Roberts: Minimum wage is stupid 

In my America, the HR departments of corporate America would be replaced by the Major League Baseball Player's Association. A neutral third party that has no idea how much time I spend drawing Spider-Man busts and looking at Facebook each day is far more suited than my boss to decide my yearly salary.

If the Democrats really want to build a massive middle-class (and stick it to money-grubbing corporations that pay peanuts) they should forget about raising the minimum wage and take a lesson from the MLB, thrusting impoverished Americans into the beautifully chaotic world of "salary arbitration."

In this professional's wet dream of bargaining power, a major leaguer with two years of service, however mediocre and undeserved, gets to play a socialist game of "Deal or No Deal," against the team's front office (without knowing what deal they're turning down to begin with.)

Management writes down a number, the player writes down a number and a third party decides which one is less ridiculous. There is no compromise and no middle-ground - it is one or the other.

So what if after two years of work, you could match wits with your employer in a financial game of "chicken," like they do in the Majors?

After a lengthy conversation with their family and co-workers, each man and woman would have to take a genuine look at the worth of their work (and indeed, their existence), and decide in finite dollars and cents how worthwhile they are as a human being. It would be the greatest (and possibly most depressing) motivational tool in history. After an initial suicide epidemic, animosity between employer and employed would dissipate, underappreciated nobody's would find their worth, and upper management - yes, their time will come too - will have to make some shit up to convince the arbitrator they actually do something.

Yearly performance reviews would take four minutes, and job turnover rates would bottom out, because the arbitrators are omniscient and would know exactly what someone doing your same work at another company gets paid. Milton Bradley (the gaming enterprise, not the bat-shit insane Cubs outfielder) should buy up rights to the board game…it would be like Risk, but instead of gambling with dice-rolls you gamble on your opponents naiveté.

MLB arbitrators take into account a player's tenure, numbers, durability, productivity, and potential, and then run those numbers against other salaries around the league to decide what the player is worth. E.g., if a player hits 2.75, and demands $10 million, but the team offers $4 million, and the majority of 2.75 hitters around the league are making $7.1 Million… than the player gets his $10 mil. That's a simplistic explanation, but you get the idea.

Conversely, if a young writer gives free copy to an alt-newsweekly blog, and demands $20/year, and the alt-weekly counter-offers with 1 ham sandwich/year - the writer would sit down with the arbitrator in his room temperature, neutrally pastel-colored office, the arbitrator would consider the quality of his writing… and award him the ham sandwich. Win/win.

Roberts in ‘012


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Andrew Roberts

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