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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-12-16 05:02
Subject: [links] Link salad wonders into Thursday
Security: Public
Tags:books, cool, funny, healthcare, language, links, mainspring, personal, photos, politics, science, tech
Winding the Mainspringtor.com reprints an article of mine.

Dictionary for sale

Geminids with a Side of Turkey chriswjohnson spends the night in a field with his camera. A lovely meditation, and a couple of great photos.

On top of an old elevator in NYC — Steampunk (elektropunk?) images of still-working technology from the 1920s. (Thanks to delkytlar.)

An abandoned rollercoaster — Teh awesum.

Opposition to Health Law Is Steeped in Tradition — The most interesting thing about this piece, to me, is the litany of conservative alarmism about every progressive advance in social policy. Sort of like the minimum wage: every hike in my lifetime has come with ghastly threats about the death of American business, and they've been wrong every single time. Being wrong every time has never stopped a Republican yet.

Those Pesky GOP Earmarks — More intellectual honesty from Your Republican party. Don't look for any coverage of this on FOX...

Henry Hudson's Years of 'Active Service To The Republican Party' — Judge who ruled HCR unconstitutional is, surprise, highly partisan. See, they're only "activist judges" when conservatives disagree with the rulings. (Thanks to shsilver.)

Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; "To destroy this invisible government" — A deep analysis of WikiLeaks.

Journalists and "Political Objectives"The State Department has decided that Julian Assange is not a journalist, and therefore not subject to constitutional or statutory protections, because he has a "political objective." Well, that's FOX News done for.

?otD: What would you give up?




12/16/2010
Writing time yesterday: 2.25 hours (4,000 words, some WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (solid)
This morning's weigh-in: 249.8
Currently reading: The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban

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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2010-12-16 15:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
> minimum wage

Can you give me a reason, other than a liberal/progressive sense of morality, why we should prevent consensual economic activity between adults?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-12-16 17:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:: snerk ::

Though if you want a serious answer, there is a difference between the two examples you cite (admittedly, one of those examples only by inference).

Consensual sexuality between adults is, in principle, a symmetrical relationship with rough parity of power and information. In fact, we have legal protections in place for when that symmetry is violated through abusive behavior, for example.

Employer-employee relationships are not consensual economic activity between adults in a roughly symmetrical power relationship (with the possible exception of family members paid by very small businesses). The power dynamic is heavily skewed toward the employer, both in terms of selection process and in terms of wage setting. How many employees ever see industry salary surveys, or even their employer's own pay scales? And that dynamic is far more skewed at the low wage/minimum wage end, where the relative lack of training or experience or specialization renders the employees highly fungible.

So, yes, the reason is protection from strong inherent potential for abusive hiring and wage practices.
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2010-12-16 19:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, the "power relationship" between employer and employee is absolutely symmetrical, unless the employer is engaged in organized crime. The employer cannnot force employees to take his job offer, nor can he force them to stay if they decide to leave. This is important, because it is what would prevent him in a laissez-faire environment from offering a wage much below the going rate and still getting employees of average capability (indeed, if he offered far too little, he would get no employees at all).

It is the wealth relationship which is asymmetrical. But wealth, while convertible into power with some effort and efficiency loss, is not the same thing as "power."

In short, the reason why the minimum wage is unnecessary is that the employee is not obliged to take or remain with whatever job is first offered; he can hire on to a different (and more generous) employer, either without or after taking the less generous job offer.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-12-16 19:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In short, the reason why the minimum wage is unnecessary is that the employee is not obliged to take or remain with whatever job is first offered; he can hire on to a different (and more generous) employer, either without or after taking the less generous job offer.

So you're presuming, for example, that employers would not information share about wage rates in order to minimize their payrolls expenses by coordinating hiring offers? You seem to have a faith in the power of the market that isn't reflected in any aspect of the last couple of centuries of employer-employee relationships.

I mean, seriously, in a capitalist system the highest duty of any corporation is to preserve and enhance its own return on capital. The system is designed that way on *purpose*. Artefacts such as minimum wage exist to insert a requirement of acting for the public good which in a laissez-faire environment would be absent. Likewise OSHA standards, work hour limitations, benefits such as paid vacation, and so forth.

(And no, to save you the trouble of asking, I am not a socialist, except in that conservative definition that equates "socialist" with "anyone who does not agree with me". Perfectly happy with my high-wage, white collar job within our capitalist systems, thank you.)

[and apologies for the multiple edits - that's what I get for multitasking]

Edited at 2010-12-16 07:30 pm (UTC)
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theresamather
User: theresamather
Date: 2010-12-17 03:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Living in the southern half of red state Utah, the powers behind the curtain in my area do in fact actively co-ordinate keeping wages low. Just try to get a business paying above average to pass the shadow government of the county- your permit will be denied. Average wages in my county are $8 an hour, and most of the people are dirt poor, with no benefits and no job security. No way in hell I would live here were I not self employed.

(Top wage example for my county, the vice president of the university makes $95,000)
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oaksylph
User: oaksylph
Date: 2010-12-16 20:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
he can hire on to a different (and more generous) employer, either without or after taking the less generous job offer.

This argument works if and only if the ratio of jobs to people is slightly higher than 1:1. Which it is currently not.
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Brian Dolton
User: tchernabyelo
Date: 2010-12-16 22:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If such a job offer exists... I admire your seemingly Objectivist belief in the inherent fairness of the wealthy, but fear your faith may be a touch misplaced.

