Tuesday, January 22, 2019

[NJFAC] Meritocracy, What Meritocracy

Ian Welsh Meritocracy, What Meritocracy


Posted: 11 Dec 2018 
So, unless you think that genetic potential is that unequally distributed (and can explain eras where this chart did not apply, as in the post-WWII decades), you can pretty much forget "meritocracy."
Meritocracy is just a way of saying "we test for the things the middle and upper class has the resources to prepare for their children." And that's before we get to the extra opportunities having wealthier parents gives one simply from network effects.
Fairness and justice are obviously big issues, but just as bad is that many of these people might contribute in a huge way, and are never given the opportunity.
Stephen Jay Gould once said:
"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
These days, McDonalds, Walmarts and Amazon warehouses..

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn't, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
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Friday, December 14, 2018

[NJFAC] What’s Under That Amazon Tank?


What's Under That Amazon Tank?
 
            If you shop much on Amazon, you know that the selection is incredible, it's easy to press the buy-button, and, if you have Amazon Prime, things come really fast to your house and oft- times with free delivery. I bought something the other day and it arrived in less than a day. Thus the bright side of the Amazon phenomenon.
            But even and perhaps especially in a holiday shopping season, it's good to think about the dark underside of the Amazon tank that is rolling over businesses, cities desperate for distribution centers and headquarters, and the people who labor in the warehouses or drive for delivery services, but don't earn a living wage.
            A smart piece that focuses on Amazon's effort to gain monopolistic control of the whole  retail market is Stacy Mitchell's piece, "The Empire of Everything." It appeared last March in The Nation. Mitchell writes about the company's predatory pricing practices, ruthless dealings with recalcitrant businesses, and its contribution to the world of crummy jobs and greater income inequality. It's fun to buy on Amazon, but not so much when you think about these things. And especially not when you think that with every purchase we are helping to enrich Amazon chief Jeff Bezos. He is already the richest man in America and probably in the world. He really a monopolizer in the mold of oil baron John D. Rockefeller, but he's worse. Bezos wants to squeeze all retail commerce through the Amazon pipeline.
 
 
Posted by Frank Stricker, NJFAC board member

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

[NJFAC] Trying Again for Full Employment

Trudy Goldberg's article, "Trying Again for Full Employment," was published as the lead article in Dollars and Sense.

"As prominent progressives talk up a federal job guarantee, what can we learn from earlier attempts to legislate full employment?"

Goldberg is chair of the National Jobs for All Coalition, :


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National Jobs for All Coalition
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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

[NJFAC] Economists admit that $15 Seattle minimum wage was largely beneficial, reverse claims

Earlier this year, a group of business school researchers from the University of Washington and NYU, as well as Amazon, published an influential paper claiming that the rising Seattle minimum wage had decreased take-home pay for workers by 6% due to cuts to work hours -- the paper was trumpeted by right-wing ideologues as examples of how "liberal policies" hurt the workers they are meant to help.
But a new paper by the same authors (Sci-Hub mirror) shows that the rising minimum wage generated major increases for the workers who had the most hours, whose hours were only cut a little, but still came out ahead thanks to the wage increase; workers with fewer hours saw no financial harm from the rising minimum wage, working fewer hours and bringing home the same sum; and they found some harm to people who had the smallest number of hours) (which may actually reflect stronger demand for workers and fewer workers in this category of very-low-hour work).
The study's authors explain that their findings are all consistent with one another, but people who found methodological flaws in the first study say that the reversal is inevitable. Here's Barry Ritholz (previously) in Bloomberg:....

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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
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Saturday, October 13, 2018

