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comment by wasoxygen
wasoxygen  ·  1226 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Salary Subsidy Quiz

    I think 1b because it seems to corroborate with things I've read insofar as I can remember them
That's as good a reason as any to believe something; have you read anything on this post that might influence your opinion?

When I saw the idea that "we subsidize corporations" before, it didn't strike me as obviously wrong. I think I would have imagined a Walmart manager saying "Our workers get all these benefits, so they can survive on less salary, so we can pay them less and profit." But when I look at it from the employee's point of view I see a different picture: "I get all these benefits; I can survive with less salary; why should I work at Walmart?"

_refugee_  ·  1226 days ago  ·  link  ·  

- Do most people see these resources as benefits to rely on permanently, or as a stop-gap, non-ideal fix to a problem they hope to solve? I know that people can be entirely serious and convinced and believe either of those options. What do you think?

- Is it possible to truly survive only on gov't subsidies on a permanent basis? Does it require a disability or other similar status?

-if it is not possible, then despite these benefits, a person must work. Even if it is possible some people would like to do more than survive(maybe propagate for instance). They too must work. One assumes if they do not feel they need much more significant income, then they would lowball their jobs. What could someone choose that actually pays less than McDonald's and Walmart? What employment could a person choose as "more preferable to them" because they are making enough money off of benefits that they could afford to work for less than McDonald's/Walmarts wage? Would that employment actually be better than working at those places?

wasoxygen  ·  1226 days ago  ·  link  ·  

All interesting, and complex, questions. I don't think I have any special insight, and my answers to the first two would be "non-ideal fix," "probably possible to merely survive, but not much more."

For the purpose of this quiz (as I intended it) the question is whether outside sources of wealth make a given income opportunity more or less attractive.

    One assumes if they do not feel they need much more significant income, then they would lowball their jobs.
The logically extreme version of someone who does not feel they need much more income is the independently wealthy person. Are they likely to accept low-paying work at McDonald's?

On the other end, do the world's most desperately poor people hold out for executive salaries, or take whatever they can get?

    What could someone choose that actually pays less than McDonald's and Walmart?
I dunno, part-time at McDonald's, babysitting, or making wreaths at home?
_refugee_  ·  1212 days ago  ·  link  ·  

1) Sorry for the late reply.

2) Is the independently wealthy person likely to choose work over other uses of time, say, volunteering? For the purposes of this discussion are we narrowing down the "independently wealthy" extreme to "only the independently wealthy who still want to work regular (if part-time), paying jobs"? In addition, though, what does the independently wealthy person have to do with whether or not we subsidize McDonald's wages? The rich person does not need or use those benefits, so that's not why they may choose to "lowball" their career options and work at McD's. I had interpreted your original line of questioning as driving at whether or not we, as taxpayers, subsidize others via public health (etc) benefits, thereby allowing McD's to pay low wages, and also allowing those who use such benefits to accept jobs at McD's that would otherwise be untenable from a monetary perspective. So, while the independently wealthy do still subsizie these benefits like the rest of us, they're not relying on those (one assumes) in order to make the McD's salary "liveable." I guess I took your quiz to be a little more politically minded than you intended!

3) I think, though, we should pause and consider the vast degree of difference likely to exist between the independently wealthy and the desperately poor currently reliant on benefits. The independently wealthy not only can afford to pass on a job offer, but they also have significantly more potential job offers and opportunities in front of them by dint of social station, probably education, money, etc. For instance if I were independently wealthy and decided I wanted to be a radio DJ one day, I could wait and try to find a job as one. Or I could go buy a radio station. The independently wealthy have the power to basically create the jobs they want for themselves.

I know very few people who went into wedding planning after they graduated college but I think I can say with confidence that none of them were raised in poverty or impoverished as a result of their career choice. Not because they were successful, but because you don't fucking graduate college - or graduate/drop out of high school - need money, and think "Oh! I'll just fulfill my dream of being a wedding designer!" The rich are able to dream.

Baby-sitting is often tax-free cold hard cash under the table. It may or may not be reliable but if I were poor, knowing I had hard cash in my hands after every job (or every week if recurring etc) with no taxes taken out, no bankman who could touch it, that might be preferable to McD's. Takehome might be comparable or more, depending on the area and accounting for that. I bet that babysitters on average make around or even more than minimum wage. - I think it could be psychological even. Do you want to hire the babysitter who charges $7/hour or $10/hour? Do you really want to leave your baby with the cut-rate hack? We see price and we think it means quality.

