Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9648084:

Whiners 18 6, 8:09pm

@txag70 I keep running into interesting walls of text :)

"you're kind of dealing in stereotypes there, aren't you?"
No, not really. It was my impression from several sources that college educated urban youth is viewed as a voting bloc that votes on the issues, not candidates, and leans left a lot. Statistics of recent election show that preference, especially when backlash by some Sanders voters is considered.

The fact that Sierra club saves nuclear reactors is a surprise to me, maybe they'll tone down opposition to hydro as well. Fight against fossil fuel plant permits is counterproductive as well, considering that it could be replaced by a demand for permits with mandate for carbon capture and storage. I suppose that comes with improved particulate filters by necessity.
I'd say the problem would be that such stance would turn off most ideological and therefore vocal environmentalist groups that can sway a lot of progressive votes. A lot of noise in media and internet is generated by these people.

"You know... millenials have been handed the worst economy since the Depression, with higher levels of debt and lower wages to pay it off with."
70s and aftermath of dot com bubble weren't pretty either. Slow recovery is kind of self-inflicted wound - even if Obama could blame the hidden extent of crisis inherited from Bush for the failure of his team's recovery projections, second term was all his.
Here's a copy (extracted from behind a paywall) of good WSJ article from 2011:
A lot of it is still applicable today, though predictions of jobs returning from China turned out to be wrong.

"While I can't stand "______ studies" degrees either, stereotyping an entire generation as lazy gets REALLY goddamn old, especially when it's from older generations that had to do less with more."
I've mainly meant that college education became effectively subsidized by availability of student loans for all fields of study, and that coincided with idea that any degree would guarantee employment. Proliferation of *** studies is simply a result of reaching a college degree via path of least resistance - no math, not much reading either, exams are easy, the fact that there is next to no employment prospect is going to be discovered soon after graduation. I couldn't find any good data on it, but I bet that vast majority of those who got a STEM or medical degree aren't flipping burgers or serving lattes. Even before 2008 taking on debt to get a vanity degree thinking that "I'll find a way pay it back later somehow, what can possibly go wrong?" was an obviously terrible mistake, and from the looks of it it is still being mass produced. I'm fully aware that not every young voter is the same, but anyone who got student loan to pay for English major and voted for Sanders on free education and debt forgiveness is one too many.

"A cap on CEO pay could also work in terms of compensation. The goal isn't to decrease the CEO's compensation, it's to increase the compensation of the workers."
Well, Jeff Bezos is worth 80 billion only because he owns a lot of Amazon stock, that's almost 80 million at price of $987 per share, while in the beginning it was worth of only a couple of bucks.
I don't see any good way to put a cap on his gains if most of them consist of increase in value of his company.

"Basic Fordism here: pay the employees enough to buy the products they make."
That's Marxism, really :)
If it includes caveats like "some, not all" and "over time" then any income at or above poverty line should work.

" About 70% of US GDP is consumer-driven."
If you remove the government spending, all of remaining GDP is inevitably consumer-driven.
Would be strange if it wasn't.

"Stagnant wages = stagnant economy"
GDP could expand with stagnant or even decreasing wages across the board if there is an increase in number of wage earners.

"Merge existing unemployment/welfare programs with higher taxes to fund a modern WPA to afford it."
Problem: any significant tax revenue can only be extracted from middle class. It is not very likely that you can improve income of the middle class by taxing middle class.

"Remember, most of these infrastructure projects occured at a time when top marginal tax rates were well over 75%"
AFAIK Eisenhower kept previous tax levels in order to pay for war bonds. Economy was in quite different state back then as well.

"But you tell me that the rise in wealth inequality and stagnant US worker pay has nothing to do with unions being deliberately broken and weakened by government and their corporate puppetmasters, and I'll sell you a ski resort in Texas."
It has something to do, yes. High cost of labor (not only wages, but benefits, pensions and compliance costs) drove job flight and outsourcing, while growing productivity in tech, IT and finance drove up wages for white collar jobs and attendant sectors of economy (like housing market in Commiefornia). There you go - programmer in Palo Alto can earn well above $100k per year, while Carrier workers in Indiana were preparing to lose their jobs altogether.

