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Would you carry the same briefcase as your boss? - Page 3

post #31 of 58
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if you can pay him less than his value to you, because his value to the market is less or what he is willing to work for is less, than you can try to do that, until he calls your bluff.
Please don't use the pronoun "you" here to mean me. I consider this to be an immoral philosophy which you or anyone else may feel free to practice all you want. I shall not. Employees should be rewarded according to their worth (merit).
Alex - I disagree with you about the morality thing. It is not morality, but ethics at play. The primary concern, or ethic, of a manager is to maximize profit for the business, i.e the owners. It is his purpose for being. Obviously, this must be done within the confines of the law, and failure to adhere to community norms, or morals, in the quest to maximize profit will (may) be punished in the marketplace. A good manager will keep his people happy, i.e., pay them what they are worth, not because it is the moral thing to do, per se, but because in the long run, happy employees are better workers and tend to stay put. Of course, rather than pay a market wage, he might also put a Coke machine in the lunch room and charge 5 cents a can to make them happy, instead. Unhappy employees take the skills they learn and benefit their new employer. This increases hiring costs and has a detrimental effect on overall productivity. However, it is unethical, to place inordinate importance on paying people based solely on "merit." A startup firm may not be able to pay the same salary as an established one, for instance. Should the former pay more than is prudent and risk tanking? Of course not. It is neither unethical, nor immoral for that matter, to pay below-market wages to your workers, if you can manage it. It is the exact opposite. After all, this is (or at least I am speaking of) America, and employment at-will is a two-way street. By implication, a worker paid a below-market wage necessarily can find employment elsewhere at a higher wage then he currently receives. The problem with talking about morals in the context of paying workers, is that morals tend to be absolutes. If it is immoral to pay a worker less than he "merits," it might logically follow that struggling businesses have no "moral" right to cut wages to survive. This cannot be so. But nobody would argue it is unethical.
post #32 of 58
Thread Starter 
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briggs and riley?
B&R should be a good option, but it is not good for me as I am based in Asia where they have no presence.[/quote] I feel for you. I have walked into a meeting once with an almost identical suit with a coworker, and once with identical shoes as my boss. I lean towards trying to find a different make. good luck.[/quote] I am heading to London soon and will look up a brand called Mandarina Duck from Italy. They make very good bags, and the designs are quietly trendy.
post #33 of 58
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The primary concern, or ethic, of a manager is to maximize profit for the business, i.e the owners. It is his purpose for being.
You are entirely correct. Where we disagree is in the term of outlook. Your manner of phrase suggests that you are basing your premise upon a larger, probably corporate, structure. One of the greater failings of this ilk of business today is its irrational, though (stock) market driven, emphasis upon "per-short-time-period" (i.e., quarterly) earnings. To maximize profits under this (IMHO absurdly sick) model, the slashing of "workforce costs" is right up there at the top-o'-the-heap.
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However, it is unethical, to place inordinate importance on paying people based solely on "merit." A startup firm may not be able to pay the same salary as an established one, for instance. Should the former pay more than is prudent and risk tanking? Of course not.
Merit-based pay is not solely paying on an absolute scale in accord with established firms in your marketplace. Anyone joining a startup operation knows the purse-strings are tight in the beginning. They have probably joined based on the possibility of the "eventual payout". If and when that time does come, payout should be solely based upon merit. "Merit" might even be, "I was here first and suffered longer" or "I worked longer hours and accomplished more" or "I was the one responsible for our invention being approved by the FDA".
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A good manager will keep his people happy, i.e., pay them what they are worth, not because it is the moral thing to do, per se, but because in the long run, happy employees are better workers and tend to stay put. Of course, rather than pay a market wage, he might also put a Coke machine in the lunch room and charge 5 cents a can to make them happy, instead.
I have no problem with your definitions of "pay". Take my case as an example. The folks who sew with me live in some rather unsavory sections of NYC's Outer Boroughs. For three days each week, they come and live in a large, wooded country estate, during which time they work on shirts. Certainly a nicer environment than they have the other four days. They consider this to be part of their remuneration.
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It is neither unethical, nor immoral for that matter, to pay below-market wages to your workers, if you can manage it. It is the exact opposite.
Here is the gist of where we disagree, for I consider this attitude not only immoral, but also, primarily, <s>stupid</s> poor business judgement. It is this philosophy which is the prime motovator of the "us vs. them" employee/employer relationship. It may offer your business a temporary (read: quarterly) profitability uptick. On the downside, it will certainly lead to employee unhappiness (read: Take this job and shove it.), lower ROI (RO-wage-I) , increased tension, lower quality. This is where it becomes most evident to the customers of the firm. When employees live in the "us vs. them" model, their incentive to produce the finest possible quality changes from "the best we can do is good for the company" to "I have only to do as well as is necessary to keep my job". Most employees suffering under the "us vs. them" philosophy spend their time thinking not about how they can improve the firm, but instead in guarding themselves from the next place their employer is going to try to take "just a little bit more" from them.
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The problem with talking about morals in the context of paying workers, is that morals tend to be absolutes.
Yes. Morals are absolutes. The problem with ignoring absolutes is the concept of creeping moral relativism ... a much larger and overarching argument than this discussion merits, because ...
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If it is immoral to pay a worker less than he "merits," it might logically follow that struggling businesses have no "moral" right to cut wages to survive.
