luthersloan wrote:I am paying attention to your point, which I took to be that paying someone nothing was exploitation. In that when I asked at what point it became exploitation, you said when a person was paid nothing.
I also talked about a "living wage" and how people need money to live off of, and this is all in the context of a thread about people who used to make $50K/yr now being asked to do the same work for free. So while, yes, I did say when a person was paid nothing, I was comparing that to what they used to be paid, not to all possibilities. I wasn't comparing "zero pennies" to "one penny" and drawing some hard line between them. Exploitation by its very definition defies such rigid lines, since it's about whether behavior is unethical or selfish, and those things depend a lot on context.
luthersloan wrote:I of course agree that the penny and day examples prove nothing under your new definition of exploitation, which does not seem to have any clear content.
Sigh. See, this. You wonder why I start being hostile? It's because of backhanded comments like this. It's not a "new definition", it's the same one I've been using the whole time. My definition of exploitation hasn't changed at all, I just hadn't applied it to the concept of being paid one penny until after you brought it up.
luthersloan wrote:Something is exploitation when a person is paid up to some relatively low amount, for some relatively long time. I think that is just not a useful definition, and to the extent it is, there is nothing morally problematic with “exploiting” someone.
The definition has nothing to do with exact amounts. That's the point I made above, and the point I made when I mocked your shallow "one penny" and "one day" hyperbolic examples.
Also, I think you're really, really missing the point here: Exploitation is all about the moral problem. If something isn't morally problematic then it's not exploitation. You can't say there's nothing morally problematic with exploiting someone, that sentence just doesn't make any logical sense whatsoever coming out of anyone's mouth, unless your name is Gordon Gekko.
luthersloan wrote:I think you raise a genuinely complex point. Judges would pay to obtain higher quality workers if the experience is not worth enough to cause high quality workers to be willing to work for free. If it is so valuable, then why is there something wrong with this possibility? Why should taxpayers be paying more for federal clerks than is necessary to retain them?
Let me ask you a question: Do you believe in the concept of the minimum wage? Do you even understand
the concept of the minimum wage? I mean the reasoning behind its existence, not how it works.
luthersloan wrote:One could think of it as an analogy to schooling, people are not only generally not paid to go to school, but pay to do so. They do this because they think it is worth it to them in terms of a combination of consumption and increased future wages. Both the judges and the schools benefit by having us “work” for them, but neither is engaged in exploitation under any sensible definition.
Nobody except you characterizes college education as "work". It's education, and there's a difference. We pay people to educate us; we take educational opportunities for free; these things are true. But we do this because an education is considered both valuable and necessary to future advancement, and we provide resources to people who are seeking education. Also, typically you can get an education without doing work to the school's benefit on a full-time schedule. That last bit is an important distinction; the law school isn't going to publish your exam answer or use it to profit. Their only gain in the whole matter is the tuition money you're paying.
Clerking for a judge is not what we normally define as "education". Judges require the clerk already have received a degree from a law school; they require the clerk to work full-time; the work being done by the clerk is directly to the judge's benefit. Unlike the education example, the judge is directly benefiting from the clerk's labor; the clerk is doing the research and in many cases writing the judge's opinions for them. The judge profits from the clerk's labor. This isn't what we characterize purely as "education" at all, and we certainly don't support it the way we support education otherwise.
You shouldn't equate the two so easily; it reeks of unsophisticated thinking, by which I mean, if you had thought it through the above would've occured to you and you wouldn't have said it.
luthersloan wrote:Unless perhaps the experience is really not valuable.
Of course the experience is valuable. That neither begins nor ends the discussion. Most jobs are valuable experience, and many open doors for you; but that doesn't mean you should be expected to do the work for free.
luthersloan wrote:So yes, I concede that just as the wage rate for attending school is generally zero, the wage rate for a job could be zero, but only in terms of cash on hand. If you think about the underlying economics of the transaction, a person is exchanging labor for an increase in their future wages, which while the cannot be currently monetized, have undeniable value. It seems strange to attach moral significance to accounting.
