« Wednesday Books: Good Stuff | Main | Query regarding the Universal Basic Income »

May 30, 2016

Comments

Why is this so surprising? There's a lot of places in the country where $100K is not enough to feel financially secure. Even if you are doing OK today, unless you have a pretty big financial cushion, you're still just one layoff, car crash, or serious illness away from being wiped out. So while you may not have any problems putting food on the table or keeping your home, that just means you can worry about how to pay for college or retirement instead.

Instead of feeling like these people just don't "get it," maybe you should be working towards common cause with them. The weakened social safety net hurts almost all of us.

I can understand how you get to the mindset you are wondering at. My wife and I make, incomes combined, roughly 90,000 euros a year which is a bit over 100,000 dollars. After paying the mortgage and child care, and putting aside some savings, our lifestyle is not particularly enviable. We live at about the same standard of living as the construction worker next door. In fact, they have a nicer car.

The main difference to some of our neighbors is that we save some 1,000 euros a month in addition to mortgage payments. Yet, it is easy to see that with poorer checkbook management, you could get into a hand-to-mouth situation very easily even without understanding how recklessly you are using money.

I'm living in one of the most expensive areas of the country (San Francisco/Silicon Valley area), so I do understand the difference in the cost of living in various parts of the country. After all, I'm living with it.

But even here, I'm having trouble with the idea that someone is "struggling to get by" on over $100K per year. Yeah, it may mean that you don't get to go on a cruise this year. You may have your kids attending a public university (many of which are quite excellent schools, by the way) rather than Harvard or Stanford.

I can see that you may not be doing as well as you would like; even not as well as you think you deserve. But "struggling to get by"? Really?

I do take your point about the opportunity (maybe) to use their feelings of insecurity to get them on board with strengthening the social safety net. That's worthwhile, sure. But it still doesn't change my view on the lack of reality in their view of their situation.

I think you have to look at the definition and the way the question is asked. Are you struggling to get by? Yes I struggle to make the 100k that keeps me from being poor. I am one layoff and job change from only making seventy, and in Boston that's a struggle for a family. A pretty cheap 3 bedroom place is 2500 a month, water, electric, parking or t fare, if you have a car insurance is a nightmare. Food and clothes ain't cheap.

100k is 75k take home or 6,250 a month. If that 100k isn't a salary but 1099 then you take another 7k off plus 1500 a month in health insurance and now that's 4500 a month. After a place to live you're down to 2k. car insurance at 1000 then your down to 1k and you haven't got a cell phone, groceries, gasoline, heat etc. Not to mention any emergencies.

Not getting any cushion at the end of the month certainly can feel like a struggle.

So what you are saying is that life is a struggle financially for those in the top 20% of incomes. What does that make it for the other 80% of the population?

Seriously. Someone making the $70K you cite as your possible income level if you lose your current job -- where are those currently making that? Or less? (I think I know you well enough from here that you aren't just thinking callously that it's their problem and not yours at all. But I'm having trouble with figuring out what you do think on the subject.)

"Second, and something which really startled me, was that 10% of those making over $100,000 per year said that they were either “struggling to get by” or are “just getting by."

This guy makes over $100,000 grand a year.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ben-carson-says-america-is-about-to-go-over-niagra-falls

The Koch Brothers feel terribly poor. Heck, since marginal tax rates starting dropping from the high 90% percentile range in 1961, down to the low 40% percentile range we enjoy today for high-income earners, the WORSE they feel, but then economists are recently noticing that human being are not rational, which must make Larry Kudlow grind his dirty little teeth at night.

I get the budgetary constraints of $100,000 annually in major metropolitan areas where per square foot real estate costs are out of sight. I'm experiencing it myself right now with a whole lot less than $100,000 per annum.

But, I've a feeling those Americans making over $100,000 a year are happy to see their homes appreciate out of sight too so that those making LESS than $100,000 can no longer afford a roof over their heads.

Think how badly those making more than $100,000 a year would feel if affordable housing programs once again became a locus of policy. Then those making more than $100,000 a year would scream bloody murder because those making less were getting a leg up.

Also, those making more than $100,000 a year are probably getting squeezed by skyrocketing health insurance costs they have through their employers, which were skyrocketing before Obamacare, so save the bullsh*t.

