View Poll Results: Is Labor a Commodity

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  • Yes, it's a commodity subject to the market of wages offered

    10 33.33%
  • No, it's not a commodity, workers should receive a living wage

    12 40.00%
  • Yes, fill in your own justification

    2 6.67%
  • No, fill in your own justification

    6 20.00%
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Thread: Is Labor a Commodity?

  1. #91
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by atrasicarius View Post
    You're wrong on two counts. First, production has gone up instead of labor going down because that's what our system and our society has forced it to do. One of the deepest held belief in our culture is that hard work is a good thing. We're unable to move back from the full time employment mentality, even though it's not necessary anymore.
    When I say "production" I'm referring to how much stuff is made, not how hard people work. So for example, suppose a factory makes 1,000 widgets per day and employs 50 workers, and then they get a new machine that can do the same work much faster. History suggests that they're far more likely to ask "How many additional widgets can I produce now with my 50 workers?" than they are to ask "How many of my workers can I lay off and still produce 1,000 widgets?" Obviously it varies from one company to another, but in the aggregate that has most definitely been the case for the past century. Technology does indeed cause some types of workers to lose their jobs, but it more than makes up for this in other sectors, and it gives consumers much more purchasing power.

    Second, there's a limit to how many jobs can be displaced, and we're just about there. A few hundred years ago, nearly everyone worked in the production sector of the economy. During the Industrial Revolution, a bunch of those jobs got taken over by technology, and the workers were displaced to the manufacturing sector (resulting in a bunch of unemployment in the transition). Then, during the first part of the 20th century, workers started to get displaced from the manufacturing sector into the service sector, which was one of the big contributors to the Great Depression. Now, the service sector is the biggest economic sector, and it's started to be phased out. Where are the workers going to go now? Are we going to invent an entirely new economic sector for them?
    Yes, that is precisely what we will do. The fastest-growing sectors of the US economy are information technology and health care. I can think of several other lucrative industries that are on the horizon as well: Biotech, solar energy, nanotechnology, etc. And even more important are the ones that we aren't even thinking about yet.

    Also, notice how the importance of each new sector has decreased. The production sector produces the basic necessities of life. The manufacturing sector produces technology and allows our modern standard of life. The service sector is largely a matter of convenience. How irrelevant would a fourth sector of the economy be to actual life? Do we really want to force people to work at such useless jobs just to survive?
    If you consider them useless, and if you consider having a useful job to be an important factor in your employment, don't work at them. Go be a farmer (with the assistance of a tractor, fertilizer, and all the various other manufactured products, of course). But just because you personally deem those jobs useless is no reason for our society not to pursue new technologies.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 09-11-11 at 04:48 AM.
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  2. #92
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by atrasicarius View Post
    For success to be determined by personal responsibility, you need equal opportunity.
    You have equal opportunity, you want equal outcome and that's not guaranteed.

    Do you really think that the people in low income neighborhoods are inherently less capable than those born in rich neighborhoods? Do you really think that if you switched them, the ones originally from the low income neighborhood would still fail on average, and the ones originally from the high income neighborhood would still succeed? And you guys say we're the naive ones.
    Inherently less capable? No, that's what you're arguing, that because they come from that neighborhood, they're destined to fail. I'm saying there are cases of people getting out of the ghetto every single day, people who do succeed on their own merits and move up to a better life. As I said before, if you want to blame the culture, you have to blame the people who make up the culture, they're the ones who cause the problems.
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  3. #93
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    When I say "production" I'm referring to how much stuff is made, not how hard people work. So for example, suppose a factory makes 1,000 widgets per day and employs 50 workers, and then they get a new machine that can do the same work much faster. History suggests that they're far more likely to ask "How many additional widgets can I produce now with my 50 workers?" than they are to ask "How many of my workers can I lay off and still produce 1,000 widgets?" Obviously it varies from one company to another, but in the aggregate that has most definitely been the case for the past century. Technology does indeed cause some types of workers to lose their jobs, but it more than makes up for this in other sectors, and it gives consumers much more purchasing power.
    Yes, but what if people only need 1,000 widgets? Now you've got 25 people who don't need to be working, and you've got advertising companies convincing people to buy an extra 1,000 useless widgets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Yes, that is precisely what we will do. The fastest-growing sectors of the US economy are information technology and health care. I can think of several other lucrative industries that are on the horizon as well: Biotech, solar energy, nanotechnology, etc.
    Do you know what the three economic sectors are? The only one of those that doesn't fit into service or manufacturing is possibly information, and that's exactly what I was talking about being irrelevant. Virtual reality is a great thing, but are we going to force people to work in it to afford actual, physical food and houses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    If you consider them useless, and if you consider having a useful job to be an important factor in your employment, don't work at them. Go be a farmer (with the assistance of a tractor, fertilizer, and all the various other manufactured products, of course). But just because you personally deem those jobs useless is no reason for our society not to pursue new technologies.
    New technologies? How, precisely, is a Walmart greeter producing new technologies? How is a McDonald's cook helping to advance the human race? How about stock traders? They spend all day playing with other people's money, producing nothing of any actual value. How about cashiers? We could replace them all with self check-out stands and lose nothing but a couple million jobs. And then, of course, you've got the people who produce the useless knick knacks that power the engine of consumerism, and the people who advertise those products to convince people to keep buying them. And of course you have all the accountants and clerks who keep track of all the useless **** all those other people do. Do you consider those jobs important?
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cephus View Post
    You have equal opportunity, you want equal outcome and that's not guaranteed.



