Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Speculation including office supply theft

One of the more remarkable things to me in American work culture for those who work in offices is routine theft of office supplies, and found myself with speculations that offer a simple explanation which trace back to what I see as wage theft, gender inequality in pay, and slavery.

To me money is a social IOU as society guarantees payback, as for instance US currency is backed by the US Government. And when employing someone is given usually in exchange for a favor, typically called labor, where works best with strangers. That means community is another area, where for instance volunteer firefighters presumably are not pay motivated, but work for their community.

With wages occurring best between strangers in non-community arenas, I think it easy to explain why pay problems can occur in more community focused occupations like police work, firefighting, teaching among others.

Communities have to figure out how to value the work, versus in other areas, as for instance your community is MUCH better off if your firefighters are less busy putting out fires than not.

And for example with the president of the United States pay is set by the US Congress, but the president doesn't need it during time in office as things needed are supplied by the people of the United States of America.

Oh yeah, and soldiers are in a community focused area. You do not volunteer for service in the US military to get rich, I would think. And wages are set in a way that is about what the community assesses as should be given, versus in direct compensation for legal services or products as favors in exchange for money.

However, in other areas pay is supposed to be about value of work received and I think there are legitimate concerns by many that often workers in non-community focused areas can simply be exploited, forced to either accept less value in return for their work, or fight relentlessly against employers who may see theft through wages as just a way of doing business.

I speculate that attitude that thievery from workers is just part of business arose in areas where slavery had existed and slaves were not paid, of course, but once institutional slavery ended, those who had been slaves were to be paid. I suggest their work was not properly valued as many were in a situation where their employers were those who had been slave-owners. Those people I doubt highly valued their work, and didn't pay properly, and as their attitude gained traction it spread throughout the United States and around the globe, until we get the modern system, which includes a known tendency to underpay women generally known as the gender pay gap.

Which to me is high level thievery, as workers in such a system can find it very difficult to force proper pay levels. And it occurs to me that some may retaliate with low level thievery, considering office supplies to at least be something.

Which is why am sure former military can be surprised in that system. For them work was separated from pay, while in the military, and no reason for hostility against a system they volunteered for and understand.

Community can be exploited too unfortunately by unscrupulous business owners. In a work environment where people are contractually providing their labor as services in exchange for pay, a ruthless employer might push a sense of community to extract beyond the contract.

In contrast for a community oriented entity, like a non-profit or the military, of course community services IS the thing. And someone unethical might lust after that ability to extract work from a sense of community, while underpaying, which is also simply theft.

Figuring out what the job is, and why then matters a lot. People who are providing service to their community are dependent on that community properly valuing their services, like military members whose pay is simply set. While people working for employers at jobs where their efforts get direct compensation, have to be sure that they are paid properly for those efforts.

People should work to make sure there is no snarl between efforts for community, like coming together for protection of your community say with sand-bagging efforts to protect against rising flood waters, and those involving work between strangers where favor should be equally exchanged, where money allows enumeration of value of a legally provided service.

James Harris

Friday, June 10, 2016

Did stealing with wages become standard?

Considering the rather simple argument that after slavery ended, the work of those who had been slaves was not fully valued so they weren't paid properly actually can lead much further. As I think for a long time the idea was that you paid value for value. If someone did $100 US worth of work for you, then that's what you should pay, and not say $50 US and dare them to catch you, or force you to pay up.

However, today I think many see it as standard around the globe that employers underpay, which is stealing.

That stealing in this way could be considered socially acceptable probably was because it first arose in areas where there had been slaves and then spread outward.

Today, many take it for granted.

Later it captured women especially, and other vulnerable people, while also staying very much with certain ethnic groups in the US crippling their lives.

It is past time for a change. If someone does work for you?

Then you should pay the value for that work, or quite simply?

You ARE a thief, even if society doesn't call you out for it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wages and civil rights

Can talk simply about topics like money with my own ideas, where it doesn't take much to delve into very contentious areas. Like already noted in a previous post that what I call political science leads easily to the hypothesis that wealthy people may drive up national debts as a tax deferment scheme.

Making a hypothesis does not make it so, but it does give a predictive framework, which you can test! And science is testable.

Here will look to see what my ideas about money as a social IOU given in exchange for a favor, which works best with strangers can do in the arena of wages and civil rights.

One of the stranger things with human beings I think can be on issues of value of effort, where for instance in times past, like in Old Europe, someone might work in a manor house for some Lord, and there was status in that, as well as food and lodgings. Wages were probably paid, but the condition of servitude was recognized. When wages were NOT paid, a condition of slavery was in place, which was something that was in the United States during a period.

