Nothing like a pandemic to highlight how dependent we are on low wage work.

http://digitaledition.pilotonline.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=dcce006f-fe1b-45ae-9318-9fb94e6134a7

If some workers are so essential, then their value to our economy is apparently not remunerated at market rates. Sadly, this applies to the millions of illegal immigrants we cannot do without, but we are willing to exploit for their lack of rights and compliance to stay in the shadows.

27 thoughts on “Nothing like a pandemic to highlight how dependent we are on low wage work.

  1. Leaving aside that the issue at hand is hazard pay, not base compensation, what makes you think the waste management workers aren’t rumunerated at market rates?

    More fundamentally, how would you calculate the appropriate remuneration?

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      1. 42% of the jobs in America, according to the BLS, pay $15.00 or less. That is the new minimum wage that has been adopted due to Democratic pressure in many cities and states.

        When nearly half he population as to subsist on federal and state monies for healthcare, SNAP, subsidies, then I would say the market hasn’t worked.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “When nearly half he population as to subsist on federal and state monies for healthcare, SNAP, subsidies, then I would say the market hasn’t worked.”

          In other words, you have no answers to the two questions posed. You’re just guessing that the waste management employees in your story belong to some theoretical class of exploited workers.

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          1. My point is about the irony of how the essential workers are our lowest paid and make up a decent portion of our undocumented workers.

            How to change that is a challenge, of course. I will leave that to those more versed in microeconomics in a modern industrial society society. I suspect that strong unions might have something to do with establishing higher wages.

            And that is a form of marketplace influence since workers are more on par with the power of employers. Sort of like thousands of people forming healthcare groups that can negotiate from a better position than individuals.

            Does that illuminate what I said?

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “My point is about the irony of how the essential workers are our lowest paid and make up a decent portion of our undocumented workers.”

            I got that part. My point is that there is no logical connection between the story you posted and your comments on it.

            Also, I don’t see what you find ironic. Wage and compensation rates are easily explained by standard, mainstream economics. The idea that a particular job may be “essential” isn’t even a factor.

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          3. “ The idea that a particular job may be “essential” isn’t even a factor.”

            You have never run your own shop have you? Essential employees are valuable or they would not be essential. Getting a good assistant it was necessary to pay well or other offers would take him/her away.

            Not much competition in municipal workers among the cities in the area.

            For a few weeks or so we had no yard waste pickup. Too many workers out sick and the residential trash was higher due to lockdowns. So the pandemic was putting extra pressure on this sanitation workers, just like all other essential workers.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. Too many low wage workers getting left behind tells me it ain’t workin’, While it doesn’t affect me personally, I have something that you, Don, Trump and the rest of the right wing glitteratti don’t – empathy.

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        1. RE: “Too many low wage workers getting left behind tells me it ain’t workin’”

          In that case, you don’t know what you’re talking about, since the workers’ wages and benefits are not described in the story.

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          1. I know exactly what I am talking about. Low wage workers are not being paid a living wage. Those in this story, who collected our trash through the entire pandemic thus far, are as essential as any of the other city workers who continued to work and they shouldn’t be left out of the hazard pay.

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          2. RE: “Those in this story, who collected our trash through the entire pandemic thus far, are as essential as any of the other city workers who continued to work and they shouldn’t be left out of the hazard pay.”

            Those workers didn’t qualify for the federal program by law. They also didn’t face any increased risk due to Covid-19.

            Your comment isn’t based on anything factual, just a set of assumptions based on theoretical guesswork.

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          3. “ They also didn’t face any increased risk due to Covid-19.”

            Really: picking other people’s waste in a pandemic is risk free? I did not know that.

            The workload has been much higher due to people staying home. Why might you ask? Simple. When workplaces that use commercial trash management are closed or diminished, all that same daily waste is now residential. Which is what municipal systems handle.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. “They also didn’t face any increased risk due to Covid-19.”