"Your argument on the minimum wage is boilerplate corporate propaganda man."
No, not really.
Take a look at conclusion, then at "nonwage offsets" section. Best that they could get is a slight increase in employment while increased cost was passed onto consumer and put more pressure on workers. And all of that happened way before ACA. Of course it is possible to forgo scheduled wage increases to higher level workers in order to provide money for necessary increase in low wages, but in smaller businesses it can easily place manager on the same minimum wage as workers.

Now remember that unlike fast food, US industrial output has to compete on international market where price disadvantage is a big deal. An exaggerated example: you can't exactly jack up the price of DeWalt tool to a level of Hilti and maintain the same volume of sales, especially when competing with Chinese-built Makita.

"There are some who want to eliminate the minimum wage on the right. I am sure they'd be just fine with getting rid of the other parts of the 1938 FLSA law which provide for a 44-hour workweek "
Elon Musk virtue signals to the left a lot, but 44-hour workweeks seem to exist at SpaceX only on paper.

"and child labor laws."
Hollywood probably would like those laws to be abolished, not sure about Republicans. Given current job market, abolishing child labor laws wouldn't have much effect on anything past small family-run businesses and film industry.

"Have you ever tried living on $7.25 an hour?"
Had a job at $0.35 per hour for six months, in Russia and quite some time ago. Earned effectively almost no money, got some important experience and became a horrible cheapskate. Teenager can afford a job that pays jack all.

" The costs of housing alone would render you homeless in most parts of the US"
Find a roommate, or two, or five, share the cost. Learn to be stingy as hell, buy a cheapest car available (even if it looks like being bought at scrapyard, bonus points if it really is), have cheapest phone possible. Having a computer on the cheap is not a problem now, given that there is plenty of really decent second-hand parts. Take side jobs, even one-times. If Mexicans in US can survive on $16k per year, so can anyone else. Sure, it's unpleasant, but it's temporary if you're really saving for a trade school and not just coasting through life.
Yes, I have the right to say that - I survived 90s in Russia and paid for my education.
Also, at least some corporate employers (not sure about smaller businesses) offered on-the-job training, so that's another advantage of having a job at below minimum wage.

"The Australians have a far higher minimum wage and they don't have issues with mass unemployment."
They also had lower workforce participation rate, US caught up with them relatively recently. Also living on a glorified island provides sort of natural tariff due to cost of imports, probably have quite a few regulatory hurdles as well.

"Cheap entry level jobs help with career building? Do they really? Please tell that to anyone working in food service"
As I mentioned before, few decades ago flipping burgers was a job for teenager saving for the first car. The fact that now it is a career path for an independent adult is a sign of deteriorating economy.

"Automation of fast food work? Good."
Automation of all menial jobs - not so good. Low skilled jobs will face increasing competition from automation in coming years, and every increase in minimum wage will accelerate replacement. Either fraction of low skilled workers should decrease, or unemployment will go up. Either way, it's something that best to happen later rather than sooner - adjustment has to be gradual. Sure, universal basic income is an option, but I bet that it's full scale deployment in US will have some ugly societal outcomes. Not to mention pressure from economic immigration.

"Based on the fact that cutting taxes on the rich and corporations combined with deunionization have essentially been our policy since the 1980s, perhaps we should try something else."
Yet UAW resisted post-bailout measures at GM to the last. Teacher unions still wield significant political power, so does SEIU.
The only real difference between corporation and union is that corporation is not exempt from anti-trust law and unions in some cases have right to collect dues from non-union members.
Now, the honest way for union to work would be to act as a hiring hall, as well as provider of unemployment insurance and pensions to it's members, while competing with other unions in the same trade. That won't happen, because squeezing every last possible benefit out of employer is path of least resistance.

