Eagle-eyed readers will likely have noticed by now I spend an inordinate amount of time watching The Simpsons. New Years Eve was no exception. FXX aired a marathon and one episode they aired was the second season classic episode Simpson and Delilah.
In this episode, Homer gets promoted to Junior Executive. In his first executive meeting with Mr. Burns (the notoriously tight-fisted owner of the nuclear power plant where Homer works) is seeking methods to increase productivity at the plant. Homer suggests providing tartar sauce in the cafeteria when the plant serves fish sticks. The other executives immediately scoff at his plan, but Mr. Burns supports him. Is it out of the goodness of his heart? Not likely: this man literally steals candy from babies, steals money from the school, releases hounds on anyone who asks him for anything, and puts just a quarter in the collection plate at church. He’s not exactly a nice man. So why does Mr. Burns support the plan? In his own words:
A happy worker is a productive worker. The few cents we spent on tartar sauce will reap millions in profits from increased productivity!
Mr. Burns’ attitude is typical of profit-seeking executives. You have to spend money to make money and by increasing worker happiness, he can increase his profits. This is how workers, in a free market, increase their standard of living.
I want to emphasize the point that this is without any government interference or influence. Mr. Burns, who is literally the worst (this guy stole paintings from the Isabella Stewart Museum in Massachusetts so they couldn’t be gawked at by “slack-jawed yokels”), increases the worker benefits of his employees for his own personal gain. Government didn’t need to get involved because self-interest already had.