            So now your an epidemiologist. Congratulations.

            …”just a set of assumptions based on theoretical guesswork.”

            Not really. But what you call “assumptions” are still better that the tin-hat crap you normally post.

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          5. RE: “Really: picking other people’s waste in a pandemic is risk free? I did not know that.”

            Sure, you did know that. You, yourself, have commented that Covid-19 is spread by breathing, not by transmission on surfaces.

            As for the increased workload, why should we assume that has been a problem in any way?

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        2. Empathy?

          I deeply care for those people burdened by taxes and more importantly, the cost of taxes embedded in the price of goods and services resulting from artificially high wages for groups who can exert political pressure.

          The marketplace determines how much labor is worth by supply and demand. A lot of people can be trained very quickly to drive a garbage truck. Thus it does not pay as well as brain surgery.

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          1. YOUR empathy is completely misplaced to those who don’t need it.

            And a dentist is in no danger of having his finger being bitten by a rambunctious 10-year old. Your mixed messages are getting really bad.

            And the marketplace, manipulated by those with the capital, control wages. It is they who exert the most political pressure.

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          2. The pay difference between a brain surgeon and a sanitation worker is a lousy example. Of course there is a difference.

            Two thoughts:

            A town can survive fine without a brain surgeon, but not without waste management. Or another way of seeing it is that a tiny percentage of people need brain surgery, but everyone needs municipal services.

            In addition, there is a wage floor for the minimums of affordable housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, transportation, etc. the surgeon will lose maybe 10-20% of his income due to COVID and still pay his bills. The essential workers out of work loses everything.

            I and most liberals have no issue with wealthy people who worked to get to a level of comfort. Innovation and good skills deserve that.

            It is the floor I have an issue with. Wealth is a great incentive for entrepreneurs and skill crafts workers. But poverty should not be the punishment for not being blessed with drive and talent. They can certainly contribute through more mundane, but essential jobs.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. And those artificially high wages will mean higher costs of living bringing demand for still higher artificially raised wages.

            There is no good alternative to free markets. As soon as you intervene to help one actor in the marketplace, you injure others to a greater net degree than you helped your intended beneficiary.

            And they will demand redress.

            We all benefit most from the maximum efficiency in the marketplace. Any intervention that raises costs or decreases efficiency does more harm than good.

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          4. So we are a low wage economy that depends on poor pay and illegal immigrants. That much is a given.

            Is that a good thing in the long run?

            If the market decides that 1/2 of our jobs are minimum wage, we should be thrilled I suppose.

            At some point, we may have to approach working classes as more than just disposable nuisances. Or we could just build barracks like China does for its mega factories.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Low wages aren’t so bad if the cost of living is also low.

            Sure, low skilled workers will need to work more hours than skilled workers. That is the price of lacking skills, but that can be a temporary condition as people move up the ladder as they gain skills.

            Prosperity is a measure of the overall efficiency of an economy. Anything you do to reduce efficiency reduces the size of the pie. The most efficient economy produces a labor shortage and raises wages naturally.

            Oh, and China is NOT a free market. It is the end result of government control of the market. the road you seem to be drawn to travel because it looks compassionate in the short run.

            Free markets may not produce perfect results, but every alternative is worse, even if it looks better in the short run.

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          6. Did I say I was drawn to China? Either I wrote badly or you assumed badly.

            The barracks was an insult, not an aspiration.

            There is no such thing as a truly free market. If there were we would have 10 Amazons, lots of FB’s, 15 airlines…you get the drift. Companies that try to compete will get slammed in legal battles, like Trump favored, or get bought.

            Free market capitalism is an aspiration and with honest government watchdogs, competition does exist. Everything you say about free markets looks good on paper. But people are not formulas.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. Do you really think multiple FBs is a good thing? Think about what FB does and reconsider.

            There are economies of scale that are hard to overcome. So, one Amazon is OK, but it if gets abusive, a competitor will rise.

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