The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 57.0°F | Mostly Cloudy


Drug Your Workers

In Dan Tortorice’s column from May 3 [“Fair Labor Standards For Some”], he insists on once again insulting the reader’s intelligence with his distanced “I’m an economist, you’re not” opinion writing. Tortorice is wrapping a conservative argument in a thin sheen of condescension which doesn’t survive scrutiny. At least he could be honest about his anti-worker views. When Tortorice uses his “investment bank example,” he claims that if you are not getting the most profit you possibly can using your capital, you are actually losing money because that maximum profit is not yours! Never mind the fact that you may be making 15 percent on your investment, but if you aren’t making 17 percent when it is possible to do so, you are losing money!

Example: My theoretical sweatshop operates in my basement making wallets for export. While doing some entrepreneurial soul searching, I make a small list of ways to operate my business to maximize profit.

1. I could give my workers a living wage. 2. I could keep the status quo of modern day workplaces, and ignore living wage considerations. 3. I could force my employees to work 12-hour shifts, with regular beatings and mandatory amphetamine use to keep productivity up and morale high. 4. I could just steal the damned wallets and sell them myself, cutting the worker out of the equation entirely.

Admittedly, options three and four are abusive and immoral (not to mention exaggerated), but quite profitable. We who support a living wage believe not giving your worker enough money to survive when they work for you full time is immoral and not an option for the entrepreneur, just like options three and four are not even considered reasonable choices by modern employers.

Those who need living wage laws are forced to endure 50 to 80 hours of hard and often unhealthy labor only to be rewarded with a poverty level income. To claim that not having a living wage is ultimately better for these people is appalling.

Marc Rios ’04