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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Forbes on falling wages

I always enjoy it when various anklebiters try to Beli-check me by attacking an economics post. Because I don't make these things up, it's always easy to cite others who are saying the same thing. In this case, Forbes is pointing out that real falling American wages are actually worse than they appear in dollar terms.
Today’s minimum wage employee works 12 percent longer to earn a gallon of milk compared to 1965, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today’s senior engineer works almost twice as long to buy a gallon of gasoline, according to the Department of Energy.

So, in real terms, wages have fallen. The drop is larger than it appears. Look at costs to see why.

Dairy farm statistics show that a cow produces two and a half times the milk compared to yesteryear’s cow and the Department of Commerce reports that labor per cow has fallen by two thirds. These two improvements alone—there are others—eliminate about 87 percent of the effort to make milk.

Efficiency is not the only way for companies to reduce costs. Businesses also remove certain features that consumers don’t want to pay for. For example, milk used to be delivered to a home in a glass bottle. Today it comes in cheap plastic containers that consumers pick up at the store. A more recent example is wine, which is moving from expensive corks to cheaper screw tops.

Yet as fewer labor hours go into producing goods, workers work longer to buy the goods. Using the hour as a measure of costs, we can calculate how much more work a wage earner must produce to buy milk today. But it’s harder to measure the reduction of work that goes into production. We know that it’s less by empirical evidence, but we only get a sense of it.

By switching to gold, we can measure both wages and prices on an absolute scale—in ounces—and we can make precise comparisons. To convert the price of anything to gold, just divide the price by the current gold price. For example, in 2011 if a big-screen TV was $785, then divide that by the gold price of that year; the television set cost half an ounce of gold.

The bottom line is that, in terms of gold, wages have fallen by about 87 percent. To get a stronger sense of what that means, consider that back in 1965, the minimum wage was 71 ounces of gold per year. In 2011, the senior engineer earned the equivalent of 63 ounces in gold. So, measured in gold, we see that senior engineers now earn less than what unskilled laborers earned back in 1965.

That’s right: today’s highly skilled professional is making less in real, comparative terms than yesterday’s unskilled worker.
Now, this is not entirely the result of women entering the labor force en masse. But that is one of the primary contributing factors.  One of these days, I'll go through the issue and rank those factors.  But my guess is that it is probably number three, after increasingly free trade and the consequences of government fiscal and regulatory policies.

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124 Comments:

Blogger rycamor October 12, 2013 3:18 PM  

Yes, not only are we working harder to earn these fundamental goods, but the goods themselves are nowhere near as good as they used to be. Milk is the perfect example. Born in '65, I still have vague memories of the fresh milk (sans hormones and other modern weirdness) that was delivered to your door in glass containers. Those who have never tasted it have no idea how much better it tastes. Now you get it several days old, and the plastic containers (and plastic-lined cardboard containers) completely alter the taste, not to mention releasing more gender-bending hormones. Try to buy fresh milk from grass-fed cows in glass containers today and you will spend $10/gallon minimum.

When you think about the incredible scale of the efficiency advances we have created over the past 50 years, one would think that--all things being equal--we should be working much less, rather than so much more.

Anonymous The other skeptic October 12, 2013 3:23 PM  

Perhaps this is so that TPTB can ensure that we have less leisure time during which to come up with effective measures to overthrow them?

Anonymous Orville October 12, 2013 3:27 PM  

I love how the Forbes article rightly uses gold as a nearly absolute measure of wealth, but you won't find them extending that thought back to 1913 and the creation of a reserve bank. On the other hand maybe reality is starting to leak in to the mainstream mindset.

Anonymous Godfrey October 12, 2013 3:30 PM  

The people really need deflation. But that would hurt the wealthy financial banking elite. Thus reason it won't be allowed. Better millions suffer and are forced into poverty than one banker lose his high-end Mercedes.

Anonymous ben October 12, 2013 3:37 PM  

I'm not feeling the Forbes article. Why don't they compare the price of a smart phone back when milk was so cheap with the price of a smart phone now? Oh, right...

Among the problems with the Forbes article is that comparisons of economies of yore with the current economy are nearly meaningless. Sure, a gallon of milk costs more, but our poor people aren't remotely poor by the standards of old. Our poorest in the USA live better than kings if you go back far enough.

So, yeah, milk seems to cost more, but now I can bitch about it on my iProduct on the internet while I'm zooming across the country on a jet plane to Disney World. The superficial analysis presented here fails to persuade.

That said, women entering the work force certainly have an effect, but it is coupled with myriad other things that probably move the economy. You're dead on when you cite government regulation/bureaucracy as number 1.

Anonymous lozozlo October 12, 2013 3:38 PM  

Yet with all these falling wages the tradcons tell us that we need to 'man-up' and support a large family.

Not going to happen in this day and age...most people working hard enough to live (a middle class lifestyle at least) will nowadays be working so hard that they won't have the time and energy to be with the family that they are working so hard to support.

Most families that I know today spend a few minutes of 'quality time' with their children in between their enormous workweeks.

Of course a partial amelioration would come from accepting a standard of living below the middle class lifestyle that advertisers and social expectations have placed upon us.

I suspect that frugal, working-class level living is the price of freedom from economic/corporate slavery in the upcoming years.

Anonymous lozozlo October 12, 2013 3:39 PM  

After all, Arbeit Macht Sie Frei

Anonymous ben October 12, 2013 3:39 PM  

In addition, the price of gold as a measure of the comparative value of milk or whatever back when with the value of milk now is not very compelling. The price of gold has always been an enigma to me. What value has gold besides in electronics, as jewelry, or as a barbaric relic as a means of trade?

Anonymous TJ October 12, 2013 3:41 PM  

I recall the Fed used to be concerned with productivity improvements ... my impression was if productivity increased then they could hide the dollars dilution ... hiding their theft.

Anonymous lozozlo October 12, 2013 3:41 PM  

When you think about the incredible scale of the efficiency advances we have created over the past 50 years, one would think that--all things being equal--we should be working much less, rather than so much more.

True...I wonder what would happen if the average person understood just how much they have been exploited and taken advantage of in the past 50 years...or just how much wealth, and more importantly, time with their families and time for leisure that they have been robbed of...

Anonymous The other skeptic October 12, 2013 3:48 PM  

Labour laws, in the end, are a reflection of society’s values.

Ha ha ha, ho ho ho, oh shit, when I can stop laughing and rolling around on the floor I might be able to respond.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 12, 2013 4:08 PM  

Gold equivalency is a horrible measure of wages. Are your wages worth a quarter of what they were in 2004 when gold was 25% of what it is today?

Anonymous Josh October 12, 2013 4:38 PM  

Gold equivalency is a horrible measure of wages

Why?

Do you have a better measure?

Anonymous Samuel Scott October 12, 2013 4:40 PM  

rycamor October 12, 2013 3:18 PM

When you think about the incredible scale of the efficiency advances we have created over the past 50 years, one would think that--all things being equal--we should be working much less, rather than so much more.


If only. But that was never going to happen.

Say it took me eight hours to do X twenty years ago. Now, it takes me one hour to do X. If my company would have me work one hour a day for the same level of productivity, it would lose out to companies that make employees do 8X at eight hours per day for 8X the productivity.

It all scales, in the end.

Blogger RobertT October 12, 2013 4:47 PM  

Not only that, but Business Daily pointed out today that the reported increase in corporate earnings isn't total earnings, which are down, but EPS, earnings per share, and that's only because companies have been buying up their own shares. That decreases the denominator making it appear like earnings are up when they are in fact down.

Anonymous nick digger October 12, 2013 4:58 PM  

other skeptic: Perhaps this is so that TPTB can ensure that we have less leisure time during which to come up with effective measures to overthrow them?

Unemployment gives lots of leisure time.

Anonymous David October 12, 2013 5:04 PM  

In addition, the price of gold as a measure of the comparative value of milk or whatever back when with the value of milk now is not very compelling. The price of gold has always been an enigma to me. What value has gold besides in electronics, as jewelry, or as a barbaric relic as a means of trade?

