MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Free Market’

In Defense of Price Gouging – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 10, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/09/laurence-m-vance/in-defense-of-price-gouging-2/

By

As a resident of Florida, I was naturally concerned about how the state would be impacted by Hurricane Dorian. But now that the storm has passed, I am still concerned about something that happened in Florida after Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, August 28, for several counties in the hurricane’s path.

But first note that according to Florida Statutes, Title XXXIII, “REGULATION OF TRADE, COMMERCE, INVESTMENTS, AND SOLICITATIONS,” Chapter 501, “CONSUMER PROTECTION,” Section 160, “Rental or sale of essential commodities during a declared state of emergency; prohibition against unconscionable prices”:

(1) As used in this section:
(a) “Commodity” means any goods, services, materials, merchandise, supplies, equipment, resources, or other article of commerce, and includes, without limitation, food, water, ice, chemicals, petroleum products, and lumber necessary for consumption or use as a direct result of the emergency.  (b) It is prima facie evidence that a price is unconscionable if:

1. The amount charged represents a gross disparity between the price of the commodity or rental or lease of any dwelling unit or self-storage facility that is the subject of the offer or transaction and the average price at which that commodity or dwelling unit or self-storage facility was rented, leased, sold, or offered for rent or sale in the usual course of business during the 30 days immediately prior to a declaration of a state of emergency, unless the increase in the amount charged is attributable to additional costs incurred in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity or rental or lease of any dwelling unit or self-storage facility, or regional, national, or international market trends; or
2. The amount charged grossly exceeds the average price at which the same or similar commodity was readily obtainable in the trade area during the 30 days immediately prior to a declaration of a state of emergency, unless the increase in the amount charged is attributable to additional costs incurred in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity or rental or lease of any dwelling unit or self-storage facility, or regional, national, or international market trends.
(2) Upon a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor, it is unlawful and a violation of s. 501.204 for a person or her or his agent or employee to rent or sell or offer to rent or sell at an unconscionable price within the area for which the state of emergency is declared, any essential commodity including, but not limited to, supplies, services, provisions, or equipment that is necessary for consumption or use as a direct result of the emergency. This prohibition is effective not to exceed 60 days under the initial declared state of emergency as defined in s. 252.36(2) and shall be renewed by statement in any subsequent renewals of the declared state of emergency by the Governor.

What happened in Florida was that Attorney General Ashley Moody activated the state’s “price gouging hotline” so residents could report businesses violating the state’s price gouging law if they charged “too much” for lodging or goods during the period of the state of emergency. Business caught charging elevated prices for goods, could face “civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.”

The Attorney General’s office says that more than 2,000 cases of price gouging were reported. Typical commodities involved are water and gasoline.

Now, there are many economic arguments in defense of price gouging:

  • Higher prices help prevent a handful of consumers from hoarding the majority of supplies.
  • Higher prices create incentives for suppliers of goods to help to restore people’s lives.
  • Higher prices encourage conservation among end users.
  • High prices can bring much-needed supplies into a disaster zone.
  • Higher prices send a signal to market actors that something is scarce and that profits are available to those who produce or sell that something.
  • Higher prices set off an economic chain reaction that ultimately remedies the shortages that led to the price gouging in the first place.
  • Higher prices tell suppliers what their customers want most.

You can read articles here, here, here, and here. I have even written this.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that it is just, right, moral, or ethical to raise prices on essential goods and services during the time before a hurricane hits. It just means that it should not be against the law. If you don’t like the price of a gallon of gas at your local gas station during the time that a hurricane is approaching, then you can choose to not only not purchase your gas there, but also to never patronize that particular gas station again. What you should not have the option of doing is calling a price gouging hotline and having the state fine the business and force it to lower its prices.

Economic considerations aside, there is an important philosophical reason why I write in defense of price gouging…

The ability of a business to raise or lower its prices on a particular good or on all the goods it sells is one of the essential things that distinguishes a free market from government central planning. The reason why a business raises or lowers its prices is absolutely irrelevant.

