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 Post subject: Minimum Wage/Living Wage
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:35 am 
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I found this interesting site the other day. Basically, it compares the living wage to the minimum/poverty wage in a given state/county throughout the US. Beyond the simple wow factor, I found the entire concept to be rather thought provoking. The idea that a person who is working full time could still be struggling to meet the basic necessities of survival strikes me as being not merely unfortunate but even horrifying. Yet, some would argue that attempting to fix this problem via the government would only make things worse. What do you guys think: should our society create an environment in which all those who are willing to work a full time job can survive on what they make, or should we instead rely more on the principle of the survival of the fittest?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:07 am 
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I got a job working part-time for minimum wage. I worked hard, didn't skip days, and now work full time for not minimum wage. I kept working hard and now my boss is trying to get me another big raise.


I think that is a good system.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:38 am 
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Random: John Green just released a pretty good layman's video guide to contemporary research on the minimum wage, which says a lot of the things I constantly find myself saying (i.e. "minimum wage is way more complicated than most people give it credit, and the actual economic effect of raising or lowering the minimum wage is surprisingly small.") Worth a watch.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:20 pm 
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The main advocacy of the minimum wage relies on the idea of utilitarian ethics, the greatest good for the greatest number. There are too problems with this:

1. It is subjective and ultimately indeterminable.
2. It leads to an ends justify the means mentality.

We need something more than this.
If I want to work for $5/hr and the company wants to hire me for $5/hr, the people who call themselves the government have no right to stop me. It is a consensual transaction.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:46 pm 
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(re: birthdayfan; philosophical ramble alert)

But how did you arrive at the conclusion that "consensual transactions" ought to be a fundamentally protected right? I'm sure your logic is very complicated and nuanced, of course (this because of that, that because of such-and-such, etc.), but I expect if you trace the trail of "because"s all the way back to the beginning, you'll find something like "...because that's what makes governments and/or life work best." That's what most political-philosophy questions boil down to. And it sounds pretty utilitarian.

Utilitarianism is inescapable. You make utilitarian moral decisions all the time. The problem isn't utilitarian thinking itself; it's a skewed application of utilitarian thinking that focuses only on short-term, superficial "goods" while ignoring more complex societal goods like respect for the individual. For example: it's a bad idea to have "death panels" that help most people but abandon a few of them to die in horrible ways. It seems like utilitarianism would be OK with this; but in fact, it's only a utilitarian good if you're focused entirely on immediate suffering. If you step back and start from the beginning - what creates the most good of all kinds for the most people? - it's clearly not a utilitarian good.

In other words, you can't attack minimum wage arguments simply because they're utilitarian. Your arguments are utilitarian, too. The real question is, does strictly preserving the right of consensual transaction ultimately produce a better society than introducing some restrictions to (hypothetically) improve people's quality of life?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:18 pm 
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MSD wrote:
(re: birthdayfan; philosophical ramble alert)

But how did you arrive at the conclusion that "consensual transactions" ought to be a fundamentally protected right? I'm sure your logic is very complicated and nuanced, of course (this because of that, that because of such-and-such, etc.), but I expect if you trace the trail of "because"s all the way back to the beginning, you'll find something like "...because that's what makes governments and/or life work best." That's what most political-philosophy questions boil down to. And it sounds pretty utilitarian.
...
In other words, you can't attack minimum wage arguments simply because they're utilitarian. Your arguments are utilitarian, too. The real question is, does strictly preserving the right of consensual transaction ultimately produce a better society than introducing some restrictions to (hypothetically) improve people's quality of life?

1. My logic actually isn't very complicated and nuanced. What I'm talking about is the non-aggression principle; don't hit.
2. How are my arguments utilitarian?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:18 pm 
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birthdayfan wrote:
1. My logic actually isn't very complicated and nuanced. What I'm talking about is the non-aggression principle; don't hit.
2. How are my arguments utilitarian?
I mean the root of your argument/logic, as I explained in my post. Why do you believe in those principles in the first place?