These days, the elites who call it a barbaric relic do so in public, while quietly buying up as much as possible. The problem Forbes is ultimately describing is that our money supply is not stable. Gold has been, over the last few thousand years, a remarkably stable money. It isn't, of course perfect, and these days it oscillates based on society's trust in government.

@rycamor Totally with you, I won't drink milk unless it is from grass fed organic cows. Processed food is a modern day disaster.

Anonymous Samuel Scott October 12, 2013 5:13 PM  

The other skeptic October 12, 2013 3:48 PM

Labour laws, in the end, are a reflection of society’s values.

Ha ha ha, ho ho ho, oh shit, when I can stop laughing and rolling around on the floor I might be able to respond.


In a republic, all laws, in the end, are reflections of what the people want (to various degrees). "The people get the government that they deserve." For better or for worse.

Society didn't want children working in dangerous factories. Society didn't want children working before the age of 15 (since they should be in school). Society didn't want people working six days a week, twelve hours a day when everyone needs time for family and leisure. And so on.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 12, 2013 5:14 PM  

Gold equivalency is a horrible measure of wages

Why?


It would be clear if you read my second sentence.

Blogger RobertT October 12, 2013 5:16 PM  

What I am starting to think will happen is both a boom for a few businesses and a bust for most of the others. A few, like Amazon will thrive and those without a top flite infrastructure in place to compete at that level will falter or be swamped. And since many companies are hesitant to make that investment, the future doesn't look good for them. I am beginning to communicate that to my clients.

I have come to the conclusion that the future will favor highly intelligent critical thinkers (who don't grow on trees, bu the way) and will under value knowledgeable highly educated people because the internet is making knowledge is less valuable.

For example, I have clients who started planning for gifts to their children of about $12 million about 15 months ago to escape gift and estate tax before the exclusion jumped at the end of 2012. The best estate attorneys were called in. When I finally got the details about a month ago I was alarmed that the gift wouldn't qualify as a gift and began to raise a fuss. To make a long story short, all the planning was a bust, eventually costing the heirs upwards of $2 to $3 million dollars, And one of professional staff found a very neat, clean way to accomplish the intended task on the web after two days searching. Who among you would be willing to pay big bucks for those great estate attorneys when better solutions can be found on the web?

Anonymous Harsh October 12, 2013 5:18 PM  

One thing I'm not clear on. Does the purchasing power of gold not change at all over time? If I put my net worth into gold today, would I have the same purchasing power in twenty years?

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 12, 2013 5:19 PM  

Say it took me eight hours to do X twenty years ago. Now, it takes me one hour to do X. If my company would have me work one hour a day for the same level of productivity, it would lose out to companies that make employees do 8X at eight hours per day for 8X the productivity.

This is true. The big benefit to increased productivity is lower prices, not increased leisure time.

The reason this hasn't happened is the government keeps monkeying with the money supply, skimming off the value of increased productivity like a casino taking a bit from every pot at the poker table.

Anonymous Josh October 12, 2013 5:21 PM  

One thing I'm not clear on. Does the purchasing power of gold not change at all over time? If I put my net worth into gold today, would I have the same purchasing power in twenty years?

Generally, the same amount of gold will always purchase the same amount of goods and services.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 12, 2013 5:22 PM  

One thing I'm not clear on. Does the purchasing power of gold not change at all over time? If I put my net worth into gold today, would I have the same purchasing power in twenty years?

No, you would not. It might be more or less, but the dollar is no more based on gold than it is on the price of pork bellies.

Blogger RobertT October 12, 2013 5:28 PM  

actually the exclusion dropped, mistated

Anonymous Josh October 12, 2013 5:30 PM  

Are your wages worth a quarter of what they were in 2004 when gold was 25% of what it is today?

When priced in gold, yes. Can they buy the same amount of goods and services today as they could in 2004?

Blogger James Dixon October 12, 2013 5:31 PM  

> So, yeah, milk seems to cost more, but now I can bitch about it on my iProduct on the internet while I'm zooming across the country on a jet plane to Disney World. The superficial analysis presented here fails to persuade.

And which of these three things do you need to live?

> In addition, the price of gold as a measure of the comparative value of milk or whatever back when with the value of milk now is not very compelling. The price of gold has always been an enigma to me. What value has gold besides in electronics, as jewelry, or as a barbaric relic as a means of trade?

We had this discussion not too long ago. I did the math for someone. From memory the wages in the early 18th century measured in silver worked out to be about $20K/year in today's dollars. Gold and silver have fluctuated widely over short periods, but have been extreme stable measures of value over the long term.

Blogger James Dixon October 12, 2013 5:35 PM  

> One thing I'm not clear on. Does the purchasing power of gold not change at all over time?

See my comment above and do the math yourself if you want. The answer is that it can for a while, but it doesn't tend to long term.

Anonymous Anonymous October 12, 2013 6:14 PM  

> One thing I'm not clear on. Does the purchasing power of gold not change at all over time? If I put my net worth into gold today, would I have the same purchasing power in twenty years?

Can't find the cite now, but a couple of years ago I read an article noting that the oldest receipt in existence is a roughly 5000 year old Sumerian tablet noting that 7/12 of an ounce of gold was paid for a yearling ox.

7/12 of an ounce of gold is pretty near on what a yearling ox costs you today.

Anonymous DT October 12, 2013 6:37 PM  

That’s right: today’s highly skilled professional is making less in real, comparative terms than yesterday’s unskilled worker.

I could have told you that. Looking back on my career and earnings over the past decade I don't know why I bothered studying hard in high school or college. My father had far more at my age then I'll ever have. He graduated high school with average grades and went into a trade. I went STEM and quite frankly consider it a mistake.

On the bright side I'm not working at McDonald's while paying off a business degree or some other BS. I support myself, don't have much debt, and have a few "toys" (computers, games, cameras, decent car, etc). But I couldn't form and support a family if my life depended on it. My father worked very hard. But by my age he also supported a wife, two kids, a home, vacations, hobbies, etc.

I have no idea what to tell my younger cousins in terms of career path. Every last female cousin and friend is going into nursing which tells me that field will be swamped soon. I don't know what a reliable career choice is any more.

Anonymous scoobius dubious October 12, 2013 7:12 PM  

Not-an-economist/anti-economist here. Not that it's my specialty (by design), but a thought or two...

I'm tempted to blame the wage downturn on immigration, and I'm sure that's a serious element in the big picture, as well as the machinations of evil multi-nationals that have no allegiance to America and no interest in the well-being of her people (much like the FedGov), but still...

From a simple game-theory perspective, wouldn't it be at least somewhat accurate to say that the wages of 1965 were artificially high because American labor was still in the post-war Golden Age when all their competitors were still struggling out of the rubble of being blasted to smithereens by the war? And China and India had not yet come to their senses? So that a certain amount of the wage decline can be ascribed to an equilibrium being reached by traditional competitors returning to their traditional spots? That doesn't account for everything of course (Japan and Germany seem to have navigated this issue better than we have) but it feels like it does need to be accounted for.

Now I'm going to just sit back and wait for my retarded personal VP internet stalker to show up and start making infantile shit jokes and piss-poor arguments with cherry-picked facts, all the while hurling unfunny and unoriginal insults. Cool beans.

Anonymous kh123 October 12, 2013 7:19 PM  

Scoobius;

No expert here either, but I'd figure free trade covers the latter part you brought up, the emerging-China-&-India bit.

Blogger James Dixon October 12, 2013 7:23 PM  

> From a simple game-theory perspective, wouldn't it be at least somewhat accurate to say that the wages of 1965 were artificially high ...

I'd say that's probably accurate, Scoobius. But a 10 fold drop does seem a little excessive even given that. Of course, it's always possible that gold is currently in a severely overvalued state too, making the comparison worse than it might be. I don't buy that, but I'll admit the possibility.

Anonymous Anonymous October 12, 2013 7:24 PM  

VD wrote: **Now, this is not entirely the result of women entering the labor force en masse. But that is one of the primary contributing factors.**

Can you show that the cost of milk has NOT gone up in in Fundamentalist Islamic countries that do not have large oil reserves?

