34 thoughts on “Early Twentieth-Century “Progressives”

  1. Jeff Wright

    Yeah, if only workers would lay down and take all kinds of abuse–and work for 30 cents an hour–all those “job providers” would bring back our industry, right?

    Hey Rand, didja see Evacuate Earth last night? The one where the mega-booster Orion craft paid by big goverments around the world worked and where the one-percenters got blown all to hell?

    A Gary Hudson project?

    1. Larry J

      Left to themselves, supply and demand tends to level out. When you have increased demand, prices rise. When you have decreased demand, prices fall. Likewise, when prices rise, demand tends to fall. Today, we have decreased demand for labor for a variety of reasons so wages are at best stagnant if not declining for a lot of people.

      When you have artifically fixed prices, distortions occur. The minimum wage is a distortion of the price of low-skilled labor. When the minimum wage is higher than what the worker is able to produce in value, employers don’t hire. When the price of labor is artifically increased, employers buy less of it. Raise the price of labor high enough, employers seek alternatives such as using automation, cutting the number of employees or going bankrupt (see: Hostess).

      1. Roga

        Come on Larry, “workers” are just an identity group. They are a faceless, bottomless pool of lesser beings which need the Benevolent State’s protection in order to gain fair pay.

  2. Bilwick

    “Yeah, if only those uppity tax serfs would lay do9wn and take all kinds of abuse.”

    FIFY, Jeff.

    By the way, if I had a company, and wanted to pay someone 30 cents an hour, and by some miracle could get someone willing to voluntarily sell his services to me for 30 cents and hour, could you tell me by what right you or anyone else in your ideological gang would have the right to forcibly prevent such a transaction? I know you State-humpers have a tough time with logic but take me through that syllogism step by step, please?

    1. Bilwick

      Also note how Jeff avoids refuting any points raised in the article Rand linked to. Typical of the Hive.

  3. Jeff Wright

    Costco is the anti-Hostess, which paid the suits huge sums while wanting to do that on workers backs–the folks who actually made the money who were not at a desk.

    If you pay cheap you get cheap. The big lie in the libertarian religion is that gov’t encourages dependency, and yet I see more of that in the private workplace where the boss’s son can show up…or not show up…and he isn’t missed. If you bust your backside then need time off for sick relatives, the boss sez. “We can’t do without you..you won’t have a job here if you..etc”

    I’ve heard it all before. What is ‘distorted’ is trying to live on these wages and the self serving arguements business men spew that you have fallen for.

    Let me give you an example. Let’s say that my home state of Alabama were to..I don’t know…bring back slavery. Not going to happen? Well, there was an interesting book called “Slavery By Another Name,” but let’s just use the example.

    Now if one county however, remains free and the other counties slave–and the businesses re-locate to the slave counties. The problem is NOT that the free counties gov’t is protecting slaves. That’s the libertarian position.

    I call it the wife beater arguement. If an abusive husband beats his wife even harder because she called the cops (i.e. gov’t) to protect herself–that’s not an arguement against the police, but why we need to crack down harder on the perp.

    I’ve seen a lot of westerns, where the railroad man wants to shaft a poor farmer family until the sheriff gets in town. Now if you are a libertarian conservative, you have to believe that the badge is the bad guy because he is distorting the market.

    It’s his job–because poor folks are Americans too. We have an adversarial system of justice. If it is all prosecutors and no defense attny’s, it is like watering down unions and gov’t to the point where folks have no voice–and that will encourage a backlash that leads to extremism for sure if concessions aren’t made.

    The iron law of the free-market (i.e. Mammon worship) is “I make more money if I pay you less.” We saw with United States Vs Darby Lumber Company that is in fact IS constitutional for Congress to have a role in regulating business and protecting workers–because an unregulated business is like a teenager with a Dodge viper on the highway with no parental supervison. If you have no cops, he is liable to run over everyone on our roads. If you want to drive on our highways–or do business here, you will follow our laws.

    Now if a smaller company can’t do that, I am not going to weep for it–since every time I was ripped off by auto mechanics–that was a small businessman. Yet in the middle of the last century, wages were up over what they are now–and companies did just fine. And the only way my Dad was able to take care of our family is because he was UTU. That’s why we had disposable income at all. The amoral types have bled poor folks dry and people dare to wonder why folks are angry. Treat workers like assets instead of problems, and everyone will be richer.