Here's a thought experiment: answer the question, "why is the right to consensual transactions good?" Then answer the question, "why are the benefits I just gave good?" Continue asking "why" until you notice yourself using terms like "best for society"... congratulations, you're a utilitarian. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:24 pm 
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MSD wrote:
birthdayfan wrote:
1. My logic actually isn't very complicated and nuanced. What I'm talking about is the non-aggression principle; don't hit.
2. How are my arguments utilitarian?
I mean the root of your argument/logic, as I explained in my post. Why do you believe in those principles in the first place?

Here's a thought experiment: answer the question, "why is the right to consensual transactions good?" Then answer the question, "why are the benefits I just gave good?" Continue asking "why" until you notice yourself using terms like "best for society"... congratulations, you're a utilitarian. :)

The right to consensual transactions is part of an objective standard. That is why it is moral/good. It isn't a "benefit". We don't advocate rights and standards, because they are beneficial. We advocate them, because they are the most consistent, universally applicable, and moral.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:40 pm 
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birthdayfan wrote:
If I want to work for $5/hr and the company wants to hire me for $5/hr, the people who call themselves the government have no right to stop me. It is a consensual transaction.


If jobs are scarce relative to the number of job seekers, as they generally are, and if having a job is a matter of livelihood for the job seeker, as it generally is, then the employer and the prospective employee have drastically unequal bargaining power. As a result, the wage-setting transaction is more coercive than consensual, and unreasonably low wages constitute a violation of workers' rights.

We can formulate the problem without making use of consequentialist (or utilitarian) language.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:16 am 
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birthdayfan wrote:
1. My logic actually isn't very complicated and nuanced. What I'm talking about is the non-aggression principle; don't hit.
2. How are my arguments utilitarian?

There are two justifications that I've seen for the non-aggression principle. 1. If everyone hits each other, society couldn't work. (Utilitarian) 2. Hitting people is fundamentally morally wrong. Why does morality matter? A. Moral principles make society function well. (Utilitarian) B. God says morality matters. Thus, if we violate morality, God will not be pleased. If God is not pleased with society, there are consequences, e.g., Sodom. (Utilitarian, ultimately)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:04 am 
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The Apologist wrote:
birthdayfan wrote:
If I want to work for $5/hr and the company wants to hire me for $5/hr, the people who call themselves the government have no right to stop me. It is a consensual transaction.


If jobs are scarce relative to the number of job seekers, as they generally are, and if having a job is a matter of livelihood for the job seeker, as it generally is, then the employer and the prospective employee have drastically unequal bargaining power. As a result, the wage-setting transaction is more coercive than consensual, and unreasonably low wages constitute a violation of workers' rights.

We can formulate the problem without making use of consequentialist (or utilitarian) language.

A coercive wage-setting transaction would mean that one of the parties would be forced by another party. There is no force. If I choose a job, then there is no coercion. If that wage isn't a living wage and I still choose it, I have decided that it is my best option, out of all others. Is it unfortunate, possibly. Is the market distorted by government currently, thus increasing job scarcity? Yes and greatly.

Ginger Josh wrote:
There are two justifications that I've seen for the non-aggression principle. 1. If everyone hits each other, society couldn't work. (Utilitarian) 2. Hitting people is fundamentally morally wrong. Why does morality matter? A. Moral principles make society function well. (Utilitarian) B. God says morality matters. Thus, if we violate morality, God will not be pleased. If God is not pleased with society, there are consequences, e.g., Sodom. (Utilitarian, ultimately)

Morality isn't utilitarian. Morality, by definition, determines what you ought to do and what you ought not to do. Morality matters, because it ultimately ought to guide our actions.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:27 am 
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Quote:
A coercive wage-setting transaction would mean that one of the parties would be forced by another party. There is no force. If I choose a job, then there is no coercion.


As I'm sailing past in my boat, I see you flailing in the water, struggling not to drown. I say to you, "If you'll sign this contract stating that you owe me the entirety of your life's savings, along with all of your possessions and any earnings or goods you might acquire in the future, then I'll throw you this life preserver and bring you aboard." Seeing that there aren't any other boats around, and that the shore is far away, you agree.

