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What Does Minimum Wage Represent In Capitalism?

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

The Efficiency of Time Tracking

In contrast to objective work (i.e a service), the time a worker spends working does NOT result in a specific amount of output. Instead, the output of a worker who works for a specific time period (such as an hour) will vary based on their individual effort and field. The significance of this phenomenon is that wagies are not paid based on the value they provide; rather the market rate of their time (within their specific field).

Paying For Time

The theoretical value proposition of a wage is time; specifically the wagies’. In practice, most people paying for time actually expect an objective result (derived from the wagie’s time). In other words, very few people are paid to sit around and do nothing. When you walk into a fast food restaurant, the workers are expected to use their time — that the restaurant pays for — to satisfy the customer: “Would you like fries with that?”

How To Track Literal Time

Time is an abstracted concept by humans representing progression through a dimension(s). While humans have created clocks and computers that allow us to track time, these methods of measurement are flawed. Modern time measurement is based on the movement of the Earth in relation to the Sun. While this measurement suffices for business purposes, it’s not 100% correct. Have you ever wondered why leap years exist? The concept is a correction in the flaws of our time measurement. The How Earth Moves video showcases how slight movements of the Earth can alter the amount of time that passes in a given period.

Time Tracking of Objective Work

The time tracking of objective work occurs when a wagie is compensated for the amount of time it takes them to complete an objective. For all intents and purposes, paying for the time spent completing objective work faces the flaws that paying for literal time does; albeit inversely. In the wagie’s case, a periodic rate (i.e hourly) may be established prior to the completion of a given objective. Once completed, the wagie is paid based on the periodic rate * time it took to complete said objective.

Time Tracking of Knowledge Work

The time tracking of knowledge work occurs when a wagie is compensated for the amount of time it takes them to complete an objective involving knowledge work. A knowledge worker spends time collecting information (or is expected to have already acquired said information) to complete an objective. Programmers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, design thinkers, public accountants, lawyers, editors, and academics are all examples of knowledge workers. The issues with this payment structure mirror the same issues that other payment structures — involving the tracking of time — face: There can be a mismatch in the actual output of a wagie vs. the expected output of a wagie.

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What Does Minimum Wage Represent?

We have established that a wage represents the (market rate) cost of a person’s literal time; derivative of the person’s output. As a result, a minimum wage represents a price floor used to ensure wages do not drop too low. The requirement of a minimum wage price floor (law) implies that people would be paid less without said law. In other words, a lack of a minimum wage would allow a person’s time to be worth less; approaching $0 or even becoming a negative value. When the actual minimum wage is negative, wagies must pay to work.

What Is The Problem With a Low Minimum Wage?

When the minimum wage is too low, people will begin to enter survival mode. Someone who is hungry will engage in theft to sustain themselves. Others will riot and loot those that enforce the system that has placed them — the rioters — in their current predicaments. In short, a low minimum wage indicates a failure of society for everyone involved. This means that the only thing protecting our society from complete collapse is a 300 year old political system that has faltered once before. If a low minimum wage represents collapse, the enforcement of a minimum wage — in the first place — represents mitigation. It implies that there is a flaw in Capitalism.



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