    Inherently less capable? No, that's what you're arguing, that because they come from that neighborhood, they're destined to fail. I'm saying there are cases of people getting out of the ghetto every single day, people who do succeed on their own merits and move up to a better life. As I said before, if you want to blame the culture, you have to blame the people who make up the culture, they're the ones who cause the problems.
    Yes, some people from the ghetto beat the odds and succeed, but on average, they don't. That's why they call it beating the odds. And sometimes people from rich families **** up and fail, but usually they go to an expensive college and get a nice job somewhere. Now, unless you're going to argue that those people are somehow inherently different on an individual level, the only difference between those groups is the society they come from. One society makes success easy, one society makes success hard. And that is the definition of unequal opportunity. Got it?
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  5. #95
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by atrasicarius View Post
    Yes, but what if people only need 1,000 widgets? Now you've got 25 people who don't need to be working, and you've got advertising companies convincing people to buy an extra 1,000 useless widgets.
    You might consider those extra widgets to be useless, but consumers don't. And they keep people employed...so what's the problem?

    Do you know what the three economic sectors are? The only one of those that doesn't fit into service or manufacturing is possibly information, and that's exactly what I was talking about being irrelevant.
    Yes but this doesn't change the fact that our economy is far too broad to make a general statement like "the service sector is declining." Some PARTS of the service sector certainly are, yes. Other parts are growing extremely quickly. Likewise for manufacturing. That's my point, when jobs are lost in buggy whip manufacturing we'll make up for it with more jobs in auto manufacturing. When jobs are lost in transcription services we'll make up for it with more jobs in information technology. When jobs are lost in midwifery we'll make up for it with jobs in obstetrics. Etc, etc.

    Virtual reality is a great thing, but are we going to force people to work in it to afford actual, physical food and houses?
    I don't support "forcing" anyone to work in any job where they aren't happy. But I don't see the problem with people doing so to pay for their real-world expenses. Telephones were once considered a form of virtual reality, but now they're so commonplace we don't even think of them in those terms anymore.

    New technologies? How, precisely, is a Walmart greeter producing new technologies? How is a McDonald's cook helping to advance the human race? How about stock traders? They spend all day playing with other people's money, producing nothing of any actual value. How about cashiers? We could replace them all with self check-out stands and lose nothing but a couple million jobs.
    If that's the case then why hasn't it happened?

    And then, of course, you've got the people who produce the useless knick knacks that power the engine of consumerism, and the people who advertise those products to convince people to keep buying them. And of course you have all the accountants and clerks who keep track of all the useless **** all those other people do. Do you consider those jobs important?
    It doesn't really matter if *I* consider them important. Someone considers them important enough to offer another person a salary to work them. As long as a cashier isn't harming anyone and has found a job where someone is willing to pay them for their services, I don't see what the problem is. If some day their job becomes obsolete due to automation, I'm OK with that because it will mean greater purchasing power to consumers and new technology will have created new jobs in other industries.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 09-11-11 at 05:39 AM.
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  6. #96
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    You might consider those extra widgets to be useless, but consumers don't. And they keep people employed...so what's the problem?

    Yes but this doesn't change the fact that our economy is far too broad to make a general statement like "the service sector is declining." Some PARTS of the service sector certainly are, yes. Other parts are growing extremely quickly. Likewise for manufacturing. That's my point, when jobs are lost in buggy whip manufacturing we'll make up for it with more jobs in auto manufacturing. When jobs are lost in transcription services we'll make up for it with more jobs in information technology. When jobs are lost in midwifery we'll make up for it with jobs in obstetrics. Etc, etc.

    I don't support "forcing" anyone to work in any job where they aren't happy. But I don't see the problem with people doing so to pay for their real-world expenses. Telephones were once considered a form of virtual reality, but now they're so commonplace we don't even think of them in those terms anymore.

    None of these positions are made possible by recent technologies. At least not directly.

