Life working in a nail salon

Luo Yufeng, who has worked in the salons for four years, reports:

Q. What are your thoughts on the New York manicure industry in general?

A. I think it’s fine. Many of my friends have been doing the work for more than 10 years, and they generally think it’s better than working in restaurants. The difference between a manicurist and her boss is not clear-cut. An ordinary worker can start in a nail salon to learn the techniques, and, after three or five years, she can pay around $30,000 to buy a salon and become a boss herself. I found this highly inspiring. Even when I was cursed or when my customers found fault with me, my heart was still full of hope, because one day I could become a boss, too.

The interview is interesting throughout.  By no means do I think her account is the whole story, but relatively few people will see this interview, on the NYT Sinosphere blog, and nail salons have been a topic of discussion as of late.  A discussion of life in the Vietnamese countryside would be illuminating as well.

Comments

The problem with these Asian minorities is that they don't even seem to know when they are being exploited. How are our solutions to end exploration supposed to work when these people won't even admit they need our help?

Ban exploration!

Obviously I made a typo - the profit motive hasn't been enough to entice private corporations to create a perfect system. Just another piece of evidence against unbridled capitalism.

White privilege has got to be worst-run conspiracy I know of. Seriously, white people, get your shit together.

She seems more worried about whether she is forced to work from an inferior non-Korean than whether she's allowed to eat lunch at a reasonable hour.

Apparently Koreans are just naturally smarter, more beautiful, more artistic, more conscientious, and have better manners than all other Asians.
Especially those Fijian Chinese. They're the worst.

Many interesting points, not the least of which is that the NYT has a Chinese-language website.

Well they are running out of liberals who want to (or can) read them in the West. A billion well educated Communists must seem like a natural market.

However the New York Times is banned in China. Is their Chinese blog? If so, who are they writing it for? Those Chinese in the US who are *not* spying on American telephone companies?

There's a large Chinese diaspora. San Francisco manages to keep a couple Chinese language newspapers afloat. So does Los Angeles and NYC.

Add in the millions of Chinese speakers throughout South East Asia and you've got yourself a large enough market to justify creating a separate Chinese-language NY Times website.

New York manages to keep several Russian newspapers afloat. Or it used to. I don't see them doing a Russian website. Maybe they do? POne in Urdu as well.

The millions of Chinese speakers in South-east Asia probably don't speak Mandarin (and no, the characters do not mean a Cantonese speaker can read a Mandarin newspaper) and a lot of them don't even speak a Chinese dialect at all. Thailand and Indonesia have been very effective at stamping out Chinese languages. So you are talking about Malaysia and Singapore.

They publish some stuff in Russian, but no dedicated site for it.

Still, aren't there way more Chinese in the US than Russians here? I think it's not even close. Plus, a lot of the Russians immigrated in the 90s early 2000s, whereas a lot of Chinese immigrants are more recent. Many of the Russians who've been here a while are probably happy to read in English.

Actually Cantonese speakers can read Mandarin newspapers. The only difficulty might be that PRC Mandarin uses simplified characters, while Hong Kong uses traditional characters, but most Cantonese speakers would be able to infer the meaning.

Bob May 21, 2015 at 11:55 pm

Actually Cantonese speakers can read Mandarin newspapers.

If they have learned Mandarin as children, by all means. But if they are Cantonese speakers, who have not gone to school and learned their characters - and the Mandarin grammar that goes with it - no they can not. The problem has been that Chinese education has focused on teaching people to read and write. Not to speak. So a lot of Cantonese can read and write Mandarin without being really able to speak it. So people say they can read Mandarin despite not being able to speak it. True. But they have been taught to read and write it. You could not, until recently, read and write Cantonese.

what the hell are you talking about? the written language is exactly the same for Mandarin and Cantonese. The characters are pronounced differently but the meaning is exactly the same. Chinese is not a phonetic alphabet.