In fact, the fact that millions of Americans bringing in far less that $100,000 now have health insurance one way or another thanks to Obama is what may really be making those making over $100,000 a year feel like paupers.

Think how rich they would feel by comparison if those making less than $35,000 were stripped of all subsidized health insurance and could never afford to see a doctor again.

Honey, we're rich! And what's more, Trump got rid of the minimum wage altogether so we can now afford to buy Whoppers all around!

Happy days are here again!


wj, I think two things. First, there isn't that much difference between 40 and 70k after you take out taxes etc.

More important, I don't think we should tell people that they should be happy with 100k and not feel like they are struggling. It was only ten percent and we have no idea what their circumstances were in the rest of their life. They could be divorced paying half their income in alimony and child support. They could have a health problem that has a high monthly cost and high deductible insurance. There could easily be ten percent of 100k people who have less at the end of the month than their bills without being frivolous.

The Amish are feeling so sh*tty that the usual suspects are going to court their votes for ass-hat Trump, whose mother churned butter for a living.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-allies-form-pac-draw-voters-pennsylvania-ohio

Marty, you have an Obamacare healthcare exchange policy AND you bring in $100,000 a year?

I wanna be you.

I guess you need the tax break.

I understand the rich tax-evaders in Greece are feeling much better since poor, crippled old-age pensioners had their crutch subsidies kicked out from under them.

But this:

"More important, I don't think we should tell people that they should be happy with 100k and not feel like they are struggling. It was only ten percent and we have no idea what their circumstances were in the rest of their life. They could be divorced paying half their income in alimony and child support. They could have a health problem that has a high monthly cost and high deductible insurance. There could easily be ten percent of 100k people who have less at the end of the month than their bills without being frivolous."

.... may well be true too.

"Marty, you have an Obamacare healthcare exchange policy AND you bring in $100,000 a year?"

It was a generic I, I wish I had seen 100k lately. Sigh. There was a time.

BTW, I know lots of 1099 contractors that make a lot more than 100k that have ACA policies. It is easier to get it there than to shop for individual policies yourself. You don't get subsidies or anything but it isn't more expensive than direct. You can pay more for better insurance elsewhere but you have to find it.

The pattern wj is talking about is known as "fractal inequality" -- Chris Hayes talks about how it plays out at Davos.

No-one feels secure or able to rest; everyone below Bill Gates & Warren Buffett sees someone above them to envy & fear. It's the old rat race, but there's not level above which it *stops*.

Instead of feeling like these people just don't "get it," maybe you should be working towards common cause with them. The weakened social safety net hurts almost all of us.

Assumes that "those people making upwards of $100K *and* feeling like they're struggling to get by" aren't GOP sociopaths whose top priority is to destroy the safety net.

Rationally, yes, that safety net is there for everyone, and you can be thankful for it while being thankful for not needing it.

Rationality is not uniformly distributed, however.

My wife and I, combined, bring in less than $50,000 a year (net earnings, not gross). We have two cars (and thus insurance on them), health insurance for both of us through my job, a house (yay, more insurance payments) and no children which means the only deduction we're entitled to come tax season is mortgage interest, and it ain't that high since we got our house in 2009 as a bank foreclosure (shopping smart, and all that). Besides, we have a dog...we spend far more in a given year keeping him fed and healthy than we get back as overpayment on taxes come April. :)

We are financially responsible, we both make regular contributions to our retirement accounts, and I suppose we're technically one lost job away from financial ruin as many couples are, but would I consider this 'struggling'? No. HELL no. Absolutely not. Calling the life my wife and I have "a struggle" is an insult and a slap in the face to anyone who has ever lived in poverty.

'Struggling' is my mom trying to raise two kids on the wages earned from a part-time job (the only one she could work, since she suffered from a debilitating muscle disease) combined with the social security she got after the death of our father when I was six years old.

'Struggling' was me not having a car until I left for college because she couldn't afford to have me on her insurance until I could pay my own way, and the rates went down when I turned 18 (although it was amusing comparing my rates to those of my brother who, being male, was responsible for considerably more financial outlay every month than I due to his gender).

