to see that tenth of a penny, anyway.

      But it was just a rant, though. There are logical points of refutation that can be made.

  2. Good point, about the break down of spreading it out. I don’t think I watched Superman 3 or Office Space, must have been during my boycott of TV/movies stage 😉

    I don’t remember the number exactly, but I remember reading about what the “big guys” made in the auto industry and it seemed like a crazy huge number to me. (Not the average million there.) Plus I totally understand that they should be getting a larger piece of the pie, and I understand various reasons why, I was just shocked at whatever that number was for this particular industry…

    I am just hoping that we continue to “make” cars. I haven’t done my own research into the subject, but the rumor around my neck of the woods is even when they are made in the U.S. they aren’t “completely” made in the U.S. (or for the most part.) Anyway, I had a point and now I don’t remember what it was… I shouldn’t ask questions or respond to people in the wee hours of the morning, my brain just isn’t awake yet. 🙂

    • chiefmuser

      One thing I haven’t been able to get around yet:

      Let’s say you are a laborer, fairly intelligent. At age 30, you decide, “You know what? I do want to work hard and have responsibility! I’m willing to risk my time/money/free time for it, too!” Even if you follow through on it, you probably won’t have the chance to be a CEO that makes millions of dollars.

      That’s the one big problem I have with life, and that’s the one big point liberals can use to shut me up. There usually is a channel to jump tracks to a higher level (like me going from enlisted to officer), but you really have to start young to reach the upper tracks. And if your family is already in an upper track, you have a much greater chance of hitting the higher levels, and much less chance of sliding down to middle class.
      Al Gore was never, ever, ever going to NOT be a rich person. He probably was never NOT going to be a Senator. But Bill Clinton managed to be the one-in-a-billion individual who got the right scholarships and jobs and was in the right place at the right time to become President. Almost anyone can become President, but the vast majority of us will never, ever have the chance to even get to the first rung of the ladder. That’s one of the fallacies of the supposed glass ceiling: the vast majority of men never get into upper management, so why should everyone be upset when the vast majority of women never make CEO?!?

      The point is, there is no time to make mistakes. Your choices and chances for success diminish rapidly with what you do after high school, what you do in college (if you go), what your first job is, where you live, what standards of perfection you set for yourself.

      The only thing is, in the US, you do still always have the opportunity to start your own business and make billions…if you think of the right product, marketing scheme, etc. That is still nearly 100% on ability and effort rather than privilege/luck.

  3. Good post. Sometimes, I think we’re just better off instead of chasing such grand dreams that all too often are delusions, we should just do a realistic assessment of ourselves, our wants and needs, and our capabilities, and concentrate on meeting those goals. If we’re able to exceed them, great. For example, I love the allure of having my own business, but right now I don’t possess the self-discipline to work my butt off for risky gains without being pushed hard. But I do have enough of a work ethic to make it working for someone else. So I doubtfully will ever be a millionaire, but truth be it told I don’t ever care to be that rich. Just complicates life more.

    Did I just ramble again?

  4. The real dave has a great point there… But for all the dreamers out there, that doesn’t mean if you are working for minimum wage and NOT making it at all you can’t do something about it…

    Being real doesn’t mean settling by any stretch of the imagination, it just means you have to work harder. (Give me stability, not total comfort.) Not saying if it was thrown at me (total comfort) I wouldn’t grab it. 😉

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