Yes, AndrewL is right. Spoken Cantonese and Mandarin aren't mutually intelligible, but their written forms are. I think that's part of the reason why the characters persisted. They were a form of inter-regional communication. Sort of like how Latin functioned in Western Europe.

AndrewL May 22, 2015 at 8:54 am

what the hell are you talking about? the written language is exactly the same for Mandarin and Cantonese. The characters are pronounced differently but the meaning is exactly the same. Chinese is not a phonetic alphabet.

Chinese is not phonetic but the characters do not have the same meaning. Most words in Cantonese have no character at all. In Hong Kong they have started re-using Mandarin characters to write Cantonese, but a Mandarin speaker cannot understand them. Before HK people started doing that, there was one written language. Mandarin. To learn it you had to learn what those characters meant in Mandarin and use a Mandarin grammar.

Bob May 22, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Spoken Cantonese and Mandarin aren’t mutually intelligible, but their written forms are. I think that’s part of the reason why the characters persisted. They were a form of inter-regional communication. Sort of like how Latin functioned in Western Europe.

I think the Latin parallel is not bad. Because it is a separate language. As is "Mandarin". Cantonese people used to have to learn Classical Chinese as it was impossible to write their own language. Then they had to learn Modern Standard Chinese. As it was still impossible to write their own language. Then in Hong Kong they started using characters, inventing some, re-purposing others, to write Cantonese. Which is why Mainlanders often cannot even read the signs, much less the adverts, or even worse the personals in the newspaper, in Hong Kong.

The parallel is simple - if Latin had been taught as a language that uses characters (so that you did not learn that "deus" was made up of four letters each with its own sound but that it was a word meaning God made up of seven strokes), then the English and Germans could write "Deus" and say it was pronounced "God" or "Gott" or whatever. An English person could "read" a newspaper written in Latin if they had been taught enough "characters" and Latin's grammar. But that would not make English a dialect of Latin. It would make English a completely different language with its own grammar.

Cantonese uses some different vocabulary and expressions, but if it's written with Chinese characters, then it can be understood by a Mandarin speaker if he's familiar with the characters or using a dictionary, even if he couldn't speak Cantonese.

Bob May 22, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Cantonese uses some different vocabulary and expressions, but if it’s written with Chinese characters, then it can be understood by a Mandarin speaker if he’s familiar with the characters or using a dictionary, even if he couldn’t speak Cantonese.

I keep telling you this is not true and you keep refusing to believe me. OK. Fair enough. Find a Mandarin speaker and ask them what this means: 係唔係佢哋嘅?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Written_Cantonese

For example, the character for "not" (不) bu in Cantonese is 唔 m, the third-person pronoun (他 ta "he/she") in Cantonese is 佢 keoi, the plural pronoun marker (们/們 men) in Cantonese is 哋 dei and the possessive particle (的 de) in Cantonese is 嘅 ge.

唔 is not "not" in Mandarin. If a speaker of Modern Standard Chinese saw it used in a Cantonese sentence they would have no idea whatsoever what it meant. Even if they recognized the character.

If you go to Wikipedia you will notice that it often offers pages in both Mandarin and Cantonese. If they shared the same characters, they would not need to.

Those are examples of different vocabulary and expressions being used in the vernacular.

Those are examples of different vocabulary and expressions being used in the vernacular. The characters mean the same thing.

When Cantonese speakers see the third-person pronoun "他" (“he/she”, pronounced "ta" in Mandarin), they read it as "keoi", which can also be written with "佢". Cantonese speakers don't pronounce "他" as "ta".

