Veil of Ignorance

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Ecurb
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by Ecurb »

GE Morton wrote: December 3rd, 2021, 1:15 pm
They work under "barbaric" conditions so they can put food on the table and a roof over their heads, just as humans have always done. You seem to think their employers, and the customers for the products they help make, have some duty to improve their conditions. They don't. They are not their employees' mommies or daddies. Employers pay the least they can --- which means the least the employee will accept --- for the work they want done, just as they do for all the other services and materials they buy, and just as you do when you buy a new teevee or new car.



The bosses are paid what their services are worth on the market, just as are all other employees of the company. Businesses are not charities.
If "justice" suggests that rewards are doled out based on merit, what decides which actions are meritricious? If it is "the Market", I don't buy it. Let's posit two workers, both employed in hard manual labor. ONe is a union member, and because his union (which he has little to do with except paying dues) has negotiated successfully, he makes $30 an hour. The other works in a non-union shop, and makes $10 an hour. Why is the union member more meritricious than the non-union member? (The union member can't get into the union because his skin is the wrong color.)

Let's look at another example (from our own storied past). A black man and white man work at similar jobs. Because the black man has fewer opportunities for employment, he accepts a job at $10 an hour. The white man works at the same job, and is less productive, but he gets paid twice as much because the employer is a bigot who doesn't want to hire black people and because the white man has more opportunities. Is this "just"?

Your faith in the Free Market is touching in its sincerity, GE. But it is unmerited. Free markets are exploitive. Besides, no markets are really free. They are regulated by (among other things) immigration laws. The impoverished Bangladeshi can't move to this country and get a better job. We won't let him. We''ll build a wall to keep him out.

In addition, the bosses are often not paid what they are "worth". As a boss, I'm well aware that I was paid more than I merited. I didn't work very hard; I goofed off on the internet most of the time. But the company was profitable and I was friends with the CEO (and I did some things others couldn't do). The notion that Free Markets are automatically efficient is, however, a myth. They are good at setting prices for goods (one problem with Communism was Black Markets, because the governemtn couldn't figure out pricing for goods). But they are not as good at setting prices for services -- especially employment servces. In fact, I'd suggest that the governement is BETTER at deciding pay scales than the Free(?) Market, in which personal relationships, old boy networks, and inaccurate valuations abound.
GE Morton
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by GE Morton »

Ecurb wrote: December 3rd, 2021, 2:38 pm
If "justice" suggests that rewards are doled out based on merit, what decides which actions are meritricious?
The person doling them out. Everyone (if they are rational) pays no more for a good or service what that good or service is worth to him. Values are subjective.
If it is "the Market", I don't buy it.
The market doesn't decide what anyone will pay for anything; the buyer does. The market may tell a buyer, however, that he cannot obtain good X for less than price V. That buyer then has to decide whether or not X is worth V to him.
Let's posit two workers, both employed in hard manual labor. ONe is a union member, and because his union (which he has little to do with except paying dues) has negotiated successfully, he makes $30 an hour. The other works in a non-union shop, and makes $10 an hour. Why is the union member more meritricious than the non-union member? (The union member can't get into the union because his skin is the wrong color.)
They are (presumably) working for different employers, or perhaps for the same employer in different countries. What Alfie's services are worth to company A will not likely be the same as Bruno's services to company B. If the same employer, what Alfie's services in Maylasia are worth may be less than Bruno's in Chicago, because the employer also has shipping and other costs for both the product and various materials and equipment in Malaysia that it doesn't have in Chicago. What any employee's service is worth to an employer depends on that employee's contribution to profits. That is the measure of "merit" here, not the wage paid.