Free and unfettered interaction between producers and consumers, buyers and sellers, lessors and lessees, owners and renters, and businesses and customers is always to be preferred to government intervention.

Once it is accepted that the government has the authority, knowledge, and competence to establish arbitrary price ceilings during the onset or aftermath of a natural disaster, no reasonable or logical argument can be made against the government’s setting prices during ordinary times.

Price-gouging laws are an assault on private property, free exchange, freedom of contract, free enterprise, free markets, and a free society.

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Is that Sean Penn?

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Stop Hating on Self-Checkouts – Foundation for Economic Education

Posted by M. C. on August 22, 2019

https://fee.org/articles/in-praise-of-self-checkouts/

Tyler Curtis

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, then you’ve probably had to make this choice: regular cashier or self-checkout? For many shoppers, the choice often depends on which option has a line, how many items they have in their basket, and sometimes they’ll just choose whichever lane is closest. Others, however, hate self-checkouts with a visceral passion. Not only do they refuse to use the machines, they don’t want self-checkouts to exist at all.

This attitude is woefully misguided. While there is nothing wrong with preferring to engage with a human cashier, a fair number of shoppers enjoy the benefits self-checkouts have to offer. Indeed, there is much about self-checkouts to praise.

Why All the Fuss?

Though most shoppers who tacitly boycott self-checkouts do so with respect, patiently waiting in line for a human cashier, there is a vocal minority who would like nothing more than to take a Louisville slugger to the dastardly appliances.

One such malcontent is Kaitlyn Tiffany, a Vox writer who presumably would have felt comfortable with mobs destroying power-looms in 19th century England. In an article bluntly entitled, “Wouldn’t it be better if self-checkout just died?” Tiffany laid out precisely why she believes retail stores ought to eliminate the machines.

Her first objection is a simple one: self-checkouts are annoying. And admittedly, that’s hard to argue with. Those who’ve been scolded for placing an “unexpected item in the bagging area” will understand. “Seemingly everyone hates them,” writes Tiffany.

As someone who worked as a self-checkout attendant for three years, I can confidently say that Tiffany’s generalization is way off base. Not only are self-checkouts not universally loathed, there are a large number of shoppers who actually prefer them over a human cashier.

To the self-checkout haters, this is ludicrous. “Why would I want to scan and bag my own groceries?” they ask with haughty indignation. Well, there are a number of reasons.

First, no one is going to treat your items with as much care as you do. One does not have to be a cynic to understand that there are reckless cashiers who will bruise your fruit or smash your bread. You can also bag your groceries in whichever way you prefer. For those worried about breaking their eggs, or mixing that leaky package of meat with the vegetables, being able to bag your own groceries is nothing to scoff at. Self-service often means better service.

Second, using the self-checkout is frequently the fastest option, at least for those who feel comfortable with the technology (no unexpected items in the bagging area!). Even its relative unpopularity with other customers is a bonus for those who like them; after all, if fewer people want to use the self-checkout, the chance of there being a line is diminished…

The great thing about the free market is that it doesn’t force everyone into one-size-fits-all products. Sadly, there are many who see this as a bug rather than a feature. Market skeptics like Kaitlyn Tiffany observe shoppers scanning their own groceries and see nothing but capitalist trickery. But for those who value having more choices, the only complaint can be: I wish this had been available sooner!

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Is that Sean Penn?

 

 

 

 

 

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The Demise of the West? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 22, 2019

Mr. Rockwell’s article makes some good points which is why I re-posted. The remainder of the article is a request to help fund his new book.

I encourage you to lick the link to investigate.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/08/lew-rockwell/the-demise-of-the-west/

By

The Left is the most dangerous ideological phenomenon in the history of mankind. It glorifies poverty, the total state, and mass death. The Left wants to destroy Western civilization, based on Christianity, the traditional family, and the free market.

