Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

The New York Times offers summer internships at $900 per week. From what I’ve gathered, most other editorial and journalistic internships don’t pay nearly that much.

Many pay nothing.

So why would anyone work for nothing? Well, for experience.

Thomas Sowell, in his recent book Applied Economics, tells the story of a young man named Frank, who applied for a position in a retail store and got it. When he asked about his wages, his employer said, “Pay you! You don’t expect me to pay you, do you? Why, you should pay me, for teaching you the business!” This, as Sowell notes, seems harsh, exploitative: Three months of hard work without pay.

But Sowell asks “Who benefited most?”

The answer is the young Mr. Frank Winfield Woolworth, who went on to found a retail empire, eventually hiring his old boss, the same man who wouldn’t pay him. But the old man sure did teach Woolworth the business.

Unfortunately, such relationships are illegal. “Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws,” the New York Times relates, “officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers.” The regulators’ campaign against internship programs is now going nationwide.

Bottom line: No more Woolworths.

Sure, the Woolworth chain died long ago. What’s left of the company is called Foot Locker. But I’m talking about future innovators, future Frank Woolworths.

Which makes this crackdown a prime example of a counter-productive policy.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

18 Comments

  1. Drik says:

    Road to hell is paved with liberal intentions, most of them ill-advised. Like the great society that finances fatherless families, rendering the bread-winner redundant or even a cost liability, and emascualating a whole culture.
    The stable matrix of society will come apart as they continue to subsidize the crazy, the depraved and the non-functional, and to tax the productive.
    Will be a country operated like a dog breeder that rations the food for the picks of the litter and coddles the runts. Eventually we end up with a whole society of the nonfunctional, everything else being bred out.
    In biology that is called niche pressure.
    In a country, it is called the end.

  2. S Rubicon says:

    My Mother worked for Woolworth’s for thirty years. They knew how to make a penny buy ten cents worth of something. Woolworth’s was a unique operation, but they did teach as they went along. There are at least twenty managers of small franchise operations who got their retail start at Woolworth’s. Then they bought a franchise & made ago of it on their own. At least six of those managers who went out on their own are today, multi-millionaires.
    Isn’t it interference in contract law to deny one an opportunity to create a relationship w/ another?
    The value involved is, education. The education is the knowledge of a how to run a retail operation.
    I worked full time while still in high school. Today, that would not be possible. True, I lied about my age & that was wrong. However, we needed food on the table & to pay for our home.
    Point is, if we remove the ability &/or possibility for people to take a risk for a future reward, all we do is stifle innovation & the guts to make a go of it, even when times are tough.

  3. voxoreason says:

    drik: In biology that is called niche pressure.

    Learn something new every day. I get the concept, but didn’t know there was a word for it.

    Good argument. Strong close.

  4. Sheldon says:

    I recently watched a YouTube video interview of Nancy Pelosi in which she was asked how much she paid her interns. She paid them nothing, she averred confidently. They’re getting experience, she said.

    It seems that what’s good for us sheeple is not good enough for the high-powered elite known as government.

  5. Shelley says:

    unfortunately, too many employers use the interns as free labor teaching them nothing. The colleges warn the employers that this is to be a teaching experience not just free help. Students come back to college explaining their work duties and it screams of free labor. The interns often have already had several years of work experience if they worked in high school from age 16 on so there was no need to teach them “how” to work. So the student lost income over the summer as a job with income would have been better than this intern situation and they gained zero knowledge towards their degree. The big hopes of these interns was to come back to college sure in their choice of a degree and having more knowledge on the direction they were taking. Being am intern file clerk teaches nothing, especially if their previous jobs in high school were of greater responsibility and required accountability and demanded that they grow in their position and mentor new employees.

  6. […] Common Sense with Paul Jacob – Brought to You by Citizens in Charge Foundation » Archive… […]

  7. venus says:

    Sounds pretty sleazy, work for free because you may have the 1 in a billion chance of becoming a billionaire!?!

    Just continue attending meetings and buying soap and motivational tapes and you too can be an AmWay millionaire!

    The common sense in libertopia gets more bizarre the further you go down the rabbit hole of free market purity

  8. jg says:

    Shelley, if the student intern is “learning nothing” and is “just free labor”, why doesn’t he/she just quit? They are suppsoed to be (usually) college students- they should have some knowledge of what they want/want to do.
    A few years ago, my friend’s daughter took a freebie intern job, with a multi-million dollar firm. After 2 or 3 weeks, she reralized that she hated that business, but stayed on, to learn more about it, and define what she wanted to do. She told ehr parents that she would have paid to learn what she learned- even though that particular type of business held no interest for her

  9. JIM says:

    Paul,
    It’s not counterproductive; it is highly productive to the wealth and power of union bosses. It’s only counterproductive to our young people, but who cares about them?