BTW, if your union worker and non-union worker are both making similar products and working in an environment whether other costs are roughly the same, the union worker will soon be out of a job, either because his employer's products will be overpriced and non-competitive, and will lose market share, or because the employer, foreseeing this, replaces that worker with a machine.
Let's look at another example (from our own storied past). A black man and white man work at similar jobs. Because the black man has fewer opportunities for employment, he accepts a job at $10 an hour. The white man works at the same job, and is less productive, but he gets paid twice as much because the employer is a bigot who doesn't want to hire black people and because the white man has more opportunities. Is this "just"?
It is stupid, but not unjust. As above, the "merit" of an employee's services are decided by the employer, and reflect the employee's contribution to profits. Like your union worker above, the wages being paid to the less productive and overpaid white worker will soon put the bigot out of business. The customers will not pay $20 for a widget they can get for $10, and they won't care whether the workers who made it were white or black.
Free markets are exploitive.
Perhaps you can define that word, without using terms such as "fair" or "just" with Newspeak definitions.
Besides, no markets are really free.
I agree. They are all hag-ridden by governments in one way or another, usually to deliver some sort of free lunch to some politician's constituents, always with some impact on efficiency and productivity, and therefore on prices. (This is not to say, however, that NO government regulations on business are justifiable. Some are prudent, and some even necessary).
The notion that Free Markets are automatically efficient is, however, a myth. They are good at setting prices for goods (one problem with Communism was Black Markets, because the governemtn couldn't figure out pricing for goods). But they are not as good at setting prices for services -- especially employment servces. In fact, I'd suggest that the governement is BETTER at deciding pay scales than the Free(?) Market, in which personal relationships, old boy networks, and inaccurate valuations abound.
Prices for goods and services are inextricably intertwined. Labor is a market commodity, a factor of production, and is priced by the market, like all other factors of production. And you're confusing inefficiencies in particular businesses, which certainly occur, with inefficiencies of the market. Indeed, there is no other means of defining, or measuring, economic efficiency other than by performance in a free market.
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LuckyR
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by LuckyR »

GE Morton wrote: December 3rd, 2021, 1:15 pm
EricPH wrote: December 3rd, 2021, 9:25 am
You seem happy to accept that people work under barbaric conditions; just so the spoilt elite can have cheap toys.
They work under "barbaric" conditions so they can put food on the table and a roof over their heads, just as humans have always done. You seem to think their employers, and the customers for the products they help make, have some duty to improve their conditions. They don't. They are not their employees' mommies or daddies. Employers pay the least they can --- which means the least the employee will accept --- for the work they want done, just as they do for all the other services and materials they buy, and just as you do when you buy a new teevee or new car.
You presumable accept that the Apple bosses can take billions out the company and get away with paying their workers a couple of dollars an hour.
The bosses are paid what their services are worth on the market, just as are all other employees of the company. Businesses are not charities.
Sounds fair. What are your thoughts on unions and collective bargaining?
"As usual... it depends."
GE Morton
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by GE Morton »

LuckyR wrote: December 4th, 2021, 2:39 am
Sounds fair. What are your thoughts on unions and collective bargaining?
In a free country workers would certainly be free to organize and propose to bargain collectively with their employer. However, the employer would also be free to enter into that bargaining or refuse to do so, in which case the employees would be free to strike, and the employer free to replace them. There would be no laws either compelling collective bargaining (i.e., the Wagner Act), nor laws banning union shops ("right-to-work" laws).
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LuckyR
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by LuckyR »

GE Morton wrote: December 3rd, 2021, 1:15 pm
EricPH wrote: December 3rd, 2021, 9:25 am
You seem happy to accept that people work under barbaric conditions; just so the spoilt elite can have cheap toys.
They work under "barbaric" conditions so they can put food on the table and a roof over their heads, just as humans have always done. You seem to think their employers, and the customers for the products they help make, have some duty to improve their conditions. They don't. They are not their employees' mommies or daddies. Employers pay the least they can --- which means the least the employee will accept --- for the work they want done, just as they do for all the other services and materials they buy, and just as you do when you buy a new teevee or new car.
You presumable accept that the Apple bosses can take billions out the company and get away with paying their workers a couple of dollars an hour.
The bosses are paid what their services are worth on the market, just as are all other employees of the company. Businesses are not charities.
True, but that can (should, but many in management are too dim to grasp the concept) entail spending more on employee wages and benefits. Specifically at the current time of record low unemployment, not compensating at the high end of the scale leads to unfilled positions, but more importantly very high turnover among your current workforce. High turnover is extremely inefficient and leads to lower profitability.
"As usual... it depends."
GE Morton
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by GE Morton »