It’s no coincidence that Communists killed more than 100 million people, not including their wars.

By the way, young people are not taught about the evils of the Left, only its myths. They do not believe there were gigantic atrocities in the Lenin-Stalin Soviet Union, nor Mao’s China. Socialism is good! Everyone is better off under socialism. Everyone is Equal.

Equality is the magic word. Since it does not and cannot exist, it is is a license for total state power. After all, some people are smart, some stupid. Some good looking, some ugly. Some creative, some dull. Some hard working, some lazy. Some athletic, some couch potatoes.

According to the Left, private property and the free market are evil, not the sources of prosperity and civilization itself. The family is the ultimate evil, since is the ultimate source of inequality. That’s why Karl Marx called for its abolition.

The key fact about the human race is our radical inequality, said Mises. Without it, there could be no division of labor, no social cooperation, no market. There could be no liberty, because liberty depends on the ability of people to exercise without hindrance their unequal talents.

It’s more than ironic that Leftists call us fascists and Nazis, since fascism had its origins in communism and socialism, and Nazism was National Socialism. Both Mussolini and Hitler denounced the free market and all it stands for. But then, Leftists never tell the truth.

Where did this poison originate? Not so much in the ancient world, though it had its advocates there too. One Greek myth talked about the ruler Procrustes, who would force visitors to sleep in his iron bedstead. If you were too tall, he’d have your feet chopped off. If too short, he’d have you stretched on the rack. It’s still a good summary of egalitarianism.

The birth of modern Leftism was the French Revolution, with its wars, conscription, egalitarianism, mass deaths, and total state. Defeated, it rose again in Communist Marxism, the Russian Revolution, and all its despicable offspring.

Yet Marx’s idea of a proletarian revolution proved ridiculous and impossible. The attempt to put this idea into practice in Soviet Russia led to terror and mass murder that staggered the world. Far more effective was Cultural Marxism, originated by mostly German Communists in the 1930s, who moved like a plague to the United States in the 1940s. Putting aside direct efforts to revolutionize the means of production, they focused on destroying bourgeois culture—the family and Christianity especially—as the path to power…

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Germany 1880 1945: Art Posters of the Third Reich

 

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The Difference. With Some Practice It Is Easy To See.

Posted by M. C. on July 17, 2019

My general disappoint with certain elements of society has led me to some self-examination and (hopefully) improvement.
In my research I discovered and re-discovered concepts and products that are new, been lost and/or generally foreign to the masses.
As a result, some other revelations have made themselves apparent.
Store shelf space formally littered with the same tired men’s products are teaming with new shampoo, deodorant, shaving and beard choices. Pre-shave oil! Beard oil! Charcoal toothpaste! Whoda thunkit?
Single and double edge razors and that cup and shaving brush you got for graduation are coming back. Not a fad but because they work and don’t cost a bundle.
I notice how new and formally dubious eating establishments have stepped up and improved their quality.
Along with food, those that enjoy a mild tipple have plethora of specialty beer, wine and liquor establishments from which to choose.
Computers are getting smaller and higher performance. Phones and TVs are getting bigger and higher performance.
Smokeless venues became the norm before Pennsylvania passed laws and took the credit.
And there are cars.
Front cameras, rear cameras, mirror cameras, a myriad of sensors and computer screens. Beepers and buzzers for anything some faceless bureaucrat deems unacceptable. Meanwhile violations and your GPS position are reported through the satellite “safety system”. A system you didn’t renew but still runs. Mileage reducing ethanol became a requirement distorting the (food) grain market. Even “W” knew ethanol was bogus. Unrealistically increasing emission requirements where emissions are already essentially minimal. The prelude to all electric.
It all costs you a bundle. You cannot escape.
The difference between cars and the rest of the above? With some practice it is easy to see.
One is customer driven, free market demand. We have choices. No government control required.
The other is central planner driven, government demand. No choice. All about control.
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Central Planning Delusions: From Helicopter Money To NIRP

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Conservatives Against Liberty

Posted by M. C. on July 16, 2019

The American people are not suffering from an excess of free markets. They suffer from an excess of taxes, regulations, and, especially, fiat money. Therefore, populist conservatives should join libertarians in seeking to eliminate federal regulations, repeal the 16th Amendment, and restore a free-market monetary system.

