So, what's wrong with Libertarianism?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Tahuti, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    There is no reason in economics to assume collective bargaining will cause inflation. Productivity is a variable, and the employer controls it.
     
  2. Part_Time_Civer

    Part_Time_Civer Warlord

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    Well, I guess it depends on the country you're thinking of. A 19th century factory worker in Europe was typically not mobile at all, not due just to language barriers (who spoke English or German in 19th century Netherlands?) but also because they couldn't afford a ticket and even if they did they wouldn't have spare time to buy one (people worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day).
     
  3. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Actually, the mobility of labor was such a huge problem, that nations who were on the receiving end of it constructed huge dedicated facilities and strict immigration/emmigration laws to deal with it.
     
  4. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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  5. Part_Time_Civer

    Part_Time_Civer Warlord

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    Again, it depends if you're talking about the US or Europe. And yes, people did emigrate, but that's a whole different thing than to simply switch jobs because company A is paying 10% more than company B. And langauge was not an issue for those who emigrated (it's a big investment to learn a new language, but emigrating is a big deal anyway) but it's not like people would simply work in another country (or town for that matter) for a while. Except of course in the US, where there was a whole diferent playing field.
     
  6. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    Except that they did just that.
     
  7. Part_Time_Civer

    Part_Time_Civer Warlord

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    I don't understand, do you suggest 19th century factory workers were job-hoppers?
     
  8. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    In Australia they sure as hell were.
     
  9. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I don't know how you can think I was saying anything else.
     
  10. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    If you want to discuss Europe, if there was no labor mobility how the hell did Belfast, Glasgow and London become such ethnically segregated cities?
     
  11. Part_Time_Civer

    Part_Time_Civer Warlord

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  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Employers have much more relative power now, because there's less labor mobility, and there are fewer options for the labor to go elsewhere. In the 19th century, one could at least try to go off and try farming.
     
  13. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    That's an interesting point. To what extent has increased specialisation of labour reduced labour mobility? We know that home ownership has crippled labour mobility in the US over the most recent recession. I'm looking at Cutlass, Hygro, and if he's still around Integral. You guys usually know this sort of thing...

    I think people just assume that nobody 100 years ago, much less 500 years ago, moved from town to town looking for work, and that everyone just stayed in the same little town or village until they died. But that isn't true. There's plenty of evidence that even going back to the middle ages, Roman Britain, etc, labour was really rather mobile. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that labour mobility just naturally increased over the past 100 years or whatever due to better transport or some other techy response. I think there are a lot of things that work in the opposite direction, labour specialisation and home ownership being my first thoughts, but also more restrictive immigration policies and decrease in the availability of land/housing due to the ever-rising population.

    I'm not saying that labour mobility has fallen -- I just don't know. But I think that there are good reasons to believe that it has, and really only one, rather flimsy reason to believe that it hasn't.
     
  14. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Well, you go back before the 20th century, even before the middle of the 20th century, and what you see most places is more or less what you see if you look at Mexico and Central America now. And that is that people who are doing fine where they are stay put, generation after generation. But those who are not, they walk. Usually literally walk. it isn't about being able to afford passage on a train or ship, though that was a limit for crossing oceans. When oceans were in the way, many people signed up as bonded or indentured workers to pay for their passage. But steerage passage wasn't very expensive to begin with, and sometimes people would scrape together anything they could, often with family and friends pitching in, to pay for the transport.

    This is also why many places had indenture, serfdom and peasantry who did not have a right of departure. There were legal obstacles to labor moving, otherwise labor would literally just walk away from bad work.

    Now, the majority of jobs in this era required minimal skills going in. You learned by doing. The apprenticeship system of skilled craftsmen was breaking down, the system of trade school certificates not yet started, college education was a distinct minority, and for most jobs it was more of a matter of proving what you could do rather than credentialing.

    Employers trained, to the extent that they needed trained people. There was no other source of training.