    1. Peterh

      The iron law of the proper free market is that I can’t get squat from you until we come to an agreement.

      1. Bilwick1

        Withoput the Strawman Argument, and the Argument from Pity, “liberals” would have hardly any means of argumentation at all.

    2. wodun

      Costco pays its suits tons of money and Hostess paid its workers well and provided good benefits. What Costco doesn’t do is say that the people who make pizzas can’t make the corn dogs. That the people who stock the shelves can’t work the register. Costco encourages its workers to work in different departments and help eachother out.

      There are numerous other differences between a bakery and a grocery/book/clothing/sporting goods/electronic/shoe/housewares/pharmacy store.

      1. Larry J

        Costco also charges membership fees which help the bottom line. Few mass market retailers are able to get people to pay membership fees every year. While the quality of their products is usually quite good (and their rotisserie chicken is excellent), Costco’s selections are quite limited. For example, my wife and I recently were looking at different types of jellies and jam in Costco. They only had 2 or 3 types of jelly instead of a whole row of different selections in a normal grocery store. I’ve been Costco members for a few years now and really like their stores but I’d hate to have to limit my choices to their selections.

        Costco operates on a much different business model than a retailer like Wal-Mart and serve a mostly different customer base. They do pay their employees more than most stores, which enables them to hire more highly skilled people. That, plus their limited selection, in turn likely means they don’t need as many employees to operate a store compared to a Wal-Mart.

    3. Josh Reiter

      “Costco is the anti-Hostess, which paid the suits huge sums while wanting to do that on workers backs–the folks who actually made the money who were not at a desk.

      If you pay cheap you get cheap. The big lie in the libertarian religion is that gov’t encourages dependency, and yet I see more of that in the private workplace where the boss’s son can show up…or not show up…and he isn’t missed.”

      So, Hostess goes out of business and 13,000 people lose their jobs because of some union wanted to sacrifice to the altar of fairness. Oh well, at least they stuck to their principles right? *snicker* Yet, that pales in comparison to Costco which keeps thousands employed, pays their leadership well (who all vote Obama BTW), but let the boss’s son can come and go as he pleases…….Oh the humanity, what a world, what a cruel world…..

      If you let envy consume you it will turn your heart black. Stop worrying so much about what other people have and focus on doing right by your own.

  4. Bilwick

    Still waiting for Jeff to answer my question. I think, to someone as deep into the State cuklt as he is, he thinks what he’s given IS a logical argument.

  5. Chris Gerrib

    No, it’s not about rewriting history, it’s about looking at people warts and all. Some Progressive ideas were bad, and some Progressives were racist. (Although, Woodrow Wilson wasn’t much of a Progressive – he won in 1912 because Roosevelt and Taft split progressive voters.)

    Bilwick – what right exists to enforce a minimum wage? Congress has the right to regulate interstate commerce. Wages are a commercial transaction, and it’s nearly impossible in a modern industrial society to not engage in some level of interstate commerce. Therefore, Congress can set a minimum wage.

    The moral case for a minimum wage is to create a fair market – everybody in the market has a floor below which they can’t go.

    1. Trent Waddington

      How is that “fair”? Honest question.

      If you have more skills or experience than I, why does the law prohibit me from working for less than you, below some arbitrary floor?

        1. Rand Simberg Post author

          Ignoring the moral issues, what’s a “wage slave” in New York City, is a comfortable salary in Fargo. But let’s let the federal government tell everyone throughout the country what they’re are allowed to bargain for in wages…

        2. Trent Waddington

          So, by trying to get a job for myself in a workforce consisting of people with more skills than me, I’m “depressing the labor rates of everybody else”, and that’s somehow bad? It sounds to me like the already skilled people are using the law to protect their position by prohibiting employers from hiring people with less skills. Of course, they can’t outright demand protection from their government, that’d be too transparent, so they use simple marginal economics to do the same thing. Pretty smart.

    2. Rand Simberg Post author

      Congress has the right to regulate interstate commerce. Wages are a commercial transaction, and it’s nearly impossible in a modern industrial society to not engage in some level of interstate commerce. Therefore, Congress can set a minimum wage.

