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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Raising the Minimum Wage Weeds Out Poor Working Conditions: An IMF Study Looking at China (含中文版)

Photo: Adjusting the minimum wage upward. Credit: Fufang Network.

(本文中文版在下面)

A friend of mine (and IMF economist) shared a 2014 IMF study with me on the effects of raising the minimum wage in developing countries, using China as a case study. The study, called "Does Raising the Minimum Wage Hurt Employment? Evidence from China", delivers the following upshots: (1) "a 10% increase in the minimum wage lowers employment by 1%" and (2) "in low-wage firms, raising the minimum wage lowers employment but raises wages more than in high-wage firms."

My take on this data: the employment lost from a higher minimum wage probably includes contracted temp workers or short-term workers, which are not really steady employment and usually include a number of other harmful labor practices, such as a lack of labor contracts or mandated social benefits, underage or child labor, unpaid work and overtime wages, etc. In short, assuming effective enforcement, raising the minimum wage weeds out some exploitative conditions and leaves more stable, fair employment in its place.

提高最低工资会减少恶劣工作条件:国际货币基金组织的研究


我的朋友(也是国际货币基金组织的经济学家)跟我共享了一个国际货币基金组织的研究,是论提高最低工资标准的影响,以中国为例。该研究文章叫做“提高最低工资会损害就业吗?中国的情况”,核心结论有两个:(1)“最低工资提高10%会导致就业下降1%”;(2)“在低工资企业,最低工资提高导致的就业下降幅度和工资增加幅度都大于高工资企业。”

我对研究的信息如下:更高的最低工资所导致失业情况可能包括外包临时工或短期工,二者均不属于稳定就业,也通常涉及若干恶劣用工行为,例如缺少劳动合同或法定社会福利、使用未成年工或童工、无偿工作或不支付加班费等等。简言之,在有效执法的情况下,提高最低工资标准会减少剥削就业,并留下更稳定地更公平的就业。

Monday, November 3, 2014

Debating the Merits of Tearing Down Mark Zuckerberg for His Chinese Talk

On October 22, Mark Zuckerberg posted a 30-minute video of his discussion with students and faculty of Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing. The video has reverberated around the halls of the Internet because Zuckerberg did the whole thing in Chinese.

Within a day, China observers around the world began giving their view of the talk. One reaction unfortunately set the tone, though. Foreign Policy's Asia Editor Isaac Stone Fish ("a Mandarin speaker" is at the top of his bio) berated Zuckerberg for his poor Mandarin presentation, publishing a post titled: “Mark Zuckerberg Speaks Mandarin Like A Seven-Year-Old.”

What followed in the subsequent week was an exchange between that FP editor and myself--the platform provided by James Fallows at The Atlantic--over the correctness of his views. My original response to the FP editor is copied below the break. The editor’s response to me is here. Finally, here is a third post on others’ views toward our conversation.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Can I Raise Asian Kids in America?


This post was originally published on China Personified.

My wife, born in Taiwan, and I have talked about kids, including the possibility of adopting a child of Chinese descent. While reading Different Racisms: On Stereotypes, the Individual, and Asian American Masculinity by Matthew Salesses, I was regularly shocked into questioning my decision to raise a child with Asian background.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

iPhone 6 Sale Reveals Ignorance and Indifference in Action -- Part 2 of 2

Photo: Silicon Angle.

The other day, I discussed how Chinese immigrants standing in overnight lines for the iPhone 6 in New York unleashed considerable ignorance and hate by tech lovers and other observers.

Today, we look at another "hot topic" revolving around the iPhone 6 release: the so-called "bendgate". Some early iPhone 6 owners have complained that the cover of the iPhone 6 can be easily bent and damaged.

Friday, October 3, 2014

iPhone 6 Sale Reveals Ignorance and Indifference in Action -- Part 1 of 2

A couple of weeks ago, the iPhone 6 went on sale with incredibly long lines forming outside Apple stores. Around the world, many of the people in the lines were Chinese.

The iPhone 6 had not yet been permitted to go on sale in China, so a resale market was immediately created in which Chinese people (often older, low-wage immigrants) would line up 12 or more hours ahead of the opening, buy one or more iPhones, and then immediately give them to an intermediary outside of the store. The person in line would receive a fee of a couple hundred bucks for their service, and the intermediary would proceed to resell the phone in China for a 100-200% mark-up.

In New York, this process was recorded and published on YouTube by a self-professed "big tech nerd" who "slept on the streets to get the very first iPhone". The video (shown below) was originally titled the "Chinese Mafia Takes Over iPhone 6 Lines", demonstrating deep ignorance and/or prejudice by the filmmaker. After major news outlets rebuked the mafia claim, he changed the title of the video to "Black Market Takes Over iPhone 6 Lines". But it was too little too late. The seeds of hate had already been planted. Just take a look at the comments in the video to get a rough idea of the terrible prejudice that exists toward and within the East Asian community.



This film breaks my heart. Money-strapped immigrants, following the law and just trying pull in a couple extra hundred dollars, are harassed by police while sleeping on dirty sidewalks in garbage bags. This film really is an allegory for so many major influences in the U.S.: immigration, capitalism, inequality, and prejudice.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Open Letter to American Men

Dear Fellow American Men,

Why do so many among us hate women? The amount of harassment and violence we inflict on our American sisters is astounding. Millions of women are physically or sexually assaulted every year.

The tremendous number of rapes perpetrated on female college students is one issue that has gained more attention as of late. A relatively well-known case is that of Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia student that was raped by a classmate her sophomore year. But Columbia administration vetted out little to no punishment for the offenders in Emma and other female students' cases. Leniency toward offenders is a common theme for college rape.

What's sickening is that some of us (men) blame women for their own rape: "When a woman wears clothes like that, she's asking for it", "This is why women shouldn't get drunk at parties", "She shouldn't have gone to the party without bringing a friend". We say these things oblivious to how unjust it is that men can roam free wearing and drinking whatever they want while women must vigilantly prevent their own rapes.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Socially Responsible" Capitalism Still Feeds the Disease

As part of an excellent analysis piece on the concept of social responsibility, I did an interview with journalist Toshio Meronek for Truthout. The article really touches on issues located at the root of the state of business ethics. I've copied the beginning of the article below. The full piece, published on September 16, can be read here.


Capitalism with a conscience? That's the idea behind so-called "socially responsible" investments - buying stocks in companies that are screened for criteria like good labor practices, sustainability and whether or not the company is involved in arms manufacturing. The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, an industry association, claimed in its latest report from 2012 that at least $3.74 trillion in the United States is invested with environmental and social impacts in mind.

Some socially responsible investments (SRI) weed out cigarette companies like Philip Morris; others shun companies with poor environmental records, like BP. But whichever investments you choose, there's a good chance you'll be profiting off companies with bad human rights records because the backbone of many SRI funds are consumer technology stocks - companies like Apple and Samsung, which have histories replete with labor and privacy abuses.

China Labor Watch (CLW) is one of the groups that investigates ongoing labor problems; Kevin Slaten is its US-based program coordinator. He spoke to Truthout about the reports his organization has conducted on Apple, which started to be heavily scrutinized around 2010 when activists brought attention to child labor in some of the factories used by the computer giant. Some of these same factories were the subjects of protests over a number of Chinese labor law violations and mass worker suicides.

According to Slaten, "We constantly find these symptoms, but the disease underlying these symptoms has not been properly taken care of for years. The disease is these companies want the most amount of products in the shortest amount of time."

Read the rest of the article here.