LuckyR wrote: December 5th, 2021, 1:59 am
True, but that can (should, but many in management are too dim to grasp the concept) entail spending more on employee wages and benefits. Specifically at the current time of record low unemployment, not compensating at the high end of the scale leads to unfilled positions, but more importantly very high turnover among your current workforce. High turnover is extremely inefficient and leads to lower profitability.
True. When demand for labor exceeds supply, its price goes up, just as with everything else.
WanderingGaze22
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by WanderingGaze22 »

GE Morton wrote: December 5th, 2021, 11:23 am
True. When demand for labor exceeds supply, its price goes up, just as with everything else.
Surely in case of an emergency, there are some form of exceptions, as in possible societal collapse or some other scenario.
EricPH
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by EricPH »

GE Morton wrote: December 5th, 2021, 11:23 am True. When demand for labor exceeds supply, its price goes up, just as with everything else.
There is only one US president; his salary is fixed at 400K plus expenses. Doctors are valued around 350K.

But in our crazy greed driven society; sportsmen, actors and musicians are valued more than the president and doctors.
GE Morton
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by GE Morton »

EricPH wrote: December 6th, 2021, 7:46 am
But in our crazy greed driven society; sportsmen, actors and musicians are valued more than the president and doctors.
Societies don't value things; individuals do. Most individuals value the services of a doctor more highly than those of an actor, and will willingly pay more for the former's services. But many more people demand movie tickets on a given day than demand heart surgeries, and will fork over $10 each for them, while the doctor can only perform one or two heart surgeries per day. So over the course of a year the "A-list" actor delivers more value to more people than the doctor does.
EricPH
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by EricPH »

GE Morton wrote: December 6th, 2021, 10:34 am But many more people demand movie tickets on a given day than demand heart surgeries,
One person receiving life changing heart surgery is far more beneficial than thousands paying to see a movie. The way we justify value is all wrong.
GE Morton
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by GE Morton »

EricPH wrote: December 6th, 2021, 4:33 pm
GE Morton wrote: December 6th, 2021, 10:34 am But many more people demand movie tickets on a given day than demand heart surgeries,
One person receiving life changing heart surgery is far more beneficial than thousands paying to see a movie. The way we justify value is all wrong.
Sorry, but you are the one who gets it wrong.

Value is not a property of things; it is a relation between a person --- a valuer --- and a thing, and is a measure of the strength of a valuer's desire for that thing. The value he places on it is evidenced by what he will give up to obtain or retain it. Things do not have value "in themselves;" not gold coins, land, or doctor's services. There is no such thing as "intrinsic value." The only value anything has is the value some valuer places on it, which will vary from person to person, for any given thing. Heart surgery is certainly more beneficial to someone who needs it, and that person will be quite willing to pay more for it than for a movie ticket. But it has no value to someone who doesn't need it, which will be most people. But most of those people will value movie tickets.

Nor are values in need of any justification. People desire what they desire; desires raise no moral issues (though the means chosen to satisfy them may). Desires and values are morally neutral.
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LuckyR
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Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by LuckyR »

EricPH wrote: December 6th, 2021, 7:46 am
GE Morton wrote: December 5th, 2021, 11:23 am True. When demand for labor exceeds supply, its price goes up, just as with everything else.
There is only one US president; his salary is fixed at 400K plus expenses. Doctors are valued around 350K.

But in our crazy greed driven society; sportsmen, actors and musicians are valued more than the president and doctors.
The difference between the compensation of folks in the public eye between eras is the result of media technology. A baseball player gives less overall value before the games could be broadcast, even though the player doesn't actually do anything differently.
"As usual... it depends."
GE Morton
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Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Veil of Ignorance

Post by GE Morton »

LuckyR wrote: December 7th, 2021, 2:59 am
The difference between the compensation of folks in the public eye between eras is the result of media technology. A baseball player gives less overall value before the games could be broadcast, even though the player doesn't actually do anything differrntly.
Media enlarges his market. Hence more revenue.
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