Anyway, so I respond to this comment because I'm going to tie back to this thread. One of the benefits that it struck me one would have working at McD's or Walmart or similar is that these are all gigantic nation-wide corporations. That means that they have formal structures, policies, procedures, etc in place - there will be a set advancement structure. There is an HR hotline for sexual assault complaints. They probably have certain programs designed to "train young managers" or whatever. Companies that operate on a large scale are machines - but I think that can be a giant benefit. If I walk into a McD's and am hired, I would feel I could trust that it will be a relatively prepared and OK working environment where I will probably be safe and paid on time. And if that's not the case, that there will be resources for me that will in general help me get what I deserve, or am owed, or so on.

If I walk into a bodega, though, there is no corporate structure, no guarantee of any sort of premise of professionalism, no guarantee the owner knows how to do insurance or taxes right, no guarantee he's not going to do something shady like say I'm a contractor and short me on my insurance, and so on.

I actually prefer working for big banks over small banks. Big banks just simply have things much more streamlined and hammered out. For instance if I want to know my work cell phone policy, or my corporate card policy, or my days off policy, or my 401k, or how my bonus will be taxed, or basically anything that I as a worker might care about because it impacts me, I can find it probably within 3 clicks. I can identify potential career paths. I can post to other locations or positions internally.

So ThatsAFreeThinker, I would say: consider the lobster. By which I mean that yes, a company might be large and villified and even rightly (working at Comcast doesn't have to be awful but if you're on the phones it will be; I had a lot of friends do it - they actually turned me down) but HOWEVER, there is a certain assurance that basics will be met and readily available; that you will not be the first employee to ever ask any question; that you'll never experience "a funny situation in Payroll" because the lady had never had anyone ask to split their direct deposit between 2 bank accounts before, or etc.

I would be MORE assured taking a job at McD's, because of these things, than a no-name pop-up bodega or fast-food restaurant. With McD's, I can trust there's a corporate for me to turn to. With a no-name mom-and-pop, they really could get out of dodge and fuck me and the 3 paychecks they owe me if they wanted. McD's also can probably offer opportunities a small business can't - like different locations, more upward potential, etc.

Anyway, those have been my marinating thoughts that I was brought back to by the other thread.

EDIT: This is the first post for which I have used the draft function as intended. It was very convenient. No, I did not write this all in the 10 minutes between this and my last Hubski post. Half of it went into words-on-internet yesterday, and that was mad convenient.

wasoxygen  ·  1212 days ago  ·  link  ·  

1) Thanks for the thoughtful reply!


    Is the independently wealthy person likely to choose work over other uses of time, say, volunteering?

Probably not, it’s less likely. Outside income, regardless of the source, makes a person less likely to see going to work as a good use of time, and more likely to choose volunteering, hobbies, or television. People who receive outside income need additional incentive to work, compared to those who don’t. Imagine how much you would have to offer the wealthy person to get them to report to the office, instead of participating in satisfying volunteer activities.

    whether or not we, as taxpayers, subsidize others via public health (etc) benefits, thereby allowing McD's to pay low wages, and also allowing those who use such benefits to accept jobs at McD's that would otherwise be untenable from a monetary perspective

I think the word “allow” is key here. People do not do something because it is merely possible, because they won’t starve by doing it; they choose the alternative that they judge will best satisfy their desires. If their desire for a warm bed is already met, it reduces their desire to perform work to get money to pay for a warm bed.


    The independently wealthy not only can afford to pass on a job offer

Exactly. Someone must accept a low salary in order for it to be a low-paying job. Outside benefits make a person more comfortable, and give them the luxury of being more selective in their employment. Almost everyone will work if the alternative is homelessness and hunger. If the alternative is unemployment with basic housing with basic food, some people will take that option (or at least quit their second job), and employers will have to make better offers to attract employees.

_refugee_  ·  1212 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I had a sleepy nighttime lightbulb.

If we are going to argue that gov't benefits allow employers to pay lower wages because citizens are being subsidized, couldn't we make a similar and fun argument that the ready availability of consumer lines of credit (credit cards, helocs, heck even ODP-LOCs, and let's not even look at other, less savory lending options like payday loans) also allow employers to pay lower wages than their employees can truly live on? At least temporarily - really depends on how the math plays out, how much credit, minimum payments and so on, so let's just go back to 2007 when everyone could get shit tons of credit if they crossed their legs and smiled.

