I am a ten-cent-above-the-minimum-wage worker at McDonald's, and I mainly work in the grill area. At my McDonald's there is one two-sided "table" where the sandwiches are assembled, one grill for the grilled meat products, and one fryer for fried meat/fish products. Ideally, on either side of the table, there is one "initiator," who toasts buns and puts the basic condiments on them, one "middle" that puts the veggies and cheese on the sandwich, and one "cabinet" person that takes the meat out of the heated cabinets, puts it on the sandwich, and wraps it up. Ideally, there is also one person working the grill and one person working the fryer.
Yesterday, a Sunday, I came in to work at 2pm. As Sundays are generally "slow," there were three people in the grill area, me, the initiator/middle, one middle/cabinet person, and one person working both the grill and the fryer. As I was working, my manager/buddy Joe, who I like to kid around with, was making fun of me for sucking at initiating. He said something along the lines of how I am "the best grill assist team around, but the worst at initiating." Which is somewhat true, on weekdays, which are busy, I usually just cook the meats and make sure we never run out of anything. Others assemble the sandwiches, as they are better at that one job.
Which got me thinking (here comes the econ geekiness) about how this was an example of comparative and absolute advantage. The store manager, Peggy, is incredibly fast and efficient at cooking, assembling sandwiches, AND working with customers. She is by far better at all of these things than I am, and definitely better at these things than 90% of the other workers at my McDonald's. That said, the chronic anti-free trader would have to ask why do I have a job? After all, she is a faaaar better worker at every aspect than I am. Hypotethically, applied to the world stage, Country A could produce cheaper goods than Country B, so why would Country B produce anything? Wouldn't jobs dry up in that country?
Well here's the catch. Peggy is also far better than anyone else at our store at being store manager. In fact, she is so much better at being store manager, that it pays off for McDonald's to keep her as a fulltime store manager. Of course, being a fulltime store manager takes a lot of time and effort, so she is no longer able to perform all of these other jobs. So even though the other workers are worse than she is at these individual jobs, they are hired anyway in order to produce fries, cooked meat patties, sandwiches, etc. This applied to the world stage means that yes, even if China can hypothetically produce everything on the cheap, that doesn't put America or the rest of the "developed world" in a bad position. It simply means that China will specialize in producing the things it's best at producing, while the rest of the world will specialize at producing other things.
Hope someone reads this. Haha.
Political Atheists Blog
I read it.
Gero:I read it.
Awww thanks, how nice of you. Haha