Saturday, January 17, 2009

How About A "Minimum Temperature Law"?

The brutally cold weather (so cold that I saw a lawyer yesterday who actually had his hands in his own pockets) and all of the complaints about low temperatures got me to thinking about this.... Couldn't the government intervene in the market for temperature-reading equipment to counteract the unfair "excessively low" temperatures, just like it does in the unskilled labor market for unfair "excessively low" wages???

In Defense of the Minimum Wage Law:

Unskilled workers are at the mercy of greedy, cold-hearted, ruthless, profit-seeking employers. Without some kind of government intervention in the unskilled labor market, employers will continually and ruthlessly exploit and take advantage of unskilled workers, and pay them sub-standard wages (e.g. $5 per hour) that are so low that the wages could be considered unconscionable, unfair, unethical and unjust.

To counteract this inherent injustice in the labor market for unskilled workers, our collective sense of fairness and justice demands legislation that will force employers to pay a minimum wage of $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008, and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Wages below those minimums (e.g. $5 per hour or $6 per hour) are unconscionably low, and will be illegal and outlawed by the minimum wage legislation, with violations subject to penalties, fines and possible jail time for employers paying less than the government-mandated minimum wage.


In Defense of the Minimum Temperature Law:

The frigid, cold, and harsh winter of 2008-2009, and the hardships it has caused for millions of Americans (including many deaths, an estimated 700 this year), firmly establishes that we are at the mercy of a very cruel, ruthless, merciless, cold-hearted, uncaring force: Mother Nature.

Something must be done about this unacceptable situation. Without some kind of government intervention in the market for low temperature readings being registered on existing thermometers and thermostats, Mother Nature will continually and ruthlessly expose Americans to harsh winter conditions of unconscionably low temperatures. And some experts are even now saying that we are entering a period of Global Cooling, so we can expect even colder winters in the future from Mother Nature. Who among us wouldn
’t agree that these excessively low winter temperatures are unfair, unreasonable and unjust?

To counteract this inherent injustice in cold winter weather, the possible trend towards Global Cooling, and Mother Nature’s ongoing lack of concern for cold Americans, our collective sense of fairness and justice requires legislation that will force all thermostats and thermometers sold in the United States to have a minimum, reasonable and fair temperature reading of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, effective immediately. As part of the new Minimum Temperature legislation, all existing thermometers and thermostats in homes, offices, and businesses should be immediately replaced with new temperature-reading equipment with a minimum reading of 0 degrees.

Any temperatures below that minimum (e.g. -10 degrees F. or -20 degrees F.) are considered to be unfair and unconscionably low, and will be illegal and outlawed by the Minimum Temperature Law, with violations subject to penalties, fines and possible jail time for thermostat manufacturers continuing to sell thermostats with temperature readings below the government-mandated minimum temperature. Further, all news and weather reports, all TV and radio stations, and all newspapers and websites are immediately prohibited from quoting any temperatures below the federally-mandated minimum of 0 degrees F, with violations punishable by fines, penalties and jail time.


Bottom Line: If the Minimum Temperature Law seems ridiculous, that's because it is totally ridiculous. And so is the Minimum Wage Law. Forcing employers to pay an unskilled worker $7.25 per hour doesn't change the reality that those workers are actually only worth $5 or $6 per hour. The artificially high minimum wage has to cause distortions and inefficiencies in the unskilled labor market because the minimum wage does not accurately and truthfully reflect the workers' true productivity, and it's like creating a government-mandated fantasy world. A disconnect is created between the true measure (e.g. $5 hour) and an artificial, government-mandated measure ($7.25), of a worker's value or productivity.

Likewise, imposing a minimum temperature law would create a government-mandated fantasy world about weather conditions, with a disconnect between the true temperature (e.g. -20 degrees F) and an artificial government-mandated temperature (0 degrees). And just like the minimum wage law creates havoc in the labor market, so would the minimum temperature law create havoc for Americans.

