Matthew Yglesias tries to make an economic argument against mandated paid time off. The comments are pretty fun in a “they expose the economic ignorance of a seemingly bright population of readers” sort of way.
Employers get so much value from their employees. In a competitive market, the employer will pay the employee that value. Now, by “pay” I mean give money in the form of paychecks, but also the employer gives other benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, a nice work environment and paid vacations. They won’t “pay” any more than the employee is worth. If the government makes the employer give more paid vacation, he or she will just decrease the amount he or she pays them in some other way maybe by decreasing the employee’s paycheck or by turning down the air conditioner. Its basic accounting really.
To refute this argument, you have to show employers systematically underpay their employees what they’re really worth. You’d have to argue that for some reason the labor market is uncompetitive. Last time I looked on Monster.com, there seemed to be lots of potential buyers of my labor. I’d think there’s lots of buyers for low skill jobs, too. If the McDonald’s employee doesn’t like how much he’s being paid, he can walk across the street to Burger King.
Or you could make the silly argument that employers will end up paying employees more than they’re worth to the company. I think its pretty well established that people, especially evil business types, don’t like to give away money, but I’d like to see someone give this argument a try.
Oh and why is it that people think arguing against government mandated vacation time is the same thing as arguing against vacations? I love vacations, they’re great. I’m also against mandated PTO.