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/july/15/conservatives-against-liberty/

Written by Ron Paul

Recently several prominent social and populist conservatives have attacked libertarianism. These conservatives, some of whom are allies in the fight against our hyper-interventionist foreign policy, blame libertarianism for a variety of social and economic ills. The conservative attack on libertarianism — like the attack on the freedom philosophy launched by leftists — is rooted in factual, economic, and philosophical errors.

Libertarianism’s right-wing critics claim libertarianism is the dominant ideology of the Republican establishment. This is an odd claim since the Republican leadership embraces anti-libertarian policies like endless wars, restrictions on civil liberties, government interference in our personal lives, and massive spending increases on welfare as well as warfare.

Anti-libertarian conservatives confuse libertarianism with the authoritarian “neoliberalism” embraced by both major parties. This confusion may be why these conservatives blame libertarians for the American middle class’s eroding standard of living. Conservatives are correct to be concerned about the economic challenges facing the average American, but they are mistaken to place the blame on the free market.

The American people are not suffering from an excess of free markets. They suffer from an excess of taxes, regulations, and, especially, fiat money. Therefore, populist conservatives should join libertarians in seeking to eliminate federal regulations, repeal the 16th Amendment, and restore a free-market monetary system.

Instead of fighting to end the welfare-regulatory system that benefits economic and political elites at the expense of average Americans, populist conservatives are promoting increased economic interventionism. For example, many populist conservatives support increased infrastructure spending and tariffs and other forms of protectionism.

Like all forms of central planning, these schemes prevent goods and services from being used for the purposes most valued by consumers. This distorts the marketplace and lowers living standards — including of people whose jobs are temporally saved or created by these government interventions. Those workers would be better off in the long term finding new jobs in a free market.

Anti-free-market conservatives ignore how their policies harm those they claim to care about. For example, protectionism harms farmers and others working in businesses depending on international trade.

The most common complaint of social conservatives is that libertarianism promotes immorality. These conservatives confuse a libertarian’s opposition to outlawing drugs, for example, with moral approval of drug use. Many libertarians condemn drug use and other destructive behaviors. However, libertarians reject the use of government force to prevent individuals from choosing to engage in these behaviors. Instead, libertarians support the right of individuals to use peaceful means to persuade others not to engage in destructive or immoral behaviors.

Libertarians also support the right of individuals not to associate with, or to subsidize in any way, those whose lifestyles or beliefs they find objectionable. Social conservatives object to libertarians because social conservatives wish to use government power to force people to be good. This is the worst type of statism because it seeks to control our minds and souls.

Most people accept the idea that it is wrong to initiate force against those engaging in peaceful behaviors. Libertarians apply this nonaggression principle to government. Making government follow the nonaggression principle would end unjust wars, income and inflation taxes, and the destruction caused by the use of force to control what we do with our property, how we raise our children, who we associate with, and what we put into our bodies. Making governments abide by the nonaggression principle is the only way to restore a society that is free, prosperous, and moral.

 

 

 

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The Reasons Behind The Relentless Ideological Onslaught – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 5, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/04/no_author/the-reasons-behind-the-relentless-ideological-onslaught-against-free-markets/

By Brandon Smith
Alt-Market.com

…The suppression of free markets began in the aftermath of the Civil War and the passage of the 14th Amendment, which was intended to protect the citizenship rights of former slaves, but was instead used as a legal loophole by the elite to establish what we now know as “corporations”.