That a condition of servitude could entail benefits all the way to a condition of slavery with a wage scale going to zero is important for what comes next.

In our times, people see pay primarily as the value returned in exchange for the service of their labor, which includes mental labor, when working for an employer which is distinguished from being self-employed even in our times.

Getting a proper return on the favor of a labor, say writing a computer program if a software developer, is important, as if an employer gets services without giving compensation then as seen above, the wage scale is at zero, which is slavery.

If we look at what happened in the US after the end of institutionalized slavery we can use these ideas to note something of interest: People previously slaves who were freed, often had little choice but to return to the people who had been enslaving them, only now in return for their services they were supposed to get adequate compensation.

Not surprisingly can have serious doubts on the notion that occurred, so from one perspective, their condition of slavery was not completely removed, but lessened, with significant responsibilities placed upon them, like housing. They were forced to make money somehow to purchase needed things, but were limited as to who was available to take the favor of their services in exchange for wages to people likely to value those the least. And under pressure to find some way to survive, things like sharecropping could push even closer back to the original condition.

So with my terminology, can say that workers were pushed into offering the favor of their services, to the very people who often had previously valued those services at nothing because they were slaves then.

Best thing would have been if they could start their own businesses.

That wages involve a valuation of the favor of services provided is key. Someone who honestly thinks workers are rather worthless can potentially pay a much lower wage, believing it is adequate compensation.

Return on the favor of effort is a fascinating subject, and the social IOU system we call money can have the flaw that to make money you both need someone who wants the favor of your services and that person needs to value those at a level that can vary, so what if in both areas there is a serious problem?

But yeah if you're working say at 80% of what you should be making as a wage? And you work Monday through Friday? Then conceivably on the simplest interpretation on Friday you're at 0 on the scale, and that day? You're a slave.

This approach can also be used to talk about pay disparities for women, who can be said to work for free from a certain day in the year, based on the percentage less they tend to receive than men doing the same work. The gender pay gap could also be seriously impacted by valuation of services, where someone might see a man doing the same amount of work as somehow doing them a bigger favor than a woman. That perceptual bias, however, if it exists is nonsense. If the work done is the same, then the favor is the same, and the compensation should be the same.

Is relevant though that in considering some of the worst horror stories around employment I've noticed in the news, they tend to occur in low wage areas, were people can be pressured in horrifying ways, leading to a lot of labor laws to try and curb abuses, as well as laws pushing against discriminatory hiring practices. Actually LOTS of laws to protect against all kinds of abuses, like a boss who pushes someone into sexual favors, or people pressured to steal or lie for an employer. Which can occur at higher wages too, of course.

But if someone is paid a lot less by this interpretation they're giving a favor without getting an appropriate return. And they're outside of natural bounds, and who might know better than the employee what their work is actually worth? The employer.

What kind of person could exploit with that kind of knowledge? Maybe the cascade of modern labor laws are revealing about what kind.

The basic concept is simple--if someone does you a favor you should give them equal favor in return, without exception to the best of your ability to give a return, where money is simply a convenient abstraction allowing people to enumerate the value of a favor.

Maybe the simplest thing is to force employers to not steal from workers, by having governments work tirelessly to be sure that return on the effort of the favor is commensurate with actual value to the employer. Shared information is very useful in this regard.

From one perspective then can argue that slavery did not completely die around the world in just this one respect, where the position is muddled by other compensations besides wages. Like the servants who had a wage, but other benefits working for a noble, so were in servitude but NOT slaves, technically.

But yeah, if working without compensation for efforts, as an employee, even for a day? That day may be the one where many experience a form of modern slavery which has simply not been called out as such. People may instead say, you're working for free! Um, what's the difference?

Which is yet another hypothesis. From my kind of political science perspective, then simply enough former slaves were consistently given less in return for their efforts than should have received, limiting them immensely.

Or in other words, quite simply, they weren't paid enough.

Then I could predict that government efforts to push people to give adequate return for favors, will force equality among them. Which may be a reason for some to fight to maintain unequal systems, to fight back for lower wages, so that they can devalue human effort, and the humans who give that effort as well.

Obviously, valuing human effort to the extent is opinion, can give lots of room to just claim those people aren't good enough for higher wages, whether that is true, or not, in any number of circumstances.

Government should, if the hypothesis is correct, disincentivize the benefit to that devaluation. Simply remove the reward for devaluing human effort.

And I suspect it's easier to suggest, than to get done. Especially if you have people who got away with it for a long time, and found huge financial rewards as a result.

Maybe society is very lucky in that most people simply will not behave that way, but will try to give an appropriate return on a favor received.

James Harris