'Struggling' was holding down a part-time job while taking a full 18-hour credit load of classes every semester in college so I could afford everything I needed that financial aid and my scholarship didn't cover (rent, gas, insurance, food, etc...). I did anything to avoid student loans, even in 1995. :)

I cannot BEGIN to imagine what life would be like for me if our income were to magically increase to $100,000. Granted, we live in Indiana which is hardly Silicon Valley or the Big Apple when it comes to real-estate prices, but my first reaction to anybody claiming they 'struggle' on a six-figure salary is to think, "What in the name of Cthulhu are you blowing it on?"

I get that people are accustomed to a certain lifestyle, I really do. I know people at virtually every financial level still have to be responsible with their money and might not get to do everything they want. I also get that, from the perspective of anyone below me, any 'struggles' my wife and I have are absolute jokes. ("Oh, you have to save up for two years to take your dream vacation to Florida? Wow...must be nice to be able to take time off from your jobs where you don't earn minimum wage and actually have insurance...")

But there's a difference between "juggling when to pay each bill, and which one to maybe be late on, to ensure the water and/or power don't get turned off in the middle of the week" and "struggling to make my investments return above 7.35% this quarter" or "struggling to make the payments on my new Lexus/yacht/penthouse apartment" or "struggling to decide between the newest iPhone or the newest Samsung Galaxy". Only one of those truly qualifies as a 'struggle'. The others, from where I and an awful lot of other people in this country stand, are just games--and those playing them could choose to stop any time they wanted.

everyone below Bill Gates & Warren Buffett sees someone above them to envy & fear. It's the old rat race, but there's not level above which it *stops*.

Dr. S, what you seem to be saying is that many (most?) people among the very rich have no grasp of the concept of "enough." Admittedly, the evidence in some highly visible cases seems to support that, but . . . .

Somebody with better google-fu than me can probably tell us what fraction of the $100K+ earners live in the Bostons, Manhattans, and Silicon Valleys of the US. If it turns out that almost all of them do, then the 10% "struggling" rate is hardly surprising. If it turns out they are more or less uniformly distributed across the country, then the "struggling" among them may be merely the 10% who love Trump and hate Obama and want pollsters to know it.

One thing that caught my eye in the executive summary of that 140-page report was this:

Forty-nine percent of adults with self-directed retirement accounts are either “not confident” or only “slightly confident” in their ability to make the right investment decisions.
This says that just over half of adults with self-directed retirement accounts must be confident or very confident in their ability to make the right investment decisions. I wish I knew what fraction of investors have a track record that might objectively justify such confidence.

--TP

I guess Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are so far above me in wealth that I don't care how wealthy they are.

Besides, Gates has created wealth several magnitudes greater than his personal wealth for the rest of the world.

well Areala, in Boston you would likely be a 100k worker. And if you haooen to not live in Indianapolis the difference would be more strak.

http://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/boston-ma/indianapolis-in/115000

wow my brain is going fast, those words are happen and stark

Fascinating...I don't live in Indianapolis, but shift up is still pretty stark ($46k -> $83k). That still leaves an extra $17k a year at the $100,000 level for us to play with though, and $17k is a not-inconsiderable sum of money from where I sit. :)

I'm with Areala above. I don't have a lot of empathy for people who perceive themselves as "Struggling " on over 100K a year. Yes, they might be one paycheck from serious problems, but they have that paycheck, plus the ability to save...To me, "struggle" is the person who isn't making it on the paycheck they have, the person who rations the heat in the winter, stands in line at the Food Bank, turns their dog into the shelter because they can't feed it....I know people who are working forty hours a week and living in a car. I know lots of people who can pay the most basic bills but nothing else, even something as simple as an oil change or a birthday present means giving up something else. There's a lot of poverty in America. I think the working poor and those slightly above that level can say they are struggling, but people with 100K a year need a different word. Maybe "being careful". BTW my husband and I are at around sixty K and not struggling, though I would be if I lost my job.

I assume this is from Table 2 on page 16. According to that nearly half of those making $40,000 or less feel they are struggling, and nearly a quarter of those making from $40,000 to $100,000 feel they are struggling. That 10% for those making $100,000 and up looks pretty good in comparison.

