I was appalled recently by a discussion with a guy who had a very weird idea.. He believes that an employee has the right to part of a product’s value, on top of his wages. So, let’s say someone is hired to manufacture gizmos for $20 an hour. He accepts the wage, because he values his time at $20 an hour. A contract is signed, he goes to work and makes ten gizmos per hour, gets $2 per gizmo. The company sells them for $199. How in hell is the employee entitled to any of those $197?! He accepted an hourly wage, and he gets paid what he wanted. The company could give him a raise if business is good, but they don’t have to. There is absolutely no entitlement here, nor ethical nor moral obligation to share any of the profits if it wasn’t agreed upon in the employment contract. And this brings us to profit sharing. Some businesses do share their profits, and do so to attract the best employees and encourage quality work. It is a fine tactic, but certainly not a moral obligation. Would an employee accept loss-sharing? The business loses money? No problem, someone will come to each employees’ house and take away their TV and stereo system to be sold on E-Bay.. Because if you share profits, why not share losses? No? Isn’t that totally unfair? The business owner takes all the risks, he invested his money, spent untold hours away from his family to get the business going, working seven days a week, fourteen hours a day, probably shortening his lifespan in the process, supporting the lives of many people around him, spending his hard-earned money that ends up as wages in someone’s pocket. The employee has none of these problems. He does not risk a penny, and gets a predictable income. If he isn’t happy with his employer, he can sell his services to someone else.
During that conversation, I heard of course the usual “They have no choice but to take the job.” Huh? What nonsense is that? Nobody has to take a job. I was never threatened to take a job. I was offered too little money before and refused. Sometimes I did take it, but kept looking, and found a better job later. That was before I decided to go freelance. Being employed was easier, I’ll tell you!
Then I heard “when people are starving, they are forced to take any job.” No! They are not. First, how long does it take to starve? More than a month for sure. How can you not find food in a month? If someone is not able to find some work, produce something to sell, gather, hunt or fish for some food in a month, there have a problem.. No friends willing to help, hum.. Why? Maybe that’s what we call natural selection. People are responsible to acquire survival skills; nobody else will do it for you. It may surprise some to know that years ago I ended-up on the street with absolutely nothing. It didn’t last long, and it wasn’t luck that I got back to my feet. I busted my ass and found someone who needed my skills, got some work and recovered. I know how it feels to shiver all night, cold and wet, sleeping on the ground outside. It is something I do not care to do again.
The beauty of free enterprise is that anyone can start a gizmo factory. Many large businesses started in a garage. Now they employ hundreds, sometimes thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. I hear so many complain about Wal-Mart for example. Wal-Mart has approximately 1.39 million US employees. Those people accepted their salary, and make a living, if not a comfortable one. Without Wal-Mart, how many would be on the street? Do you want to tell those Chinese children they can’t eat now because you boycott Wal-Mart? You don’t care? Of course not, because those unskilled workers at Wal-Mart must get their $8.75 an hour instead of $8.23, and “free” health care, because of course, standing behind a cash register in an air-conditioned building is so hard compared to, let’s say, working construction in Florida in August.. Hum, I wonder why those guys get paid more.. And don’t tell me how hard it is to be a cashier, because I’ve done it! It’s frustrating, but it’s not hard. If Wal-Mart employees don’t like to work there, they can go somewhere else. The Wal-Mart secret police won’t be knocking on their door.. They can’t find a good job? Time to hit the library (it’s “free”), and learn something new to make money. Find someone with skills to teach them. There are many people around willing to share knowledge for free. I do it all the time.
I guess I get aggravated (again) when someone thinks they are entitled to things that do not belong to them, and unable to produce anything or help themselves, prey on society to fulfill their needs.