Something to Chew On: Drawing the Line on a Worker’s Livelihood

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We’ve discussed the idea of livable wages here before.  There’s a feeling among some people that businesses should required to make that its employees make enough money to sustain a “good” life (I’m not sure who gets to consider what good is).  This includes enough pay to support you and your family and generous benefits to cover what your salary doesn’t.

This sounds great on the surface and it can be pretty easy to expect businesses with a lot of money to have no problem shelling out the extra money.  The business has the responsibility to the worker, doesn’t it?  Isn’t the business is the livelihood of its workers?

Try looking at it from a different perspective.  A worker sells his labor to the employer.  The business isn’t trying to do anyone any favors by giving people jobs.  Selling your labor is no different from you selling anything else.  You and the buyer agree on a price and you make the transaction.  You don’t need the government helping you set prices on eBay, do you?

Anyway, let’s assume that it is the employer’s job to ensure the livelihood of its employees.  How far does that extend?  Say you hire someone to cut your grass every two weeks.  You pay him $40 to perform the work.  You think he does a good job and he’s satisfied with the pay, so you’re both happy.  This job, though, is the only employment that he has—you are his sole employer.  Are you then responsible that he’s clothed, housed, and fed?

The answer to this will be “Of course not, he’s just mowing your lawn.”

What if he’s just sweeping your floors?  What about if he’s just greeting patrons?

Like so many “You should do XYZ,” there’s never a place to draw the line.  And no one ever agrees on the spot either.

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lance
Guest
While I am not advocating anything like paying the lawn guy $40K annually, or obligating any corporation to guarantee dental care for every temporary employee, I simultaneously don’t trust any large corporation to do anything except squeeze every nickel out of every opportunity, every time. If given the chance, I fully believe collusion is inevitable. Last night during a long phone call I was asked if I believed that government was “us” or was it “they”. The question was about the end of the mayan calendar, and what that actually may mean. I don’t think the utilities are going to… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
“Or, while I will accept that Romney would have been better than Obama for countless reasons, my question is if anyone thinks that Romney and the GOP would have been good for America. ” Absolutely not. Romney and the rest of the GOP will essentially do the same thing that the powers in charge now are doing. They may do it at a little slower of a pace, but they’ll still be doing the same thing. “Should I be allowed to import 100 doses of said vaccine and sell to the public for $200 per?” You absolutely should be able… Read more »
lance
Guest
Well its been a few days there Tarkus. I figured gun control would be the obvious topic d’jour. So I make my own post on the subject. Cheryl read me a quote suggesting that “everyone who is about to advocate new gun legislation could lead by example and disarm their own body guards first.” Yesterday I read a response to the suggestion to project the outcome of any future gun prohibition as a stimulation of the black market and a whole new industry for organized crime. And while the obvious parallel between cars and guns is oft over used, what… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest

You beat me to it…that article will be up in a few minutes.

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