There are all sorts of reasons people making over $100,000 can feel that they are struggling. There could be a divorce, a move to a lower paying job that requires adjustments, a serious illness in the family, and so on. There could also be financial problems related to stupidity or just overly optimistic budgeting. Career trajectories are rarely as advertised.

Odds are that those making $100,000 a year and struggling live in higher cost areas as others have noted here. A rent increase can easily put you in the struggling category. If you stay, that's more rent. If you move, you have to pay moving costs, rental deposits, new commuting costs and rebuild your support network.

Life has always been sucky for those at the bottom. What I find interesting is that the suckage, and I mean the kind of stuff that convinces people to rethink their politics, has been moving up the income scale. When folks making $100,000 a year start feeling that they are stuck or losing ground, that means political change becomes more possible. They are more likely to vote, more likely to contribute to a candidate, and more likely to be taken seriously by the press and political establishment.

Lately, I've been hearing people making $400,000 and up a year realize that they've been played as suckers. I've been arguing with them about politics and economics for years. To my amazement, they are starting to wonder what has gone wrong, why life is so much harder for their children, why the rich (ah, the irony) seem to get all the goodies. It's easy to indulge in some schadenfreude, but this is an important change.

The political strategy of the ruling class has been to play off the haves against the have nots, but the dividing line keeps moving upwards. There are fewer above the line. It's like 18th century France. It wasn't the poor who finally ended the old regime. It was the upper middle class who realized that they stood no chance pounding against the mirrored ceiling and had more in common with the rabble than their masters.

Figure 4 gives a good sense of what the various income groups are struggling with in a series of word clouds.

< $40K - bills, money
$40K - $100K - health, insurance, retirement
> $100K - retirement, college

No surprises here. I had forgotten about college shock. If you are making $100K and up, odds are you went to college or want your children to go to college. Paying for college can be a struggle at almost any income level. Even some of those at $400K and up would notice the hit.

An old adage: "Expenses rise to meet income."

Dean Baker's take on the report differs from that of Robert Samuelson.

Somehow I am not surprised.

Perhaps, instead of defining "rich" on the basis of being in the top X% of income earned, we should define it as something like "those who, collectively, have Y% of the total national income."

If memory serves, the value of X has been dropping for pretty much any value of Y you care to name. Which, in turn, means that the number of those who feel "not rich" (and therefore potentially unhappy with the rich) would be rising.

I wonder if it would be enlightening to look at what happened to the very richest Americans when the Gilded Age came to an end. After all, since we've been this way before why not look at the previous episode? Especially if you happen to be among those at the top of the economic heap, and want to get some insight into your possible (probable?) future.

Kaleberg wins the thread .. so far.

"$100,000 grand"

A hundred million dollars and you're doing ok.

"$109,151.92 a year'll buy a lot of beer" just doesn't roll as trippingly off the tongue as did the original.

The arguments about the cost of living in coastal urban cities vs fly-over cities is one point. Here's another thought that I've carried around for years and years about differences.

I lived in a New Jersey suburb for several years. Then I moved to a Denver suburb where the houses were comparable, the kinds of jobs people had were comparable, the schools were comparable, and so forth. What was surprisingly different was how much more of the routine maintenance people living in the Denver suburb did on their property themselves relative to the people in New Jersey.

The large majority of people in my Denver neighborhood mow their own grass and shovel their own snow. Both were almost unheard of in my NJ neighborhood. In NJ, in almost all cases, interior painting was hired out; in my current neighborhood, people do most of the interior painting themselves. There, I would hear people say, "I have to be out of the office this afternoon to let the plumber in to replace the broken parts in one of the toilets." Here, it's much more likely to be, "I spent Saturday morning replacing the broken parts in one of the toilets."

All anecdotal, of course. I have no idea what the actual statistics might be. But it's an impression that's stuck with me for years.

Michael Cain, I'd be curious to know what part of Jersey you were in. I'd hazard a guess that you were somewhere with a higher concentration of college grads, as well as college grads not to be the first in their families to get a degree.