Anonymous Noah B. October 12, 2013 7:25 PM  

The price of gold in 1965 was also artificially low as a result of FDR's ban on the ownership of the metal and did not reflect a free market price. From 1965 to 1980 -- and I'm going from memory here -- the price went from somewhere in the neighborhood of $40/oz until it finally peaked at over $800/oz. Even if we ignore the peak around 1980, the gold price easily increased tenfold over that 15 year period. I'm not disagreeing that wages have dropped in real terms, though.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 12, 2013 7:26 PM  

When priced in gold, yes. Can they buy the same amount of goods and services today as they could in 2004?

For gold to be an accurate measure of constant buying power we would have had to have had 400% inflation since 2004, which we clearly have not.

Like I said, gold equivalency is a horrible measure of wages. I'm not one of those people who thinks gold doesn't have any value just because 90% goes straight from the ground into a vault somewhere, but the price of gold is far to volatile to provide any meaningful insight into the value of labor.

Anonymous Noah B. October 12, 2013 7:27 PM  

"No expert here either, but I'd figure free trade covers the latter part you brought up, the emerging-China-&-India bit."

I would put most of the blame for wage reductions on free trade, too.

Anonymous Anonymous October 12, 2013 7:39 PM  

You've also ignored the opposite side of the equation, Vox. Which is that even IF, as you claim, women are not as capable as men in a large variety of tasks, such as being electrical engineers, their entry into the workplace to do lesser tasks arguably ought to lower the price of a lot of goods and services. Why? Because if women are doing these minor tasks, then men are freed up to do more important things.

For instance, take the case of a world class brain surgeon who has to spend 2 hours a day typing up his patient records. If a woman can do the typing, but not the brain surgery, he now has more time to spend on brain surgery. So the price of brain surgery ought to go down. Which is NOT what we have seen, btw, the opposite has occurred.

I might point out that your stance is contradictory in a Free Market, Vox. If the surplus of labor, caused by women entering the workforce, has caused wages to decline, then the price of goods ought to go DOWN, partly because the manufacturer does not have to pay so much for wages (thereby decreasing his costs), partly because since wages are down, most people can't afford to pay as much.

If wages are down, and prices are up, that is not consistent with a mere 'surplus of labor'. It's consistent with someone (say, white male politicians) somehow interfering with a free market for their own benefit.

Anonymous VD October 12, 2013 7:46 PM  

Shut up, Ann. Man talk.

Blogger James Dixon October 12, 2013 8:05 PM  

OK, for those interested, I'll try to repeat the calculations on the 18th to 21st century wages in gold comparison.

The following pages have wage information for England in the 18th century:

http://www.pascalbonenfant.com/18c/wages.html
http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/Coinage.jsp#wages

They seem to roughly agree that an annual wage of about 20 lb. silver was what an unskilled laborer could expect to earn. You need one more bit of information to convert that to gold, and that's the gold to silver ration of the time. This page:

http://goldnews.bullionvault.com/gold-silver-ratio-021220127

Indicates that the Royal mint set that ratio to 15.5 in the early 18th century. With that information, you can calculate the payment rate in gold and then convert to today's dollars.

20 pounds of silver would be 240 ounces (silver is measured in troy ounces of 12 ounces/pound). With an exchange ratio of 15.5/1, that would be 15.48 ounces of gold. At the current value of ~$1270/ounce for gold, that would give you an annual wage of $19.664, I'd say that a wage of about $10/hour ($20,800/year) for unskilled labor is a fair estimate currently, but I'll let you all decide that for yourselves.

I hope this answers everyone's questions about the relative value of gold over that time frame. As I noted at the time, I didn't actually expect it to be that close.

Blogger James Dixon October 12, 2013 8:10 PM  

> The price of gold in 1965 was also artificially low as a result of FDR's ban on the ownership of the metal and did not reflect a free market price.

Excellent point. I have no idea what a fair market price for gold in 1965 would have been, but the one given probably isn't it.

> Like I said, gold equivalency is a horrible measure of wages.

You can say that all you like. It doesn't make it true.

> ...but the price of gold is far to volatile to provide any meaningful insight into the value of labor.

Short term, yes. Long term, no.

Anonymous DLT October 12, 2013 8:45 PM  

Can anything actually be assessed of value with the quantitative easing of $85,000,000,000.00 a month? We will flog the rich with money until they can no longer stand it. (Did not Rome coat lead with Gold?)

Anonymous Anonymous October 12, 2013 9:04 PM  

VD wrote: **Shut up, Ann. Man talk.**

So, that's basically your infantile response when a woman disagrees with you, presents a reason for disagreeing with you that you can't find good evidence for disproving? You just tell her to 'shut up'?

Anonymous Mr. Stubby October 12, 2013 9:08 PM  

Put it another way. My father was making just over the average machinist wage in 1967. My father paid for his house, gave us birthdays, Thanks Giving, and Christmas every year. Took care of our teeth and medical. Mom would go shopping every two weeks and bring home two grocery carts of food and other necessities. Mom stayed home.

You couldn't survive on my dads 1967 wage today. You might be able to live in a ghetto today on twice that wage he made in 1967 and live like a rat.

Before I got laid off my last job. I was making 25 hr flag-time averaging 40 to 55 hrs a week and it was just okay. Today, I am making only 19 hr flag time and I haven't seen 40 hrs since I started my new job.

Anonymous The other skeptic October 12, 2013 9:11 PM  

It's amusing that every time Ann Morgan opens his/her mouth, he/she proves how stupid he/she is.

Ann Morgan, is your name really Tad?

Anonymous Mr. Stubby October 12, 2013 9:19 PM  

I want to add, that my father was able to take time with his family from the time I was born in 59, when I noticed that by the early 70's, my father had to work harder and spend less time with his family just to keep up with everything else.

Anonymous Harsh October 12, 2013 9:29 PM  

See my comment above and do the math yourself if you want. The answer is that it can for a while, but it doesn't tend to long term.

Thanks, James. That does clear things up a bit. And thanks to the others who chimed in.

Anonymous Harsh October 12, 2013 9:33 PM  

So, that's basically your infantile response when a woman disagrees with you, presents a reason for disagreeing with you that you can't find good evidence for disproving? You just tell her to 'shut up'?

In VD's defense, you never have anything particularly interesting or insightful to say. Whether or not that has anything to do with you being a woman I cannot say, but I imagine VD gets as tired of reading your logorrhea as the rest of us do and simply tries to nip it in the bud with a scathing comment. But that's just my two cents.

Anonymous Josh October 12, 2013 9:37 PM  

I might point out that your stance is contradictory in a Free Market, Vox. If the surplus of labor, caused by women entering the workforce, has caused wages to decline, then the price of goods ought to go DOWN, partly because the manufacturer does not have to pay so much for wages (thereby decreasing his costs), partly because since wages are down, most people can't afford to pay as much.

Real wages, not nominal wages.

Are you aware of the difference?

Anonymous Mr. Stubby October 12, 2013 9:38 PM  

Mom and Dad: 1967

http://williamandmarilyncope.wordpress.com/

Anonymous Dc October 12, 2013 9:55 PM  

"It's always easy to cite others who are saying the same thing."

And even then there is still all this denial around here.

Anonymous CLK October 12, 2013 10:09 PM  

VD says "Now, this is not entirely the result of women entering the labor force en masse. But that is one of the primary contributing factors. One of these days, I'll go through the issue and rank those factors. But my guess is that it is probably number three, after increasingly free trade and the consequences of government fiscal and regulatory policies"

... the engineer in the US is competing against the engineer in India or China working for 1/3rd the wages which is far more significant than an female engineer working in the US for 95% of what the males make.

Anonymous The other skeptic October 12, 2013 10:23 PM  

Someone else predicting a second great recession.

Anonymous CLK October 12, 2013 10:24 PM  

"If the surplus of labor, caused by women entering the workforce, has caused wages to decline, then the price of goods ought to go DOWN, partly because the manufacturer does not have to pay so much for wages (thereby decreasing his costs)"

The problem with all these sorts of economic theories is a belief that economies and human behaviors are the same a physics laws --- its not a balanced equation -- if it cost less to make then the cost of the product goes down only happens in econ 101 class -- in reality when it cost less to make the businessman just makes more profit -- never charge less than what the market will bear, never leave any money on the table is the creed of the capitalist.

