Saturday, March 19, 2005

An Auction for Labor

Deutsche Welle has an article on a new website that sprang up in Germany in response to that country's record unemployment. Link.
When Fabian Löw unleashed jobdumping.de on the Internet, he had an inkling it would be provocative. Because at a time when job seekers have it tough, his job auctions are won by those willing to work for the least pay.

The concept of jobdumping.de is simple. An employer posts a job that needs doing, along with the maximum wage he or she is willing to pay. Interested job seekers then compete with each other for the job by underbidding, meaning the employer ends up with the person willing to do the job for the least amount of money.

The system can also work the other way, with workers entering their skills in the auction at the minimum price they're willing to work for, and interested employers then push the wage up as they outbid each other. (...)

All the users on jobdumping.de are obligated to abide by current tax, labor and insurance laws. (...)

Dirk Niebel of the Liberal Democratic party even went so far as to call the premise "immoral" in an interview printed in the Berliner Zeitung on Tuesday. "I find it strange," he said. "It smacks of a slave market"

After reading that, it is hard not to reach for a copy of George Orwell's 1984 to reread that classic example of Newspeak "slavery is freedom." Orwell knew his European bureaucrats and politicians so well. Niebel only inverted it to say, "freedom is slavery." Germany's labor market is so frozen that it needs more entrepreneurs like Löw to try to defrost it a bit. Otherwise the country is doomed to eventual third world status.


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