What Kaleberg said. I have two and in a little over a year will have three kids in college. I had a good year last year. Good enough to finally remodel the kitchen, or so I thought. After taxes and college, not so sure. Not struggling, but there is something decidedly insecure about having a good year, paying a boat load in taxes and not being ahead (other than I was able to contribute to my 401k for the first time in years).

Of course, a lot of this could be chalked up to kitchens costing a lot more than they used to! And I like to cook, so yes, even my bargain remodel is expensive.

On a related note, I have health care from "work" and have had it since 2012, but am losing it at the end of the year. Back in 2012, I had an HSA plan with a $5k or $7,500 deductible that cost me $400/month for my family of 8. Great coverage if something really bad happened. Now I am looking at $1,200/month for much, much lesser coverage. I realize it's been four years, but really? This is better? I know there is a cost of ensuring my friends that are cancer survivors (not to mention those college kids)and I am glad for that and for other changes. But the increase in cost is disproportionate, IMHO.

One more observation: Kids are expensive, yet priceless.

@hairshirt, two different places in Freehold Township, Monmouth County, most of ten years altogether. Currently in Jefferson County, CO which (in present day) does slightly better than Monmouth in the Census Bureau's educational attainment measures (also, the two are remarkably similar in lots of gross Census Bureau kinds of measurements).

I think you're on to something, although I wouldn't tie it to educational history. Let me put it this way, with no disrespect intended towards anyone because we are all influenced more than we think by where we grew up: the income level at which people decide that certain kinds of work are "below" them is lower in (at least that part of) suburban NJ than it is in suburban CO.

I grew up under the influence of Great Depression prairie grandparents. Even though some of my great-grandparents and grandparents had college degrees, and all of my parents' generation had college degrees, one of the lessons pounded in from an early age by all of them was that there's no chore that's "below" you, no matter how well you do in life/education/whatever.

Might be an interesting anthropology dissertation topic in there.

I'd like to know how people making 400K are being played for suckers. Seriously. That's not a bad gig.

More to the point, what should the gov't be doing for 400K earners that it isn't already doing? Lower their taxes? Tax credits for private school tuition? I don't take a back seat to anyone when it comes to fiscal conversatism and moderate taxation, but I'm not aware of any undue burden people making this amount of money *and* raising children face.

As for the "one lay off or serious accident away" from disaster meme, that's been the human condition for 99.99999%, if not 100%, of the world's population since the dawn of time unless you throw in the European model, the sustainability of which has yet to be demonstrated.

...the sustainability of which has yet to be demonstrated.

snicker. what are the criteria for judging "sustainability", tex? the ability to thread a 5 iron shot through a two foot opening from deep in the trees? consistently hit 300 yard drives down the middle?

I'd wager our high tech carbon fueled capitalist society has a long way to go to demonstrate its 'sustainability' as well.

After all, a little over 200 years is not all that much in some quarters.

snicker.

It's a math issue--not my strong point, granted--but the number of retiree's is much higher than the number of incoming workers and the European economies are not exactly booming, Germany excepted. How many workers will be needed to support how many retirees plus themselves?

There is, of course, a mathematical solution to the imbalance of retirees and workers in Europe (and Japan and elsewhere): immigration.

It's not a trivial solution, of course. You have to redefine what it means to be "German" or whatever in terms of culture (and loyalty), rather than genetics. And you have to figure out how to transmit that culture, and loyalty to your country, to those who immigrate.

The US has an extremely good (comparitively speaking) record for doing both. And we still have xenophobia issues, as the current political season is highlighting.

But it can be done. And countries are going to have to make a choice:
- stay "pure" (however that is defined) and watch their standard of living (especially for retirees) spiral downward, or
- maintain that standard of living, maybe even increase it, while watching their country start looking (and sounding) a little less like the one they grew up in.

There will, I suspect, be a bout of denial. Encouraged by the local demagogues, promising magical solutions. But eventually, reality will insist on intruding one way or another.

How many workers will be needed to support how many retirees plus themselves?

Given a reasonable annual growth of productivity going forward and, you know, COMPOUNDING, this is not an insurmountable problem.

Then again, if the robots take all of our jobs, all bets are off. :)

the income level at which people decide that certain kinds of work are "below" them is lower in (at least that part of) suburban NJ than it is in suburban CO.