Anonymous The other skeptic October 12, 2013 10:45 PM  

... the engineer in the US is competing against the engineer in India or China working for 1/3rd the wages which is far more significant than an female engineer working in the US for 95% of what the males make.

I have first-hand experience with some of those engineers in India and China.

You have to keep an eye on their output or you will find that the quality is not what you expect.

So, if they cost you as much as one third of what a local costs you, then by the time you add all the overheads you are probably not saving anything. They also tend to be slower than having someone local do the job and you usually cannot be used in customer-facing roles, because they have non-existent or poor English and customer interfacing skills.

Blogger rycamor October 12, 2013 10:56 PM  

Eric October 12, 2013 5:19 PM

Say it took me eight hours to do X twenty years ago. Now, it takes me one hour to do X. If my company would have me work one hour a day for the same level of productivity, it would lose out to companies that make employees do 8X at eight hours per day for 8X the productivity.

This is true. The big benefit to increased productivity is lower prices, not increased leisure time.

The reason this hasn't happened is the government keeps monkeying with the money supply, skimming off the value of increased productivity like a casino taking a bit from every pot at the poker table.


There's far more to it than that. What Samuel Scott missed is that people are working far fewer *productive* hours, averaged across the population. For one thing, we now have a significant percentage of the population on the government dole. We have a huge percentage of non-productive jobs today compared to 1965 (due in part to our regulation-heavy culture and feminization), and as of sometime this past decade (as I recall), government became the single biggest segment of the labor market, surpassing manufacturing, and in fact accounting for something like 30% of all jobs (federal, state and local). In 1965 government probably didn't account for 5% of all jobs.

But on top of that, the concept of efficient markets by competition has been completely destroyed among the companies supplying our classic staple needs. In a truly competitive market, if a company comes up with a new development that allows them to lower costs of production, they will inevitably move to undercut the competitors to pre-empt the competitor's next inevitable advance. If a company lowers quality in order to make more money, again they will have to lower prices or they will lose sales.

How do companies get around this? Traditionally they form a cartel of all the major players, so they can fix prices. That's not easy to do, and in an open market a cartel still allows smaller companies a chance to get a foot in the door. Also, there's always a member of the cartel eyeing its chances to suddenly undercut everyone and gain a larger percentage of the market. The easier way to do it is make a de facto cartel just by getting a few of the larger players to come together long enough to buy off the politicians. Once the politicians line up at the trough, they cartel begins working with them to create a labrynthine structure of regulations, industry standards, government grants, and policies which all ostensibly to protect the public but actually result in freezing out any small players who can create a competitive advantage. Meanwhile, the larger players are now free to exploit their economies of scale, advances in efficiency or declining quality with naught but a small slap on the wrist now and then. This is why Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland became such hugely profitable companies.

Also these large companies are the only ones able to exploit the Federal Reserve's Ponzi scheme, since they are among the first to get their hands on new money before it flows out and debases the currency.

So in a sense, there are two markets in our country. One is the quasi-open market of medium and small businesses, or companies making products that are fairly unregulated, and parts of a very mobile market, such as high-tech, electronics, gadgets, software, entertainment. Computers and electronics is the best example of a market where advances result in real value to the consumer.

But in the "other" market, established old companies rule the day, and they keep everything in status quo, because it means the elite who own and run them can pretty much put things on autopilot and just keep the ball rolling, skimming ever-higher profits and top salaries all the time. Thus, the gap between corporate executive and lowest-paid employee is now astronomical compared to that gap back in 1965.

Anonymous REG October 12, 2013 11:01 PM  

One can reasonably measure that real wages compared to gold have fallen. Like Vox said, It is not just that women entered the workplace. It's not how much a woman can do compared to a man physically. Its the numbers in the work place. Supply vs Demand. If you need ten K employees and you have ten K men, ten K women and ten K illegals applying for the available jobs. Wages go down. When the women managed the home, the borders were secure, jobs and labor balanced closer in supply and demand, therefore labor could demand a higher wage. Factor in, constant money printing, borrowing, jobs programs, housing programs, oil pricing, technological advances poor education, worthless degrees and as Vox has stated before, there is no such thing as a free market. All anyone can say is that "Yep, things ain't getting better."

Anonymous The other skeptic October 12, 2013 11:18 PM  

Speaking of the Government Dole, EBT Cards stopped working today.

If you want to cause trouble, figure out how to crash that network. People don't like it when they can't get their food stamps.

Blogger rycamor October 12, 2013 11:18 PM  

Just take this example of our declining buying power: when I was a kid my father had a decent job as a research chemist. This put him somewhere near the upper end of the middle class, but definitely not in the upper-middle class. He had no inherited money to help him along. He was able to perform his work to stellar job reviews and have enough money and time to
a) support a stay-at-home wife and 3 toddlers
b) buy a house for his family
c) buy several other run-down houses and renovate them for resale, doing all the work himself
d) buy a small apartment building to renovate and rent out rooms.
e) go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays
f) take his family on an extended road vacation every summer, such as spending 2 weeks on the lake in Canada, or driving throughout the Old West, visiting all the major sights like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc...

Tell me, who here can do all that on a $75,000/yr job now, or even a $125,000 one? Your work is your life once your salary gets past 70K, and you still don't get that much buying power out of it.

Anonymous Anonymous October 12, 2013 11:33 PM  

Here's a question: How many people in the workforce, male or female, are now doing jobs (compared to the number that did such jobs in the 1950's) that actually have a *negative* value, in that the existence of their jobs is not only parasitical, but makes all production harder and more expensive. For instance, lawyers, bureaucrats who enforce safety and affirmative action regulations, etc.

Anonymous Anonymous October 12, 2013 11:37 PM  

CLK wrote: **in reality when it cost less to make the businessman just makes more profit -- never charge less than what the market will bear, never leave any money on the table is the creed of the capitalist.**

Only works in a government enforced monopoly (which is interference in the free market as I mentioned). Otherwise if the cost of manufacturing goes down, competitors will try to undercut eachother's prices.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 12, 2013 11:39 PM  

rcyamor, I think you probably could do that on $75k unless you live in an area where housing is expensive. I'm assuming he used borrowed money for the rentals?

Anonymous Anonymous October 12, 2013 11:42 PM  

Harsh wrote: **In VD's defense, you never have anything particularly interesting or insightful to say. **

I suppose that's true, assuming that your definition of 'insightful' involves having a double standard of proof for what you believe vs what you disagree with, and advocating rape, facial and genital mutilation, infanticide, and genocide.

Blogger rycamor October 13, 2013 12:05 AM  

Eric October 12, 2013 11:39 PM

rcyamor, I think you probably could do that on $75k unless you live in an area where housing is expensive. I'm assuming he used borrowed money for the rentals?


Nah, not with a family to support (and we went to private schools). At least, not in a major city. $75K plus a working wife, maybe. And think about the cost of getting all the tools needed. Also those were not the days of the 3% down purchase. The modest house we lived in would cost at least $150K today, and each of the fixer-upper houses he bought would be at least another $70K, and the apartment building (admittedly in the slums) would still have fetched a good six figures. At the height of the housing boom in 2005 this might have been conceivable just because the banks were throwing loans at anyone with a pulse, but it was obviously not sustainable.

And it's not just the money. Try to work a 40-hour week on any $75K job (government jobs excepted). It just doesn't exist nowadays. And by the way, Dad also had a hobby. He was an amateur geologist who collected enough fossils and geodes to make a showroom in his garage.

I'm saying the sense of a regular hard-working man's life did not have anywhere near the fear and dread everyone feels now. You did you job, and life was good, and you could open your horizons a little.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 13, 2013 12:23 AM  

And it's not just the money. Try to work a 40-hour week on any $75K job (government jobs excepted). It just doesn't exist nowadays.

Depends on what you do. I work in a group of programmers, and pretty much everyone makes more than that. If they put in more than six hours a day on average I'll eat my hat.

Also, I just looked up "research chemist" average salary. $50k. Damn, that seems low.

