mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Ch-ch-changes
Blue Model Continues to go the Way of the Passenger Pigeon
Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Anthony

    WRM you reference by implication “Disintermediation” and 21st century economic effect thereof – cultural contradictions of Capitalism. You have written both extensively and effectively in past essays (and WigWag has provided splendid commentary) on its American affect. And yet as you well know, economic growth (overall) matters because it oftentimes enables the majority of workers to feel better off compared to a benchmark they use to measure individual progress (can or will economic growth going forward incorporate workers at levels of remuneration to which Americans have grown accustomed). So, a key question becomes are the current failings ( structural shortcomings) really a Blue Model flagging or other structural obsolescence tied to changing market dynamics, inter alia.

  • Blackbeard

    By definition 50% of everybody has an IQ less than 100. What happens to them as we move toward the economy you describe?

    • f1b0nacc1

      Organ donors

      • QET

        OK now that made me laugh really hard!

        • f1b0nacc1

          Try the veal

          • Kneave Riggall

            Are you here through Thursday?

    • Anthony

      Regrettably, normal curve infers 50% of Americans are where you state. However, societally we cannot write them off socially or economically. Policy initiatives as well as the consequences of disintermediation and its effects (and not just on your ascribed 50%) on impacted working working (or wanting to work) Americans ought to become more a part of our national discussion rather than left/right, Hillary/Trump, Blue/Red, etc. We need as you infer legitimate (non partisan) economic diagnosis – The Price of Civilization.

      • f1b0nacc1

        I share your sentiments here (that is one for the media!), but you imply that we ‘cannot’ write them off…I assure you that we can. A quick visit to much of Britain (other than the southeast), proves that quite quickly. If you need something closer to home, Detroit would be a useful example.
        Note: I am not endorsing this as a good idea (I repeat, I share your sentiments on this), but it is entirely possible, and in fact likely (sadly enough) that abandoning a large portion of the population to their fate (with only the most limited public assistance to keep them from starving) is not only entirely thinkable, it is the most likely outcome.
        Sigh…

        • Anthony

          All right. Thanks.

        • Anthony

          All right, thanks.

        • JR

          Forget Detroit. Any inner city neighborhood in a city that has been ruled by Democrats by decades. Newark, Milwaukee, Detroit, Flint, Chicago, Philadelphia…. the list goes on. Those people are being fed and clothed and the only thing we ask of them is to not be where we are. What I think we are witnessing is more of an evolutionary process which will play itself out over many decades. It will definitely be THE question of 21st century, IMHO.

          • f1b0nacc1

            We agree…

    • Tom Scharf

      They vote for Trump and Brexit. If that doesn’t work they show up with pitchforks and torches and burn the knowledge economy down just for spite.

      • JR

        Oh please. Not everybody who supports Trump is a below-average IQ knuckle dragger. Same for Brexit. Both sides have valid points and denigrating them right of the bat seems like a typical smug liberal BS.

        • Tom Scharf

          I didn’t say they were voting for Trump and Brexit for the wrong reasons. You can have perfectly logical reasons for voting for Trump/Brexit even if you are on the wrong side of the genetic lottery. In fact it is the failure of those on the right side of the lottery to understand (or even try to understand) the other side’s arguments that is leading to pitch forks being searched for.

          Trumpsters, Brexiters, and Bernsters are all voting for what they believe to be their best self interests. The fact that the elites cannot convince them of the alternative is a failure of the elites that they refuse to accept due to their arrogance and smugness. Have you even heard these people try to make an argument that globalism and cosmopolitanism are good for all? They don’t even try because it is has become social dogma to them.

          There are arguments for these things, but not making them is their failure.

    • Kneave Riggall

      What has always happened: In healthy societies, they are cared for. In dying societies, they are abandoned.

      By the way, intelligence does not always bring success, and its lack does not always result in failure. Many of the unintelligent are leading figures in our society and/or quite wealthy: Ryan Lochte, Joe Biden, Chelsea Clinton, the Kardashians.

      It takes many talents, not just intelligence, to make and keep civilization.

  • FluffyFooFoo

    How are these victims going to be able to afford the time to work towards being “fully human”?

  • Jim__L

    “But it’s also important to remember that the goal of the social
    transformation through which we are now passing isn’t to have everyone
    wired up to demanding jobs 24/7 with instant feedback—jobs that fire
    those losers who didn’t get to their emails fast enough over the
    weekend.”

    Actually, yes it is. At least that’s the lived experience of those of us who don’t have tenure.

    • seattleoutcast

      If deflation were an accepted part of economics, technology would be decreasing the costs of food, clothing and shelter so that one doesn’t need to work so hard.

