Ah bless Ritchie

And it does not mean I do not understand any of these issues. Far from it: what worries me greatly is that the Right – which influences the Tories far more than most presume – do think the market is the solution to all problems.

Like it or not, it isn’t. And unless we’d had constraints imposed on it we would still have slavery, child labour, no paid holidays, unsafe working conditions, exploitation and discrimination and much more besides.

All we need to disprove this contention is to find a place that doesn\’t have constraints placed upon the market but which does indeed provide one or more of those. We would thus be able to say that the market uconstrained does indeed offer exactly what it is claimed that it cannot.

Easy: in the United States there is no legal requirement for a company or employer to offer paid holiday time. Yet all indeed do offer paid holiday time: an average of two weeks a year.

Thus paid holidays can be and are provided by an unconstrained market. It is not necessary to have legislation to enforce such provision.

Next question?

17 comments on “Ah bless Ritchie

  1. The first thing I could find after a quick google was this:

    according to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. As a result, 1 in 4 private-sector workers in the U.S. do not receive any paid vacation or paid holidays.

    Please try again…

    Tim adds: From the same place:

    “The sum of the average paid vacation and paid holidays provided to U.S. workers in the private sector – 15 in total ”

    So, the average is as I said, two weeks or so (in fact, I underestimated, it’s three).

    “Part-time workers in the U.S., who are much more likely to be women, are far less likely to have paid vacations (36 percent) than are full-time workers (90 percent).”

    90% of full time workers get paid vacation. OK, I erred in saying that “all” US companies provied this. But 90% is still a great deal more than the nothing that Ritchie claims would come from the absence of legislation, isn’t it?

    My point still stands then. Markets without compulsion provide paid vacation time.

  2. I wouldn’t disagree with the point that markets will provide paid vacation time without compultsion. I’ve had a couple of employers who gave more than the statutory minimum in holiday.

    What I would say though is that whether Ritchie is disproved depends entirely on your interpretation of what he said. I take it to mean “There would be employers who give no paid holiday” whereas you take the harsher “There would be no paid holiday”.

    Anyway, would love to write further but have work to do.

  3. “My point still stands then. Markets without compulsion provide paid vacation time.”

    No, no they don’t.
    Nobody anywhere ever provides paid vacation time.
    People pay people to work. They don’t pay them to take vacations.

  4. Whether or not something is a benefit depends a lot on one’s starting position. X weeks paid Holiday is effectively a higher pay rate with X weeks unpaid. Those who cannot find employment at the higher pay rate might prefer to earn something, and do without the paid holidays. I would prefer my grandchildren went to school- but I can afford to feed house and clothe them. Those in the third world who can’t might prefer that their children/grandchildren earn at least enough so they don’t starve. There a no conditions, in life let alone in work, that are perfectly safe, its a matter of balancing risk. for the hunter gatherer there is a high chance of injury or death whilst hunting- but a certainty of death by not hunting.
    It seems to me that politicians over the generations have mandated good stuff that was happening anyway, so that they could take the credit. They never get it quite right, so they always cause an overall disbenefit, but they usually get it near enough that most people don’t notice (and of course there’s always some minority who do benefit from their interference)

  5. The fact that there are paid holidays in the US ( Not universally I bet) and there is no contraint on the market does not show that the market produced this happy state Tim now does it ?

    Well ?

    No .

  6. >whether Ritchie is disproved depends entirely on your interpretation of what he said.

    It isn’t a “matter of interpretation”. Ritchie said “no paid holidays”. And there are paid holidays in the US. And not just a small amount — the vast majority of employers get them.

    >I take it to mean “There would be employers who give no paid holiday”

    As well as constituting a misreading of a straighforward English statement, that is a very uninteresting interpretation. If Ritchie simply said that, and said it clearly — that there would be a small amount of employers who gave no holidays — then his “horror story” just disappears.