Of course it seems strange to attach moral significance to accounting; but nobody's doing that. The moral significance is to the fact that people are being asked to definitely
work for free for the dangling future chance
of making more later. It's about this judge exploiting people's hopes for future paying employment and using it to avoid paying them for work they're doing today. Of course, if all you're doing is "think[ing] about the underlying economics", then you're admittedly ignoring the moral and ethical issues anyway.
luthersloan wrote:1) you are right, cash wages can fall to zero. I concede that point above, but I think this really a sort of accounting artifact, and it would be highly strange to attach any moral significance to it.
I ask this again: Do you understand the concept of minimum wages?
Also, it's more than just an "accounting artifact" to take a market where people were making $50K/yr and suddenly shift it to where they're all being asked to do it for free.
luthersloan wrote:2) This is just the way a market wage declines in the real world.
Market wages aren't supposed to decline to zero in the real world. This is exactly the reason people are protesting this. We've chosen to build a system in which zero wages should not happen, and yet somebody, and not just somebody but a federal judge
, is disrupting this.
luthersloan wrote:3) This assumes that there is fixed number of jobs. This is clearly not the case in either the real world, or the Campos piece. The judge was hiring an extra clerk, and there is ever reason to think that whoever is hired for that job would not have had as good a job in terms of total compensation if this option was blocked.
It doesn't assume a "fixed" number of jobs. It only assumes that some
paying jobs will still exist if no
unpaying jobs are allowed to. Any other reading is reading more into what I said than is there.
That said, employers only generally hire people (paid or unpaid) because they have work to be one. This generates a fairly stable limit on the number of jobs being offered; since his two paid employees are salaried and thus don't cost more if he produces more work for them, this judge wouldn't take on a third clerk if his two existing clerks could handle it. The reason he's taking on a third clerk is clearly that he has enough work for three clerks. If he were required to pay all his clerks, it's not unimaginable that he would pay for the third clerk. But even if he didn't, and chose to stick with two, those two would still be getting paid. The alternative I was discussing would have none
of them getting paid, which is clearly bad for the two clerks in paying positions.
Also, before you suggest it, it's ridiculous to think that free labor would make judges suddenly start hiring substantially more
clerks than they needed. Two reasons: 1) This would actually damage the value of a clerkship in the eyes of future employers, since they'd know that some clerks might have just sat around on their thumbs all day, and thus there'd be no value to people clerking for free and they'd stop doing it. 2) Employers don't like to be responsible for more employees than they need to be. Even if that clerk isn't getting paid, he's still someone the judge has to provide direction and feedback to, and who the judge might be responsible for if the clerk misbehaves, or makes a mistake, or becomes the innocent victim of some defendant/witness' violent outburst. So it's not like the number of clerkships would rapidly expand just because judges could get them for free. They might each take on one extra clerk, but in the grand scheme of things, that's not creating enough new positions to change the analysis much.
luthersloan wrote:Obviously I agree that raising ethical objections or enforcing wage laws would change the situation, I just think it would change it largely for the worse.
Please justify this. It also sounds ridiculous, and you don't even attempt to provide reasons for it.
How does raising ethical objections or enforcing wage laws change the situation? There are only a couple possible outcomes:
A) The judge, and anyone else with any power to do anything, ignores the protests. Nothing gets worse than it already is.
B) Judges agree to pay their clerks. This stops the potential slide toward all clerks making zero wages. If the number of clerkships stays relatively constant, then the clerks keep making money, and since judges need clerks and society is willing to pay for them, the number of clerks will probably stay level. If the number of clerkships would have exploded into a glut of unpaid workers, then it prevents that, which is good since said glut could diminish the value of clerking, creating a situation where more people might have clerked, but clerking would have ultimately meant less for all of them, and still cost them a full year of unpaid wages. So, I have trouble seeing this as a loss in any real way.
C) The judge doesn't agree to pay their clerks, but a government agency or legislative action forces him to. Things have ultimately the same outcome as in B, other than the judge being unhappy he was forced to do something he didn't want, which, well, who gives a damn about that.
In what scenario can you come up with (that's actually plausible, mind you) where this would ultimately be worse for the parties involved?