      Thanks to our betters, they make it impossible for deflation to occur.

      • JR

        Respectfully disagree. Technology has made the costs of food, clothing and shelter fall dramatically over the last century. You just have to look at it not in absolute terms but in relative terms vs. income generated. Interestingly enough, there are places where technology has made the costs of food, clothing and shelter rise dramatically (think today’s Silicone Valley/Bay Area) in absolute terms, but it is still relatively benign given high salaries in that area.

        • Jim__L

          But when you have a high scarcity premium on something, its price rises to soak up all the income not spent on other things. This is why rents are so high in the Bay Area. You don’t seriously think it’s because the houses are so much more spacious and (objectively) valuable, do you?

          That is NOT benign. It is hellish for those of us trapped in it.

        • seattleoutcast

          Yes, I see your point. Perhaps technology will make shelter and clothing so cheap that one can print a home in an afternoon, but then the raw materials might be scarce and expensive or the location will be expensive.

          It is irritating to see the three most expensive areas in an American’s life right now: housing, education and health care are all overly subsidized. Ironically, this subsidization has increased the costs rather than decreased them. Yet our betters somehow think this is a good thing.

          • JR

            Agree completely with that. The complex system of taxation and subsidies is producing classes of winners and losers. As we see from rise of Trump and Bernie, the losers are beginning to stir and make themselves heard. I expect that trend to only continue in the 10-15 year timeframe.

      • LarryD

        It’s part of the Federal Reserve’s mission to prevent deflation. Bankers hate deflation and cause inflation by lending money they haven’t been given to lend (I’m talking about “fractional reserve banking” here).

    • Tom Scharf

      One obvious answer that seems to occur to nobody is shorter work weeks. Employ more people and have them work less time per capita.

      There are problems with this model, but when I was a kid the “future” was supposed to provide robots which allowed us to work less, not free us up to work on other stuff just as much.

      • f1b0nacc1

        And exactly who is going to pay for these shorter work weeks? If we go from 40 to 32 hours (to use the French example), do we simply drop pay by 20% or do the employers eat the difference?
        As a side issue, there are some jobs (IT is an excellent example) where it is simply not an option to drop the hours the same way you would at a McDonald’s.

        • Tom Scharf

          The execution is indeed very problematic. The paper model is that people accept less pay to allow a “better” distribution of income and more leisure time. It only looks good on paper. I just see this as a better model than putting increasing numbers of people on the social safety net.

          The 40-50 hour work week is not something that should be set in stone like it is, it seems rather arbitrary. As productivity increases the labor requirements should decrease. Realistically the “let’s work less” would need to happen globally. If we all agreed to make a 3 day weekend by adding an extra day of the week most people would be thrilled. Yes, it’s full of holes and likely unworkable.

          • f1b0nacc1

            “People accept less pay to allow a ‘better’ distribution of income”…oh yes, that is going to go over really well, especially since the folks most likely to have to tolerate that redistribution first will be those in the low and semi-skilled jobs that are suffering the most. And just who figures out this distribution? Our elders and betters in Washington? A non-starter…
            If you reduce the work-week, you are going to reduce incomes, something that is simply not going to be popular. Far easier to promise ‘free stuff’ to those on the dole, or a magical revival of the economy with no pain and no tradeoffs….both favorite tactics of the political class. Reduce productivity (and that is what you are doing with a shortened work week) and you reduce spending power, which in turn suppresses demand. If you don’t like what we are facing now (and I hasten to point out that I share your concerns), what you will get with reduced demand is far, far worse….

          • Tom Scharf

            The losers in the knowledge economy have just as much pride as the winners do. There is a feeling of shame in not being able to provide for yourself and your family. Accepting welfare is like having a capital ‘L’ tattooed on your forehead to many, if not all people. This is the source of a lot of the fear and anger I think, worker impotence. These people need a way to save face even if they don’t fit into the new economy. I don’t have any answers.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I do. Stop cutting the income and estate taxes of the shareholder class and the corporate CEO class. Maximizing profits by breaking men’s and women’s hearts and spirits at midlife is not really economic progress for the country and not deserving of tax cuts for those profits enhanced by that sort of “efficiency”.

          • JR

            So the answer to better monitoring software is higher taxes? WHAT??? HOW??? How can, I mean…. I’m speechless. You know that taxation doesn’t affect profit maximization? No wonder I make fun of this idea every time i get a chance.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You make fun of it because you do not believe that there is any correlation between lower-taxed CEOs, lower-taxed corporate earnings, lower taxed dividends, and (perhaps most importantly) lower-taxed trading of equities and derivatives—–AND—–the increased difficulty for people to get and keep private-sector jobs which can actually support families. I believe there is a correlation tantamount to a causation.
            The software at K-C is a tool to “manage” people with the goal of eliminating many of them. The driver of the trend is profit maximization at the expense of workers. Stiff taxation can moderate that problem by making it less attractive to fire people. Owners and managers—–if they have no choice but high taxes on high earnings—–prefer to pay real people and avoid some of those taxes.

