Morning Ed: Labor {2016.09.05}

To ensure it’s future, the owner of a car restorer turned his ownership stake over to his employees.

How the Soviets achieved full employment.

Hamilton Nolan reports that fidgeters don’t need standing desks.

It used to be believed that ringing a bell in a storm would disperse thunder, and so people died doing it.

The New Yorker has a good article on immigrant caregivers and the personal costs of the care they provide.

At Cracked, Michael Hossey gives seven weird and dispiriting ways that companies screw their workers.

Ryan Avent looks at why we work so hard, and says that Marx has a point.

It’s good to be an American worker.


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32 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Labor {2016.09.05}

  1. The New Yorker story was very good but very dispiriting, I often see libertarians post articles on how everything is grand because of decreasing global poverty. I wonder how much comes from remittance economies though. The Philippines still has an extremely weak and horrible economy if college grads earn more by being house-cleaners, nannies, and home health aides in the US than working for the government at home.

    Did not know that about the anime industry.

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    • I often see libertarians post articles on how everything is grand because of decreasing global poverty.

      That’s a strawman, of course. Everything isn’t just grand, and that’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying that things are improving.

      I wonder how much comes from remittance economies though.

      Looking it up, remittances are about 8% of GDP in the Philippines, which is pretty big. For China, it’s only half a percent, and for India about 3%. Although the economic growth in the Philippines has been very good over the last 15 years, it’s still a poor country with about half the per-capita GDP of China. India is a bit poorer still, and even China’s barely at a quarter of the US per-capita GDP. But things are much, much better than they were back in the 90s, and remittances, while they certainly help, are not large enough to explain more than a small part of that. Developing countries still have a long way to go, but they are actually developing, which hasn’t always been the case.

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  2. The Cracked article is why I remain very skeptical with the free market will solve all problems. Just as government comes with civil servants and their follies and vices, markets are not composed of ideal market actors but business people and their follies and vices. People go into business to make money and there is a lot of evidence that business people will lie, rob, cheat, steal, and exploit to make the most money for themselves regardless of the consequences of others. Many even engage in these activities for the thrill of power and because they can. Markets need a countervailing force to put a leash on the worst instincts of business people.

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    • Once, when working at a company that shall not be named, they “updated” their vacation acquirement policies to be “more attractive to new employees”. (Keep in mind this company does NOT roll over vacation hours. Use it or lose it).

      Previous policy was “You accrue vacation THIS year for NEXT year”. That is, an employee working all of 2013 would accrue his or her full vacation for 2014, which could be used on January 1 and would be paid out if he or she quit on Jan 1.

      The new policy was “you accrue as you go”. So you earn your 2014 Vacation as you work in 2013, so one month of work = 1/12 of your vacation earned. If you take all your vacation but quit after six months, you owe them money for half your vacation.

      Except…what of the worker who worked all of 2013? When 2014 switches to “accrue as you go” he had already earned his vacation for 2014. So said employee should either earn twice the vacation time for 2014 (a one-off as schedules adjust) or be owed the pay for those weeks of vacation.

      Except…that didn’t happen. Every employee who had worked the previous year saw two or more weeks of pay…disappear. They worked all of 2013, accruing 2014 vacation — to start 2014 with no hours and vacation accrued as they worked.

      Somewhere, high up in HR, some “genius” came up with this. The company is a large one. Tens of thousands of employees across the US. Do you know much money that comes out to be? (If you guessed this happened somewhere between 2007 and 2010 you’d be right…)

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    • The Cracked article is why I remain very skeptical with the free market will solve all problems.

      That’s odd because I don’t remember anyone here ever arguing that. Why would even think that a free market could solve all problems?

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                • 2016: 22.2M (September)
                  2006: 21.8M (January)
                  1996: 19.4M (January)
                  1986: 16.7M (January)

                  That is for all government employees.

                  For federal it is:
                  2016: 2.8M (September)
                  2006: 2.7M (January)
                  1996: 2.9M (January)
                  1986: 3.1M (January)

                  Which means that all of the gains have been at the state and local level.

                  Approximate US population over that time:
                  2016: 320M
                  2006: 300M
                  1996: 270M
                  1986: 240M

                  In 1986, that works out to a ratio of approximately 1 government employee per 14 Americans.
                  In 2016, that works out to a ratio of approximately 1 government employee per 14 Americans.

                  So while the absolute number of total government employees has grown in the last 30 years, all of those gains have been at the state and local level AND the growth has kept pace with population growth.

                  Now, let’s talk about what the word “cherry picking” means and if you actually have any idea.

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