Thursday, January 04, 2007

Greetings fellow pork bellies!

I suppose I could write a point by point rebuttal to George Will's latest screed against the New Deal travesty known as, gasp, the minimum wage, which, apparently ranks up there with fluoridation or what have you as an offence to the American Way of Life.

Now one might wonder why a minimum wage, which only guarantees that the poor may become slightly less poor,would matter to a wealthy member of DC's pampered punditocracy.

But you'd only have to wait until the final paragraph of the story which contains this gem:

Labor is a commodity; governments make messes when they decree commodities' prices.

Savor that thought. Labor is a commodity.

Like frozen orange juice.

Like pork bellies.

Your labor, my labor, the work you do out of love or neccesity is a commodity, nothing more.

It should therefore be as fungible as a side of beef. And as subject to the sometimes rather wayward whims of Adam Smith's invisible hand.

Unfortunately for Will, and you really would think a free market devotee would get this right, the main characteristic of a commodity is that its value is relatively independent of its source (e.g. a pork belly from Iowa is essentially valued the same as a pork belly from Alabama).

But labor has value well beyond markets, as anyone who has been without work can tell you.

And regardless, it's insulting to refer to people's work as if were merely a bushel of corn.

But then that is exactly how people like Will want us to see ourselves, just cogs in the corporate machine, sides of beef, pork bellies to be traded by the wealthy for their own benefit.

So when you watch Republicans continue to reward great wealth, while they simultaneously denigrate the value of actual work, you now know why.

Strange though, that you and I are pork bellies, but they're the pigs at the trough.

UPDATE: And it's nice to know so emminent a personage as Washington Monthly's Kevin Drumm agrees:

This, in a nutshell, is the core problem with conservative economics: it views workers as commodities. Naturally it follows from this that we should be free to treat workers like commodities, rather than as human beings. (See here for a recent example.)

Most conservatives are careful not to state this belief quite so baldly, but Will must have slipped up this morning. But don't blame him. He's just saying out loud what all the rest of them usually say only under their breaths.


No comments: