Monday, December 21, 2015

Miles Kimball vs Matt Bruenig

Miles Kimball (blog) and Matt Bruenig (blog) are both liberals.  A few days ago they had a twitter discussion that was worth sharing...

Context

Linda Tirado: I'll drop minimum wage endorsement if you drop tax/investment protections and disavow lobbyists. That'd be fair.
Miles Kimball: I lean toward requiring all lobbyist interactions with congresspeople or their staff be videotaped an posted publicly.
Tirado: that's a net good no matter what, and common ground. But minimum wage advocacy is the same pressure for favorable regulations.
Kimball: Not for favorable regulations--in this case no regulations. No regulations is the starting point, not a favor.
Tirado: that's as true of any regulation that has ever existed.
Kimball: Starting point for comparison should be no regulations except these rules: no stealing, threatening violence, or deception.

Context

Matt Bruenig: miles way of here, the actual baseline includes only one rule: don't touch another person's body.
Kimball: I don't see how you can possible get good results without a rule against theft. Certainly no welfare theorem.
Bruenig: "theft" is a meaningless concept without an agreed upon notion of who is entitled to what, not a helpful baseline
Bruenig: in fact, paying too low wages *is* theft
Kimball: I can see lack of a basic income as theft, but not low wages. Do you have a right for me to employ you?
Bruenig: Wage floors don't force anyone to employ anyone though. It's all voluntary.
Bruenig: That's the basic problem with all min wage args that are premised upon unfairness to the employer.
Bruenig: The employer is not required to pay minimum wages. It doesn't have to operate if it doesn't like the rules.

According to Kimball... the lack of basic income is theft.  Which means that he has an obligation to pay you.  But then he immediately argues that he doesn't have an obligation to employ you.  Eh?  What?  

According to Bruenig... a wage floor is acceptable because employing people is voluntary.  If a wage floor is acceptable and beneficial... then what about a donation floor?  Donations are certainly voluntary.  So would it be beneficial to prevent people from making donations that are under $100 dollars?  

Kimball is obligated to donate money to you... and Bruenig is obligated to ensure that Kimball's donation to you is large enough.  

I can imagine Bruenig following Kimball around.  Kimball spots a homeless person and feels obligated to give him a dollar.  Bruenig quickly obligates Kimball to give the homeless person at least $100 dollars. 

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