I wasn't necessarily thinking of it in those terms. I guess there could be some of that, but I'm thinking it's more a matter of know-how and (unconscious?) cultural norms. It's not that anyone would look down on you for doing certain things for yourself. (In fact, they might even admire you for it, be it for your know-how in doing something that requires some level of skill or simply for your willingness to put out the effort to, say, mow your own lawn or shovel your own snow.)

It's mainly a matter of what people know how do or are used to doing/seeing other people like themselves do.

I live in what is a more traditionally blue-collar part of New Jersey. People who could afford to pay other people to do stuff still do it themselves, either because it's cheaper (despite being able to afford paying someone), they don't trust someone else to do it, and sometimes it seems out of some sort of pride/machismo.

And you have to figure out how to transmit that culture, and loyalty to your country, to those who immigrate.

You've left out language and education. Unicorn hunting.

Given a reasonable annual growth of productivity going forward and, you know, COMPOUNDING, this is not an insurmountable problem.

More unicorns. What has the growth rate been, historically, in Western Europe? Compounding? Bedtime stories.

Language and education is part of a culture.

I was using "culture" in the technical** sense: all of the non-physical stuff which distinguishes one group of people from another. (Arguing about the distinction between culture and sub-culture is a seperate exercise.) It not only includes language and education, but also everything from food to music to politics to clothing. With the caveat that a culture may, like US culture, include things like foods borrowed from multiple other cultures and integrated into the local culture.

** That is, in the sense used in Anthropology. All those years of study are still with me....

And yes, belief in unicorns (or lack of belief) would also be a part of a culture. Along with whether or not it is proper to hunt them.

How many workers will be needed to support how many retirees plus themselves?

It depends on what you mean by that, I suppose. Do we have the capacity in real resources, human and material, to meet the needs of everyone, including those who are no longer "producing?"

Then again, if the robots take all of our jobs, all bets are off. :)

But seriously! Robots would increase productivity in areas where robots are suitable replacements for humans. The question, or at least one question, is whether caring for retirees (or anyone else, for that matter) is something robots would be good at, leaving humans to do the kinds of things robots aren't so good at.

1. If there aren't enough jobs left for humans, the problem can't be that there aren't enough workers to support retirees (in whatever way(s) we're talking about).

2. You can't outsource physically taking care of people in this country to people living in other countries. (Yeah, you can read their x-rays elsewhere, but that's not what I mean.) I thought we had a lack of jobs, not people, so this should help.

3. If we're worried about money, strictly speaking, as opposed to actual resources, the first question is whether the retirees, generally speaking, have the money to pay the people still in the workforce to provide whatever goods and services said retirees may want or need. If so, they're creating demand that translates into jobs for other people.

If we're assuming retirees generally don't have the money to support themselves at some reasonable level of comfort, some level of public support will be needed, which will still create demand and jobs, but will also require taxing, borrowing or printing money.

In the end, though, if we have the actual, real, human and material resources, it's a matter of collective will (not that that's some trivial thing - but let's not mix it up with the useful fiction of money).

You've left out language and education. Unicorn hunting.

If you do lack the labor, it's not like our formerly robust industrial economy wasn't built largely on the backs of immigrants lacking education and English-language skills.

hsh,

My remark about the robots was tongue in cheek. We are subjected repeatedly to scare stories about high worker/retiree and "oh, dears! The robots are going to take all our jobs, whatever will we dooooooooooooooooo????".

You cannot have both be true.

If robots take care of "all" the jobs, then obviously there is no need to worry about stuff like the worker/retiree ratio. It will be zero.

This would also free up our time to hunt unicorns.

Compounding? Bedtime stories.

McKinney,

If productivity increases at 1.5% per year at a more or less constant rate what will the absolute productivity increase be after 100 years?

A. about 150%
B. some number larger than 150%
C. none of the above.

I leave it to your math challenged mind to ponder this question.

ooops...meant to say "low worker/retiree ration" not "high worker/retiree ratio.

My bad.

Given a reasonable annual growth of productivity going forward and, you know, COMPOUNDING, this is not an insurmountable problem.