Corporations are defined by their corporate charter, which is granted by the government, as well as their “corporate personhood” derived from the exploitation of the 14th Amendment. Corporate personhood allowed for limited liability as well as many other government protections. Unlike partnerships, leaders of corporations cannot be prosecuted for many crimes if those crimes were executed by “the company”. The company can be sued as a “legal person” in civil court, or fined by the government, but in general CEO’s and major shareholders are protected from any consequences even if they were directly involved in the commission of a crime.

This relationship between government and corporations has become so egregious that today these monopolies receive special legal protections and immunity from some civil lawsuits, aid in the form of taxpayer funded welfare, massive tax cuts which smaller businesses and less connected corporations do not enjoy, and even central bank bailouts which keep them afloat. Major corporations are not allowed to fail, and no one is allowed to compete with them on a level playing field.

This is the exact antithesis to free markets. This is socialism. Yet many socialists point the finger at free market “capitalism” as the source of all our economic problems. This is impossible, because free markets on a level any higher than local trade do not exist today and have not existed for at least a century…

There is a group of people that do behave in a destructive way automatically or instinctually when engaging in commerce without regulation, and these people have become a fascination of mine. They are narcissistic sociopaths; the defining characteristic of most financial and political elites.

I have outlined the facts surrounding narcissistic sociopaths in numerous articles, and I recommend readers study these for greater details. To summarize, full blown narcissistic sociopathy is a psychological aberration present in around 1% of any given population from birth. That is to say, in most cases these people are not created by their environment. Many of them come from very balanced and sheltered childhoods. They are born the way they are.

Narcissistic sociopaths are a tiny portion of the population, but lacking any sense of empathy or conscience, they account for a vast percentage of all crimes committed in society. They also gravitate to positions of power and influence from the business world to politics…

I agree with Adam Smith in the idea that normal citizens will act to pursue success, but also to pursue balance. When given the opportunity to actually function within a true free market, most people are not going to destroy their surrounding environment and resources in some mad dash for gain. Why? Because it is in their self-interest not to. They know that if they abuse the structures around them they will lose their source of commerce. They know that if they ruin the system for others that they will be shunned in business. They also know that if they fail in such a spectacular manner and commit criminal sabotage of the free market system they will have to suffer the regret and shame that will follow.

The only factor that this does not apply to are the elites themselves; the narcissistic sociopaths devoid of conscience with whom we now contend for our freedoms. I would suggest that Smith’s free markets, unshackled from centralization and government interference, would function almost perfectly if these people were cut from the equation entirely.

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What is free market? definition and meaning ...

 

 

 

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: A Sophisticated Defense of Free Market Capitalism (From a Former Governor)

Posted by M. C. on March 13, 2019

The blind pig (WSJ) finds an acorn.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2019/03/a-sophisticated-defense-of-free-market.html

Wow, who has the ear of former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal?

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, he has written a pretty sophisticated defense of free market capitalism.

A key snippet:

Liberal politicians, abetted by the mainstream media, regularly document the alleged shortcomings of free-market capitalism. Politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez point to rising inequality and a supposed lack of upward mobility to make the case for socialism. Today, American Democrats have a more positive view of socialism than capitalism, and less than half of young adults have a positive view of capitalism. But the debate isn’t merely between left-wing socialists and right-wing capitalists. Even President Trump argues that capitalism generates prosperity abroad at the expense of American workers. Years of wage stagnation and diminished economic prospects have soured many Americans on the system that made the U.S. the world’s largest economy…

The problem isn’t market dynamics, but the increased government intervention in the economy that discourages competition. Rather than relying on innovation, many companies often now seek to exploit licensing arbitrage opportunities and engage in other rent-seeking behaviors. They try to beat competitors through regulatory capture and crony capitalism rather than making better products for less.