Anonymous Anonymous October 13, 2013 1:19 AM  

My father was in the Marine Corps at the same age I went to college. After the Marine Corps he got a job at a car factory which he was able to work in until he retired. With that one job he was able to afford multiple vehicles, a tractor, 65-acre farm with barn and 2-story house, fund his horse hobby (we had 8 at one point), renovate the house multiple times, support his stay-at-home wife who dabbled in at being a realtor (which helped support us financially some, but not by a lot), support 3 boys, and was able to take us all on vacation, as well as afford the latest toys with tvs, cpus, and game systems for christmas. Contrast that with me at the same age, after I left college I could only get minimum wage work, and in fact I still can only find minimum wage work. If it weren't for my wife having a good job I wouldn't be able to make rent, student loans, and a car payment on my own. If my wife suddenly perished or left me, and my parents weren't around, my loans would go into default (screwing me forever), and chances are I'd end up on the street. It really is remarkable how adamant my parents were about me getting a college education. It is quite reasonably possible that, instead of providing me with an economic boon to help me be better off than my parents, it will bind me down into lifelong poverty and end the family genetic line.

Anonymous Harsh October 13, 2013 1:20 AM  

I suppose that's true, assuming that your definition of 'insightful' involves having a double standard of proof for what you believe vs what you disagree with, and advocating rape, facial and genital mutilation, infanticide, and genocide.

See, that's what I mean. There's no substance in your comments. You're trying to prove how smart you are and frankly you don't seem particularly intelligent. Sure, maybe you did well in school and scored big on a few tests but you're so obviously begging for affirmation of your supposed brains it's painful to watch. And the fact that I offered a straightforward and honest criticism to which you responded with sarcasm and snark pretty much supports my opinion.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 13, 2013 1:27 AM  

After the Marine Corps he got a job at a car factory which he was able to work in until he retired. With that one job he was able to afford...

A UAW job was like hitting the jackpot for a blue collar guy until the mid '80s. I wouldn't extrapolate too much from your dad's experience except to say he was really, really lucky. The analogous place today is a government sinecure. Iron-clad job security and good pay with as much or as little effort as your conscience will allow.

Anonymous Anonymous October 13, 2013 1:30 AM  

Harsh wrote: **There's no substance in your comments. You're trying to prove how smart you are and frankly you don't seem particularly intelligent.**

So by your standards, offering actual comments regarding the economy is shallow and stupid, whereas telling the person who made the comments to 'shut up', rather than actually disproving them, is insightful and intelligent.

Anonymous Anonymous October 13, 2013 1:35 AM  

Another thing, Harsh, is the distinct possibility that a lot of women have entered the workforce as a reaction to lower wages and higher prices, rather than as the cause of it.

Anonymous Anonymous October 13, 2013 1:42 AM  

Here's where all your money is going. In terms of inflation adjusted Dollars, the government is spending 7 times as much now, as it was in 1960:

http://www.supportingevidence.com/Government/fed_budget_over_time.html

Anonymous Josh October 13, 2013 1:48 AM  

Another thing, Harsh, is the distinct possibility that a lot of women have entered the workforce as a reaction to lower wages and higher prices, rather than as the cause of it.

You're going to have to explain the logic behind this. Why would lower wages cause women to join the workforce?

Anonymous Anonymous October 13, 2013 1:49 AM  

Harsh wrote: **And the fact that I offered a straightforward and honest criticism to which you responded with sarcasm and snark pretty much supports my opinion.**

Hmm, sort of like my offering actual comments about the economy, and VD responding with :"Shut up, Man Talk"?

Which I'd say supports my contention of 'double standard', that you criticize me for the exact same behavior that Vox gets a pass for.

Anonymous Anonymous October 13, 2013 1:57 AM  

Josh: **You're going to have to explain the logic behind this. Why would lower wages cause women to join the workforce?**

Because, if one income in the family is not enough to put food on the table and pay rent on the apartment, then you need more than one income in the family.

Blogger rycamor October 13, 2013 2:00 AM  

Eric October 13, 2013 1:27 AM

After the Marine Corps he got a job at a car factory which he was able to work in until he retired. With that one job he was able to afford...

A UAW job was like hitting the jackpot for a blue collar guy until the mid '80s. I wouldn't extrapolate too much from your dad's experience except to say he was really, really lucky. The analogous place today is a government sinecure. Iron-clad job security and good pay with as much or as little effort as your conscience will allow.


And certain programming jobs are like that nowadays. You can take two guy of equal capability, and one of them is stressed-out, working 70 hours a week plus the occasional all-nighter, and gets almost nothing but scorn from management, while the few programmers who get in with the right company end up with a low-stress job where they can breathe easy and focus on their one forte. I've seen both. Ironically, the hardest work I have had to do usually ended up being the lowest paying. This is life for most developers.

Listen, Eric. You're really grasping to defend your point, and why exactly? Were you born in the 60s? Have you had any good conversations with people who lived their prime years in the 60s? It really was different. I can tell you countless stories of people from my parents' generation who worked purely regular jobs, like painting houses or teaching high-school chemistry and who bought their first house with cash outright (pretty much unheard of these days), and were able to live lives of relative ease compared to what I've seen now. And the reasons for this are quite well enumerated here.

Anonymous Josh October 13, 2013 2:24 AM  

Because, if one income in the family is not enough to put food on the table and pay rent on the apartment, then you need more than one income in the family.

If that were the case, than real wages would have declined beforemassive influx of women into the workforce.

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 4:17 AM  

So, that's basically your infantile response when a woman disagrees with you, presents a reason for disagreeing with you that you can't find good evidence for disproving? You just tell her to 'shut up'?

No, that's my response to you. You've repeatedly proven you're an idiot with nothing to offer the conversation. I note that you clearly don't even understand what "shut up" means.

Now, shut up, Ann. Man talk.

Blogger Tom Kratman October 13, 2013 5:36 AM  

Ya know, I don't think Forbes is being entirely intellectually honest here. That 71 ounces of gold, in 1965, cost 2556 or so. Adjust for inflation and it's about $19k in current dollars. So, yes, the gold equivalent certainly makes it look like the engineer is very badly payed today. But the engineer's 63 ounces today, about $80k, is substantially higher. As a stat, it tends to show that gold has risen above inflation, but not that engineers actually make less in purchasing power now than unskilled peons did in 1965.

I've actually got a certain amount of intellectual turmoil over this. Instinctively, I am inclined toward a gold standard or something, at least, that is a little more solid than fiat currency. Unfortunately, I can't any longer believe that there's anything not subject to short and medium political or financial market manipulation, so why bother? We live in an age of institutionalized fraud and we should expect to see fraud in just about everything.

Anonymous Stilicho October 13, 2013 5:39 AM  

but the price of gold is far to volatile to provide any meaningful insight into the value of labor.

No, the price of the Dollar is too volatile to provide any meaningful insight into the value of labor.

Anonymous Stilicho October 13, 2013 5:45 AM  

As a stat, it tends to show that gold has risen above inflation, but not that engineers actually make less in purchasing power now than unskilled peons did in 1965.

If and only if your inflation metric is lower than the increase in in gold as measured in Dollars. Which brings us to the second part of your commentary:

Unfortunately, I can't any longer believe that there's anything not subject to short and medium political or financial market manipulation, so why bother? We live in an age of institutionalized fraud and we should expect to see fraud in just about everything.

Indeed. Now ask yourself, what's easier to manipulate, a government controlled and produced metric like CPI (which they even admit to changing periodically to show less inflation) or gold? Not that both are not subject to manipulation, it's just that one is more difficult to game. Never make it easy for the bastards.

Blogger Tom Kratman October 13, 2013 5:52 AM  

Not sure it makes any difference, really.

I don't know what an engineer made in 1965. But having run the (admittedly suspicious) numbers, gold's gone from 36 bucks to (today) 1271 bucks an ounce (those aren't suspicious), or by a factor of about 35, while inflation has been (again, allegedly) about 7.3 or 7.4x.

Blogger Tom Kratman October 13, 2013 6:05 AM  

By the way, it might well be that, absent price fixing, gold would have had the same value in 1965, inflation adjusted, of course, as in 2013. However, if so, that too would mock Forbes position because then the true, unfixed amount of gold an unskilled laborer's wages from 1965 would have bought would have been a small fraction of the 71 ounces claimed.

