Politics of Minimum Wage, Part VI: How to Negotiate One’s Wage

What’s the value of one’s labor?  How much is “fair”? Ever wonder how agents of professional athletes calculate the value of their clients contributions (sabermetrics)?

The self-absorbed cannot calculate the value of their labor because they understand their work only subjectively, never in terms of objective value they produce for and in comparison to other people.  They rely on subjective categories to calculate how much they think they should be paid, such as how “gross” and difficult they think a job is; how much their body aches after work; how hard and long they think they work, regardless of productivity and actual contribution.  They act like victims, beg for help.  Which ironically only makes them easier to exploit. The undignified are easily dehumanized.

Imagine a world where everyone is a rational economic actor.  That is, they use resources solely to improve or create more resources.  For instance, you purchase a nail for one cent, in hopes that it will increase the value of your house by 3 cents.  (Don’t get sidetracked now, don’t start asking about intrinsic value of working with a nail just for fun.  That’s another issue).  And increasing your house by 3 cents means you increase your credit by 9 cents.  Which allows you to purchase another house, a fixer.  Repeat process.

You’re like that nail.  If you cost 3 cents and can only add 2 cents of value, than those who are rational won’t want you because you don’t add value. (Good news is most of us, I included, are irrational consumers. I make dumb purchases all the time).  The point is, stop telling prospective employer that you’re hard working.  Nearly EVERYONE says that and few employers believe it until they see it (their perception is your reality). Stop thinking you’re hard working. It’s a subjective assessment that doesn’t tell us anything about your productivity.  How hard you work is irrelevant.  If you want to work harder, start believing you’re a stupid, lazy, cunt (what I call myself everyday).

A cashier started at $10 an hour.  Six months later, she asks for a $5/hour raise.  Employer gives it to her.  How did she convince her employer to give her such a large raise?

a) She offered to suck his dick
b) She promised to not tell his wife about his affair with Mr Wiley
c) She provided evidence that she’s twice as fast as second fastest cashier.  And makes 25% fewer mistakes than average cashier.  She presents a well thought out formula that shows she provides 8 times the value of her wage.

Without multiple choice, most applicants pick A or B.  Meaning we have a jaded, exploitative, fucked up working class labor force.  Or maybe I’ve just been sheltered my entire life.

Anyway, so she’s twice as fast as next fastest.  Meaning compared to next best, she is twice as productive.  Actually, more than twice as productive because she makes fewer mistakes.  And it means employer has to deal with one fewer employee, which simplifies running the business.  So basically, she has him by the balls, squeezes them a bit as she asks for $18 an hour.  He whimpers back with a high pitched “how about $14?”  She squeezes harder.  Soon they agree to $15 an hour and promotion to manager so she can train others to be as efficient as she.  And a promise of $18 an hour if she can get staff improve efficiency by 50%.  Employer is grateful to have her at $18 an hour if she can improve efficiency by that much because she would be saving him so much money that he can finally expand.  She gets a big raise because she provides great value.  More importantly, she understands her value and will fight for recognition of her contributions. In this dog-eat-dog world, she fights for respect instead of begging to not be eaten.

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