... although the morality of merit based pay is an absolute, the amount of remuneration is not. From the pool of available wages, those who merit a greater share should receive a greater share. To argue in the context of what a firm can afford to pay is to step sideways from the argument by introducing the concept of market factors. Most companies, at some time during their lives, experience a shortfall in earnings. If, past whatever time period the employees are willing to suffer a bit to preserve the health of the firm, there will be insufficient wage capital available to pay in accord with the prevailing market rates of the industry, then the firm should cease to exist. On the other hand, most long-term employees, at least in my microcosmic experience, are willing to suffer throught these periods when they realize that, in the longer view, they are being fairly compensated based upon their merit.
post #34 of 58
Kabbaz, thinking in absolutes is denial.  Relative thinking is also denial.  It might be wiser to humble ourselves before these human limitations.
post #35 of 58
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Kabbaz, thinking in absolutes is denial. Relative thinking is also denial. It might be wiser to humble ourselves before these human limitations.
And this bit o' unsubstantiated philosophy brings ____ to the discussion? Pardon me, now, while I go and sitteth upon the mountaintop and contemplate our human limitations.
post #36 of 58
That's about what I expected as a reply from you.
post #37 of 58
Alex, we must respectfully disagree, maybe. Because I'm not really sure we do. I was not speaking of large corporate structures. In my own experience, I was speaking about a small law firm with ~30 employees. The principle is the same. I would agree that employees should be retained (kept on the payroll) and their relative pay within an organization should based on merit. However, I do this to maximize (a) my profit and (b) my quality of life at work, i.e. less aggravation. These lead to greater client satisfaction, which likewise increases my profit and quality of life at work and home. I do not do this primarily because I'm a nice or moral guy, though almost everyone who knows me would think I have these qualities. However, since I am primarily driven by my own self-interest, the people I hire and retain (based on their respective merit) have job security. I work for myself, which naturally benefits them. My ethic for profit, not adherence to some morality, encourages me to pay them a wage that will keep them in my employ rather than run to a competitor. I think if we base pay on "morality," an argument could be made that an unskilled worker who devotes the same time cleaning sewers or making menswear should be paid the same (some would argue more than) a person who works in an air conditioned office, e.g. a lawyer or stockbroker. We know this is not true becaue the lawyer and stockbroker generate more taxable income through their efforts. Morality, I fear, inevitably leads us down the path of communism. Ethics, based upon the idea that profit ultimately is good for everybody, does not. Anyway, about that briefcase...
post #38 of 58
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Alex, we must respectfully disagree, maybe. Because I'm not really sure we do.
Yeah ... me either. It seems that we do agree except, possibly, in the realm of semantics. Given my needle vs. your pen, I think I'll declare you correct. And as for you, JohnApril, be sure to follow the industry code. If you ever tumble down from that pedestal, be sure to not bleed on the fabric.
post #39 of 58
Now Now Boys... Play nice or we are bound to get the same error that AAAC display...
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Arguments are of the wrong type, are out of acceptable range, or are in conflict with one another.
PS:  Isnt that what an argument means, being in conflict with one another?
post #40 of 58
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Morality, I fear, inevitably leads us down the path of communism.
Morality never leads down the path of communism. To understand what Alex is getting at a look at the British Distributists like Belloc or Chesterston might be in order, and also the German economist Wilhelm Ropke. Decidely not collectivist, but based in a moral social order. Try Wendell Berry's What Are People For? for that matter.
post #41 of 58
Thread Starter 
I only asked a simple question. What happened to my thread, sigh
post #42 of 58
Little did you know a troll lived under that bridge.
post #43 of 58
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I only asked a simple question. What happened to my thread, sigh
Personally, I believe that you received some wide-ranging answers demonstrating the many aspects of that which is a very controversial topic ... and one which can strongly affect one's livlihood. And as in all such debates, the matter turned to a more philosophical bent at some point along the way. It did, nonetheless, provide you with the exact answer you sought: All bosses are different. You, and only you, will be affected by your decision ... and only you are in a position to know the probable reaction of your boss to a sartorial equalling or bettering. Here's what I would do. I'd say, "Hey, boss person. I really liked that briefcase you bought. Would you find it insulting or complimentary if I bought the same one?" But then again, I'm me ... and (thank God) I don't have to work for anyone.
post #44 of 58
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All bosses are different. You, and only you, will be affected by your decision ... and only you are in a position to know the probable reaction of your boss to a sartorial equalling or bettering. Here's what I would do. I'd say, "Hey, boss person. I really liked that briefcase you bought. Would you find it insulting or complimentary if I bought the same one?"
Agree, absolutely.
post #45 of 58
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(bch @ April 22 2005,08:40) Morality, I fear, inevitably leads us down the path of communism.
Morality never leads down the path of communism. To understand what Alex is getting at a look at the British Distributists like Belloc or Chesterston might be in order, and also the German economist Wilhelm Ropke. Decidely not collectivist, but based in a moral social order. Try Wendell Berry's What Are People For? for that matter.
Sorry. Too heady for me. I only know what I learned in economics school and law school. And 15 years in the real world of self-employment and all that goes with that. I think Alex and I agree that we really don't disagree that much, if at all. If so, it's only by a shade, I think. Sorry about hijacking the thread. Got a little carried away.
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