Here's a Cantonese speaker describing his reading:

https://www.quora.com/Could-a-Cantonese-speaker-simply-read-a-Taiwanese-newspaper-easily-but-in-their-head-hear-the-words-pronounced-in-Cantonese-or-are-there-significant-differences-between-the-written-forms-of-Mandarin-and-Cantonese-which-would-make-this-difficult-for-Cantonese-speakers?share=1

"Whenever I read a novel in Chinese, I pronounced in Cantonese in my head, although I can speak Mandarin.
The words are the same, it just pronounce differently. However, sometimes read an article out loud in Cantonese would seem too formal, because some words and grammar in Mandarin are not regularly used in Cantonese. For example, “I like you" in Mandarin is 我喜欢你. It's weird to say these words in Cantonese, people often use 我钟意你. The meaning is the same, but the words is different."

Bob May 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Those are examples of different vocabulary and expressions being used in the vernacular. The characters mean the same thing.

In what sense do the characters mean the same thing? If a Cantonese speaker has been taught Mandarin, they will know that “他” means "He" in Mandarin. It does not mean "She". So will an English speaker. A Cantonese speaker would write Cantonese with another character. Which a Mandarin speaker would not know. As the prestige goes one way. Mostly. Cantonese people have to learn Mandarin. No one learns Cantonese. Not many anyway.

“Whenever I read a novel in Chinese, I pronounced in Cantonese in my head, although I can speak Mandarin. The words are the same, it just pronounce differently.

That is, he has been taught Mandarin and can read it. But he has been taught to read and write, not to speak so much.

However, sometimes read an article out loud in Cantonese would seem too formal, because some words and grammar in Mandarin are not regularly used in Cantonese.

Exactly the same as if Latin was taught as characters, not an alphabet. It would sound formal and weird to read a Latin sentence out in English - and for the same reasons, as Mandarin plays the role of Latin providing the formal grammar and many of the complex words. But the words and grammar are not the same. If the words and grammar are not the same, we don't call it a dialect. We call it a different language.

So he is simply supporting what I said - as Cantonese did not have a written form, educated Chinese learned to read and write Mandarin. To speak not so much. He has still be taught what those characters mean in Mandarin and what the correct grammar is. He knows he can pronounce those characters in Cantonese, but he doesn't. Because it is not the same in Cantonese.

It means the same thing in Cantonese. Whether a Cantonese or Mandarin speaker knows what the character means depends on their knowledge of characters.

A Mandarin speaker who can't speak Cantonese can read Cantonese depending on his knowledge of characters, not knowledge of Cantonese.

Many linguists believe that Cantonese and Mandarin and the other Chinese dialects should actually be classified as different languages.

Cantonese does have a written form. It's just Cantonese speech written with Chinese characters, which mean the same thing regardless of how they're pronounced, whether in Cantonese or Mandarin or English etc.

He doesn't have to be taught what those characters mean in Mandarin, because they don't mean anything in Mandarin, they're pronounced in Mandarin or Cantonese or English etc. They mean the same thing regardless of pronunciation. He says that when he reads novels, he pronounces it in Cantonese in his head.

Read somewhere that the combined economic output of the Chinese diaspora would make them the world's third biggest economy.

Is anyone in China truly a 'Communist' anymore? China's welfare state is far smaller than the US, so maybe they are rightists!

On this Memorial Day weekend, let's remember that anyone who isn't an American is by definition a communist.

I don't know. What does it mean to be a Communist? They say they are. It looks like the new President wants them to believe it. But who knows?

Define welfare state. The Chinese government still owns all the real estate. All those farmers are tenant farmers - sharecroppers even.

Maybe the New York Times is hoping China will keep the faith and not abandon socialism? So they are running a blog to make sure the Chinese know how awful the West is, how much capitalism has failed - I mean do you have any idea what it costs to buy a co-op on the Upper East Side these days? And school fees? Don't even get me started.

God help you if you don't get your annual spousal bonus to pay for yoga classes. These glutes don't maintain themselves.

The problem is that I know I am supposed to hate the New York Times and the liberal drivel it publishes. But this really does confirm my priors. What can I do? Am I allowed to agree with this account but still scream "And THAT is why nobody with a brain should ever read the Times!" next time they publish something that seems kind of liberal? I'm just asking questions.

