BreakPoint Blog

Banner
Banner
With Many People Involved


The Smart Phone is an excellent example of what happens when free markets are allowed to flourish. And there's even a Christian worldview lesson in there.

Comments:

That's fine, Jason. I don't deny that such choices are ever made by employers, hence the phrase "by and large." As in most areas of life, maintaining a high standard can have its costs. That doesn't necessarily mean that the standard is wrong. (Admittedly, that's of little comfort to the person who loses out as a result.) But I don't disagree with your point that unintended consequences have to be considered.
Kevin, I objected to the phrase "by and large employers employ the employees that they need". That implies that employees are somehow a fixed amount, that will always be needed, sort of like grain. It simply rejects the concept that regulations meant to benefit workers at the expense of management are often more likely to benefit established workers at the expense of entry workers.
One of the best ways to prevent bad regulations is to have a thorough understanding of a matter before imposing "remedies." Probably the most recent wrongheaded proposal to address the pay gap was the Paycheck Fairness Act. It would have allowed lawsuits even when the alleged pay inequity involved entirely different kinds of work. This bad bill was opposed on a bipartisan basis and couldn't pass even when the Democrats controlled both houses a few years ago.
Here's a good example of a bad idea.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-13/don-t-blame-discrimination-for-gender-wage-gap.html
The point was that employers don't tend to charitably carry an excess number of employees.

Jason, why don't you tell me what, exactly, I wrote that you take exception with? To summarize: I said that the market is run by fallen people and, as such, not every action and every result is going to be moral. A Christian can't possibly disagree with that. I pointed out that some rules and regulations are necessary to restrain those fallen people from going too far and committing harm. Again, I can't see a Christian disagreeing with that, and even the non-Christian who doesn't accept the fallen man stuff would probably agree that people need limits.

I made a point of saying that I'm for capitalism and certainly favor our system over others. That, however, needs to include a realistic view of man's nature and his too-frequent tendency to act more selfishly than morally. One characteristic of that is chafing against even reasonable restraints on conduct. We discuss that on a daily basis around here.

I would think that we would have general agreement that businesses should be unburdened of regulations that serve little or no legitimate purpose and serve instead as unnecessary obstacles, while also agreeing that regulations protecting employees, consumers, the environment, investors, etc., have to be in place and enforced. Reasonable people can and will quibble over how much is necessary and how much is too much. But I would hope we'd at least fundamentally agree on the need to set limits.
Kevin, that is like saying "by and large most people buy what they need". What is "needed" is determined by the price and the strength of the need. Princes will always "need" caterers more then paupers. And employers will always "need" a given amount of labor that comes at a smaller price more then the same labor at an artificially larger price. It did not, for instance, take shipowners long to discover their lack of need for American deckhands.
Anything's possible, Jason. By and large, I think most businesses tend to employ the number of employees they need.

Again, if a regulation is truly indefensible, let's do away with it. But we shouldn't toss the important, justifiable ones because we're extorted into it by a business threatening to cut jobs. At some point, we have to draw a reasonable line between what we're willing to allow a business to do and what is unacceptable.
What about protections for workers that come at the expense, not of management but of more expendable workers Kevin? Could not a regulation end up being simply an incentive to employ fewer?
By all means, if it were only about getting rid of needless, senseless, overly onerous regulations, I'd be all for it. Unfortunately, there tends to be an underlying effort to get rid of some rules that really matter. Some businessmen believe that basic protections for workers and the environment are burdensome, and perhaps they are. But society has an interest in imposing reasonable burdens nonetheless.

As for virtuous self-regulation, that would indeed be nice.
Kevin,

I don't disagree with you per se. Due to man's fallen nature and all, we need some regulation. (Virtuous self-regulation is the best.) However, there are so many laws and regulations that it is very hard to conduct business without running afoul of one or more.

Heck, Consider the GMC debacle, I think we already have a foot into something other than free market. I'm not sure what I'd call the no-mans land.
The tone of the article comes dangerously close to making the free market a religion. People need to get away from the mindset that a completely untethered, unregulated market is somehow Christian. Pornography and blatant polluting are just two examples that not every result from the free market is godly. We must never let our support for economic development cause us to blindly accept every aspect of it as an inherent good. The market, after all, is people, and people who aren't at least somewhat reined in are capable of some pretty bad things.

Make no mistake: Our way of doing things is vastly superior--morally and economically--to communism. Indeed, China's economic progress comes not from its communist policies but from its embrace of capitalistic practices.

My point is that amid all the anti-regulation rhetoric we're hearing these days, we need to remember that laws and regulations are necessary to restrict unscrupulous individuals and companies from acting on the worst aspects of their fallen nature, victimizing people in the process.