Anonymous Stilicho October 13, 2013 6:54 AM  

By the way, it might well be that, absent price fixing, gold would have had the same value in 1965, inflation adjusted, of course, as in 2013

In 1965, the Dollar was still defined by gold (leaving aside for the moment the fraud by the U.S. that led to the end of Bretton Woods). You call this price fixing and it is if your reference point is the Dollar rather than the metric that defined the Dollar (gold).

Gold is not perfect, but it is the best, least manipulable money mankind has ever come up with. Especially where it is actually used as money and not by proxy through various money substitutes where a piece of paper claims to represent a certain amount of gold (i.e. it's a paper debt/promise to pay), or even worse a Bretton Woods style non-redeemable "backing.". Introduction of substitutes makes various frauds easier. Governments used to kill currency debasers because they hated competition. Anyway, the case for gold is simple, it doesn't make fraud, debasement, monetary inflation et al. impossible, but it does make them more difficult and harder to hide. All of which make it far superior to an unbacked debt money like the ones currently employed around the world.

Blogger Tom Kratman October 13, 2013 7:57 AM  

Those assertions all fail to account for the innate perversity and remarkable innovativeness of Man. The difference is not between "not perfect but... the best" and the inherently awful. That leaves the suggestion that gold comes somewhat close to perfect. It doesn't and it won't, especially not today. If you phrase it more like "well, it sucks too but it's at least a little, a very little, better than what we have for X purpose," I might be able to agree.

I would suggest to you that in a world were the entire global economy is dwarfed by derivatives, gold is a drop in the bucket and cannot have much, if any, of the mitigating power we'd like to ascribe to it.

Anonymous Anonymous October 13, 2013 8:15 AM  

I have first-hand experience with some of those engineers in India and China.

You have to keep an eye on their output or you will find that the quality is not what you expect.


Everything you say about them is true. The programming forums I frequent are littered with them, daily asking for help writing complex programs to do things like analyze genetic data, when it's clear that many would struggle to do a "hello world" program. Companies who hire them may be paying much more in the long run for the same product.

But good luck convincing hiring managers of that. All they can see is the obvious stuff: wages and lines of code. After a while, the hiring managers get replaced with people from those countries too, and then plain old nepotism takes over.

If I knew a young person interested in programming, I'd tell him to focus on something he can do independently from home as a part-time job if necessary, like writing games. But don't expect to go write code for a company. That was one of last generation's middle-class jobs, the way working in a factory or slaughterhouse was a good family-supporting job for the generation before that.

Anonymous Frank Furdek October 13, 2013 9:02 AM  

"When the women managed the home, the borders were secure, jobs and labor balanced closer in supply and demand, therefore labor could demand a higher wage."

COULD being the operative word. Your metrics would appear to best reflect 1860-1890. The average weekly wage for 60 hours a week for a laborer in 1860 was $5.88, in 1870 it was 9.36, in 1880 it was 8.10, and in 9.06 it was 1890.

So, given YOUR own criteria, wages were at best stagnated or at worst depressed. Are you intelligent to figure out why???

Blogger James Dixon October 13, 2013 9:36 AM  

> If you phrase it more like "well, it sucks too but it's at least a little, a very little, better than what we have for X purpose," I might be able to agree.

Well, I'd say quite a bit better, but still far from perfect.

Anonymous Stilicho October 13, 2013 9:45 AM  

I would suggest to you that in a world were the entire global economy is dwarfed by derivatives, gold is a drop in the bucket and cannot have much, if any, of the mitigating power we'd like to ascribe to it.

Different issues. Related but different. Gold is simply honest money. Better than fiat by far. Never implied that it was perfect, merely the best we've come up with in human history. Even under classical gold standard, the Kratman Bank and the First Bank of Stilicho could engage in side bets on interest rates, bond defaults, commodity prices, the ratio of Peyton touchdowns to Eli turnovers, or whatever other derivative gambling we could envision. The derivative problem isn't one of money/currency. It is one of financial institutions putting depositors money at risk in various schemes while relying upon some sort of taxpayer backing or bailout to make good on any losses instead of only gambling their investors' money in such schemes and being allowed to go tits up when such schemes fail. Gold allows people to save outside the banking system and outside of government debasement. One ounce will always be one ounce even if it takes more coins due to debasement. Gold, like dollars pays no interest, but that is not its purpose. If interest is desired, gold, again like dollars, can be loaned (bonds, bank deposits, etc.). Again, it's not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. It is a tool and can be used for good or ill, but it is a tool that is not exclusively controlled by the banks and government which is why those interests try to suppress its use.

Anonymous Stilicho October 13, 2013 9:56 AM  

Tom, some links for you re: inflation metrics:
CPI
and
m2

Anonymous Harsh October 13, 2013 10:06 AM  

Hmm, sort of like my offering actual comments about the economy, and VD responding with :"Shut up, Man Talk"?

Which I'd say supports my contention of 'double standard', that you criticize me for the exact same behavior that Vox gets a pass for.


No, not at all. You simply don't understand why Vox told you to shut up and why I pointed out your comments as being the source of the problem. If you'd stop being defensive for five minutes and think about it, it might make sense.

Anonymous REG October 13, 2013 10:10 AM  

"So, given YOUR own criteria, wages were at best stagnated or at worst depressed. Are you intelligent to figure out why???"

A better question would be- Why does a basic statement of economics quoting the simple equation 'Supply vs Demand' (economics 101) require a detailed analyst of my use of the word 'could' and define a 30 year period of history from the nineteenth century, from a person who has to use three question marks to define a question?

I even went to the trouble to add a few of the mitigating factors that distort the simple equation. Sorry professor, I am not impressed with your critique of my intelligence.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet October 13, 2013 11:48 AM  

I hate those plastic wine corks with a passion.

Recently, a girl told me that companies had switched because of climate change and cork trees being endangered.

I've never looked this up, but I doubt it's true.

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 2:35 PM  

Harsh and VD commenting on Ann seems to be merely because she is a woman...
In fact, of the comments, between Ann's and VD's or Harsh's, the only one of the 3 commenters that had ANY substance at all was Ann's.
VD's and Harsh's were only negative snipes at Ann. Why?
Because she outed herself as a woman?
Aren't we above that?
The "Shut up, Man-talk" and "You are an idiot" really have proven no useful comebacks to Ann's statements.
While Ann's "rapist" retort was uncalled for too, this just seems useless to me.
I was hoping to find intelligent dialogue here. (and found it at Ann's first and multiple comments)
But it is soured by the "Boy's Club" vibe...
I thought that is what the "Alpha Game" blog was for...
As an intelligent human being with an interest in the economics in this country, I had hoped to come to a better discussion string than this...
Isn't this the 21st century?

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 2:39 PM  

Ann's comments are neither substantive nor relevant and if you knew more about economics you would understand why she is being dismissed so completely.

Blogger Bob Loblaw October 13, 2013 2:54 PM  

rycamor,

Americans do not work longer hours than the did in the 60s. See here.

And I'm not grasping to defend my point. Yeah, I was born in the '60s, and I remember people working a hell of a lot harder than you seem to remember. Mothers didn't work in my neighborhood, but the men mowed their own lawns, fixed their own cars, made their own coffee, painted their own houses, and cleared their own clogged drains. Because they couldn't afford to pay someone else to do it. Private school for the tots wasn't even in the realm of possibilities. Mothers used cloth diapers because they couldn't afford disposables. Women kept little books with pockets specifically designed for coupon clipping, and they went through the newspaper every day looking for coupons on the things they needed. Eating at a restaurant was a rare treat and not an everyday thing. About half the couples had only one car. And people weren't neurotic about what to do with their free time because they didn't have any.

Your dad was an outlier. How many people do you think owned that much rental property?

When people drive to Starbucks and complain over a cinnamon latte about a drop in their standard of living it's difficult for me to accept. A $4 cup of coffee (adjusted for constant dollars) would have been a laughable extravagance in my '60s neighborhood.

A single wage family is absolutely doable today, provided you're willing to live the kind of lifestyle normal people lived back when it was normal.