"A median union worker makes $200 a week more than the median non-union worker. When you add benefits, it's almost $500 a week."
Sure. Firm has a budget to pay X dollars per worker. Union demands higher pay, so union member gets 1.25X dollars (from which dues are paid), while non-union worker gets 0.75 and a shaft. If all workers become unionized and cannot be fired, firm either slashes planned expansion, or forgoes equipment upgrades, or fires non-essential personnel, or closes down. I've been close enough to accounting to know how this works.

"Poor management combined with changing consumer tastes was the issue with Hostess in the 1990s and 2000s, combined with boosting executive salaries while simultaneously lying about fulfilling pension obligations"
"At the Journal, Holman Jenkins says that private equity is not to blame for Hostess’s demise. Rather, “the real story is the story of two unions, the Teamsters and the Bakery union of the AFL-CIO.” As Jenkins has it, though the Teamsters agreed to givebacks to finance the latest Hostess turnaround attempt, the Teamsters held onto work rules that would have driven the company into the ground. Examples: Drivers couldn’t help with unloading, and products like Wonder Bread and Twinkies were not allowed to ride on the same truck. Jenkins says the bakers decided to strike because bakery operations were efficient compared to the delivery process, and they didn’t want to prop up a Teamster contract that would eventually bring the company down."

"Instead of looking at union benefits like pensions, paid overtime, and healthcare, and getting jealous, it might be a good idea for us all to organize and demand businesses give us the same benefits."
That implies that a) businesses have money to spare and b) businesses cannot relocate.

"Corporate profits are at record highs"
Sure, if it's tech or finance. Not only it's difficult to build a union there, but Apple already moved production and testing to China, they can as well relocate their R&D to India or Ireland, leaving US only with part of retail and tech support network.

"The GI Bill was a policy proposed by FDR. But the increased wages the returing GIs got in the 1950s and 60s came in large part due to having strong unions, 40 hour workweeks, and strong labor laws as provided by the FLSA. "
No, not really. Technical training in military and on GI bill caused a spike in number of high skilled labor, retooling factories and release of demand constrained by war-time rationing added to that. Without increase in productivity there wouldn't be influx of money that unions could bargain for.

"The economic issues of the 1970s were caused by a profligate 1960s era government"
Every government since Coolidge was profligate. Volcker's solution to stagflation is something that arguably was a big part in Carter's loss.

"By the time the 1932 campaign had set in, the Depression was at its worst. It's really disingenuous to state that FDR is responsible for Hoover era policy, since what made the depression far worse was not taxes but the Smoot-Hawley tariff which cause trade to sink to 1900 levels. "
Yes, trade contributed to Great Depression, but there is no way in which increasing taxes (like Hoover did) or uncertainty (as FDR did) in the middle of recession would cause anything but further harm. That's probably the only thing on which almost all economists will agree.
Things were somewhat better in 1936 sure. Problem with your argument is that NRA was shot down in 1935, political opposition to FDR grew even before that. Troubles with agriculture and trade were a setting, monetary policy was the cause. Milton Friedman argued that point quite well.

"You are convinced the world is moving towards more USSRs? That's interesting. I am convinced that the world is moving towards the Gilded Age -- extreme inequality with virtually no rights for the working class, combined with politicians that exclusively serve the wealthy and business. Perhaps if you wish to ward off the rise of communism, you might want to advocate pacifying the working class to prevent the widespread revolts you fear to see. "
Brezhnev's USSR, not Stalin's. Collectivist regime with inevitable centralization of power, mostly planned or at least heavily directed economy geared towards redistributive welfare, most importantly: tight grip on information and ideology, with zero tolerance for any dissent. EU is getting there, China is already there, for Russia it's just a matter of returning to good old days, US... Well, you've seen Sanders. Technical capability for such regime has only improved, political will for control of speech, actions and (to any possible extent) thought already exists. Give it a recession or two and you're there.

If you think that USSR had no wealthy elite, read this:

skip to "Parallel Retail Trade System"

Also, surprise, USSR wasn't that particularly fond of worker's rights either, unless struggle for them was organized via Party's appropriate channels. Meaning that you will be told what you can or cannot do, and if you don't like it you can earn a vacation in Siberia.