It seems to exclude from the middle class everyone who doesn’t draw a regular paycheck from a single organization -- the self-employed (about 11 percent of the workforce), the retired, housewives, students -- as well as employees on limited-term contracts. As a self-employed writer who doesn’t have “a job,” let alone a secure one, I found the word choice striking.Don't these littlebrains know this is Freelance Nation, where freedom rules and it's "fire 'em all, let Galt sort 'em out"? Postrel worried that policy makers might "decide to follow the polls and try to guarantee everyone 'a secure job' in order to promote the middle class... regulations, for example, to make it harder to fire long-term employees."
You can see why this would be horrible, and if you can't, Postrel explained, one sector of American life was already doing this with imperfect results. She didn't use the example of unionized jobs -- perhaps because people had already heard enough libertarian rants on unions that it wasn't working anymore -- but chose instead academia, which libertarians (and conservatives who don't bother to call themselves libertarians) had already been trained to hate (she even called it "the professoriate" to make it sound extra Marxy. Ah, those Romney-ready days of '12!). Fewer than a third of professors got tenure and the perks that go with, she reported, while the rest got shit and sometimes had to work other jobs, creating a "two-tiered system that depends heavily on people whose main jobs are doing something else." Not like capitalism at all! And that "is what you get when you guarantee permanent employment but need flexibility as conditions change."
So the moral of the story was: Things suck but whatever you do don't try and make it better with worker protections.
This week Postrel offers another post on a similar subject. Since we are now in the age of conservatarian reform and the brethren are obliged to affect solicitude for the peons, it is not called "Case Against Job Security Part II," but "Why Being a Part-Time Worker Is Miserable." Bosses are apparently scheduling people who don't "draw a regular paycheck from a single organization" -- people like Postrel, except much poorer -- in such a way as to maximize profits but minimize the workers' ability to schedule other jobs, leading to inescapable poverty. (As what I can only imagine is a private joke, Postrel brings in Megan McArdle to help her weep over this.)
Again, this, too, is nothing like capitalism. And guess what Postrel's main concern is:
....employers can’t offer, and workers can’t take, lower wages in exchange for better hours. The minimum wage sets a legal floor.Goddamn Gummint! Her point of comparison this time is the pharmacy: All those lucky pharmacists making a median wage of $58/hr (many of them women!), while "many clerks and cashiers, by contrast, make minimum wage." (Funny, she didn't see this as a problem when she commended the example of lady pharmacists in 2011.) And get this: those clerks' and cashiers' wages "can’t legally go any lower. Even those who make more than the legal minimum often have wages tied to it." So they're caught in a tap where they can't work for quarters and loose cigarettes, and the boss is caught in a trap where he has to use those cruel flex-time schedules -- the market demands it.
So the moral of the story is: Things suck but whatever you don't try and make it better with a higher minimum wage. Go sell a kidney or something.
Libertarians, conservatives, vampires -- what's the difference again?