          • f1b0nacc1

            What utter drivel, incoherent nonsense even by your own low standards.

            Unless you intend to tax 100% of all profits, it will always be cheaper at some point to replace people with automation and thus maximize profits. Owners and managers will thus be driven by the logic of the marketplace to do so. Your desire to produce punitive taxes on higher income individuals will change none of that, your froth-specked assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. You seem far more interested in punishing high income individuals than actually helping those at the lower end of the spectrum.

            Employers are here to provide goods and services to customers, and they will do so at the lowest possible cost or else they will be driven out of business by other employers who chose to do so. Raising the cost of labor (higher minimum wages, onerous regulation, etc.) isn’t going to help offset that, it will simply convince those employers not to create jobs in the first place. If high regulations and punitive taxes (along with strong labor unions and the rest of the Left’s wish list) were the royal road to prosperity, then Britain in the 1960s and 70s would have been a world-class powerhouse instead of the economic basket-case that it was, and Detroit would a world leader in industrial output.

            Stiff taxation and excessive (not any, but excessive, so please spare us the strawman I can almost see you preparing) deters businesses from hiring in the first place…after all once hired, a worker is an ongoing cost, while profits come and go with the business cycle. You can see this in countries with rigid labor rules and high taxation (once again, France is an excellent example, though most of Europe fits this model quite nicely), where the lowest skilled workers are most seriously handicapped. Asian economies with lower corporate income taxes (American corporate taxes are among the highest anywhere, crippling any change to bring back overseas earnings) are wildly successful (South Korea and Taiwan immediately come to mind), yet they eschew your policy prescriptions. Even western countries like Sweden have liberalized (i.e. moved away from the left) both their tax laws and labor regulations, and they have been able to benefit hugely from doing so.

            I don’t reject the tragedy of people unable to get and keep good jobs that give them the opportunity to raise families and otherwise prosper. You might want to provide some explanation of why this is the case, however without simply suggesting that magically higher taxes change this. Explain the problem first, then show us an example of this in action that actually conforms to observed reality. Simply acting out your envy of those who have done better than you proves nothing and accomplishes nothing.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Here’s the deal. You have NO IDEA what to do about the “tragedy” of your last paragraph.. You have suggested we need “something better” and have no idea what that might be—–which means you seriously have little interest. You don’t believe in government jobs. So I am trying to tell you that the best way is to require policies which keep the corporate world loyal to workers (and workers loyal to their companies)—–and you give me a fit. It’s not like there are other options. It’s private sector or public sector. As for me personally, the envy card of your last sentence is not a problem I currently have.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Government jobs? That is your answer? Just where does the money to pay for them come from? What are these people going to be doing other than filling in holes that other government workers are digging?

            As for ‘policies that keep the corporate world loyal to workers’, just what EXACTLY are those policies, and how would they work? If you want to be taken seriously, here is your chance…make your proposals and discuss them intelligently.

            I acknowledge that I don’t have perfect solutions to the problems in question, but I have offered some proposals, along with why I think that they would work. Can you?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes. The best way to do it is by discouraging the shedding of workers at profitable companies by setting up a scenario that if you’re making a bucket from running over-lean, we’d like you to share that with society. Again, we have to remember that this does not affect unprofitable companies or barely-profitable companies. They don’t pay taxes and they don’t somehow benefit from tax cuts (even though it is sometimes implied by the tax-cut spin that the little guy who is struggling will be “helped” by lower taxes on money he is NOT making).

          • f1b0nacc1

            Once again….what are the specifics of your proposal? How do you propose doing this?

            Much more to the point, how do you propose to avoid what has happened in France (where even the Socialists want to loosen up the labor laws) where companies respond to such tactics merely by not hiring in the first place?

          • JR

            They prefer to move to locales where taxation is not used as some kind of job subsidy for low skilled. While I agree that we are facing some real societal issues with automatization, higher taxes hardly seems like a solution.

          • FriendlyGoat

            We are only in the BEGINNING stages of the “societal issue” of automation killing jobs. Citizens either learn who is walking off with their futures and take remedial action, or perhaps they can all drive for Uber.

