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comment by tacocat
tacocat  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Apples and Walmarts

I had to stop reading this. Regardless of any problems with the argument, logically or from an economics or policy standpoint, this guy makes a lot of assumptions about the people who work at Walmart and their lives. I worked at Walmart. After college. Full time. As my primary income. It was humbling.

Ever been to Walmart and wondered why the service is piss poor? Because everyone is miserable. Ever been part of the working poor? It's fucking miserable. Without the benefit of going to a shit job and being managed by people who worked their way up from cashier to salaried manager based on sycophantic behavior and resignation to a career at Walmart. The managers are miserable too. Ever wonder why you can't find an employee? Because corporate decides the stores need like four sales people.

Some of this is probably alien to the author and other people so far removed from the realities of actual working life outside of a job you had in college that built character or some shit. To the point that you have no practical empathy or common sense that might get in the way of your Ayn Rand bullshit theories based on a world that does not exist. Unless you do this shit and it's your life to raise a kid or two on $10/ hour, no experience in hourly service employment is comparable. When you are poor every fucking thing in life is stressful. When your job does not provide basic security for things like food or shelter your life is not well described by a philosophy or economic model that is naive of how the world actually works for people who have no use for understandings of corporate profit margin or the theoretical utility of a minimum wage.

wasoxygen  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I have no idea what it is like to live in Burkina Faso. I imagine it is very hard for most people. But I believe Burkinabés (had to look that up of course) would be better off if they rely on vaccines rather than witch doctors, if they use condoms instead of potions to resist AIDS.

My lack of experience with their situation does not make my ideas wrong. Nor would a lack of empathy, though I don't see how a lack of empathy is revealed by starting conversations about how to help the poor, rather than talking about video games.

My experience in retail was unpleasant, but yes, it was one of those high school jobs that built character. At the same time, I was teaching ESL for fun and often drove a group of Togolese and Ghanaian students to and from their jobs at Walmart. There was a whole clan that passed through the modest townhouse of an early immigrant, and they were all wonderful, decent, hardworking and generous people. I developed a profound respect for their determination to overcome difficult circumstances, similar to the respect I have for you. I don't believe that hard work and determination will guarantee everybody good results, but I think it goes a long way.

I was a poor teacher, and didn't do much to improve their English, though they helped me with French and taught me some phrases in their local dialects. But they all found work at Walmart, those with better language skills in more people-facing positions, others doing stocking and cleaning. They weren't getting rich, but they were getting by, and over the years they moved on to better situations.

I have no doubt that being paid $15 per hour is better for an employee than being paid $10. I hope that no one assumes my alleged allegiance to ideological celebrities or movements blinds me to that obvious fact.

Walmart can pay two employees $15 per hour or three employees $10 per hour. One option is clearly better for two employees, and worse for the third.

Economic theory is utterly uncontroversial in predicting that a price floor promotes a supply surplus. In the case of wages, this surplus is expressed as unemployment. Opposition to minimum wage, in my case at least, is not motivated by some abstract worship of economic efficiency, but the very real effect on human welfare that policy can cause in the form of unemployment.

tacocat  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And if you're ideologically opposed to vaccination you might not want people in the third world to vaccinate their children. Disregarding the on-the-ground reality of suffering children and the visible results of vaccination.

What point are you making? You know what a price floor is? You worked in retail?

My point is if you're an ideologue who holds certain naive notions about the world based on academia and unrealistic theory, you're going to willfully ignore reality to fit your worldview or ignore it out of ignorance. Ignorance that shaped your worldview.

This guy has no idea what he's talking about. To the point that he corrected his math based on a 40 hour work week for employees. The math isn't the problem. The problem is he thinks workers at Walmart get 40 hours.

wasoxygen  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    And if you're ideologically opposed to vaccination...

True, and if I were honest I would admit ideology, not reality, is my motivation.

    What point are you making?

My point is that a policy like minimum wage has costs as well as benefits. We should try our best to do the hard work of understanding the complexity on both sides so we can make an informed judgment.

I learned a little about what working in retail feels like when I was a cashier. I learned a little about price floors reading Wikipedia. Both of these experiences inform my still-incomplete understanding.

I think that admitting an error and correcting one's math is a sign of openness to evidence, rather than a stubborn disregard of on-the-ground reality. The author (now) recognizes that "many of them don’t work 40 hours a week". I also mentioned my belief that the math "has too many assumptions to be very useful" earlier.

I believe that minimum wage contributes to unemployment on the simple principle that when stuff costs more, people buy less of it. I recognize that it also benefits some workers.

I think the discussion should be about whether the benefits justify the cost. But it always ends up being about Ayn Rand somehow.

rd95  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Here's a depressing, if probably more than a bit biased, read.

I think one of the most eye opening arguments I ever got in was with a guy who basically tried to say that the underclass are underclass because they don't try to buy their way up the social ladder. He actually had some good ideas and strong points that made sense in context, but where he kept on getting lost was that he didn't seem to want to accept the fact that buying your way up takes at least a little money and a lot of bravery, vision, and drive. Not everyone has those qualities and just because they don't have those qualities it doesn't mean they should be viewed as failures.

kleinbl00  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Our landlord at the birth center is a very nice guy. He's also a very active Republican. I've had a number of conversations about social justice and inequality with him; from his perspective, if you succeed you deserved it and if you failed you deserved it and it's only fair that those who succeeded have more benefits than those who failed.

Our conversations usually end up with me pointing out that deserve or not, his life is better if those who failed are incentivized to not erode the social structure within which he succeeded or else he'll have to succeed all over again within a newer, meaner social system.

Which, now that I think about it, is the philosophy of every post-Revolutionary French philosopher I've had stuffed in my ear for the past three weeks. A healthy republic and social welfare is essential to keep the proletariat from rising up and guillotining you.

Perhaps that's the trouble with the modern Republican party. They're too far removed from rebellion.

bfv  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Perhaps that's the trouble with the modern Republican party. They're too far removed from rebellion.

With early Libertarians like Rothbard trying to make common cause with anti-authoritarian leftists in the 60s and 70s and guys like Bannon and Schwarzenegger openly admiring Lenin, I'd say the trouble with the modern Republican party is they're attracted to rebellion but they're on the wrong side of the barricades.

rd95  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    from his perspective, if you succeed you deserved it and if you failed you deserved it and it's only fair that those who succeeded have more benefits than those who failed.

To be fair, in a lot of ways that's a very fair perspective. I can see in my own life where I have made poor decisions and suffered from them and good decisions and benefited from them and while hindsight is 20/20, I do know the good decisions came about because I wasn't being rash or giving too much into emotion and the bad decisions came about cause of the other. I worry that if I thought otherwise, I'd stop trying to do better, maybe even slide backwards.

At the same time, I think it's fair to expect some kind of reward for succeeding, otherwise there wouldn't be any point in trying to do better. Why try harder if you know you're gonna have the same as someone who doesn't try hard at all?

kleinbl00  ·  328 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I have come to the conclusion that Republicans value fairness while Democrats value compassion. Both positions are admirable and defensible. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with either mentality.

Civilization is hard work. It takes the cooperation of differing opinions to succeed at it.