When it comes to the weather, what we want most are truthful and precise measures of temperatures, and we get those from accurate thermostats and thermometers, not from minimum temperature laws. When it comes to the labor market, what we want are accurate, truthful and precise measures of worker productivity, and we get those from market wages, not from minimum wage laws.

12 Comments:

At 1/17/2009 10:42 AM, Blogger Ironman said...

The Economic Detective is on the case! Here's the minimum wage series to date:

Part 1: Natural Causes, or Not?
Part 2: Victim Autopsy
Part 3: Lining Up the Suspects
Part 4: Prime Suspect Revealed

The gruesome discovery mentioned in Part 4 is coming next week....

 
At 1/17/2009 11:05 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Imagine reducing our dependence on imported energy and improving the standard of living if we can get governments to pass laws to lower the boiling temperature of water. Or lower food prices by passing laws to shorten growing seasons.

 
At 1/17/2009 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent

 
At 1/17/2009 12:15 PM, Blogger Bret said...

Your scenario isn't all that implausible. According to Snopes.com, "In 1897 the Indiana House of Repesentatives unanimously passed a measure redefining the area of a circle and the value of pi."

Is it really that cold this winter? It's wonderfully warm in San Diego this January (though December was a bit chilly for us).

 
At 1/17/2009 2:15 PM, Blogger @sethstorm said...


In Defense of the Minimum Temperature Law:

Thermodynamics and economics are not as easily grouped as you think.


Cover the exits to foreign countries a bit better and they'll hire them.

 
At 1/17/2009 2:17 PM, Blogger @sethstorm said...


When it comes to the labor market, what we want are accurate, truthful and precise measures of worker productivity, and we get those from market wages, not

...from slave labor or enablers in the Third World.

 
At 1/17/2009 6:02 PM, Blogger Paul said...

This is exacttly what happens in the mideast, where it is illegal to work outside labor if the temp is above 120. The solution ther is that the maximum officially reported temperature never exceeds 120 degrees. Unofficial thermometers are not deemed accurate when they exceed this reading, as they sometimes do.

 
At 1/17/2009 6:49 PM, Blogger Milena said...

As a Michigan resident, I often have thought how unfair it was for me to be born here. I was given no choice in the matter. Furthermore, today's economic climate makes it near-impossible for me to move, therefore, I'm subjected to the environmental climate, which, as I already stated, I wouldn't choose if I were allowed to.

In the name of climate egalitarianism, I think all the warm states should subsidize, at the very least, our heating bills and snow-shoveling fees. Furthermore, tax credits and rebates should be given to defray the moving and sales costs associated with citizens in cold-weather states that wish to migrate elsewhere.

Our nation should care more about those in the cold, and I propose a National Committee on Climate Cost Sharing should be created to examine this issue further.

 
At 1/18/2009 1:04 AM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

If you are SERIOUSLY concerned that wages should be ties to productivity, would you be willing to tie wages and productivity in the absence of a government-mandated minimum wage?

I and my co-workers would LOVE to be paid a wage commensurate with our productivity.

 
At 1/18/2009 1:21 AM, Anonymous poor boomer said...

Ironman -

Did those 500K+ minimum wage jobs disappear or were they filled by more experienced older workers?

My workplace has two dozen earning minimum wage with 20% college graduates and zero teens.

 
At 1/18/2009 12:08 PM, Anonymous RJK said...

How do you know that these workers are not worth the minimum wage?

 
At 1/19/2009 10:04 AM, Blogger Arman said...

>I and my co-workers would LOVE to be paid a wage commensurate with our productivity.<
Seconded!!

>How do you know that these workers are not worth the minimum wage?<
Labor service is marketed for twice or three times what the laborer is paid. It is the consumer that is the laborer and pays for the laborer. Business tries to keep more than their fair share of the sales, but in doing so, they kill the consumer dollar and their sales. Market forces do not determine fair wages, but always push all prices far below what they really should be.

 

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