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 3:07 PM  

I know the difference between healthy debate and shutting someone down cold.
Ann brought salient points to the table.
They were her points of view. They may not have been the same as yours. Otherwise, there would BE no comment section...
There would simply be a blog, and maybe someone saying.
"Way to go!" and that would be that.
But Ann brought out her viewpoints. As expected, she was (at first, and with one exception) respectful, in stating her views. Isn't that what you want in your responses to your posts? Or do you want sheep?

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 3:20 PM  

There is nothing to debate there. You are wrong. The points were not salient because they were irrelevant. I don't want sheep, but neither do I want clueless and ignorant comments.

Ann is not new. She never learns anything. So I don't care what she says nor will I until she learns to stop making idiotic objections.

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 3:40 PM  

hmmmm.
Granted, I'm only reading THIS string of comments.
But as I read, her comments seem as worthy and relevant as every other comments...
Perhaps I missed some other posts and other snarky comments on other blog posts.
Yes, they question some points on your original post. (Which can be hard to take as a blogger)
I still can't see one blatantly "wrong" or irrelevant statement she makes...
I'm not here to defend her, I just want to say it is deflating when I see this kind of back-and-forth go on in Vox Popoli.
I expect the name-calling to go on in the Manosphere blogs just not here....
(don't like it there either, as I go there to learn, just as much),

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 3:45 PM  

Isn't that what you want in your responses to your posts? Or do you want sheep?

This is a false dichotomy. If I make a factual observation concerning American wage rates, one that is subsequently highlighted in a major publication, and in response you start asking me about the price of fish in China and babbling about what you think should have, but in fact did not happen, we're not debating anything. There is nothing to debate. You're simply being an idiot, you're indicating that you do not have the wherewithal to intelligently discuss the subject, and no response beyond "shut up" is merited.

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 3:53 PM  

I still can't see one blatantly "wrong" or irrelevant statement she makes...

Very well. Please explain to me the relevance of the price of milk in Fundamentalist Islamic countries to the fact that 70 million women entered the US labor force, which had the entirely predictable result of lowering average wage rates.

And, while you're at it, feel free to explain to me how 70 million additional workers would have been expected to have any effect other than to reduce average wage rates whether they were men or women.

Yes, they question some points on your original post. (Which can be hard to take as a blogger)

That has nothing to do with it. For the third time, her questions were both idiotic and irrelevant. I'm not impressed with the fact that a woman has an opinion. I don't give a damn about you, your vagina, or your opinion. I understand this can be shocking news to many women, but it is absolutely true. I have zero interest in you as a woman. Deal with it.

If you have something substantive to say, fine. If you're just going to pull the common female trick of babbling inanely away and expecting men to pretend to take you seriously because they want to get in your pants, well, that doesn't work here.

Now answer the question. How is it relevant?

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 3:56 PM  

Wowwwwww.
This had NOTHING to do with anyone's vagina...
I came to mention that I respected her answers, and I get THIS...
wowwwww

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 3:57 PM  

Her comment about the Islamic countries was one.
"Very well. Please explain to me the relevance of the price of milk in Fundamentalist Islamic countries to the fact that 70 million women entered the US labor force, which had the entirely predictable result of lowering average wage rates."
Yep - I missed that one...

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 3:59 PM  

No, Vox,
Just use the "common" male trick of bullying the women instead.
And shutting them down with "shut up, Man talk"
Pot - meet kettle.

Blogger rycamor October 13, 2013 3:59 PM  

Eric,

Most of what you describe holds true for my circle of middle-class friends today. Anecdotal is anecdotal, so there's no way to resolve a debate based on that.

Yes, there are idiot suburbanites who live beyond their means and cry about how much they have to spend on their Starbucks (inflated price for deflated quality), but that doesn't invalidate my point at all. Most of those people don't own their own houses, nor their own cars, nor often their own furniture or wide-screen TV. They mortgage their futures in order to live lives of cheap luxury now, and in so doing only enrich the top 1% ever more.

The article was not about people working more hours. It was about people having to work more hours FOR the same basic human needs than they did back then.

It appears you are arguing that this is not true, and real wages haven't fallen, that they have in fact gone up. Good for you. Enjoy these golden years. I just don't see it. I see people going bankrupt right and left, people who thought they were living the standard American life who are now so far in the hole on the property they own that they are thinking about just giving up. That doesn't mean these people are working as hard as comparably-classed people did in the 60s. It just means that the work they do has comparably less value. Vox and others have cited studies for years showing that real wages have fallen since the 70s. What's your evidence to the contrary?

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 4:12 PM  

"And, while you're at it, feel free to explain to me how 70 million additional workers would have been expected to have any effect other than to reduce average wage rates whether they were men or women."
That depends on the demand for that labor.
If the demand for that labor met the supply of those 70 million, then I would say, it would wash it out. It would also depend on the skills demanded and the skills available of those 70 million.
As a whole, if there were simply 70 more people available or fighting for the same amount of jobs as before, then I would answer "yes, the wages would fall as supply and demand."
I would also cite the value of that labor (something Ann cited, and I think Rycamor may be alluding to as well. I believe you have cited earlier studies to that nature as well.)
Ann pointed out that perhaps women joined the workforce as an EFFECT rather than a cause of the reduced wages. (Forcing two incomes per family)
I will also cite increased materialism, and increased rate of divorce, single families, etc.
I can't state the cause/effect here. Just stating multiple factors in a very complicated state of economics.
But, again, I didn't come here to claim I was the expert. I came to state that I was disappointed that I had to read through the "hate" to get the good debate...
Too bad I am now part of that negative banter...I just really frustrated me to see it.

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 4:13 PM  

Just use the "common" male trick of bullying the women instead. And shutting them down with "shut up, Man talk"

That's exactly what I do when women attempt to pull the intellectual equivalent of twirling their hair and batting their eyes. Go away. Man talk.

If you want to have a serious intellectual discussion, you are entirely welcome to take part regardless of your sex. But if you're simply going to react emotionally to things that make you feel bad, well, there is no place for you here. Go emote and babble nonsensically somewhere else.

Wowwwwww.
This had NOTHING to do with anyone's vagina...
I came to mention that I respected her answers, and I get THIS...
wowwwww


Of course it did. The only reason Ann was babbling about milk and prices of produced goods was that she doesn't like what the incontrovertible facts indubitably declare about the effects of increased female employment. Her nonsensical economic position was literally dictated by her vagina.

And speaking of which, look at your "wow" response. It's meaningless. It's the sort of thing that doesn't have even the slightest effect here. All it served to do was illustrate that you didn't understand why Ann was taking her position; somethinge we already knew since you admitted you didn't read the previous posts on falling wage rates.

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 4:25 PM  

If the demand for that labor met the supply of those 70 million, then I would say, it would wash it out. It would also depend on the skills demanded and the skills available of those 70 million.

Impossible. Do you have any idea how much demand would have to grow to wash it out? Remember, we can't manage 2 percent growth per year.

"the size of the U.S. labor force peaked at 154.9 million in May of 2009 and has fluctuated between this peak number and 153 million since that time."

Let's say we added another 70 million now. (I think that's far too high, since the book was probably referring to Europe as well, but this is just an illustration.)

So, we've increased the labor force by 45 percent. That means we only need 45 percent growth, which can be done in 22 years at 2 percent growth, right? Wrong. We were already growing at 2 percent due to normal productivity increases, so you have to tack another 45 percent onto there just to stay even. Increased productivity doesn't raise wages, it tends to lower them because less labor is required as a result.

In fact, the idea that women would be more productive makes their entry en masse into the labor force even more wage-destructive than the mere labor numbers would indicate. Which, you will note, shows that the people attempting to claim I am leaving things out of the equation don't have any understanding of what I'm talking about.

As for the chicken or the egg situation, you have only to look at the BLS numbers to see that women entered the labor force first. In fact, they drove down wages instantly, because young women commanded much lower wages than the 55+ men they were initially replacing. As I've written previously, young women are working so old men can retire earlier and play golf.

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 4:29 PM  

"It's meaningless"
..as meaningless as your "Shut up. Man Talk." was.

I don't read your blog every day.
When I do come to the blog (perhaps weekly or bi-weekly, and I find a post that looks interesting enough to read, I will read it. Occasionally, I will also read through the comments as well.

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 5:22 PM  

..as meaningless as your "Shut up. Man Talk." was.

