In political discourse most people take it for granted that a worker can be exploited, or that workers in general ARE exploited by employers. But is this really the case? Rick Kelo is an employment expert who has more than a decade’s experience as an executive recruiter matching tax professionals with opportunities that will advance their careers. However, Richard Kelo also has an education in economics and philosophy at some of the most prestigious universities in the world. So today he addresses the “Exploited Worker” myth.
“Workers are paid for their labor far in advance of any revenue generated by the sale of what they produce,” Rick Kelo points out. “It is the business owner who assumes the risk that he won’t be able to sell what the employee produces. Also, we must consider that the worker voluntarily enters into employment,” Kelo continues. Any of us would laugh if we tried to picture the image of a company sending an HR employee to the street corner to put a gun to someone’s head and force them to work at their company. In reality, only voluntarily agree to employment when workers feel the wage rate is high enough to benefit them, and they also get a guaranteed payment today unlike the business.
How about the case of the shy employee who doesn’t ask for a raise, and thus believes they are paid less than they deserve?
Rick Kelo spends most of his days as a tax recruiter assisting people in just such a lot, but is that circumstance enough to prove the worker is “exploited?” Wouldn’t we say that if that less assertive employee chooses not to (ask for more money, look for a better job, whatever the superior condition is we’re considering) that is the same as him actively choosing to remain in his current employment? Do any of us, as outsiders looking in on someone else’s situation, have a basis for criticizing their rational decision to do that even if our own choice under those conditions would be different? Clearly that less assertive employee is maximizing their preferences even if that arrangement wouldn’t maximize our preferences in their shoes.