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Thursday, June 5. 2014
Why Don’t the Unemployed Get Off Their Couches? And Eight Other Critical Questions for American.
It's a provocative article, and I'm not sure that I agree with it. It makes it sound as if people were nothing but victims of the "powerful." Today, as in the past, people have to construct their own lives. It must be true, though, that there are fewer "good, steady jobs" in the US for the semi-skilled (factories, farms, offices) than there once were. Most people do not aspire to a big career, just honest work and a nice family life.
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yes, it's geared towards more "eat the rich" style actions.
But they have a point, people can't just move to places where there are jobs because there are no places where there are jobs that don't already have many people who'd love those jobs.
The economy may be recovering (though that may itself be an illusion) but there's so far no increase in most jobs. Management level jobs are increasing, and some jobs in infrastructure. But manufacturing jobs especially are not. Those have mostly been moved overseas and/or replaced by automation.
And companies aren't hiring people who're in need of schooling to operate those automated machines, they expect them to have those skills already despite that there's nowhere to learn those skills except on the job (very few people have the space and money to buy an industrial robot of their own and the training courses for them, and then replace those every few years as a new model comes online).
In my industry, we have to lay off management and hire lower level workers.
Technology is leading to the ability of managers to handle more than one department, but there is an increased workload at the lower levels. Automation can only do so much.
In addition, automation creates (shockingly, to some people) other needs for which we have to hire.
then you're the exception to the rule...
Any company I've worked in the actual workforce has decreased, certainly as a percentage in relation to management, corporate lawyers, tax experts, and people like that.
One larger company I worked for by the time I left was so lopsided that 2 out of the 4 floors of their building were filled with those critters, and half of the third was relegated to our server farm, not people...
Yes, tech creates jobs, but those are not jobs that people who can't finish a college level education at at least Ba level can perform (and given the quality of college level education at this time, even they often can't perform them satisfactorily).
Doesn't help the bulk of those losing their jobs, most of whom lack the education, and even if they could and were inclined (and no doubt many are) would never be hired because they lack that degree and the training for the job at hand (which they can't get, as I pointed out).
It's the great problem of the current economy (and has been for 20 or so years now).
Companies are not willing to invest in their employees. If you don't have the exact skills for the job at hand you don't get hired. Then the moment those skills are no longer needed you're laid off and replaced with someone else who does have the skills for the next project.
This leads to an ever larger pool of unemployable people, people who'd love to work but who're simply lacking from an outdated skill set.
While some of that might be repairable through self education, this can quickly get expensive enough that it's inaccessible to people, especially unemployed people (and if things in the US are like they are here, you don't get unemployment benefits if you elect to enter a training/reeducation tract, because you're then not available to take on offered jobs).
What you're exploring is the immediate impact of the formations of Luddite thought.
Technology always creates more jobs. It's been so for all time, and while my industry may be an aberration (though I think it isn't), the reality is technology isn't killing jobs - regulations, taxes and laws are.
My skill set, prior to my recent hiring, was beginning to feel outdated. So what did I do? I updated it!
It's not that hard, I looked for areas where I was weak and studied. Anyone can do that.
Making excuses is just a bad idea. Most of us make excuses rather than taking control of our lives.
To be fair - I do the same thing. I make excuses all the time. When I do, I fully expect to be called out on it.
I don't agree with any of it. From the start, the author undermined his argument. The Gini Index in the US is not on a par with kleptocracies. If you measure it by Household, it's close. But that's mainly due to a large number of single mothers and retirees in the US. On the other hand, if you use a more standard measure of Gini by individual, not only has this not budged much at all over the years, but it's not that bad in general. Gini is a moment in time - a snapshot - and says little of value in the discussion regarding wealth or income. If I sell my house tomorrow, I will alter the Gini coefficient significantly for one year as I join the 1%. But that's utterly meaningless, isn't it?
Moving for a job? Why not? Anyone can. I did that many years ago when I left school. Today, I'm helping young graduates from all over the US seek employment. I know - he was mentioning the modern unemployed who held jobs. OK - well here's my take. I was unemployed for almost a year recently. So were 2 very good friends of mine. One moved to Wichita and is living the high life as the Bakken boom feeds the economy there. The other? Selling carpet locally because his wife has a great job and while he was unable to find work in our field, he decided it's better to have any job than not work at all, so he changed industries.