In fairness, the NYT's policy stances do this woman no favors. She's soon going to be a greedy capitalist business owner.

The NYTimes will excuse the mob that burns down her nail salon.

Do you not respect Ross Douthat?

It's all relative I guess.

In nail salons run by Chinese, being verbally abused was commonplace, so I changed workplaces often. But it never happened in salons run by Koreans. I was never physically beaten.

I’ve heard of miscarriages, but the women were not the veteran employees, but ones who were just starting out.

In summer, we could never eat lunch until 3 p.m. After a while I started having stomach problems. I couldn’t sleep at night because of the stomachaches.

Ethnic discrimination is quite serious. Mexicans, Hispanics, Nepalis, Vietnamese may receive lower base wages compared with other workers in the manicure industry. Usually their base pay is $5 a day lower, and they tend to experience more verbal abuse.

I was never physically beaten.

High standards there.

First-world problems, amirite?

I love the way she notices cultural differences between groups of east Asians (Koreans, Chinese, Fujian Chinese), but finds that white, black, and Hispanic Americans are all pretty much the same.

I enjoyed the "white people can't tell us apart" comment

I always say that white people all look the same to me.

White people do look the same if you aren't familiar with them. I found white people look more alike after living in Asia for a long time. I could distinguish Chinese down to provincial level, but whites started blending together. This isn't shocking stuff, people who live in the jungle can differentiate more shades of green and Inuits can differentiate snow cover.

But white people can be blond, brunette or redhead. They can have curly or straight hair and their eye color can be one of many.

8 is right. Even after just a month in China I instinctively concentrated on facial features to distinguish between individuals and tended not to look at hair color. It's amazingly easy to ignore features that you know won't help you identify people or that you don't care about, including hair color.

Another example is some fashionistas claim that you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes that they wear. I virtually never notice a person's shoes, even though it'd be as easy to distinguish between shoes as between hair color.

Long-time residents of Portland, OR are obsessed with the carpet that the airport used to have (after some decades it was worn out and recently replaced). They even buy souvenir swatches of their old beloved carpet. I've lived in Portland for four years now and have never noticed the airport carpet here -- nor the airport carpet in any airport that I've been in.

If one wished, one could probably instantly identify an airport just by glancing at the carpet. But I never do. Similarly people in China tend not to notice hair color.

I grew up in Mass and moved to Virginia in my 30s. I was taken aback the first time I went back how similar everybody in Boston looked. It seems like 80% of the population is either Irish, Italian or a blend. Add in the uniformity of facial expression resulting from a Sox loss or a Pats win and it is almost comical how alike everyone looks.

Seeing as all the groups of "east Asians" she notices cultural differences in lived hundreds of miles apart and some in different countries and all the "white, black, and Hispanic Americans" she encounters all live in the same city, it does not seem that odd.

In related news, shockingly, Italians, Dutchmen, and Russians are all really different--different culture, language, religion, etc. Why, you might even notice some big differences if you worked in a business with a bunch of Russians, vs a bunch of Italians or a bunch of Dutchmen.

This sounds like Ponzi-scheme thinking. Obviously, not everyone can own their own salon in 5 years, or else they will swamp the market.

Not if that $30,000 is being used to buy someone out of an existing business.

+1

Also, not everyone is going through with this save-and-buy plan, presumably.

$30,000 sounded pretty cheap to get a whole nail salon for, real estate n all. .

They might be renting the real estate.

Is the nail salon situation worse than Amway or HerbaLife? Don't call Ponzi in vain ;)

You can have both, in spite of what this blog and some of the commentators are saying. Paying people $10 an hour won't kill anybody- or any business. Customers in NYC would just have to start paying the same rate they do in any other city in the US. Hardly a big sacrifice.

But New Yorkers would then buy fewer manicures...like they do in other cities. And there would be less employment in the industry...like in other cities.

"Hardly a big sacrifice."