Was this transaction consensual or coercive? I didn't force you to do anything, and ostensibly you agreed to the stated terms of your own free will.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:43 am 
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The Apologist wrote:
Quote:
A coercive wage-setting transaction would mean that one of the parties would be forced by another party. There is no force. If I choose a job, then there is no coercion.


As I'm sailing past in my boat, I see you flailing in the water, struggling not to drown. I say to you, "If you'll sign this contract stating that you owe me the entirety of your life's savings, along with all of your possessions and any earnings or goods you might acquire in the future, then I'll throw you this life preserver and bring you aboard." Seeing that there aren't any other boats around, and that the shore is far away, you agree.

Was this transaction consensual or coercive? I didn't force you to do anything, and ostensibly you agreed to the stated terms of your own free will.

It was consensual. Helping someone is charity. No one is obligated to provide charity or pay for charity. It is a good thing to do. Just like this situation, there is no obligation to help me while I drown. However, say you don't help me or I sign the contract. You would be ostracized from society. The media would cover you, everyone would hate you, because you did something awful. Your economic activity would greatly lessen and there would also be social ostracism. Also, how did I get into this debacle? If I took the risk, why should someone be obligated to pay for the cost?

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:56 am 
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Quote:
It was consensual.


Why? Whether or not I'm obligated to help you is irrelevant to whether or not the transaction is consensual, so what's the argument that it's consensual? It certainly doesn't seem to be; you agree under duress to an arrangement that you wouldn't agree to otherwise. And there's no way such a contract would hold up in court--for good reason.

Quote:
The media would cover you, everyone would hate you, because you did something awful.


What was awful about what I did? Be specific.

Quote:
Also, how did I get into this debacle? If I took the risk, why should someone be obligated to pay for the cost?


Again, obligation isn't relevant to the status of the contract. But we can stipulate that it's not your fault that you're in the situation.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:13 am 
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MSD wrote:
Random: John Green just released a pretty good layman's video guide to contemporary research on the minimum wage, which says a lot of the things I constantly find myself saying (i.e. "minimum wage is way more complicated than most people give it credit, and the actual economic effect of raising or lowering the minimum wage is surprisingly small.") Worth a watch.

A (possibly simplistic) counter.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:27 am 
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The Apologist wrote:
Quote:
It was consensual.


Why? Whether or not I'm obligated to help you is irrelevant to whether or not the transaction is consensual, so what's the argument that it's consensual? It certainly doesn't seem to be; you agree under duress to an arrangement that you wouldn't agree to otherwise. And there's no way such a contract would hold up in court--for good reason.

It wasn't under duress. The sailor made no threats. It is simply an issue of whether or not the sailor wishes to provide charity/trade.
The Apologist wrote:
Quote:
The media would cover you, everyone would hate you, because you did something awful.


What was awful about what I did? Be specific.

You didn't provide charity to a person in need or you used the opportunity to make money in a way that is not socially acceptable. This generally brings about disgust.
The Apologist wrote:
Quote:
Also, how did I get into this debacle? If I took the risk, why should someone be obligated to pay for the cost?


Again, obligation isn't relevant to the status of the contract. But we can stipulate that it's not your fault that you're in the situation.

If it's not my fault, then I was coerced into the sea. In this case, I could sign the contract, board the ship, and the person who forced me into sea would be liable to pay the costs of the contract. Also, if I took the risk and got myself stranded out at sea, then there is no reason someone is obligated to have me board their ship for free or at all. Only I am responsible for the risks I take.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:44 am 
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birthdayfan wrote:
Ginger Josh wrote:
There are two justifications that I've seen for the non-aggression principle. 1. If everyone hits each other, society couldn't work. (Utilitarian) 2. Hitting people is fundamentally morally wrong. Why does morality matter? A. Moral principles make society function well. (Utilitarian) B. God says morality matters. Thus, if we violate morality, God will not be pleased. If God is not pleased with society, there are consequences, e.g., Sodom. (Utilitarian, ultimately)
Morality isn't utilitarian. Morality, by definition, determines what you ought to do and what you ought not to do. Morality matters, because it ultimately ought to guide our actions.
Utilitarianism is a way of working out the practical applications of morality. "Do not murder" is pretty straightforward, but what about "love your neighbor"? Is it more loving to simply aid the poor, or hold back so they have incentives to work? etc. That's what Josh is getting at - we make those kinds of decisions in utilitarian ways, whether we realize it or not.

