That’s Called a Job

People seem to have forgotten about a concept often referred to as a “job.” This concept revolves around the voluntary exchange of labor for another good, usually money. As this concept seems to be lost on many people I’m going to explain it in detail.

As a person you have a right to self-ownership which necessarily includes the ownership of your labor. Life is easier when people utilize division of labor, having some people do certain tasks while others do different tasks. Division of labor works on the basis of exchange where one person gives their labor in exchange for the labor of another. Oftentimes instead of directly giving labor a person will exchange the product of their labor from a previous exchange. Generally people except money as the exchange for their labor and use that money to make further changes. Thus a “job” is nothing more than an exchange of labor between two individuals.

The concept of a “job” is pretty simple but there are some additional complexities. Of all these complexities the most obvious is the fact that certain “jobs” require more knowledge than others which puts a limit on the number of people capable of performing the required labor. Being a limit exists on the number of people capable of performing the labor those who possess the required knowledge usually demand a higher rate of exchange for their labor. This is why a computer programmer can get paid $100 per hour of labor while a person who unloads trucks at a convenience store only gets paid $7.25 per hour of labor.

There were hundreds of foreign students who apparently never learned about this concept and thus decided they were working too hard at a Hershey’s plant and walked out:

Hundreds of foreign students, waving their fists and shouting defiantly in many languages, walked off their jobs on Wednesday at a plant here that packs Hershey’s chocolates, saying a summer program that was supposed to be a cultural exchange had instead turned them into underpaid labor.

The students, from countries including China, Nigeria, Romania and Ukraine, came to the United States through a long-established State Department summer visa program that allows them to work for two months and then travel. They said they were expecting to practice their English, make some money and learn what life is like in the United States.

In a way, they did. About 400 foreign students were put to work lifting heavy boxes and packing Reese’s candies, Kit-Kats and Almond Joys on a fast-moving production line, many of them on a night shift. After paycheck deductions for fees associated with the program and for their rent, students said at a rally in front of the huge packing plant that many of them were not earning nearly enough to recover what they had spent in their home countries to obtain their visas.

Emphasis mine. Note that the labor being performed requires very little knowledge which means most people are quite capable of performing it. Since so many people are capable of packing and moving boxes the amount of exchange that can be demanded for the labor is small. Usually this type of labor is called “unskilled.”

Still the students felt the exchange they were receiving for their labor wasn’t enough and decided instead to walk out and receive nothing. Still my favorite complain has to be the following:

“There is no cultural exchange, none, none,” said Zhao Huijiao, a 20-year-old undergraduate in international relations from Dalian, China. “It is just work, work faster, work.”

Welcome to America, our culture at one time was built upon work. Work is how this nation was able to enter the industrial revolution and create the concept of the assembly line. Work is what lead people to create household devices that people now take for granted such as computers, refrigerators, and microwaves. None of these would have been possible if people didn’t work and the American culture used to revolve around working hard to achieve what was often referred to as the American dream. So you are receiving a cultural exchange by working as it was part of the culture (I keep saying was because fewer and fewer people seem to be willing to work).

Another part of the American culture is the concept of not only bitching about a bad situation but doing something about it. If you don’t feel you’re receiving fair exchange for you labor you’re more than free to go elsewhere or, better yet, start your own business where you’ll have to work even harder in order to make money. This comment is also worth gold:

“You stand for the entire eight hours,” she said. “It is the worst thing for your fingers and hands and your back; you are standing at an angle.”

That’s called a “shift.” A “shift” is a span of time the person making an exchange for your labor wants to reserve your labor for. Generally these “shifts” are about eight hours although sometimes they can be shorter or longer. Finally these students received another cultural exchange:

The students said they decided to protest when they learned that neighbors in the apartments and houses where they were staying were paying significantly less rent.

“The tipping point was when we found out about the rent,” Mr. Efobi said.

Ms. Ozer and other students said they were paid $8.35 an hour. After fees are deducted from her paychecks as well as $400 a month for rent, she said, she often takes home less than $200 a week. “We are supposed to be here for cultural exchange and education, but we are just cheap laborers,” Ms. Ozer said.

That’s called getting fucked by the government and isn’t strictly a United States thing. The State Department made you pay for visa, brought you over, and deducted whatever money they desired from your paychecks (when they do it to citizens it’s called taxes). Welcome to America, I hope you enjoy your stay.