For those getting less frequent manicures (or doing their nails at home), no. For the unemployed? That's a different story.

But but but magical salary thinking of $30 an hour for flipping burgers

Haven't you heard? Demand curves are flat. Maybe they even slope up!

They'd buy just as many manicures as they do in Boston, Chicago, Topeka, you name it. Are you telling me that manicurists can't find work in those places?

I have no clue what the answer to that question is, but neither do you. Let's not be naive, the reality is, some of these nail salons will go out of business if forced to pay $10/hour. But given this article - is that something to shed a tear about?

Are you a supply-sider now? If thousands of manicurists showed up in Topeka would they all find jobs because they would create their own demand, or what?

Paying people $10 an hour won’t kill anybody- or any business

So make them pay $100 an hour. Won't make any difference, right?

No, $100/hour would make a difference. How about you charge the standard rate that people pay in Boston, Chicago, Topeka, etc. The only reason this exists is the extremely low price of a manicure in NYC.

http://2yj23r14cytosbxol4cavq337g.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/demandcurve.jpg

Of course dan will go down, the question is by how much? I'm guessing by not very much. What's the worst case? That the NYC manicure market goes the way of prettying every other big city in the US? Where you can actually make a decent living from the work?

Possibly enough to force some people out of a job. The minimum wage is a terrible way to help the poor. It baffles me that people still support it.

I'm glad we have Hoosier around to guess the answer to all our economic problems.

let's work to undo as much workplace regulation as possible, so that our children can aspire to someday own their own dark satanic mills.

The only thing worse working at a satanic nail salon is working a rice paddy in Vietnam. The minimum wage in Vietnam is around $100 per *month*. Even an exploited nail salon worker can expect to earn at least 15-20 times that at a Manhattan beauty shop.

This woman might have a hard life working at someone else's nail salon but some day she might own her own business. Saving up $30,000 is hard but it's not an impossible goal. Her children can inherit that business. It's not a bad life and these people don't necessarily need to be rescued by the Good Folks at the New York Times.

A Satanic nail salon sounds pretty badass to me.

we're all "these people". the entire point of living in society is to create a system of laws and regulations that balance freedom and safety. if you want to erode basic protections - which working people fought and died for - you're actively encouraging a return to a meaner, harder time for the majority of workers.

Ibaien, I hate to break it to you, but wages and conditions are set by the market. Not by Unions and not by the Democratic party hacks who pander to them. Working people are paid a lot in the West because they are fairly well educated and we have lots of machines for them to use.

No matter what the law says, workers will go on being paid what they are worth. No matter what the Unions say, workers will not be paid one cent more on average than the market says they are worth. Unions can make sweet heart deals for their own members but only by depressing wages for everyone else or keeping some young person out of the work force altogether.

If we abolished all those laws all it would mean is that more young people and more minorities would have jobs. On average wages and conditions would not change one bit. Except perhaps to go up.

That is what economic theory says, but of course there is no such thing as a perfect market. So, no, what you say is not true in practice.

It does not matter if the market is perfect or not. That is just a trite little leftist cliche. There is no way around this. Unions do not raise wages on average. As can be seen by the enormous youth unemployment figures in Europe.

so you'll cheerfully admit the goal of the hard right's economic policies is to harness the "power of the market" to create millions of $2/hr jobs with no overtime protections (or whatever the floor wage ends up) while at the same time allowing the rich "job creators" to get even more ridiculously rich? at least Carnegie had the decency to build libraries.

Again with the mythical $2 an hour jobs. What are you suggesting, that the minimum wage in NYC should be higher than $2 an hour? I happen to agree!
Nonetheless, what this should show you is that you can't wave a legislative wand and make wages be what you want them to be. Especially where, as here, you have a group of people coming from a culture where that concept is totally foreign, so they naturally resist it in a way that most native Americans (who have, by and large, internalized the minimum wage as a normal and reasonable concept) do not.

ibaien May 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm

I have no idea what the goal of the hard right is, but whatever it is, they cannot replace millions of workers with people willing to take $2 an hour. As I said:

No matter what the law says, workers will go on being paid what they are worth. No matter what the Unions say, workers will not be paid one cent more on average than the market says they are worth.

