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The following appeared in a memorandum from the ElectroWares company’s
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“Since our company started manufacturing and marketing a deluxe light bulb six
months ago, sales of our economy light bulb—and company profits—have
decreased significantly. Although the deluxe light bulb sells for 50 percent more
than the economy bulb, it lasts twice as long. Therefore, to increase repeat sales and
maximize profits, we should discontinue the deluxe light bulb.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
In this editorial, the author argues that it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer, in support of this claim the
author reasons that since wages paid to employees should increase as the risk of physical injury increases, the converse should be true
as well. Hence, by decreasing the risk of injury, employers could decrease the wages paid to workers and thereby save money. This
argument is unconvincing for two reasons.
To begin with the author assumes that because companies would agree that as risk of injury increases wages should also increase, they
would also agree that as risk decreases wages should also decrease accordingly. This is tantamount to the assumption that risk of injury
is the primary factor that determines workers’ wages. It is obvious that few employers, and even fewer employees, would agree that
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this is the case. To adopt this position one would have to disregard education, experience, and skill as equally important factors in
determining the wages paid to workers.
Secondly, the author’s reasoning suggests that the only benefit of a safer workplace is the savings employers could realize from lower
wages. This is obviously not true. The costs associated with accidents on the job could far outweigh any savings that could be realized by
paying workers lower wages.
In conclusion, the author’s argument is unconvincing. Risk of injury is an important factor to consider in determining the wages paid to
workers but is not the only such factor. Furthermore, there are far better reasons for employers to make the workplace safer than the
one presented by the author.