edlada wrote:I must have missed the part in the constitution that guarantees the right to a McDonald's dollar menu.
Nothing in the Constitution demands it, and nothing in the Constitution forbids it. But customers demand it, and herein lies at least part of the problem.
We have a classic example of the "prisoners dilemma" being played out in this country. A prisoners dilemma is a situation in which the rational, benefit-maximizing actions of individuals result in a solution (or an equilibrium) which is sub-optimal: a different set of actions would actually be to everyone's benefit. The problem is enforcement - if everyone agreed to the alternative actions, then any individual would have the incentive to cheat and revert back to their previous action. That way, that individual is better off as long as everyone else sticks to the alternative action. Of course, if enough people realize this the entire system breaks down and everyone goes back to their sub-optimal ways.
The economic literature has long agreed that there is only one way out of this situation - enforceable collective action. If cheating can be sufficiently punished or optimal action compelled, everyone can be made better off. But that smells suspiciously like governmental regulation, which much of our population believe is always damaging to the economy and the well-being of the individuals within it. It isn't.
Which brings us to:
edlada wrote:Those two bogeymen of the conservative business agenda, "increasing the minimum wage" and "increased regulation" feature large in the quote from the article.
I need to find the studies, but there have been recently published some rigorous studies that show that regulation and minimum wage increases (of the types that have been instituted in local areas, and thus can be studied - obviously not any regulation or wage increase) do not bring the economic damage feared, and often bring net economic benefits. Thus, economic regulations and minimum wage laws may be valid examples of collective action to alleviate prisoner dilemma situations.
edlada wrote:It doesn't matter what the minimum wage law was intended to do originally , the facts of todays economy are that many workers employed in minimum wage jobs are the sole breadwinners in their family because there are no other jobs available. If industry as a whole wants to see a huge resurgence in union organization then just keep the status quo, which is to outsource jobs, and continually cut pay and benefits and see what happens.
Let's add another piece to the puzzle: in addition to cutting wages and benefits, also pass laws that remove the government programs that just barely keep many of these workers adequately fed and housed. Union organization will just be the start of it.
It seems to me that our national economy shifted in the economic crisis of 2008/2009 to a new equilibrium, which is both stable and very much sub-optimal. Getting to a better equilibrium is very difficult, and attempts to move in that direction are often stymied out of fears that (A) profits/GDP might suffer, or (B) they'll be self-defeating because China (or whoever) will take advantage of our actions and enrich themselves at our expense. Thus, we become powerless to help ourselves and resort to convincing ourselves that we're really fine, when it is obvious that we aren't.
I started out on Burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff. Bob Dylan, Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
How on earth did I get 7 QPs?