Some people have got a sweet heart deal so they do a poor job and get paid more than they should for it. See Detroit. New York's schools. Baltimore's schools as well. But at the price of millions of young and minorities having no job at all. I would rather see full employment than New York's School system continue to circle the drain. I would rather see the poor of Detroit working in non-Union shops than Detroit having no auto industry at all.

And yes, the rich do create jobs, and yes they should be rewarded for it. But the idea that the Left is going to create well paying jobs is absurd. Look at Baltimore - run by the Democrats for pretty much the entire last century. What is more the super-rich tend to come from heavily Democrat-voting constituencies. Hollywood. The New York plutocrats. Which is why the Democrats cut them so many special deals. I don't think the super-rich deserve special treatment. I think they should pay the same taxes on the same basis as the rest of us.

You think you are right - and morally superior - but all you have to offer is Detroit on a larger scale. How is that helping the poor?

Also, Carnegie was pre-income tax, which is how we get rich people to pay for infrastructure these days. I guarantee that if you compare what he actually paid out in building libraries against what he *would have paid* had income taxes been in effect, Carnegie came out ahead. Plus, he got to have his name plastered on stuff.

SMFS: nah. It's not a zero sum game as rightist inequality apologists like to say.

I think the mystery here is why these women are willing to work for $2/hour when there are plenty of better paying jobs out there.

Wages are set by labor market rates and there are lots of people paying a lot more than $2/hour for low-skilled labor.
A hard-working Asian girl who is willing to spend long hours doing nails in a salon ought to be able to demand a higher wage.

Answer: because they are illegal aliens who have no work visa and therefore cannot legally get any other jobs.
In other words, they earn so little because the government is so keen on keeping out foreign competition for domestic labor that they have created a black market. And as usual black markets make things worse for everyone involved without actually stopping the undesired economic activity. The US workers still aren't getting these jobs. The illegal aliens are still here. Only now they can't go to the police when their boss physically assaults them, sue their employer for giving them health problems, or compete for better wages.

'but wages and conditions are set by the market'

The people who actually build BMW's, Mercedes', and Porsche's automobiles have no need to beg to disagree with you - they don't beg for their wages, they demand them. Or go out on strike.

But then, Germany is a socialist hellhole, with unions with true political power. Why, Germany doesn't even have a strong currency, nor an import deficit.

Jan May 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

nah. It’s not a zero sum game as rightist inequality apologists like to say.

It is not a zero-sum game in the long run as there is economic growth caused by improvements in productivity. But it is a zero-sum game in the short term. After all, if the workers demand more money, where does the extra money come from? Not from profits. They have been fairly stable and without reasonable profits, people don't invest.

prior_approval May 22, 2015 at 12:42 am

The people who actually build BMW’s, Mercedes’, and Porsche’s automobiles have no need to beg to disagree with you – they don’t beg for their wages, they demand them. Or go out on strike.

Actually until recently German Unions agreed to forgo wage demands to keep German industry competitive. German workers have not had a raise in real terms in years. They do not need to disagree with me because their Unions are not radical. They know what the reality is and so have not demanded wage raises in over a decade. They are not demanding anything. Nor are they begging.

People aren't paid what they're worth, they are paid what they negotiate.

How about we work to undo the regulation that says that people from other countries have to get permission from the government to have jobs?
The whole reason these people are exploited is because we've created an underclass of illegal aliens who can't complain about their working conditions or hold their employers to the terms of their contracts.
And whose idea was it to try to keep out foreign labor?

Hazel Meade "I think the mystery here is why these women are willing to work for $2/hour when there are plenty of better paying jobs out there."