You don't seem to understand the point we're trying to make, so I'm not sure where to go with this... :?

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COG 2016 generics-only sourcebook - NCFCA/Stoa (thread)
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:06 am 
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MSD wrote:
birthdayfan wrote:
Ginger Josh wrote:
There are two justifications that I've seen for the non-aggression principle. 1. If everyone hits each other, society couldn't work. (Utilitarian) 2. Hitting people is fundamentally morally wrong. Why does morality matter? A. Moral principles make society function well. (Utilitarian) B. God says morality matters. Thus, if we violate morality, God will not be pleased. If God is not pleased with society, there are consequences, e.g., Sodom. (Utilitarian, ultimately)
Morality isn't utilitarian. Morality, by definition, determines what you ought to do and what you ought not to do. Morality matters, because it ultimately ought to guide our actions.
Utilitarianism is a way of working out the practical applications of morality. "Do not murder" is pretty straightforward, but what about "love your neighbor"? Is it more loving to simply aid the poor, or hold back so they have incentives to work? etc. That's what Josh is getting at - we make those kinds of decisions in utilitarian ways, whether we realize it or not.

You don't seem to understand the point we're trying to make, so I'm not sure where to go with this... :?

Going back to the point of the minimum wage, since consensual wage-setting doesn't violate the non-aggression principle, the government has no right to force the business to provide a higher wage and to force the job-seeker to accept a higher wage.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:20 am 
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Quote:
It wasn't under duress. The sailor made no threats.


The drowning person is in a state of duress, because of the looming threat of death. Although the sailor didn't orchestrate the situation himself, he's nonetheless taking advantage of it in order to get the drowning person to agree to an arrangement he wouldn't otherwise agree to. You still aren't explaining why such an arrangement would be, despite all appearances (not to mention common sense), consensual. If this isn't coercion, then what would be?

Quote:
you used the opportunity to make money in a way that is not socially acceptable.


Why is it socially unacceptable to make money this way? I want a detailed explanation. And do you agree with the general sentiment of society in this case?

Quote:
If it's not my fault, then I was coerced into the sea. In this case, I could sign the contract, board the ship, and the person who forced me into sea would be liable to pay the costs of the contract. Also, if I took the risk and got myself stranded out at sea, then there is no reason someone is obligated to have me board their ship for free or at all. Only I am responsible for the risks I take.


We can stipulate that your predicament is no one's fault, or that it's impossible to determine whose fault it is. This line is just a distraction, though.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:38 am 
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The Apologist wrote:
The drowning person is in a state of duress, because of the looming threat of death. Although the sailor didn't orchestrate the situation himself, he's nonetheless taking advantage of it in order to get the drowning person to agree to an arrangement he wouldn't otherwise agree to. You still aren't explaining why such an arrangement would be, despite all appearances (not to mention common sense), consensual. If this isn't coercion, then what would be?

The sailor did not force him into the situation. If the drowning man took the risk of going out into sea, then he also is responsible for the costs of his risk.
Side Note: Who goes out to sea that can't swim?
If anything, he put himself "under duress". The sailor has no obligations regarding the drowning man. Coercion would be initiating force against someone. For example, kidnapping someone, stealing from someone, hitting someone.

The Apologist wrote:
Why is it socially unacceptable to make money this way? I want a detailed explanation. And do you agree with the general sentiment of society in this case?

If you charge a drowning man to board your ship, you're being a jerk. Putting a price on someone's life is simply revolting. Now, is the sailor obligated to save him? Of course not. Will terrible things happen to the sailor if he doesn't save him? Of course.

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