Paying By the Hour

Posted: March 20th, 2005 by Militant Libertarian

I’ve been thinking about jobs, wages, and so forth lately. It occurs to me that paying by the hour has got to be the dumbest thing every conceived by business. I wouldn’t be surprised if this fairly new tradition hadn’t started thanks to some Marxist idea of empowering “the worker” against “the proletariat” or some other shit.

Think about this: a person is paid $10 an hour to do a job. What is their incentive for doing the job well, doing it right, doing it quickly, etc., etc.? Nothing. They’re only incentive is to show up, be there to get paid, and probably to drag it out as long as possible.

In my own business, I pay by the job to contractors who complete specific tasks or jobs for me. They get the payment regardless of how short a time they can complete it in, no matter how many hours they do or don’t put into it, etc. If I’m satisfied that the work was done as I expected it (i.e. the outcome is what I asked for), then the payment is theirs. No more, no less.

It used to be this way all the time. A person was paid $X for Y job. Simple math. A “worker” or employee was paid $X per day of work with certain things expected in each day’s work. In many cases, especially in cases of production or manufacture, a person was paid for each piece successfully completed. I’ve also done this kind of work and made big money doing it.

So why are we so focused on making $X/hour?

Workers like it because no matter how much of a slacker they are, they get paid the same amount of money for “working.”

Employers, of course, can’t apparently see that what they’re doing is hiring someone to come up with as many ways of getting out of working for the time they’re being paid as possible. The worker has no incentive to produce to his or her maximum during his or her “shift” when being paid by the hour. The worker only has the incentive to show up and be there for X number of hours.


It’s been my experience that people who argue against this are socialists who can only come up with emotionally-based “feel good” arguments for wages by the hour. I guarantee none of them have ever worked hard and done well only to find out that Joe Slacker on the same shift gets paid the same for doing next to nothing.

That’s my rant for the day.

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