Almost every large company has calculated the benefits of lobbying government. It is no coincidence that the seemingly recession-proof Washington area dominates the list of the nation’s wealthiest counties. For consumers, this means fewer meaningful choices. For new producers, the goal is often not to displace an incumbent firm but to be purchased by one. Even many tech entrepreneurs hope to sell to Google or Facebook rather than become the next big thing…

Some argue that targeted government economic intervention is necessary to fix capitalism’s errors and prevent more-radical political elements from gaining power. Some historians credit President Franklin D. Roosevelt with saving free markets from rising support for socialism fed by the Great Depression. They argue the New Deal, by dramatically expanding the role of government, vaccinated capitalism against a more virulent form of socialism propounded by Huey Long and others. More-moderate modern leaders than Mr. Sanders and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez see today’s economic challenges as profound and argue they warrant similar inoculating shots of regulation.

These recommendations come from all across the political spectrum. Sen. Marco Rubio proposes paid parental leave, while Manhattan Institute scholar Oren Cass argues that some short-term growth should be sacrificed to strengthen families and prepare communities for long-term growth. President George W. Bush labeled his version of this approach “compassionate conservatism.”

Democrats, meanwhile, argue for a higher minimum wage, a more progressive income-tax code, stronger unions, and ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies as the best alternative to a single-payer system. Others have pushed for breaking up larger companies—especially tech giants—expanding the earned-income tax credit, raising tariffs, and adopting a universal basic income as possible responses to the displacement caused by globalization and automation.

Small-government conservatives and their libertarian brethren still reject these notions. The biggest threat to American capitalism, they say, comes from liberalism and its incremental—but constant and accumulating—push for a larger, costlier and more powerful government. They see reform proposals from moderate Republicans as attempts to be partway pregnant. They wonder why the GOP would want to become a weaker, cheaper version of the Democratic Party. Free-market Republicans argue that conservatives should be consistently pulling in the direction of lower taxes, less regulation and smaller government.

RW

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How The Shutdown Can Be Used – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on January 12, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/01/allan-stevo/how-the-shutdown-can-be-used-to-make-air-travel-safer/

By 

We would never entrust a government functionary to secure the transport of valuable personal treasures like a Picasso or the Hope Diamond or a Faberge egg. There is a distinguished marketplace of professionals that handle that field far more adeptly. Then why do we trust a government functionary with securing our most vital form of long distance travel?

As all too many of us intimately recall, not only are planes able to be hijacked to the detriment of all on board, they can be used as guided missiles to the detriment of those on the ground, as was the case in the 9/11 attacks.

For some reason, rather than recognizing the failure of the quasi-governmental system and pushing government further out of the airline security process after the post 9/11 failures, we turned to the ever ineffective government to further step in to air travel security…

TSA Isn’t Doing Their Job, Isn’t Getting Paid, Now Is A Perfect Opportunity To Dissolve The TSA Read the rest of this entry »

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Major League Baseball’s Disgusting Deal With the Government of Cuba

Posted by M. C. on January 1, 2019

America’s Game!

Another Asterisk in the baseball record book. Pro sports in general stinks.

I liked it better when players smoked, played with hangovers and set records.

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2018/12/major-league-baseballs-disgusting-deal.html#more

MLB has cut a deal that will keep the bidding for Cuban players below free-market levels which will also result in MLB collecting taxes from Cuban players for the Cuban regime.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady explains:

Major League Baseball has cut a deal with the Cuban military dictatorship in which Havana will allow Cubans to play in the U.S. In exchange baseball will garnish their salaries and send the money to the regime…

The regime already boasts the world’s largest state-run human-trafficking operation. For decades it has placed Cubans abroad to work for foreign companies or governments as indentured servants. Workers go “voluntarily” because their economic circumstances at home are so dire and they have no other options. But once abroad they receive a small fraction of what they earn; the rest goes to the Cuban state…

RW 

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Amazon Makes an Evil Move

Posted by M. C. on October 3, 2018

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2018/10/amazon-makes-evil-move.html#more

Amazon today announced it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies), and seasonal employees across the U.S.—effective November 1.

This is fine, Amazon should be able to play its employees whatever it wants.

But here is where they turn evil. In a press release announcing the wage hike, the company also states: Read the rest of this entry »

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