Wednesday, January 29, 2014

THE MINIMUM WAGE AND THE THAI TAXI DRIVER GAME

Here we go again, right on cue . . . Democrats want to raise the minimum wage . . . to what end? . . . S.L.


I grew up in Bangkok. Over there it is customary to haggle for the taxi fare before you get in the cab. By law they have meters, but they prefer to do it the Thai way . . . especially when a farang flags them down.

The Game

You're on Sukhumvit Road, Soi 15. You flag the taxi down, and before you get in you tell the taxi driver you want to go to Sathorn Tai Road. The taxi driver does a quick mental calculation for the fare, then doubles it because he's dealing with a farang.

Taxi Driver: "Two hundred Baht."

This is ridiculous, of course, but you and he both know he doubled the fare, maybe even tripled it. The normal protocol at this point is to offer half, and you both meet in the middle. But today we're playing The Game, so instead you DOUBLE the price!

Farang: "Two hundred Baht? That's not the price! FOUR HUNDRED BAHT!"

The taxi driver can't believe his good luck, of course. He's got a genuine crazy farang on his hands - probably been standing out in the noon day sun too long.

Taxi Driver: "Four hundred Baht! Very good! Let's go!'

Farang: "Four hundred Baht no way! EIGHT HUNDRED BAHT!"

The taxi driver isn't sure he's hearing this right.

Taxi Driver: "Eight . . . HUNDRED . . . Baht? You . . . want . . . go . . . Sathorn Tai . . . EIGHT HUNDRED BAHT?"

Farang: "Eight hundred Baht? That's not right! ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED BAHT!!!"

The taxi driver is convinced you're out of your mind, and probably on some dangerous drugs. Still, its a fare. Life is hard in the concrete jungle and he's got a cluster of Buddhas to protect him from evil spirits and nutjobs like you . . .


Taxi Driver: "YOU CRAZY FARANG! I TAKE YOU SATHORN TAI ONE HUNDRED BAHT! WE GO NOW ! ! !"


Chuckling, you get in and then pray to God, Thor, Odin and Buddha that you make it there in one piece because the Thai Taxi Driver is going MEDIEVAL! When you get to where you're going, you tip him an extra fifty Baht on top of the hundred, because both of you knew that was the price all along.

Thai Taxi Driver Game Meets the Minimum Wage

So where are we going with this?

Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, said, "No single law has caused more poverty or hurt more people than the minimum wage law because what it does is it officially prices unskilled labor out of the workforce."

The minimum wage is for basically unskilled, inexperienced labor. Now, the job market needs people like that because the starting point, that's where they get experience. The Noobs learn to show up, learn the requirements of responsibility and achievement and that's how they follow through and advance in life.

But when the government places an artificial value on that labor they are basically playing the Thai Taxi Driver Game with the market - but unlike the Thai Taxi Driver, neither player understands what's going on. The business owners hiring people know what those jobs are worth, and if that kind of work is not worth ten bucks an hour or whatever the government is calling for, nobody's gonna be hired.

The next time you find yourself in a conversation with a Liberal about the minimum wage, try a version of the Thai Taxi Driver Game.

Liberal: "I think the Republicans are evil, cruel and mean-hearted. I think that we should raise the minimum wage to ten dollars an hour."

Team STORMBRINGER: "I agree, only ten dollars an hour really isn't enough. We need to raise it to, say, fifteen dollars an hour."

Liberal: "Yeah! That's do-able!"

Team STORMBRINGER: "You know, thinking about it, fifteen an hour is only $120 a day, and that's only $840 a week. After taxes and - ahem - healthcare, it's really not enough. The minimum wage should be THIRTY DOLLARS AN HOUR."

Liberal: "Well, um, yeah . . ."

Team STORMBRINGER: "Hell, thinking about it, why shouldn't it be SIXTY DOLLARS AN HOUR? Those greedy business owners can afford it! Take it out of the CEO's pay.

Liberal: "Well, um, no, that's too much . . ."

Team STORMBRINGER: "Oh? Too much? Well, explain to me why we shouldn't pay people that much?"

And when that happens, you've got 'em.


See ya at the submarine races . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS

3 comments:

  1. I had to use a taxi to get from Bangkok to Pak Chong (near Korat). I don't remember how much he wanted exactly, but I had him take me to the Class 6 Store where I bought a bottle of Jim Beam and gave to him. That was the price of my fare. He probably tripled his money.

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    1. I know where is Pak Chong. A better and more comfortable way to get there from Bangkok is take the train from Hua Lamphong Station (สถานีรถไฟหัวลำโพง) to Nakhon Ratchasima (นครราชสีมา) then hire a baht bus to take you the rest of the way. Probably about twice as fast getting there, too. โชคดี

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