The Idled Young Americans

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jacob
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Post by jacob » Fri May 17, 2013 10:07 pm

@Felix -
"Yup, that's why those who do it should be paid correspondingly instead of having the disadvantaged exploited to to our dirtywork. "
That's the old issue of "why is the market price for this particularly good too high or too low compared to what I think it should be?!?!". The answer, which was given 100+ years ago is that the price is set by supply and demand.
You can of course fix the price. However, you can't fix supply and demand(*). This is why price fixing leads to shortages or oversupply whenever you force a clearing at an unbalanced price.
(*) Except if you institute some totalitarian prison-like regime detailing all possible details of life.
Consequentially, you can have either

1) supply meeting demand at an uncontrolled price

or

2) a controlled price with a supply/demand imbalance

but you can't have both.
The only solution (to having both) is if demand can automagically be supplied under some utopian assumptions. In all other cases, getting more of (1) means getting less of (2) and vice versa.


Felix
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Post by Felix » Fri May 17, 2013 11:16 pm

If the supply for people willing to do such jobs goes down due to a basic income, therefore the price will need to rise to bing supply back up to fill all the slots (meet the demand). That's supply and demand. I never argued for price fixing. (??)
Also, ignoring the politics "keeping the supply high" and then saying it's supply and demand seems to be dodging the question.


Seneca
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Post by Seneca » Fri May 17, 2013 11:57 pm

Yup, that's why those who do it should be paid correspondingly instead of having the disadvantaged exploited to to our dirtywork.

I don't think you read my whole post.
I posted necessary drudgery for not very well paid (janitorial), middling to upper middle pay (skilled auto repair), high pay (sales), very high pay (venture capital deals). You could come up with many others, but having been involved in all of them, I can tell you, they all have lots of drudgery involved, thus requiring pay.
There is also an increasing scarcity of skills due to difficulty to obtain and stress level involved in day-day. Work stress as a janitor is pretty much a zero (except when they change the alarm codes and don't tell you), VC is about an 11 out of 10.
You do argue for wage fixing of a sort, changing the marginal utility of work.


thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy » Sat May 18, 2013 1:14 am

I have been fortunate enough to work a career job for the past 17 years, but it has been anything but stable. There have been at least 10 reorganizations/downsizings/realignments, but in reality probably more than I can count simply because I didn't know they were actually happening at the time.
I have been able to overcome those obstacles by being willing to learn new things, live in areas others won't, and expressing to every manager, supervisor and director that will listen that I want to learn new things and I'm not afraid of hard work to make it happen.
Some of my friends tell me that I work too much and that I'm too much of a company man. I always find it interesting considering that some of them were downsized, demoted, and are currently unemployed.
It wasn't always like this for me. A few short years after college graduation I found myself unemployed with few prospects for getting a job. Instead of sitting at home feeling sorry for myself, I went to several temp agencies and registered for work opportunities. I went to every fast food restaurant in the area and applied for work, but desperate times call for desperate measures and since no one was willing to hire me on the spot for a full time position I started earning money on my own doing whatever people would pay me to do.
I cleaned homes, offices, cars, trucks, garages, barns, washed windows, etc to get some cash coming in. I did eventually get some part-time offers, but kept doing the side jobs too. Ultimately, I got a low paying full time position but kept the side jobs going as well. I worked from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for a couple of years to cobble together enough money to live in a manner that I wanted to live.
I say all of this to emphasize that many (not all) young people who can't find a job probably haven't been agressive enough and approached the situation with a "take no prisoners" attitude. Are they doing odd jobs? Are they washing cars for relatives and neighbors? Painting? Cleaning houses? If not, why not? I know some others who found themselves unemployed and started doing odd jobs and now make a solid 6 figure income doing it. They can't afford to get a "stable" job at this point.
I grew up with nothing, so I knew what that was like. It's no fun. For me failure was not (and it not) an option. Sadly, for many of my friends and even some relatives; they simply haven't developed a deep-rooted desire to earn the money they desire. There is no free lunch.