The fascinating thing, historically, is that almost as soon as Congress passed the big 1983 changes in Social Security, which used formulas based on the assumption that productivity gains would be roughly the same above and below the salary cap for the tax, productivity gains in the economy began their shift towards income above the cap.

Congress could have chosen another way for determining where the cap should be. IIRC, in 1983 the SS tax applied to about 90% of labor income. Today the number is below 84% and still dropping. If the cap had been defined as the level necessary to tax 90% of earned income, everyone's models would say that the system is solvent for much longer than the 75-year planning window.

My remark about the robots was tongue in cheek.

Oh, I know. That's what "But seriously!" was for. And my #1 was an expansion of what you were getting at. Too many people or too many jobs - which is it? Pick exactly one.

Re: DIYers in NJ, one datum:

A. Einstein, a resident of Princeton NJ, was quoted as saying "I should have been a plumber"

Whether it was after attempting to replace a washer was not recorded.

bobbyp: You cannot have both be true.

Sure you can, if you subscribe to right-wing economics.

You know: the kind that assumes money is a finite resource and petroleum isn't; the kind that assumes Wall Street is "productive" and The Government isn't; the kind that pretends "health care spending" is not also "health care income" in The Economy. In short, the kind of economics premised on the proposition that the poor have too much money and the rich have too little.

--TP

Over here we had something similar with care workers. In essence the military draft was kept in order only to have enough young men opting for alternative service which overwhelmingly was in care services. Since the amount payed to draftees was very low many institutions hired them instead of qualified care workers who as a result were often unemployed while there was a great need for their qualifications and skills. Another 'bonus' was that draftees had fewer rights and could thus be better exploited.

Now replace draftees with robots and you gets the situation where those that have the means to hire opt for the robots and those who have need for services can't afford them since their jobs were taken by the robots. 'Illegals' at least need a minimum of good treatment or they become ineffective, robots don't (as long as you can afford replacemnts for the ones you blew up in a bad mood).

I am completely confident that any german-engineered robots will be incredibly well designed, and operate at the very peak of efficiency....

...if you treat them with care, adhering to the maintenance schedule with due attention. Abuse them, and you'll be looking at some high-cost repairs.

American robots, on the other hand, can be savagely beaten, occasionally shot, with almost no change in their efficiency. Or lack thereof.

YMMV.

Read this opinion piece by a Republican grown-up (one of maybe two left) on future Memorial Days after Donald Trump has murdered millions:

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/tom-nichols-clinton-beats-trump-deserving-pulp-article-1.2658980

No doubt Trump and his vermin, subhuman followers, including now Paul Ryan (like anyone bought the coy act these past weeks), will "hit this guy hard", probably something about the inadequate size of his dick, his Muslim sympathies, his sombrero wearing and mariachi steps, and that his wife and daughters are not very smart, not very smart at all and, have you seen them, geez, talk about dogs, but one of them has decent cleavage.

Count, you need to get out more. There are definitely more than 2 Republican grown-ups left. There's at least a few dozen of us. Probably even more, judging from the ones I see at the local level here.

Granted our visibility at the national level is minimal. But that doesn't mean we don't exist. (Hmmmm... is there a category of "closet Republican"? That might increase the numbers further.)

Haven't you guys agreed on a new group moniker to distinquish yourselves from crazy? ;)

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/6/2/1533620/-Florida-Gov-Rick-Scott-cries-out-for-Zika-assistance-but-his-fellow-Republicans-aren-t-listening

I think we should bide our time and see if Governor Scott and his children and grandchildren come down with the Zika Virus before ANY funds are released to fight this thing and even then, the upside of not funding prevention and cures seems considerable since so many Red States are closer to the source of the virus.

I mean it's not like that Ebola thing that Ann Coulter, Donald Trump, and Alex Jones thought was being transmitted by the carrots and cabbages black sharecropper Michelle Obama and her pickaninnies were growing on the White House grounds.

Sure you can, if you subscribe to right-wing economics.

Damn. How did I miss that, Tony?

This is so quaint:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-protesters-look-at-my-african-american

Who knew? All of them!

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/texas-regulator-says-ordered-drop-fraud-investigation-trump-university-over-politics

One can hope Trump will bring down the entire, sleazy, self-righteous, corrupt (the government closest to you is the most corrupt because they are more likely to be your brothers-in-law) Texas government hard.

