“Fair” is something that happens once a year

MoveOn.org is great for a laugh. Their Labor Day message featured former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich offering six steps for “how workers can get a fair shake.” In his short video, he says that Labor Day is about “celebrating our nation’s legacy of giving workers a fair share.”

Recently, I heard the line, “my mom said ‘fair’ is something that comes to town once a year in the summer.” I never heard it put that way. I was always told, “life isn’t fair.” And it’s not. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with trying to make up for the downsides of life. Whether it’s looking out for friends and family, volunteering or donating to charity, I think these voluntary acts make our society more civil and more virtuous.

But Reich’s “solutions” require people to give up earnings (taxes) and freedom for government to impose its vision of equality. That doesn’t sound like an easy job. No wonder they’re packaging at as “fairness.” It sounds so nice.

Also part of the message is a link to a petition:

McDonalds and Walmart: Pay your employees a decent wage
Your typical employee is now earning $8.25 to $8.80 an hour. Most are adults, responsible for bringing in half their family’s income. You can easily afford to pay them $15 an hour without causing layoffs or requiring price hikes. Your shareholders and executives are doing spectacularly well.

Based on what facts, exactly? It flies against common sense that an employer wouldn’t make any changes if their labor costs nearly doubled.

It’s interesting that there’s debate about whether or not a higher minimum wage affects employment. This Washington Post article from February 2013 does a decent job of explaining why it isn’t a slam dunk for either side: employers have many options when forced to increase their wages, such as cutting wages for other employees, raising prices, reducing hours or benefits or settling for fewer profits (hurting anyone invested in that company). None of these sounds good if you’re one of the workers handed less hours or benefits (or a pink slip) to go with that minimum wage increase.


cross-posted at NorannDillon.com