[NJFAC] Wages Rising? by Frank Stricker

            Some observers write as though we are waiting for wage growth to return to normal. We just need money wages to grow a little more and inflation rates to fall a bit and we'd be back on the right track. But what's normal?  For example, how often since 2000-2017 has the real wage of average employees increased at least 1% a year? In only four of eighteen years: 2001, 2002, 2014, 2015.
            If you want to feel good for five seconds, the latest earnings report shows that real wages for average employees are up since September of 2017. But the increase is just 0.4%--less than a half a percent. That's what we are getting in what is supposed to be a red-hot labor market and a strong economy--so strong that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to cool it down.
            So for workers the economy is good but not great, and has been so for years. Basic power structures and institutions lean heavily against the working class. Unions cover few workers. Some states and localities are raising their minimum wages, but many are not doing so, and the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 for years.
            And while labor markets are good, and causing wage upticks in some places, there is no generalized shortage of labor--nothing dire enough to push up money wages to increase 4 to 5% a year. Employers aren't used to having to expend real effort to get medium to low-skilled workers. When they have to exert, they think it's a labor shortage. But real unemployment is not low enough to give average workers enough individual bargaining power. On the sidelines there are millions of people who are ready to work. The labor force participation rate of prime-age workers (25 to 54 years old) is rising but it's still several points below where it was in the 1990s. Today, some distribution centers, trucking companies, and other businesses have to pay more, but there are plenty of applicants for many job slots across the country. That's one reason why wages haven't risen much. That is why Blue Ridge Health Care in North Carolina can get entry-level certified nursing assistants for $9.50. It's why, over the past year, ZipRecruiter registered 8.1 million applications for 68,500 postings for administrative assistant jobs, and 9.2 million applications for 136,000 warehouse job listings.
            It's true that some employers are having to pay more to get the employees they need. That's one reason Jeff Bezos is raising pay to $15 an hour at Amazon. (Another reason is that it's bad P.R. that Amazon workers are stuck at $12 or $13 whilst Jeff is worth almost two hundred billion dollars.) But that might not be as much of a raise as it seems. What Jeff gives with the left hand, he takes away with the right. The company is pulling back on its bonus and stock programs. Some employees think they will be worse off.
            One final note on $15. Amazon's move reflects what a good thing the $15 minimum goal is. It has been a tremendous rallying point, a unifying force around an ultra-reasonable goal. But it is just the first step. Fifteen dollars looks good because wage growth has been mostly terrible since the early 1970s. But $15 is just $31, 200 for a person who works absolutely full-time, year-round. If you think that amount is adequate, you've been drinking the Cato-Kool-Aid at Republican Congressional parties.

Frank Stricker is on the board of NJFAC and has written What Ails the American Worker? Unemployment and Crummy Jobs: History, Explanations, Remedies.
           
 
           
 

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

[NJFAC] a bouquet to Sanders' effectiveness in raising some wages

(and a critique of the notion that the market determines wages, even in giant firms.-j)
https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/10/bernie-sanders-shows-how-to-do-politics

"...Sanders was lectured by the Heritage Foundation: 'wages are contingent on the additional value that a given worker contributes to the company,' and the bill would (tell me if you've heard this one before) Hurt The Very People It Was Trying To Help. Here's a Cato Institute libertarian writing in USA Today:

However much Sanders insists otherwise, in competitive industries, workers' pay and benefits tend to match the value of the work they're doing. Firms cannot "underpay," or else they risk losing employees to other businesses, while "overpaying" would be financial suicide. …Of course, Sanders is right that wages at major corporations do not always guarantee a decent standard of living, particularly for part-time workers, those with many children, or high rent. But shareholders and customers of companies should not be responsible for every factor of their workers' lives. Companies pay people for the work they do, and it is unrealistic to expect them to pay people based on the number of children they have, where they live or their medical bills. … My research estimates a program of liberalization in land use planning and zoning laws, child-care regulations, cost-inflating food programs, fuel standards and car dealership laws, tariffs on clothing and footwear and occupational licensing, could directly save poor households anywhere between $830 and $3,500 per year....

I think one of the reasons liberals have failed politically is that they think of politics as "designing the optimal policy" and have no clue how to actually build the political power that allows you to pass and implement the optimal policy. Bernie Sanders does know a thing or two about building political power—that's why he managed to be the "Amendment King" in the House of Representatives, passing more roll call votes in a Republican Congress than any other member despite being a radical democratic socialist. Sanders' bill was criticized as a stunt. But that shouldn't be a criticism, and we on the left need to try more stunts...."
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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

[NJFAC] Bloomberg: Unions Did Great Things for the Working Class

Unions Did Great Things for the Working Class

Strengthening them could blunt inequality and wage stagnation.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

link from Naked Capitalism
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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

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