    Contrast to today: Employers no longer train, or very little of it. People have to provide their own. But, having gotten yourself trained, that's a sunk cost, and a very high one. If people now can't find work in the field they trained in, well they are screwed, because they probably borrowed the money for it. So it's work in that field, or at unskilled work. Having failed to pay off one student loan with work, will they do it again?

    So the barriers to labor mobility now, housing, if you've bought, you may not be able to move. If you rent, you may not be able to afford the rent in a place with a better economy. Transport, unless you're going to walk, it's expensive now.Credentialing and experience, employers won't hire you unless you're already a perfect fit for the job.

    The costs of preparing to work have been shifted from the employer to the worker. That's another source of the problem. There are restrictions on just being able to squat in a new location. Now you can make the point that the people in developed nations are kind of spoiled, and we are unwilling to live as the refugees from the 3rd world live, and that's true. But by the same token why should we, or even they, have to in a world that has the ability not to?

    Even welfare reduced labor mobility, because someone who looses their job one place and is thrown onto welfare is not eligible for it in a different state, so they are stuck.

    In short, employers haven't had a better power relationship in the developed world, the US in particular, in at least a century.
     
  15. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Sorta relevant.


    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-13/with-so-many-job-openings-why-so-little-hiring-.html
     
  16. Part_Time_Civer

    Part_Time_Civer Warlord

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    Maybe this is a difference between the US and Europe, or else you have to be totally kidding. 100 years ago people in Europe were working 12 hours per day, 6 days a week in factories being shouted at all day (kinda similar to some parts of China nowadays). Don't you think if these people had the opportunity to simply walk away and find a better job elsewhere they wouldn't have done it?
     
  17. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Turnover was a pretty major problem at this period in industrial history, actually, yeah. It depended on the state of the economy, obviously, people in slumps didn't tend to throw away jobs too lightly, but when jobs were going and employees were contracted on what amounted to an hour-to-hour basis, it was pretty common for them to switch jobs if the opportunity presented itself.

    Famous example here is Henry Ford's "$5 a day", which despite later mythologising wasn't some sort of private-secotr Keynesianism, but a response to the fact that workers hated the assembly line so much the firm was operating at almost 200% turnover. That wouldn't have been a problem if workers were incapable of switching employers.
     
  18. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    I'm from the UK so I don't know which side of the US / Europe divide you think I'm on :p

    Anyway, that's just not logical at all. It's entirely plausible that labour mobility has decreased even as working conditions increased over the past 100 years. The fact that working conditions were universally crap in 1850 doesn't mean that labour mobility must have also been crap. It's like if I go to one restaurant, and it's crap, I can still get up and leave and go to another one -- even if that other restaurant is also crap. I still have "restaurant mobility", even if all the restaurants I can choose from fail to provide me with adequate food. The ability to move from one restaurant to another, and the quality of food at each restaurant, are two entirely separate things. That's why we have two different phrases to describe labour mobility and working conditions. Otherwise, we would just use the same word for both.
     
  19. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    It's also worth noting, this is a period in which seasonal migration was still pretty common, with a lot of young men spending planting and harvest seasons in their home villages, and the winters and summers working in towns. Often they would return to particular employers, but there was neither an obligation to return nor a guarantee of renewed employment, so almost all of them would find work with numerous firms during their time as seasonal migrants. This appears to have been particularly true in which agriculture was what you might call "half-modern", that it was specialised production for market rather than peasant self-sustenance, but in which it was not effectively mechanised.
     
  20. Part_Time_Civer

    Part_Time_Civer Warlord

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    Granted. I shouldn't have called it labour mobility but simply "options". If I may use your restaurant analogy: suppose there's just 2 restaurants in town, the owns have little incentive to make either of them better if there's abundant demand for dinners. In circumstances like these, it makes sense to create a consumer organization specifically for maintaining food standards. If there's lots of restaurants who conpete, there's less need for such an organization (althought you might still want to have one). My original point was; in the 19th century, workers had little choice so it made sense to put trade unions in place, nowadays trade unions are more or less obsolete.
     

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