It's wrong to say there are fewer jobs available, even if this is true. It's more correct to say "Minimum wage/regulations/laws have KILLED the many jobs which were available." This isn't the fault of the poor unemployed, but it is the fault of the politicians pointing to businesses who they blame for the unemployed. Outsourcing CREATES jobs. I know. I have outsourced quite a bit of work here at my company. The savings we have from this outsourcing has allowed us to hire more people to do other work which is needed locally. Why, you may ask, do we outsource? Because it's work nobody here wants to do. We can find people who DO want to do it at a price we're willing to pay elsewhere. And guess what? That has tons to do with minimum wage laws. Want people to work? Let them bargain for their wages. In the end prices will rise even if the short term effect is to lower some wages.
That said, the outsourcing isn't a jobs killer, it's a jobs creator since you can manufacture more at a lower price, which increases overall consumption, which creates jobs.
It's just a question of do you want the job RIGHT NOW or can you wait for the economy to make the necessary adjustments? Most people can't wait.
Finally, getting off the couch. I'll call bull on the author saying it's not their fault. When I was unemployed, I worked my butt off looking for work. I left no stone unturned. After enough time, you begin to do what my local friend did - think about changing industries. I almost did, but I stumbled onto a great job.
Did I get lucky? Maybe that's one way to look at it. Or did I work my ass off more than someone else? That's probably a better way to look at it.
What about starting a business? My local friend and I considered this, we even started coming up with ideas. Why not? Work for yourself - what a great idea!
Ahem. It's not easy to start a business today. Paperwork, regulations, etc. What a hassle. While figuring out the business you want to start takes more time than you'd want, the paperwork is enough to kill you. I threw that stack away a few months ago. It wasn't worth it for what we were going into.
Politicians have made it hard, very hard, to start a business. Now, with minimum wages going up to $10 and $15 an hour - who is going to be able to AFFORD to start one?
So this author needs to stop pointing fingers at business and needs to start thinking harder about the root cause of the problem. It's only partly the inability of the depressed unemployed (though that is an important point - I have a very good friend who sent me a note today saying he's reached the point of frustration because he doesn't understand how other nations' politicians have a better track record 'creating jobs' and we fail so badly. I told him to think again and look around the world...but then he's a Progressive Democrat). It's mainly the result of frustration due to idiotic politicians making insane laws designed to keep people at their jobs, and at their prescribed level of income and wealth.
Trying to create a static environment in a dynamic economy will.....create stasis and death.
With you all the way on this. Seems as though Mr. Van Buren hasn't heard how Mr. Picketty's piece has been shredded.
It's more correct to say "Minimum wage/regulations/laws have KILLED the many jobs which were available."
That's part of it, but look at how even conservatives today view jobs as something one person "creates" for another. For most of this countries history, people could find things other folks wanted done and create a job for themselves. Rules and regulations and licensing have virtually eliminated the ability for poor folk to go in business for themselves unless they have worked and saved enough money working for someone else and have the knowledge to jump through all the legal and regulatory hoops.
I didn't/couldn't read the whole thing - but I get the gist.
[b]As to the point of "why don't the unemployed get off the couch"[b/]:
I run a small business in a rural community. Many of my employees are essentially laborers with ability to think, truck drivers, etc. I am continually shocked by the number of people who come in looking for work - and the first thing they tell me is that they have to start looking for work "because their unemployment is running out".
The reasons they give for losing their jobs are many and varied - but 19 out of 20 - take a TWO YEAR free ride on the government and their ex-employers. Between unemployment, assistance, and working under the table for cash, they can do pretty well in our low cost rural environment.
Don't get me going on how easy it is to get unemployment. It seems to be virtually impossible to win an unemployment case in Pennsylvania. The Unemployment Office - in my opinion - has a vested interest in having more people on unemployment. More people with benefits means more people to serve - which means they get to hire more people - which means more people manage - which means a higher civil service grade - which means more pay.
[b]As to the fact of LARGE CORPORATE Executives being paid too much[b/] (not small local businesses):
I actually tend to agree with this and I don't have an answer, but I do have what I believe are the some of the root causes.