It is inherent within the system that the employer will offer the absolute minimum return they possibly can for the maximum output they can achieve from the worker - twas ever thus. It is inherent, too, that the worker will attempt to get the maximum return they can (and, arguably, for the minimum work they put in to the system). But when the employer is the one with BOTH the money (to pay) and the work (to be done) it is risible to suggest there is an equal power dynamic between employer and employee. Only when there is a shortage of labour does the employee get close to holding power in the relationship, and that situation has (to my knowledge) never yet arisen at any time in modern (post-industrial) history.

Capitalism thrives on the dynamic I expressed above - that the capitalist wants maximum production for minimum outlay - and this is why we have seen the shifts in labour force through the decades. As globalisation has broken down the barriers of distance, it has become possible to manufacture goods where labour is cheap and ell them where labour is expensive, which is why so many things here in the US say "made in China/India/the Philippines/Guatemala/Mexico/Bangldesh/etc" and so few say "made in the USA".

Doing away with the minimum wage might bring some jobs back to the US, but I doubt it would be a significant change to the overall functioning of the US economy - which is to produce material abroad but try and funnel the profits back into the US in order to support the service and other industries (particularly media) which continue to ameliorate, to some extent, the heamorrhaging of capital from the US to the far east.
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ulfhirtha
User: ulfhirtha
Date: 2010-12-16 21:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We tried it that way and it didn't work so well?
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Brian Dolton
User: tchernabyelo
Date: 2010-12-16 22:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Define "consensual".

For meaningful and informed consent, the would-be consentee has to have the power to choose.

As noted below, in the capitalist labour market, such choice is... discouraged, shall we say.

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oaksylph
User: oaksylph
Date: 2010-12-16 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Conservative alarmism aside, there's another set of concerns about the health care legislation specifically centered around this: how are the doctors going to get paid? My mom, an internal medicine physician, is lucky enough to be with a student health facility, so she gets a salary. My doc, whose private practice is closing at the end of this month, relies on payouts from insurance companies to employ three staff people to submit claims, as well as a nurse and a secretary. According to both, doctors are already under pressure to perform unnecessary diagnostic procedures and a lot of other butt-covering, expensive behavior in order to validate the insurance claims they file. They are, in Mom's words, "not ready for everybody!"

There's also the problem from the business end. If doctors aren't ready, are insurance companies? With potentially doubling clientele, will they be able to expand enough to handle claims and pay doctors in a timely fashion? What if one of them can't take the business heat or makes a typical business mistake (undercapitalization, say, or buying bad FLASH in a computer upgrade, or any of a hundred other easy fails)? If the company goes down, do all the people who had policies with them get covered elsewhere? Do they have to pay the fine for going uninsured? The federal government will be boxed into creating something like FDIC for insurance companies.

I'm not saying I don't want things to change. I'm saying I don't trust corporations whose profits rely on collecting from me and not paying my doctor all of that money to take care of me, and I don't appreciate being forced to consume their product, in which I lack faith. I know what it's like to face a serious illness (one of the reasons I started following your blog is because I have been through similar times) and to struggle with the cost, but I don't believe, after looking at this law through doctors' and businesspersons' eyes, that one part of the bill - the federal penalty for not buying commercial insurance - is a step in the right direction.

The transparency and insurance exchange, the extended coverage for children and people with preexisting conditions - they're wonderful. I'm just not convinced that mandating that everyone has to buy insurance products will really bring costs down or make life better for anyone. Especially my doctor.
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2010-12-16 19:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Are you aware that much of this "conservative alarmism" is coming from the doctors themselves, many of whom have declared their intention to leave the practice of medicine if Obamacare goes into effect? You may Hope for Change all you want, but Hope will not generate competent medical care in the absence of competent medical personnel, and the only Change we will then suffer is that of a more rapid progress toward the grave.

Serenaded on our way, no doubt, by a "death panel." Hey -- at least we'll get counselling that will make us feel more comfortable with our unpleasant fates ...
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-12-16 19:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Are you aware that much of this "conservative alarmism" is coming from the doctors themselves

Um, yes. Given that the AMA is one of the most politically conservative organizations out there, with a seventy-year track record of vigorously opposing any healthcare reform, who would expect otherwise?

I will also point out in passing that anyone who references "death panels" in a discussion of HCR is pretty much disqualifying their own point of view from thoughtful consideration, given that a) they never existed in any form of the bill and b) the term is a highly successful counterfactual meme propagated specifically to discredit the effort rather than any meaningful attempt to engage the question.
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2010-12-16 21:11 (UTC)
Subject: Wikileaks and psychological torture of Bradley Manning
Keyword:quo vadis
Speaking of Wikileaks:
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months -- and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait -- under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning's detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a "Maximum Custody Detainee," the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

...

And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

...

many Western nations -- and even some non-Western nations notorious for human rights abuses -- refuse to employ prolonged solitary confinement except in the most extreme cases of prisoner violence.


http://www.salon.com/news/wikileaks/index.html?story=/opinion/greenwald/2010/12/14/manning

Not the change I voted for. Sadly not a surprise from an administration that's even asserted the right to assassinate US citizens with no trial.
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Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2010-12-19 11:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Incidentally, just in case you ever wonder whether your link salads have any impact on the World Out There, your abandoned rollercoaster link led to a discussion with my writing partner on liminality which ended up solving a major problem in one of our novels in progress. So thanks!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-12-19 13:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Heh. Thank you.
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