#WealthofTweets: Book 1.10

labor markets system of natural liberty teach adam smith austrian economics apprenticeship online teaching competition #wealthoftweets #smithtweets demand for labor mike rowe dirty jobs wages and labor profit and stock employment and unemployment perfect liberty salary and education night soil men seasonal work risk and reward labor regulations side gigs

Of Wages and Profit in the Different Employments of Labour and Stock

Sarah Skwire and Janet Bufton for @AdamSmithWorks

13 Jan • 25 tweets • a damsmithworks/status/1349358004605489159

So, sometimes # AdamSmith's #WealthOfNations can feel a bit abstract. Not today! Today we're talking jobs!#WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

If a society has perfect liberty and if workers are perfectly free to choose, they will naturally move to the most advantageous forms of employment. Those are some big ifs, but we can be 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 at this, if not perfect. (I.x.a.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

There are 5 main factors that affect wages for a given job. (I.x.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets
  • Is it pleasant to do?
  • Is it quick and cheap to learn? 
  • Are there lots of jobs? 
  • How much respect/trust does it need? 
  • How likely is success? 
Only two of these factors affect the profits of stock: the agreeableness/disagreeableness of the business and the risk of failure. (I.x.a.34) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Some work, like hunting and fishing, becomes so easy, fun, & plentiful that it becomes a hobby rather than a job. (We don’t SmithTweet for free, but we knit & cook for fun!) (I.x.b.3) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Workers with expensive educations are like expensive machines. So you’d better expect that PhD to pay off in salary later! (I.x.b.6) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Smith. Not a fan of apprenticeship. He says apprentices are expensive & often lazy, which is bad for masters & customers. They are bound for a long time, which is bad for apprentices. Everyone loses. (I.x.b.8) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

If that's not enough, compulsory apprenticeships are an extra barrier to entering a trade! REALLY everyone loses. (I.x.b.8) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

“Education in the ingenious arts and the liberal professions is still more tedious and expensive.” SAYS THE COLLEGE PROFESSOR. (I.x.b.9) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

If your work is seasonal, you have to make enough to sustain you when it’s not the right season. But we’re not sure it works that way any more, now that we’re primarily non-agricultural in our work. Seasonal work pays less, not more. (I.x.b.12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Oh! Except for holiday workers at, say Target or FedEx. They usually make a premium because of high demand in holiday season. Is that a modern analogue to Smith’s agricultural example? (I.x.b.12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

If a job is tough and dirty enough (Hi @mikeroweworks, we love you like we love Adam Smith) it can pay even more than nice, clean work. (I.x.b.15) #DirtyJobs #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

That’s why colliers and coal-heavers make so much—the work is dirty, hard, and dangerous. And the wage has to persuade people to take all that on. Have we mentioned we love @mikeroweworks? (I.x.b.15) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Look. Smith had failings. And one of them is the failure to take the opportunity inI.x.b.15 to mention night soil men: the profession you didn't know you didn't want to miss. They carted off the 💩! (Really.) #DirtyJobs #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

If people have to trust you a lot, you get paid more. Bankers, goldsmiths, doctors. etc. (I.x.b.17–20) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

And if the odds against succeeding are high, you get paid more. High risk=high reward. (I.x.b.21–24) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

This sort of falls apart, says Smith, wrt the arts, some of which were considered morally iffy in his time. When artists make it big, they’re paid a lot for their talent, but also to compensate them for doing disreputable work. Like opera. (I.x.b.1) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

(We feel compelled to mention, at this point, that @mikeroweworks used to be an opera singer. Bet he never thought that was a #DirtyJob but Smith did.)#SmithTweets #WealthOfTweets

Today, the low pay for artists may be because art is treated more like hunting and fishing—considered more fun than joblike. (That may not be kind to artists, but it may be what’s happening.) (I.x.b.25) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Oh, btw, we all, universally, stink at evaluating risk. We’re awful at it. And the younger we are, the worse we are. (I.x.b.26–33) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

You don’t get crazy rich by just pursuing a trade. That takes speculation and risk. We’re not sure Smith totally approves of that approach, and at any rate he doesn't seem to recommend it. (I.x.b.38) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Generally you make more money in new kinds of jobs than in old ones. (I.x.b.39) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

All sorts of outside factors influence wages—season, war/peace, price of commodities, etc. (I.x.b.44–47) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Smith knows about side-gigs! They weren't invented by Uber! (I.x.b.48–52) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

(We do wonder if he could have envisioned a world where everything is a side gig, though... See you tomorrow!) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Yesterday # AdamSmith said things work pretty well when people have perfect liberty to choose a trade and where to practice it? In this half of the chapter he specifies the ways people aren’t at perfect liberty, and whose fault it is. (I.x.c.1) # WealthOfTweets # SmithTweets

And (spoiler) it's government policy’s fault! They restrain competition in some places, increase it in others, and obstruct free movement of labor. (I.x.c.2) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Many government restraints on competition are “as foolish as can well be imagined.” Like how coachmakers can’t make the wheels for coaches, but wheelmakers can make coaches. (I.x.c.9) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Lots of the rules he objects to have to do with apprenticeships, which may be one reason he’s not a fan of apprenticeship in general. (I.x.c.11) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweetsYour labor belongs to you. It’s unjust for anyone to interfere with your sacred right to work. That doesn’t mean they have to hire you, just that it is a violation if a guild or government forbids someone from working. (I.x.c.12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Our right to SmithTweet is sacred and inviolable! (I.x.c.12) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Time to complain about apprenticeship again. It’s not even a guarantee of quality work! It doesn’t even make young people industrious! Unnecessary, idle, worthless. How do you really feel Dr. Smith?(I.x.c.13–16) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Working in towns is more profitable, but towns rely on rural areas to keep them going. Trade, for Smith, is always as much about cooperation as competition. (I.x.c.19–26) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Town workers can meet up more easily, so they are more protective of their trades, jealous of their secrets, and try to prevent competition by guilds and agreements when it can’t be outlawed. (I.x.c.22) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Country labor requires a more diverse skill set, and while the workers sound “rustic” they are often heckin’ smarter than the more specialized town workers. (I.x.c.24) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or in some contrivance to raise prices.” (I.x.c.27) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

We’d be mad about that, but in ch 8 he was equally annoyed by masters getting together to drive wages down. The point is everyone wants to make $$. Sometimes they behave badly as a result. (I.x.c.27) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

(This is why humans need all the stuff in Smith’s OTHER book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, as well as all the stuff we’re tweeting about. It takes both pieces to be fully human.) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

It’s a mistake to think we can predict which trades will need workers and try to do artificial things to promote entry into those trades. It just overloads those trades and makes people poor.(I.x.c.33–37) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Before the invention of printing, scholar = beggar. Before the invention of Twitter, SmithTweeter = (I.x.c.38)  #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

Stopping the free circulation of labor is bad for our general prosperity, and it’s inhumane to workers. It forces the poor to stay poor, and impedes their right of exit. (I.x.c.45–57) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

“Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate...between masters & their workmen,its counsellors are always the masters.” Smith is no fool. He knows all about the dangers of aristocracy of pull. (I.x.c.61) #WealthOfTweets #SmithTweets

We're not going to lie to you, Smithketeers. (oh, fine, Smithians.) #AdamSmith is really really bad at dividing up chapters in anything approaching an equal fashion. Chapter 11, coming tomorrow, is going to take almost 2 weeks to tweet. WORTH IT! #DigressionOnSilver

See Also: The AdamSmithWorks Reading Guide for this chapter.