Do they know that? And are these jobs open to them? They're illegal, they don't have much of a social network. It's basically similar to the question "why do women stay married to men who abuse them". Because that seems like the best alternative they know.

Yes, the jobs are not open to them because they're illegal. I don't think language barriers are an issue. They will know people who speak some English and can find out about better work. Word of mouth about better prospects would travel rapidly. If they were allowed to legally work, they would move to better jobs. The problem is that there is a very small pool of employers willing to hire illegal aliens, so they are all competing for those jobs. Also, they can't afford to complain about labor conditions to the authorities because they would risk deportation.

My children will aspire to own the mill your children work in. :-))

The goal is that we all get richer. It is the means that we disagree on most.

ibaien May 21, 2015 at 4:21 pm

It is just as Stalin said - the young need to work hard so that they can move from the category of those who are beaten to those who do the beating. Although I don't recall he had anything to say about the unexpected side effects of unlimited immigration.

The difference between NYC nail salons and the life of peasants in Vietnam is that one is over here and the other is not. Or I could say that I think the number of Vietnamese of peasant occupation in the US is less than negligible.

Expectations!

From "Coming to America"
"I'm washing lettuce!..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w70RQLtdVeU

Thus far, best MR comments thread ever!

I thought that nail salons were multipurpose facilities offering a variety of services.

Maybe that explains why so many of the staff were pregnant?

Why should they complain? An anchor baby is in their interest.

What is the point of the snark about life in the Vietnamese countryside?

Is it simply to suggest that, as long as working conditions in the US are superior to those in Vietnam by even a slight margin then the workers have no complaint coming?

That is correct. If you don't like it here, go back to the country run by your countrymen. I have no doubt that's what I would be told if I migrated to Vietnam.

Actually, I was hoping for an answer from Tyler, since he is the one who wrote the sentence in question.

Still, it's interesting to hear your opinion as to what is reasonable treatment for immigrants.

Why most manicurists in US are Vietnamese http://abc7.com/society/hollywood-actress-dubbed-godmother-of-vietnamese-nail-industry/688205/

Only Tyler Cowen and the rest of the marginalrevolution gang cite the following as defense for workplace industries

There were times when my tips were withheld. But as long as I thought my wages weren’t out of line with my labor, I wouldn’t go to my boss and ask for the tips. In nail salons run by Chinese, being verbally abused was commonplace, so I changed workplaces often. But it never happened in salons run by Koreans. I was never physically beaten.

As always it becomes clear that child labor laws were a mistake reading the marginalrevolution comment threads

There's a separate case against child labor laws.

1. By preventing children from getting an education, it makes it impossible for them to move up the ladder. They get stuck in poverty forever. We want to expand opportunity for everyone. Forcing parents to educate their children is necessary to accomplish this goal.

2. Children do not have the full legal rights that adults do. They are not allowed to make the kinds of decisions that adults can freely make. It's okay for society to impose stronger restrictions on the choices of children.

3. Parents can't necessarily be trusted not to abuse their children. We don't want fathers to pimp out their children so they can steal their wages.

Re #1, I'd go further. Increasingly the summer job for teens and restaurant gig for twenty-somethings is a waste of time that won't lead to squat, despite what grandpa says about it putting hair on your chest. Teens should be encouraged to build their own websites or video games, or to take an internship

I'm imagining a world in which immigration were heavily restricted, manicures were much more expensive, and manicurists were paid more. that would be horrible! or not.

It would mostly be horrible for the Vietnamese peasants who are stuck on the farm.

The overwhelming beneficiaries of migration are the migrants themselves.

What's so horrible about life on the farm? In fact, Vietnamese immigrants grow big gardens, keep chickens in town and generally try to preserve a third-world rural lifestyle in the midst of the manic US mainstream.

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Thanks for the information. I absolutely love getting my nails done. In fact, I just got them done a few days ago! I loved the "Q&A" part of your post. It really answered a lot of questions as to how nail salons work.

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