No wonder Rick Perry, like Christie, Carson, Rubio, Ryan, and a cast of millions have found shelter under Trump's stubby thumbs.

On their knees. Mouths open. They are paid.

I love that Trump promises to being back Trump University if elected President.

Lying and cheating and stealing makes the Republican business world go round.

It's how they transact.

I hope Trump becomes President so we can blow this joke of a culture to kingdom come.

Perhaps both, maybe neither.

Too many people or too many jobs? Or, if you believe in Democratic economic theory, reducing the workforce to historic lows is the best route to declaring success on unemployment.

The opposite side of the growing profits by cutting costs with no revenue growth phenomenon.
Every one is claiming success while it just gets harder to find a decent job..

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/el-erian--here-s-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-interesting--if-not-confusing-jobs-report-134627722.html#

as an aside in response to McK and bobbyp's back and forth, I'll simply say that western Europe seems like a pretty damped nice place, to me.

there are lots and lots and lots of places that where I would simply not care to live, and which I'd avoid using as a model for how to run things.

the modern social democracies aren't among them.

doesn't mean we need to do what they do. it just means that holding them up as examples of what not to do doesn't really strengthen your case.

pretty damned nice, not damped.

my tablet's auto-correct is mocking me.

The disposable human:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/06/t-magazine/art/josh-kline-unemployment-art.html?_r=0

In the other hand, the exalted shareholder and taxpayer.

We are all three.

"On" the other hand

"In" the other hand, there is no bird.

No chicken in the pot either, though if you have a chicken, you can now put pot in it, depending on where you live.

We're so free.

I wish my company would cut expenses by firing me and canceling my health insurance so my stock options pop short-term.

Marty,

You say "reducing the workforce" like it's a bad thing.

Retirement reduces the workforce. College and grad school reduce the workforce. Marriage, in some cases, reduces the workforce. Are those bad things?

A country where everybody from 18 to 80 is working for pay -- because they can't eat, otherwise -- would score really well on the percent-of-population-in-the-workforce metric. But would it be a great country?

Some people are lucky enough to do work that is rather enjoyable. It's still "work" in that it often takes time away from family, friends, and just plain leisure, but it offers emotional rewards as well as income to pay the bills. Many people, on the other hand, work at gutting chickens or cleaning toilets. "The workforce" contains both kinds of people.

In a better world than we currently live in, "the workforce" would be even smaller than what we have now, but everybody would have adequate income to live decently. Work is work, not life. The less work a person -- or a society -- needs to do in order to live, the better off they are. Less work input for equal or greater output is efficiency, not decline.

The trouble, of course, is that we cling to the "you don't work, you don't eat" paradigm. On occasion, we manage to beat it back a little -- cf Social Security. Someday, our descendants will beat it back a little more, with something like a Universal Basic Income.

I don't expect I'll live to see it, but I predict that someday "the workforce" will be defined as something like 6/7ths of the 30-60 population: longer education, earlier retirement, and sabbaticals for everybody. Alternatively, our descendants will prefer a society where they can only survive by working like mad until they drop. But I bet they won't be that dumb.

--TP

In a better world than we currently live in, "the workforce" would be even smaller than what we have now, but everybody would have adequate income to live decently.

We don't live in that world, so it is not a good thing.

And we never WILL live in that world, until we stop clinging, politically, to the notion that more work is better than less work.

--TP

"..but everybody would have adequate income to live decently."

There is a cultural, if not actual, evolution that would be required to have any significant part of the population agree on "decently". Or to settle for commonly bandied about definitions.

Politically would have to follow that. The real challenge is in deciding who gets what in an arrangement outside the basic barter system that is used almost universally.

More, or less, work isn't even the issue, more or less jobs is the issue.

I am curious, after we expanded the workforce by 100% or more over the last five decades, to ensure that anyone who wanted to had their right to a job protected, what you see that will make having one not required to gain your share of the distribution of goods and services?

as an aside in response to McK and bobbyp's back and forth, I'll simply say that western Europe seems like a pretty damped nice place, to me.

I never said otherwise. I simply raised the question of whether it is sustainable.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad