Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The just in justice

Who determines a minimum wage, anyway? People have different desires and needs, beyond the basics; they have different levels of debt to service. Setting a price for labor seems as arbitrary as setting a minimum price for a laptop. What is 'just' enough? Again, putting a number to justice is a fallacy, it seems to me. But we cling to it with our emotions, feeling that the labor we put into it imparts value. 

In one area, I think this is true: art. And by that, artifice, in the sense of its etymology, "workmanship, the making of anything by craft or skill." While I appreciate Kandinsky and moreso Magritte, Caravaggio or Michaelangelo take the cake. There is craft there that doesn't exist in the former artists; there is greater skill. In other words, I find that there is greater technical ability. And so to me, their works have greater value because that kind of skill is rare. And scarce abilities should result in higher wages, which any premier architect exemplifies. But who determines his or her 'price'?

In an industrial age of indistinct copies and homogenous forms, where is the value? We recognize the absurd pretension in 'crafted laptop' for good reason. And yet we like 'craft beer.' I do. Hence the craving now for all things crafted.
Productivity increases through technology is [sic] far better than hiring physical employees in excess of current demands. As such, there is currently little incentive to increase employment beyond current needs. This suggests that hopes of declining jobless claims leading to sharp ramps in employment and economic growth may be disappointing. More importantly, advances in technology are continually reducing the need for labor in the economy which increases the drag on both employment and wages. 
This from a good post by Lance Roberts. Apart from the Federal Reserve not giving a shit about lower wage earners -- again, it is an institution of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy -- there are structural problems that the raising of the minimum wage is not going to fix. By making unskilled labor more expensive, businesses are going to want to use less of it. If my 'craft beer' is now twice the price, I'm going to drink less of it.