That's completely false. I don't give a damn about your "wow" nor do I place any value on your opinion of who I should or should not dismiss. On the other hand, you have clearly demonstrated that women care so much about the fact that a woman's opinions are being dismissed out of hand that other women like you will even jump in to complain about it.

All opinions are not created equal. That is what Heinlein called "the democratic fallacy". And not all opinions merit discussion. Ann has had a plethora of chances to take part in the discourse here. She has, for the most part, completely failed to give anyone any reason to continue to pay attention to her because she is seeking self-validation and this is not the right place for that.

Anonymous Anonagain October 13, 2013 5:34 PM  

..as meaningless as your "Shut up. Man Talk." was.

Considering this is Vox's blog, it is hardly meaningless. His blog, his rules, his opinions. Deal with it. Or not. I doubt he cares. Neither do I.

People read this blog because of the principles espoused by its host, none of which include being coerced or otherwise influenced by bitches closing ranks around their vaginas. You'll have better luck at Whatever, or any Leftist blog.

Blogger Phoenician October 13, 2013 5:57 PM  

And, zoom, the point goes completely over your tiny little head.

Brief clue, Dipshit, if your argument is based on a discontinuity -

(" And in fact, the deleterious effects on wages of women entering the work force was largely hidden until 1973, when men finally stopped leaving the work force in numbers sufficient to conceal what was happening.")

- and the actual data shows no such discontinuity but a fairly smooth and continuing trend instead, then your argument is disproven.

You're in the situation of someone who claims that rising icecream sales in May are caused by the Easter Bunny and, when shown the Easter Bunny doesn't actually exists, goes out to prove that more icecream is being sold than you originally stated.

Yes, that may be true - real wages may be actually less than you stated before - but your 'explanation" for that has been shown to be crap.

Because you're a misogynist little dickhead who can't let go of your bigotry, Dipshit.

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 6:57 PM  

You really are insanely stupid, Phony. You're only looking at an aggregate graph. I've cited the actual numbers. But I can certainly do so again just to prove how stupid you are.

Blogger Awoman October 13, 2013 7:04 PM  

I came on here to read the "voice of the people" not just the host...
There are intelligent folks chiming in on the replies (not all, but we, in aggregate, can sort through that without name-calling)
You are right, the host has the ability to call the shots.
Game, set, match.

Anonymous VD October 13, 2013 7:18 PM  

You are right, the host has the ability to call the shots. Game, set, match.

You're missing the point. I'm not shutting down any intelligent debate. I mean, I'm even going to respond to Phony's ignorant idiocy, although admittedly only because I enjoy publicly humiliating him.

And perhaps then you will understand why I don't take people like Ann and Phony seriously. They literally do not know what they're talking about. Look at Phony. He genuinely believes something that is completely false because he doesn't understand the difference between the overall labor participation rate and the male participation rate. Because of that, he looked at the wrong graph and leaped to the wrong conclusion.

How can you take that seriously? You can't. It's simply not possible. I can, and will, show that he's wrong by citing precisely the same BLS reports I cited previously. But it's not my fault that idiots like Ann and Phony can't bother to do their homework. The information is all right here already, they simply can't be bothered to look it up, or even to ask, before spouting off in obvious ignorance.

Anonymous Toby Temple October 14, 2013 12:58 AM  

Women ruin everything....

Blogger Tom Kratman October 14, 2013 7:46 AM  

I still haven't seen a reason to believe that switching from fiat to gold, in a world economy dwarfed by pretty much artificial derivatives, will have any particular positive effect, Stilicho.

Anonymous Athor Pel October 14, 2013 9:33 AM  

" Tom Kratman October 14, 2013 7:46 AM

I still haven't seen a reason to believe that switching from fiat to gold, in a world economy dwarfed by pretty much artificial derivatives, will have any particular positive effect, Stilicho.
"



Of course changing engineers on a cliff bound brake-less train doesn't help the train. Neither does unloading and/or uncoupling the cars do anything to keep the whole train from going over the cliff. The train is too fast, the cliff is too close, doom is certain.

But if I was to be even more accurate in my analogy the train is already over the cliff and on the way to the ground. We're just waiting for it to go splat.

Anonymous Sir_Chancealot October 14, 2013 12:27 PM  

Tom Kratman said "I still haven't seen a reason to believe that switching from fiat to gold, in a world economy dwarfed by pretty much artificial derivatives, will have any particular positive effect, Stilicho. "

I don't know. Gaddafi was trying to get a gold-backed dinar for the middle east, and look where that got him. SOMEONE cares that fiat currency stay alive, and not be replaced by real currency.

Blogger Tom Kratman October 14, 2013 8:06 PM  

There's been a gold dinar for a while, SC. IIRC, there are some peculiarities of both commercial law (remember, Sharia is in good part a commerce code), tax, and marriage and betrothal law that, read literally, require solid, no shit, gold or silver coins. Hmmm...now where did I see that...??? Aha, there it is, Indonesia and Malaysia have coined diner and dirhem, but without exclusivity or necessarily legality. Wiki "modern gold dinar."

I any case, doubt that was the reason for getting rid of old Muamar.

Anonymous Ann Morgan October 15, 2013 1:38 AM  

**But it's not my fault that idiots like Ann and Phony can't bother to do their homework.**

Like checking a dictionary to make sure a word is actually not spelled correctly, before accusing someone of not spelling it correctly?

**They literally do not know what they're talking about.**

Accusing me of spelling a word incorrectly, when my spelling was, in fact, correct, would tend to indicate that you don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous Ann Morgan October 15, 2013 2:02 AM  

VD wrote: **Very well. Please explain to me the relevance of the price of milk in Fundamentalist Islamic countries to the fact that 70 million women entered the US labor force, which had the entirely predictable result of lowering average wage rates.**

It has obvious relevance. You claim is that women entering the work force en mass have caused the price of milk (in terms of the number of hours that must be worked to purchase a gallon of milk) to go up, partly because wages have dropped and partly because prices have gone up.

If your contention is true, then it would be expected that the price of milk in fundamentalist Islamic countries without oil reserves, would NOT have gone up, since very few women work in those countries. However, you have refused to address that question, and instead insulted me.

You have also neglected to mention such things as the fact that agricultural products such as milk, corn, and wheat (the latter two sometimes used to feed dairy cattle) have what is known as a 'guaranteed purchase price', farmers are paid NOT to grow crops, in order to reduce the supply, and are otherwise regulated by the government in ways that interfere with a free market and the price going down.

You have further neglected to mention (says the woman whose father, grandfather, and great grandmother were dairy farmers) that the government forces completely pointless costs on farmers in order to assert their egos. Every year a government inspector would come to my grandfather's farm and would ALWAYS find something on the farm that he told my grandfather to alter. The following year, another inspector would come, and would quite often require my grandfather to change whatever it was he had altered back to the way it had originally been.

Anonymous Ann Morgan October 15, 2013 2:06 AM  

Tom Kratman wrote: **I still haven't seen a reason to believe that switching from fiat to gold, in a world economy dwarfed by pretty much artificial derivatives, will have any particular positive effect, Stilicho.**

Will it have a negative effect? If not, I'd say that switching to gold is probably a smart thing to do, if there are no likely negative effects then it can't hurt and might help.

Anonymous Ann Morgan October 15, 2013 2:19 AM  

Awoman wrote: **Harsh and VD commenting on Ann seems to be merely because she is a woman...
In fact, of the comments, between Ann's and VD's or Harsh's, the only one of the 3 commenters that had ANY substance at all was Ann's.
VD's and Harsh's were only negative snipes at Ann. Why?
Because she outed herself as a woman?
Aren't we above that?
The "Shut up, Man-talk" and "You are an idiot" really have proven no useful comebacks to Ann's statements.**

To understand the way VD and Harsh are acting, the following statement regarding flippancy by CS Lewis is fairly insightful:

---"But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it,"---

Insulting a poster and simply claiming they are wrong, without actually disproving what they have said, is simply another form of flippancy.

Blogger Tom Kratman October 15, 2013 2:25 AM  

Instability, in an economy largely dependent on people emotions and fears, is generally a bad thing, yes, Ann.

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