    If that's the case then why hasn't it happened?

    It doesn't really matter if *I* consider them important. Someone considers them important enough to offer another person a salary to work them. As long as a cashier isn't harming anyone and has found a job where someone is willing to pay them for their services, I don't see what the problem is. If some day their job becomes obsolete due to automation, I'm OK with that because it will mean greater purchasing power to consumers and new technology will have created new jobs in other industries.
    I'll respond to your post as a whole, because there's one underlying thread. The problem is that people are being forced to spend the majority of their lives doing things that really don't matter. And yes, the word is forced. If you want to eat, you've got to work. Some people are lucky enough to find a job that they really enjoy, but most aren't. We could eliminate a good 30 or 40 or 50 percent of the economy, and the only result would be that most people could cut back to part time employment and have more time to spend with their family or their hobby or whatever it is they want to do. Our quality of life wouldn't drop at all. And yes, it would require paying people more for doing less, but as long as everyone's happy, why is that a bad thing? Money is just a means to an end. Society itself is just a means to an end, and that end is human happiness. If that end isn't being served, it's time for a change.
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  7. #97
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    I dont care if labor is a commodity...I dont care about the corporate rich guy cheerleaders that are just full of chit....this is what I KNOW is fact

    My father who couldnt write a full sentence...got up everyday and went to work and was dog loyal to his company and the company was loyal to him and he brought home enough moneyto pay the rent, put food on the table, buy clothes and haircuts and have a car....IMAGINE THAT...all on one job....and everybody elses father had a job like it...and the rich were rich then too.....then you know what happened corporate cheerleaders....PURE GREED took over the corporate world...the same kind of greed and callousness that jumps right out of some of your posts....the more I read on political forums and from "CONSERVATIVES" which seems to be the keyword for IM GREEDY NOT NEEDY screw everyone else and thier kids I want theres too...is what rings the loudest from them.

  8. #98
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by atrasicarius View Post
    I'll respond to your post as a whole, because there's one underlying thread. The problem is that people are being forced to spend the majority of their lives doing things that really don't matter. And yes, the word is forced. If you want to eat, you've got to work. Some people are lucky enough to find a job that they really enjoy, but most aren't. We could eliminate a good 30 or 40 or 50 percent of the economy, and the only result would be that most people could cut back to part time employment and have more time to spend with their family or their hobby or whatever it is they want to do. Our quality of life wouldn't drop at all. And yes, it would require paying people more for doing less, but as long as everyone's happy, why is that a bad thing? Money is just a means to an end. Society itself is just a means to an end, and that end is human happiness. If that end isn't being served, it's time for a change.
    I'm not opposed to any of that. But what does it have to do with automation or my previous post?
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by TurtleDude View Post
    as opposed to buying goodwill and votes with money other people earned?
    The difference being something that seems to escape you
    1) rightist libertarians thrive and embrace selfishness and their own self interest above society and wear it upon their chests like a Miss America sash in Atlantic city
    2) I know of no progressive who subscribes to the message that is constantly broadcast here of buying votes with other peoples money

    #1 is a sad reality.
    #2 is a Frankenstein monster perversion of a ludicrous strawman
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  10. #100
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    Re: Is Labor a Commodity?

    Quote Originally Posted by lpast View Post
    I dont care if labor is a commodity...I dont care about the corporate rich guy cheerleaders that are just full of chit....this is what I KNOW is fact

    My father who couldnt write a full sentence...got up everyday and went to work and was dog loyal to his company and the company was loyal to him and he brought home enough moneyto pay the rent, put food on the table, buy clothes and haircuts and have a car....IMAGINE THAT...all on one job....and everybody elses father had a job like it...and the rich were rich then too.....then you know what happened corporate cheerleaders....PURE GREED took over the corporate world...the same kind of greed and callousness that jumps right out of some of your posts....the more I read on political forums and from "CONSERVATIVES" which seems to be the keyword for IM GREEDY NOT NEEDY screw everyone else and thier kids I want theres too...is what rings the loudest from them.
    Another complaint about the rich. Stop sucking every thread that remotely concerns economics about how the rich is always bad, and the poor is always good, and how the rich should be taxed 110% for being rich. Not only off-topic, but flaming.

    On the topic, labor can and can't be defined as a commodity. It is unique and can't be defined as such. From Wikipedia: A commodity is a good for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market.
    Labor is bought, sold, traded, like any other commodity market. As one can see, there is a labor market, so it has some basic characteristics of a commodity. However, labor is very diverse, from factory to agricultural to corporate labor. It also has qualitative differentiation unlike commodities such as the laborer's strength, education, record, etc...

    Simply put, labor has many basic characteristics of a commodity, but cannot be defined as such
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