When credit is readily available and in large quantities to the average consumer, he or she is enabled to live beyond their actual monetary-hard-earned-cash means. Depending on how one does it, one could rely on a (not-insignificant) credit line on a regular basis to supplement and/or fill dietary needs, purchase clothes, and in other ways fulfill the basic needs of a person or family unit. As long as one is making at least the minimum payment, and we could even be generous and assume that sometimes one pays extra, regular, long-term/sustained use of credit to supplement income (supplement though - only supplement) is quite possible and does allow the average consumer to live outside/above their technical means (minimum payments are generally a fraction of the line balance unless you barely owe anything on the line; so long as the min pay remains less than the amount of credit used each month, which is possible without necessarily forcing the balance to balloon up to/past the credit allowance on a short-term time frame - IF you are not using the credit rashly, which you wouldn't if you're using it for those extra groceries you need but debit just can't swing this month) as provided by their employer.

So really, what I'm saying is, let's blame the banks.

JK JK JK, lots of factors including consumerist culture, but let me know what you think of this thought. Am I crazy? Can't widely available and universally accepted credit also be considered a mechanism which does, in a sneaky way, allow for employers to pay lower wages?

Wanna dig up some historical data of wage rates during credit booms and see whether any, especially low-income or low-barrier-to-employment, pay rates were impacted in any way? Could be fun to take a look. Maybe I'm just nuts.

But hey, if we are going to argue that getting things for free or reduced price subsidizes lower rates, then we do have to admit that credit enables that readily. And credit is real easy for most people to get.

Credit: Buy Now, Pay Later.

_refugee_  ·  1212 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Read it twice, see what you're driving at.

2) - Maslow's hierarchy, yup. However it's not like most humans' list of wants stops - ever. Right? Sure, I have a warm bed and I don't need to buy another one, but I sure would like a new iPhone, or laptop, or whatever. As the list goes on yes the desires must get less essential and more frivolous and eventually, it's likely a given person would reach a point at which they felt they had achieved enough even if they never did get that unicorn birthday party that costs $100k, and they can stop/maintain at the current level of income. But I don't think that stops at a warm bed. I think our society encourages us to want more, to earn more, to buy more. So just because even the vital tiers of the hierarchy might be met and satisfied by benefits, I do think people generally have an innate desire for 'more' that's also amplified by social conditioning.

3) I kind of feel that we are assuming that the impoverished who rely on gov't benefits don't have other debts or bills, like child support, legal issues, payday loans or other "non-vital" lending obligations (like credit cards). Article Basically I just don't think that the level of benefits we currently offer is significant and wide enough in order to do much except slap an off-brand bandaid on wounds that are range from "moderate" to "gushing."

I am fine with the idea of basic income, or basic housing and basic food, for each person. But - and I admit I say this without much hard numerical concept of unemployment payments, food stamps, etc - I think that these benefits often add only barely enough for struggling people and families to make it by.

Aren't there things like teenagers ready and waiting to swoop in for these vacated second jobs? A teenager generally is still a dependent and their income can be both much lower than an independent adult and can consist mostly of discretionary funds (variable, of course). I think this is dissimilar from an independently wealthy adult because of the situation - a teen has no workforce experience, so their potential jobs will be on the menial end. A teen has no work experience and therefore probably lowered standards. Etc. We could also talk about retirees who work to supplement savings etc but I think that gets closer to "independently wealthy individual" than what I am driving at here.

FWIW I am for benefits, basic housing, basic food, free and available schooling, etc, for all. But the fact that benefits might allow someone to quit a second job doesn't equate to me as occupational movement. Employer 1 can keep paying exactly what he was before. Employer 2 simply has to find someone who is willing to accept less than "enough money to feed, clothe, and maybe pay bills for" an independent unit, whether that be one person, a person with a child, whatever.

To be honest while I enjoy this conversation I mostly feel like I am fumbling around in it.

wasoxygen  ·  1210 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You mention many things that can influence a person's employment decisions: their desire to earn ever more, outside debts, legal issues, difficulty making ends meet, teenagers ready to accept the job offers before they do.

To focus on the question of whether a welfare benefit allows low-paying employers to pay employees even lower salaries, I think we have to assume that all these other factors are identical in both cases (with or without the welfare benefit).

All else being equal, does the presence of welfare income influence people toward accepting lower salaries?