  10. A. Mark Hunt says:

    It is worse than counter productive. It is arrogant and destructive.
    -mark-

  11. Dr. T says:

    The true reason for banning unpaid internships has nothing to do with protecting young workers from exploitation by evil corporations. The true reason is to rein-in the barter economy. If I agree to provide some labor for you in return for training, no money changes hands, no payroll taxes are collected, and our ever-growing federal government feels cheated.

    The federal government has hindered the barter economy for a long time. Twenty-seven years ago I was a resident at a university medical center. Our pay was low, but we were allowed to take one course for free each semester. However, the IRS considered that to be a taxable benefit, and the cost of the course had to be added to your income on your 1040 forms.

  12. Barbara Haring says:

    This falls into the category of a discussion my husband and I have been having of late. That being all the rules and regulations going into effect on all levels of government that prohibit us from doing for ourselves – and others.

    Yesterday we learned of a man who fixed the “el” on his septic system on his own property rather than pay exhorbitant rates for a plumber to do what he full well knew how to do. A neighbor saw him and reported what he had done and the man was fined $100 for being self-sufficient. It was determined that his doing the project himself was harmful to others around him and against the rules, thus he should be punished. The man lives on acres of ground with his neighbor a considerable distance away. What others?!

    We have a mobile home on our property that previously belonged to my husband’s mechanic and his wife. When he passed away, we bought it. We kept it over the years in case any of our parents should need a home close by. Our parents have all passed away, and, over time, it has deteriorated. My husband and son are now renovating it for my son and his family. My husband has been involved in all aspects of construction for years, but he worries every day that someone from our city will show up to stop the project because he is not “licensed” to do this kind of work. It’s our mobile home on our property being worked on by my husband and son for our son to live in and my husband has to worry about being in trouble for doing for himself and his family.

    The thing I’ve come to fear the most from the liberal idealogues running things these days is that, in the future, we won’t have jobs and thus the money to pay others to do the work we’re not “licensed” to do, and we will have lost the ability to do things for ourselves. Where does that leave us?

  13. Lyle R.Rolfe says:

    Our damned government at work again. Why should they care as long as the intern knows at the start that he or she w/not be paid but is doing it for experience and to learn? If the intern needs money, go to McDonalds during their off time from the intern job. We need to get goverhment out of our lives, but it appears it will be getting much worse until we get the big O and his sidekicks, the witch and old Harry out of office plus most of the present incumbents so we can start to bring government down to size again.

  14. Mr Woolworth’s Empire (in the form of at least his name) is alive and well and lives in Australia (http://www.woolworths.com.au) and New Zealand! (www.woolworths.co.nz) The Woolworth name lives on in some other places, too, including in Europe and in South Africa.

    (FROM WIKIPEDIA) – QUOTE:

    Woolworths Limited is a major Australian company with extensive retail interest throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is the:

    * largest retail company in Australia and New Zealand by market capitalisation and sales
    * largest food retailer in Australia[1] and one of the two largest in New Zealand[2]
    * largest takeaway liquor retailer in Australia[3]
    * largest hotel and poker machine operator in Australia[3]
    * 19th largest retailer in the world (may change from time to time) -Deloitte-[4]

    END QUOTE.

  15. mike from tucson says:

    Wanted: People willing to forgo wages in return for learning important job skills. Like asking,
    “Ya want fries with that?”

  16. […] Common Sense with Paul Jacob – Brought to You by Citizens in 8 Apr 2010. the depraved and the non-functional, and to tax the productive.. However, we needed food on the table & to pay for our home.. and our ever-growing federal government feels cheated.. the cost of the course had to be added to your income on your 1040 forms.. 1 Trackbacks / Pingbacks.thisiscommonsense.com/?p=5770 – Common Sense with Paul Jacob – Brought to You by Citizens in […]

  17. […] Common Sense with Paul Jacob – Brought to You by Citizens in 8 Apr 2010. the depraved and the non-functional, and to tax the productive.. However, we needed food on the table & to pay for our home.. and our ever-growing federal government feels cheated.. the cost of the course had to be added to your income on your 1040 forms.. 1 Trackbacks / Pingbacks.thisiscommonsense.com/?p=5770 – Common Sense with Paul Jacob – Brought to You by Citizens in […]

  18. […] Common Sense with Paul Jacob – Brought to You by Citizens in 8 Apr 2010. the depraved and the non-functional, and to tax the productive.. However, we needed food on the table & to pay for our home.. and our ever-growing federal government feels cheated.. the cost of the course had to be added to your income on your 1040 forms.. 1 Trackbacks / Pingbacks.thisiscommonsense.com/?p=5770 – Common Sense with Paul Jacob – Brought to You by Citizens in […]

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