I am on the board of a publicly traded corporation and I hold stock in both large and small corporations. As such, I have watched executive compensation closely for many years.
My first observation is that compensation consultants are the devil and their ubiquitous rise has been detrimental to corporations and their shareholders. I have never seen one come in and say: "Your executive is over compensated" - or even fairly compensated. Instead of boards looking at performance and what the company can afford to pay - the consultant comes in a tells them that the market has moved up 10% and that in order to keep their executive in the Xth percentile they need to raise his pay by 10% or he may leave - or they will never be able to hire a replacement if you don't keep pace. Then everybody in an industry does the same thing. This leads to a 10% rise the following year. Pay has become too externally focused and disengaged performance and earnings.
This has lead to a never ending stair stepping of executive pay. It's like putting 2 mirrors face to face and looking at the repeating images.
Another problem is that corporate boards used to be populated by large shareholders and smaller shareholders voted their proxies religiously. This lead to strong governance and a focus on profitability. Today, recruitment for boards focuses on diversity and skill sets. You have to have an attorney, you have to have an accountant, you have to have this, you have to have that. Most board members have no stake in running a profitable company - they get a nice pay check and give their .02 worth. Further, many of them are corporate executives who always believe their counterparts should be paid more - which means they should be paid more.
[b]Finally - as to why there aren't more jobs[b/]
Because there is too much government regulation
There are too many taxes
It's just too hard
I have seen so many of my competitors sell to large corporations in the last 5 years. Why? Because it is too hard to be a small business man. A large corporation can afford to hire full time tax attorneys to avoid paying taxes. They can hire full time safety personnel to keep OSHA of their backs. They can hire full time fleet managers that keep FMCSA off their backs. Health care, insurance, unemployment, workers comp, on and on. I am the person for all of those causes and a lot more for my company.
Quite frankly - its getting to be too much for a slightly smarter than average person to keep track of - and small local businesses can't afford to hire experts in all the subjects.
Just my ramblings. It makes me angry when people who know nothing about business or the real world pontificate on why it is so bad- and come to the conclusion that business owners are screwing everyone.
Raise the minimum wage? Not a carefully thought out piece.
Here's an example for y'all. In a rural community in WY a construction company that builds or fixes dams, ditches, has built parking lots, basements, . . all dirt construction - has openings for 3 people. This would be steady work 5 1/2 to 6 days a week all year long. Would need to have a CDL and at least some mechanical experience.
The last two interviewed? One wanted every other Tuesday off and every Saturday off. The other one only wanted to work 9-4 and not on the weekends. Keep in mind steady work because of the 28 jobs on the list with each job running 3-5 weeks minimum . . . Steady consistent pay and some overtime. And definite overtime pay if company is called to help fight wildfires.
By same token - a rancher in the area is looking for a good ranch manager. Ranch takes up to 60 hours a week of work. Good life but tough. Rancher even has a BRAND NEW 2300 sq ft modular available to the new manager. Think there are any takers?? NOPE. NADA *previous one quit because the hours were too long - longest work week was 42 hours after 3 1/2 months of work
So y'all tell me . . . there are good jobs to be had in the ranch industry. In the construction industry in the rural areas. In that area of WY there's a need for plumbers and electricians. But to find anyone who will WORK is a different story.
I can only address the case I know best, myself. Last time I was unemployed, I porbably had my time more rigidly scheduled than while I'm at work.
Every morning it was three hours on the computer or phone looking for leads. Putting your resume on Monster does not constitute a search.
Afternoon, it was four hours of study in my field, mainly to have something to show for my time. Armed with a third-hand Cisco router bought at a surplus sale and some second-hand textbooks from a local used bookstore, I taught myself digital data security and then project management, enough to pass certifications in each discipline.
Tuesday morning it was Breakfast club time with four other similarly out of work professionals - we went over each other's resume's, shared leads, and held each other accountable for meeting goals we set the week before.
None of this involved a government grant, none was provided to me from the outside. It was a matter of taking responsibility, imposing self-discipline, and then working at it. There are good days and bad days, and days when you're ready to give up, bt the guiding principle was to always feel I'd done something productive before noon, and again before 5:00.