Posted 4 years ago on April 18, 2012, 3:39 a.m. EST by jrhirsch
from Sun City, CA
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When I first thought of the example of the honey bee analogy, the goal was to determine whether a person with a mental skill should be paid more than a person with a physical skill. It seemed there should be a fair and impartial way to determine a fair distribution of income.
The simplest way would be to give each bee an equal share. Each bee worked the same hours, just the jobs were different. But there was no solid reason to support this, it just sounded right.
No matter how hard I tried to come up with a fair way to divide the surplus, I kept coming to the same conclusion. That fairness can only be determined by the participants.
The most important concept I discovered was whether a worker should receive higher wages because they had a different skill. Most people think that rarity of skills should always mean higher pay. Not at all. The best Yodeler in the world will never make as much as a popular singer, even though the yodeler is much rarer. The yodeler might have an audience of a few thousand, but the singer tens of millions. The higher compensation goes to the singer who provides the most benefit. That is the key. Compensation should be based on benefit provided. Not by hours worked, or how hard the work, or if the work is physical or mental.
Two workers perform the same job. One produces twice as much as the other. That worker should receive twice the pay because he provides twice the benefit.
Since the slow bee provided all of the benefit, she should receive all that the benefit produced. What about the 99, why should they work and not share in the bounty. They might as well not even work for her, they can make the same wage working by themselves, unless there is a benefit for them.
The slow bee's high salary is completely dependent on having the swift bees work with her. If she loses the 99 swift bees labor, she loses a huge profit. So the 1 slow bee and the 99 swift bees decide to compromise. Somewhere between 0 and 1 units of honey per bee should be should be paid but what is a fair amount? She decides on the minimum percentage of honey paid to attract the greatest number of bees to obtain the highest amount of surplus honey.
If she offered them a 10% cut, but only attracted 50 of the bees. she would get a surplus of 44 units. The 50 would share 5 units. .1 per bee
If she offered them a 30% cut, but only attracted 80 of the bees. she would get a surplus of 55 units. The 80 would share 24 units. .3 per bee
If she offered them a 50% cut, that attracted all 99 bees. she would get a surplus of 49 units. The 99 would share 49 units. .5 per bee
So the slow bee chose to offer them a 30% cut. The best deal for her. Her share would be 55 units of honey. 183 times the individual swift bees share of .3 units of honey. And for the same number of hours worked.
It doesn't sound fair. But it is. The swift bees do not work harder, or longer, just more efficiently. It is because of the benefit the slow bee provides, not the rarity of her skills, that she is able to make such a large salary. The swift bees also benefit. So the moral seems to be if you want to make a high salary, you also need beneficial skills to obtain it. The more benefit provided, the higher your wages will bee.
It's up to the 99 swift bees to renegotiate the agreement if they are unhappy watching most of the surplus go to the slow bee. What ever they settle for is what they will receive. The power to raise wages lies with those who are willing to stand up and not accept a 30% share, just as in any union movement.
It should also be noted that by the slow bee's choice of using her most benficial skill, that of directing bees instead of collecting nectar, all of the bees share in the increased surplus.