Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Labor Justice

So the knee-jerk reaction to low-priced foreign imports is the imposition of tariffs and other restrictions on their importation in an attempt to "protect" domestic industry. Restrictions on the quantity of available goods cause the same number of dollars to chase fewer goods, causing prices to rise. It does not, however, follow that wages should also rise with prices. What causes wages to increase? "When two workmen run after one boss, wages fall; when two bosses run after a workman, wages rise."

Perhaps a more precise way to express that sentiment might be: "The rate of wages depends upon the proportion which the supply of labour bears to the demand." Wages therefore increase when the demand for them increases 1 (duh!). Now the demand for labor is directly dependent on the amount of available investment capital. It follows then that even if a government prohibits the importation of a good, this action has no effect on the quantity of investment capital, it can only change the allocation of that capital. What this means is that an increase in labour demand in one protected industry necessarily reduces the labour demand in another industry.

The sum of production is the result of capital and labour, minus any obstacles imposed. If obstacles are increased for a fixed amount of capital and labour, then the sum total must decrease. And if the amount produced is diminished, then how can one assume that their share of production will increase. Such a belief is dependent on the assumption that the "rich"2 who effectively make the laws will for some reason sacrifice an increasing portion of their decreasing fair share of production. It seems to me that one would be wise to reject this most suspicious act of generosity.

So what I'm wondering here is this: Is it not just that after working all day I should be able to use my earnings to purchase the most they can? Is it not obvious that the imposition of trade restrictions reduces this? Does it not also logically follow that ANY tariffs or any other sort of imposed restriction of trade is an unjust taking of my labour?


ideas taken from "Does Protection Raise the Rate of Wages" by Fred Bastiat
  1. ^ Also note that increasing wages does not increase prices unless that increase is imposed from outside, in which case the increase in price is still not due to the wage increase, but to the external imposition.
  2. ^ who are generally better politically connected than the rest of us.

So here's what got me thinking about this

I was reading this paper about a sociological study about morality and political ideology and what struck me was this paragraph:
Figure 8
"Previous research has shown that liberals are less disgust-sensitive than conservatives (Inbar et. al., 2009). The low level of disgust sensitivity found in libertarians could help explain why they disagree with conservatives on so many social issues, particularly those related to sexuality (e.g. MFQ – Purity in Study 1). Libertarians may not experience the flash of revulsion that drives moral condemnation in many cases of victimless offenses (Haidt, Koller, & Dias, 1993)."

The reference to "flash of revulsion" sounds physiological, and makes me wonder if there is some sort of biological mechanism here - sort of a nice way of saying that some people just can't help but try to impose their way of life upon you any more than they can help their skin pigmentation or gender.

I'm wondering then, if bigotry is biological, what could be the purpose and advantage to it since afaict it is simply an irrational belief in demonstrable falsehoods which I would assume to be a distinct disadvantage. 

More importantly, if it's biological in origin should their mental handicap qualify them for protection under the ADA?

Monday, February 7, 2011

More than mammals?

So I find this topic so fascinating because I have such a difficult time understanding the motives of those who disagree with me.  With most things, I can usually come up with some motive to assume of my opponent - but here I am mystified, though I recently read a few things about which I'll write later on.

To date, the most persuasive, convincing argument I've heard  in support of suppressing homosexuals is that homosexual activity is unnatural since the natural purpose for sexual intercourse is procreation, and homosexual intercourse is non-procreative.  There is an underlying assumption here that sex in humans is the same as sex in animals, so humans should be restricted to those activities that happen with other animals.

If we accept this assumption, then we cannot also argue in favor of monogamy, since that is not something naturally happens in the rest of the animal kingdom.  So to assert that human sexuality is the same as all other animal sexuality is an argument against all marriage.

Now, one may make an argument in support of marriage but against homosexual conduct and base this assertion on religious grounds, essentially saying that homosexuality is evil because God says so.  This may be true, but as it is wholly unverifiable via any process of natural science, I fail to see how this is an appropriate point to raise in any debate of public policy outside of a theocracy.

So if we believe that marriage is a good thing, then it follows that human sexuality is different from that of animals.  If we accept this assertion, then we no longer have any rational basis for discriminating against homosexuals OR homosexual behavior.  Now, it could be argued that promiscuity among homosexuals is destructive, but this only lends strength to the argument in favor of allowing (and supporting) marriage for same gender couples as this would strengthen homosexual monogamy.