Chad
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Post by Chad » Sat May 18, 2013 1:36 am

"Some of my friends tell me that I work too much and that I'm too much of a company man."
We could also say that people like this are exploited by business owners. If everyone refused to give there lives away the business would have to bend to the workers and not the other way around.
Assuming your actions of a "company man" are always good assumes the company/supervisors are always good. We all know that isn't true.
I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have done what you did, but that there is another way of looking at it.


thebbqguy
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Post by thebbqguy » Sat May 18, 2013 1:54 am

"If everyone refused to give there lives away the business would have to bend to the workers and not the other way around."
In my experience companies I've worked for don't bend to workers. If workers don't want to do the tasks that are required for the job, the company finds someone else who will. I don't have a problem with that. I have worked for other companies where I did not want to perform the tasks I was asked to perform, so I found work at another company.


bluejoey
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Post by bluejoey » Sat May 18, 2013 1:57 am

In my experience companies I've worked for don't bend to workers. If workers don't want to do the tasks that are required for the job, the company finds someone else who will. I don't have a problem with that.
I'm pretty sure this is the logic companies used to use to coerce people into working 80 hour workweeks less than two centuries ago. It's a race to the bottom unless people band together to fight for better working conditions.


Chad
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Post by Chad » Sat May 18, 2013 2:02 am

It depends on the culture and situation at the time. Obviously, during the 70's and 80's the workers had the upper hand considering how bad most the union deals from that time were for companies like GM, Ford, etc. My only point is that if more people said "no", selling our souls for a job wouldn't be as common.
Again, I'm not criticizing your decisions, as we all do what we have to do. I've done the same. Just suggesting there is an alternate view, that has worked in the past.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Sat May 18, 2013 2:36 am

"If workers don't want to do the tasks that are required for the job, the company finds someone else who will. I don't have a problem with that. I have worked for other companies where I did not want to perform the tasks I was asked to perform, so I found work at another company."
That would be a logical point if workers and employers were on an equal footing, and this is not the case. It cannot be the case for as long as capital has free movement globally and labor does not. But globalization issues aside, the more educated the workforce, the less power the workers have, then the more untenable that "I can take my skills elsewhere" line is.


Felix
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Post by Felix » Sat May 18, 2013 8:05 am

"You do argue for wage fixing of a sort, changing the marginal utility of work."
I have argued that a basic income would improve the bargaining position of workers for better pay and better working conditions.

Somehow that has arrived as "Felix wants equal payment for janitors and electrical engineers".
It's about power.
Having structural unemployment also is wage fixing of a sort, changing the marginal utility of work.
Also, we've lost track again. The argument used to be about what do we do when there aren't enough jobs to go around anymore due to robots and technological advances(and before that it was about the rising unemployment in young Americans). My proposal for simply giving people the means to still live wasn't met with much sympathy.


jacob
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Post by jacob » Sat May 18, 2013 4:48 pm

The only practical solution I know is ERE.
The lack of sympathy is because those means to live have to come from/be paid by people who either fought hard for the jobs that remain or created their own work outside the "job-universe".
We're certainly in a transition period. When I talk to new graduates, many still think that the way to go is to collect yet another degree and polish off their resume. It is extremely hard to get through to them that their time would be better spent demonstrating actual work than doing the exact same thing that millions of others are doing. Demonstrating work is easier than ever: start a blog, write reports, engineer something, ... Then put it out there and build connections. But no! They're just not doing that.
In Gervais terms, the idled are Losers and those who are making it in this economy are Sociopaths. I don't see any way you're going to convince Sociopaths to hand out a living wage to Losers which is in any way above what would be considered a pittance. You're never gonna extract a middle class level basic wage.
In particular, if you force the Sociopaths to give up their earnings, then being Sociopathic, they're simply going to find a way around it and reduce their income. Then where is the money going to come from?
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/can-y ... -fast.html
The Losers are up against this! It's pitting people who can wait, think, and fast (metaphorically) against people who live in the moment, act without thinking, and seek instant gratification.
In other words, the balance of power is asymmetric. It will be set in such a way that the Sociopaths at least don't think that by working they got the shorter end of the stick as opposed to just receiving a living wage. This is the communist problem. If you increase the rewards for not working while at the same time decrease the rewards for working, then people will work less and less. The only way out of this bind is if work can be replaced by robots---and that's not the case yet.
In conclusion, my advice to idled workers is

1) Figure out how to create value outside the job market. This will either eventually lead to a job or it will lead to actual money as a business owner.