  7. Andreas,

    You question how fiercely Ritchie makes his statement. Here it is:

    “And unless we’d had constraints imposed on it we would still have slavery, child labour, no paid holidays, unsafe working conditions, exploitation and discrimination and much more besides.”

    NO paid holidays. That’s what he says. Not “the failure to provide completely universal paid holidays” or “some problems with part-time workers not getting paid holidays”, he says “no paid holidays” as in “none”.

    This is patently nonsense and Tim’s illustration here is ample evidence to that effect.

    However, I would have one quibble. Tim is not right to say that there are, as demanded by Ritchie, “no constraints” either. There are indeed constraints. Specifically, individuals in the US generally feel that if they are working hard for most of the year, it is a fair cop to be able to take some paid time off. Employers are working under that constraint.

    Unfortunately for Ritchie, that’s not quite the sort of constraint he had in mind. So he’s still utterly wrong.

  8. Significantly, Ritchie’s arguing for state compulsion, not just of employers but also of employees. Even if I don’t want the minimum legal annual leave, preferring a higher salary (which my employer was prepared to offer) I have to take the leave and the employer has to give it. It’s a similar story to the minimum wage.

  9. To put it another way, Ritchie’s a Fascist in that he permits private companies to exist but wants the state to control them.

  10. To put it another way, Ritchie’s a Fascist in that he permits private companies to exist but wants the state to control them.

    Isn’t that what we have at the moment? Are we living in a facist society?

  11. “unless we’d had constraints imposed on it we would still have slavery, child labour, no paid holidays, unsafe working conditions, exploitation and discrimination and much more besides.”

    Unless the lovely wovely “we” provides each worker bee with a bar of chocolate every day, NOBODY WILL BE ABLE TO BUY CHOCOLATE!!1!one!

    See!? I can haz unproven assertions too!!

  12. Slavery is not compatible with markets – its extra-market, being based not upon voluntary exchange (ie the market) but upon violence and force, usually backed by the government.

    Also, for any discrimination to have wide ranged societal effects it is backed by government – for example Jim Crow laws, the usage of the minimum wage is South Africa and the USA to prefer black workers over white ones, the acts of settlement in 19th Century Britain to discriminate against the working classes, anti-homosexual laws, apartheid, bans on interracial marriage… the list goes on and on.
    It is only through voluntary organisation (that is market interaction) that people come together through social entrepreneurship to oppose such discrimination and eventually succeed in overcoming them (despite the best efforts of government)

    The market supports the original aims of the left far more than government. The market allows for labour unions, government restricts them and turns them into shills for corporations and political parties.
    Government supports big business, the market tends to oppose them.
    Authority only acts to increase inequality and poverty. The greatest inequalities result from government support, be it for landlords, industrialists, corporations or a political class.

    Unsafe working conditions have historically been supported by government, if the market were allowed to act then workers would be free to organise against unsafe conditions.

    In one sense Ritchie is correct – the restricted view of the market favoured by the right does fail, but that is not the free market, but rather a market restricted and controlled by an elite.
    Unfortunately, Ritchie falls for the propaganda of the right and authoritarian left and corporate liberals and views this distorted, restricted market as the free market.

    This is not to say that a free market would solve all problems, it cannot, but it avoids creating more problems like government does and it provides the opportunity for people to engage in entrepreneurship to solve the problems.

  13. There’s a specific market failure point associated with holidays, which is that employers are seldom willing to negotiate on them in the way that they negotiate on pay.

    So if you fancy doing 8 months a year for 2/3 your annual wage, then (unless you’re willing to screw over employers and harm your CV by quitting once a year and just taking the time off), you’re pretty much scuppered.

  14. I said:

    “To put it another way, Ritchie’s a Fascist in that he permits private companies to exist but wants the state to control them.”

    and Andreas Paterson said:

    “Isn’t that what we have at the moment? Are we living in a facist society?”

    My answer:

    Increasingly, yes.

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