      There are some steps missing in that syllogism, but logic has never been your strong suit.

  6. Bilwick1

    “Bilwick – what right exists to enforce a minimum wage? Congress has the right to regulate interstate commerce . . .”

    So if the State grants itself the lgal “right” to do something, that confers on it a moral right to do something? You really want to go down that route to its logical conclusion?

    “The moral case for a minimum wage is to create a fair market . . . ”

    And of course Chris Gerrib’s idea of “fair” confers on him a moral right to use the State to force other people to adhere to it.

    As someone writing on the REASON blog once rightly pointed out, libertarians need, above all, to educate people that their preferences (usually on what society should be like) does not confer on them a “right” to those preferences.

    “I for one would like to welcome our new master, the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause comes in peace. Submit gracefully to the Commerce Clause. The Commerce Clause loves you.”

    1. Chris Gerrib

      The same part of the Constitution that regulates interstate commerce allows them to levy taxes, raise an army, set copyrights and patents – all those basic functions of government.

      We the people created a government to, among other things, promote the general welfare. You may not like what that government has done, but not liking is not the same as immoral.

      1. Leland

        promote the general welfare.

        That’s in the preamble and doesn’t mean, promote the welfare system. The so called welfare system was named such by Progressives, so they could pass various laws under the guise of being Constitutional.

      2. George Turner

        So, following your logic, the federal government needs to step in an prosecute states that raise their minimum wage above the federal level, since that creates an unfair playing field that affects interstate commerce.

      3. Karl Hallowell

        You may not like what that government has done, but not liking is not the same as immoral.

        Because people never dislike immoral things.

        1. Bilwick

          As I’ve said before, you guys are wasting your time debating with Gerrib. I rook a Socratic approach becuase when you do that with him, it’s fun to watch him respond with something even stupider than his previous statement and then watching him get his bunk-filled head get handed to him. What does he even mean by “not liking is not the same as immoral”? I doubt if he even knows. Essentially (based on his previous statements) he’s a left-wing theocrat who wants to use the State to enforce his Social Gospel superstitions.

          1. Chris Gerrib

            Bilwick – What I mean by “not liking is not the same as immoral” is that just because you don’t like something, it isn’t immoral.

            This fixation on “The State” ™ as the source of all evil is tiresome. We are “The State” because We The People elect those that run “The State.”

            When We The People gave the Federal government the right to regulate interstate commerce, it was exactly because the previous system of government had thoroughly mucked it up.

            George Turner – no, the Federal government needs to establish a process for determining the minimum wage. They’ve done that, and the process is “no less than X but whatever you want higher is fine.” That was intended so that places like New York could have a higher wage if it made sense there.

      4. Rand Simberg Post author

        You may not like what that government has done, but not liking is not the same as immoral.

        Minimum wage isn’t immoral because we don’t like it. It’s immoral because (among other things), it prevents inner-city teenagers from gripping the first rung of the employment ladder, because it’s more than their labor is worth. It creates black teen unemployment of horrific levels, and is extremely racist in its effects. And of course, when it was first instituted, as with gun control, that was one of the arguments made in its favor — the intent was to protect white workers from competition from blacks.

        1. Chris Gerrib

          You’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If, for argument’s sake, minimum wages do depress teen employment, then the solution is a two-tier wage, with teens at the lower wage.

          There are many things which prevent inner-city teens from gripping the first rung of the employment ladder, from lack of jobs in their areas to an inability to get from where they live to where the jobs are.

          1. Chris Gerrib

            My claim is exactly what I wrote – there are a number of factors driving inner-city unemployment, including lack of economic activity in the inner city and the difficulty experienced by poor people in getting from where they live to where they can work.

            Is it your claim that blacks can only perform minimum-wage work?

            I’ll assume that your claim is “unskilled labor is too expensive at the current minimum wage.” If so, there is a simple answer – create a “training wage” under the current minimum.

          2. Rand Simberg Post author

            You’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

            It’s not a baby. It’s an oppressive interference with free markets, and a federal sledgehammer that should be left to the states.

  7. newrouter

    Woodrow Wilson wasn’t much of a Progressive – he won in 1912 because Roosevelt and Taft split progressive voters.)

    that’s some industrial grade stupid

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