Another Bit of Foolishness

And another incentive for businesses to relocate.

San Francisco is looking to tax robots because they are taking rote jobs that humans do.  They’re not the first to consider such a thing, but it’s still foolish.  Never mind, especially with minimum wage laws pricing the unskilled and/or poorly educated out of work, that robots do the jobs more cheaply.  Robots are more reliable, too, as Security guard Eric Leon noted about a security robot:

He doesn’t complain.  He’s quiet.  No lunch break.  He’s starting exactly at 10.

Some Labor Day Questions

First published in 2015, I’ve updated it for today.  In an ideal world, I’ll be able to update it again next year, with a more optimistic tone.

The Wall Street Journal asked some questions on Labor Day 2012, and supplied some answers.  Here are some of those questions and answers, which remain as valid this Labor Day.

Brain Burp

[Because this is a family blog.]

I had this one this morning while out on one of my walks.  It concerns a free market economy, bankruptcy, the bankrupt company’s employees, and what we ought to do about those employees.

In an ideal world’s free market, then, here is my gaseous expulsion.  It comes against the backdrop of my long-held disdain for the citizens of one State being forced to send their tax dollars to another State via the mechanism of Federal transfer payments in order to indemnify the recipient against its own foolish spending.  That backdrop also includes James Madison’s remark, on the occasion of Congress’ considering money transfers to Haitians after a devastating earthquake

Congress Has 12 Days

There are 12 days left after their 5 September return from vacation, driven by the Obamacare requirement for health plan providers to commit by 17 September to selling their health plans for the next year or withdrawing, for Congress to pass a potful of legislation.

Two proposals regarding Obamacare are in the offing.  One would shore up the funds transfer of Federal dollars to those providers who are losing money in ObamaMart, and the other instead would send that money as grants to the States to help them generate their own health coverage plan programs.  This one also would eliminate the Individual Mandate.

The Communist Worker’s Paradise

Here’s an example, People’s Republic of China style.  Including the fact that gender discrimination in the workplace is illegal in the PRC, while its governments at all levels blithely ignore those laws.

[A]bout 22% of women have experienced severe or very severe discrimination when seeking employment, according to Zhaopin Ltd, an online recruiter. … That percentage rose to about 43% for women with graduate degrees.

And

A trawl through job listings on Boss Zhipin, the recruitment site, showed some tech companies state explicitly that positions are just for men.

Quotas

German businesses better add women to their governances.  Or else Germany’s Großer Bruder will do it for them.  Regardless of qualification.

Big German companies need to put more women on their executive boards, said Germany’s Women’s Affairs Minister Katarina Barley. The official threatened legal measures if the firms fail to fix the problem within the year.

Bad idea.

Quotas just stigmatize those who got in via quota, whether they were truly qualified for the position or not.  And those who are not, and so fail, only strengthen the stigma.  Quotas are especially damaging to black women.  My GP was contemptuously treated as a twofer in med school because she allegedly filled two squares: she’s a woman, and she’s black.  It stinks.

Bogus Beef

Congressmen don’t pay their interns.  Who knew?

At least 174 of the 184 lawmakers who support legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour do not pay their interns, according to a recent Employment Policies Institute analysis.

It’s a bogus beef, though.  Folks employed in minimum wage jobs are low-skill workers doing low-value work, and they’re doing it to build general work experience and ethic, to earn summer spending money, to earn money for college, to build a resume, to supplement an existing family income.

Labor Law

Recall the 2015 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that said, via Browning-Ferris Industries v NLRB, that a joint employer was not an employer that shared direct control over a temp agency’s employees with that temp agency, as the long-established 1984 standard held, but that such a joint employer is one that exercises merely tenuous control.

The case is before the DC Circuit on appeal from the ruling.  The Wall Street Journal is properly skeptical of the permanence of a favorable court outcome, as it is with the possibility of a reversing ruling by an NLRB populated with President Donald Trump appointees.

Labor Under the Radar

Rather, a labor reform bill making its way (too slowly, IMHO) in the House.  The bill has some interesting items in it:

  • require unions to obtain permission from workers to spend their dues on purposes other than collective bargaining
  • mandate a recertification election upon the expiration of a collective-bargaining agreement if a workforce has turned over by more than 50%
  • take card-check off the menu of options for holding a union election
  • allow employees to withhold their personal contact information from unions

What’s not to like?

What’s holding up the bill?

Minimum Wage and Automation

Is technology—automation—really going to kill jobs?  No.  As many, including me, have written before, automation is only going to shift the nature of jobs.  Minimum wage laws are killing jobs, and will continue to and at increasing rates, by making robots cost effective despite their high up-front costs.

Wal-Mart, for instance, used to employ humans to track individual stores’ cash and manage their books.  Now at roughly 4,700 Wal-Marts, roughly 4,700 of those employees have been replaced by a machine that can track the books and while counting bills and coins at rates of 480 and 3,000 per minute, respectively.  Because it’s Wal-Mart, those folks, where they’ve wanted to, have taken jobs elsewhere in their store at the same pay, but those jobs are at risk, too.  Cashiers are being replaced by automated check-out stands, for instance.