2) Figure out how to reduce expenses and how to live a middle class lifestyle on a quarter of what the middle class mindlessly spends.
Both, of course, require work, but they don't require a job. Sadly, in my experience, very few people are willing to do this work; and so they remain idled.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Sat May 18, 2013 7:54 pm

"people who either fought hard for the jobs that remain or created their own work outside the "job-universe"."
Or people who are very well connected. Jacob, after years in academia, you don't really believe that everyone who has a job "fought hard" for it, do you?
A totally related article: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Intric ... sal/65456/
That being said, your advice to idled workers are both spot on. However, while pointing out the survival skills needed in the current environment, we can also point out how fucked up the current environment is, too.


jacob
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Post by jacob » Sat May 18, 2013 8:08 pm

@secretwealth - Ha! I knew what that link would be about before I even clicked on it.
Being/staying connected is work too(*). That's something I also try to instill in the "My plan is just going to get a degree and start sending out resumes"-peeps but with little success.
(*) A really good strategy is what a friend of mine refers to as generating social volatility. The strategy is simply to connect with as many people as are willing to have coffee with him. It works enormously well (as far as I can tell, he knows "everyone" in the industry---the day he quit he had three instant job offers). His social capital is immense! Total cost: $500 in coffee and a lot of effort. Yet 99.9% don't know anyone and resign to shotgunning resumes.
My preference---because I think it's a more useful use of time---is really for figuring out what to do given the current environment. Not talk about what's wrong with it nor how it could be made better by some top-down policy.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Sat May 18, 2013 8:26 pm

@jacob "Being/staying connected is work too(*)."
Yeah, I'll admit that. Being the antisocial introvert that I am, I've always been amazed at people who can spend so much time kissing ass with a smile on their face. Salespeople in particular astound me like aliens from another planet.
However, it's still a kind of corrupt and dishonest work. I agree whinging about it isn't exactly productive, but grumble grumble.


jacob
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Post by jacob » Sat May 18, 2013 8:56 pm

It doesn't have to be ass kissing. I see it as more of way to make the informational market efficient. Learning about who needs what? Who knows what? Who knows who?
That market still relies on a barter-like person to person exchange so it's tremendously inefficient. Those who create connections are increasing efficiency. They're creating interdisciplinary/inter-people value by making such connections. Since this guy (one of my best friends) knows everybody and I know him and he knows what I know, we can more easily solve problems---the kind of problems that he might know someone has and which I know just the solution for.
I see three stages to this

1) Creating the connections actively, like he does.

2) Allowing the connection passively, like I do with the blog and other places where I'm "getting out there".

3) Sitting at home waiting for people to knock on your door.
If I had to make up numbers, I'd say that 0.1% are doing (1), 1% are doing (2), and 99% are doing (3).


Felix
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Post by Felix » Sat May 18, 2013 9:49 pm

I still think some political action is in order here. As Chad has said, the situation was much different in the 70s.
If we expect to live on the mercy of sociopaths, we are indeed screwed.
ERE is a way out because you become less dependent on the system and benefit from it by joining the psychopaths in terms of capital income. I just can't help but worry about the big picture development.
In Animal Farm, the pigs sell Boxer to the glue factory in the end.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Sat May 18, 2013 9:53 pm

"Learning about who needs what? Who knows what? Who knows who?"
Again, there's a difference between who needs what and who knows what and who thinks who needs/knows what. There's often a difference between what large institutions think they need or their people know and the truth. Hence so many ineffecient, counter-productive middle managers (or incompetent professors).
A better solution would be to create systems where it doesn't matter so much who knows who and it just matters what you can do. The Internet is a great tool for this.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Sun May 19, 2013 1:02 am

Jacob--one more question.
You seem to acknowledge that the upper echelons of private enterprises consist of sociopaths whose self-interest often (if not always) is at odds with the goals of the organization, thus leading to the eventual collapse of the company, as per the Ribbonfarm theory.
At the same time, you seem to think that income and wealth come to those who work hard to get it--as opposed to people who work hard at gaming the system. This seems to be an irreconcilable contradiction to me. Can you explain?


jacob
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Post by jacob » Sun May 19, 2013 1:14 am

Side-effects and unintended consequences.
Overall the impact of Sociopaths (entrepreneurial drivers) is good because they make things happen. We can do without the pure gamers (which also belong to be Sociopath club), but the problem is that in the short run they're hard to tell apart from the drivers.
In short, I think drivers need to be rewarded because otherwise Losers would never have any jobs, any production really, at all (since by definition Losers don't create their own, rather they wait for someone to give them the jobs they demand). In order to make driver-effort rewarding, I'm willing to unintentionally reward the gamers (parasites) as well.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth » Sun May 19, 2013 1:34 am

I can agree with the idea that messy forward motion is better than stasis, but that seems at odds with the more ecological aspects of ERE.
"In order to make driver-effort rewarding, I'm willing to unintentionally reward the gamers (parasites) as well."
This is comparable to why I support a generous social safety net. I'm happy to reward the parasites if it means giving poor children a chance to escape poverty.


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