Days of Change

The Wage Slaves | August 21, 2015

I am a free market person. However, I think movements like unionization and socialism are the result of bad actions by participants in the free market. Only the last couple centuries of human civilization have seen people employed by corporations and large businesses. Since the beginning of those corporations, workers have been exploited in different ways. In the past, however, workers were also exploited by small merchants and employers as well.

Democratic governments, which have been around for a few more centuries, have decided they are the regulators. They use oversight to exercise control over the actions of businesses (as well as other parts of public life) as a form of social engineering. I see it differently. Businesses tend to exploit legal loop holes (and workers) until those workers start siding with socialist and anti-free market solutions. In effect, the imposition of anti-business rules are by themselves a part of the free market.

I’m dealing with a situation where I work involving the use of salaried employees as free labor. Certain salaried employees are “exempt” from the kind of overtime laws that would pay them for time worked beyond 40 hours. These exemptions were created for highly paid and uniquely skilled employees who would occasionally work odd hours because a project demanded it.

What often happens now is that businesses make certain people “managers” and other salaried positions to work them over 40 hours a week. The salary threshold is about $24,000 which is below the poverty line for a family. essentially, employers figured out that they could either pay someone $12 an hour and also overtime, or turn them into an exempt employee and get more work out of them,

Sadly, I am in the position of tacitly agreeing with the administration wanting to change the threshold from $24,000 to $47,000 so that a “professional” who gets no overtime pay at least makes close to the median income in the first place. I am in this boat because employers exploited the law (and people) to save a buck. Everyone in my family has had this happen at one time or other. They were paid a salary to get more hours out of them.

Of course, the free market is the exchange of goods and services and not the greed corporations who abuse it. Looking forward to the blunt instrument of government is the logical result of bad business practice. If Wall Street doesn’t like it, they should have not given so much money to the Obama campaign.


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  1. It’s a complex situation isn’t it? We have child labor laws because we care, because we want to see kids in school, not working in factories, and yet we make an exemption for farm labor and fruit pickers! So kids can conceivably work 7 days a week as migrant workers with their families, but some kid living on the streets can’t work as a dishwasher.

    Yes, I’ve worked some of those salaried jobs. There are a lot of bad business practices in the world. One thing that really makes that thrive is a
    lack of jobs. When jobs are plentiful, employees are perceived as having more worth and value and tend to not get exploited as much.

    Comment by insanitybytes22 — August 21, 2015 @ 10:33 pm

    • If you listen to libertarians, they have all kinds of free market solutions for every problem, but they require that there be no government interference for them to work. Realistically, that’s not going to happen.

      One of the low-info graphics on the DOL site about exempt employees is that about 30 years ago 60% of salaried employees were under the threshold, so they got overtime pay. Now it’s only 8%. Obviously, the raise in wages in the free market surpassed this wage threshold for overtime pay.

      Doing this change would be an imperfect solution, but it would tighten a loophole that has pretty obviously been abused.

      Comment by 1539days — August 21, 2015 @ 11:58 pm

  2. Responsible capitalism, not govt, would be the answer in that enduring mirage, the best of all possible worlds. Until then, it’s exploitation as usual.

    Comment by Mary — August 22, 2015 @ 3:35 am

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