          • JR

            Agree with you 100% that we are just starting to barely experience the monumental societal upheavals that automation will bring. And this is purely my speculation, but that upheaval will dislodge current elites from power. They are not just unwilling but unable to solve these issues. We’ll need new people. History suggests we’ll find them.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, I’m glad we agree on something. But your “upheaval which dislodges current elites” sounds like you’re expecting something akin to a violent revolution. It would be better and easier to do this from politics where you don’t have to wait for the poor to get so mad that they just start killing their overlords.

          • JR

            I think we are about to enter the upcoming future that will be a lot more violent than the last 50 years or so. We’ve grown too comfortable, as have our elites. In my last post I’ve described progress, but it can be, and almost always is, a destructive force as well as a creative one. The thing is, if your plan actually worked, I would honest to goodness to God support it. 100%. If all it takes for paradise to happen you can tax me at 90%. The problem is that your plan does not work. High costs of firing leads to no hiring. It essentially leaves you with a bare bone staff in high cost locations while you grow in lower cost locations. I hear what you are saying. World would be a LOT, and I mean A LOT better if people weren’t greedy, avaricious muthafukaz. But they are. They really really are. And I can’t change it. And you can’t change it. For me, it’s one of those accept what you cannot change situations.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I know I am going to die before the world rids itself of all the muthafukas (great spelling, BTW.) But we can’t just stop talking about ideals because we have so many of them.

          • M Snow

            I wish I shared your optimism. History suggests to me that the wait for “new” people often takes centuries.

          • JR

            I think modern technology will greatly accelerate that process. But we are definitely talking decades, not years. I believe my children’s generation will be in the middle of the upheaval. I’m definitely leaving them a less secure world than the one I inherited.

          • M Snow

            Well, I hope you are right. Considering my current age I don’t expect to live to see which of us is correct if decades are needed. I certainly agree that the world seems less secure than it did during my younger years.

          • M Snow

            Well, I hope you are right. Considering my age I don’t expect to be around to see who is correct if decades are involved. I certainly agree that the world seems less secure than it did during my younger years.

          • Anthony

            And history reveals (suggests) that where?

          • M Snow

            Consider the Dark Ages.

          • Anthony

            Madame, human history predates the so-called Dark Ages” but if that’s your choice O.K.

          • M Snow

            I’m not sure what is going on with this site, but I did not edit my first comment and yes, I am well aware that human history predates the Dark Ages. I was just giving one example of when society collapsed into to chaos and stayed that way for a very long time.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I am aware of the truth of much of what you say, but we had best learn to deal with reality very, very soon. The fear and anger are real, but lets be honest and acknowledge that the basis of that shame is real too….they don’t fit into the new economy, nor will they. I don’t take any pleasure in saying that, and I don’t have any great answers either. Infantile class warfare isn’t the answer, and redistribution won’t change anything either….we are going to have to find something better…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Like what? Welfare? Drugs? Alcohol? Prison? Trump rallies where people think they can be “made great” again?

          • f1b0nacc1

            If the ‘like what’ was directed at me, let me suggest that we are going to have to consider some painful options.

            Lets move away from the regulation heavy environment that we currently have, and allow more businesses to be established, and then to fail in many cases. Seriously reducing the scope of government, so it is harder to engage in regulatory capture would be a good thing here, and would have the knock-on effect of giving businesses less incentive to fund lobbying efforts.

            Bring back capital to the US by massively reducing tax rates on corporations, and encourage greater capital investment by changing depreciation schedules. Lets focus on small and mid-sized businesses, the larger ones can do without the accelerated depreciation schedules.

            Encourage charter and private schools, particularly in low-income areas so we can provide these groups with the education necessary to fully participate in the economy. Break up the teacher’s unions that cripple these schools.

            Reverse Duke v. Griggs and stop funding of 90% of public universities, while massively increasing the tax burdens of all private ones. The goal here should be to have no more than 10% (and this is a high number) of the US population involved in 2 and 4 year colleges. With the money saved, fund real skills-based education (i.e vocational ed) with a strong emphasis on market-based planning. High income families should be barred from any educational support by the state (if you need to, think of this as a tax increase), End all support for ‘grievance studies’ programs, as well as professional programs that cannot show a demonstrated ability to provide employable graduates.

            Introduce a true flat tax, and cut it low.

            Encourage a devolution of power and functions to the states, and encourage them to compete with each other. If the Blue Model is such a great idea, it should be able to withstand competition.

            This is a bare start, we can go from here

          • FriendlyGoat

            You guys never quit. When you finally get around to a detail, it’s just more high-end tax cuts, deregulation, union busting—-and your new one, arguments against higher education for the middle class. You need to tell someone else. If you were a doctor with these kinds of prescriptions, I’d swear you were trying to kill the patients.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually I oppose most higher education for everyone, but at the same time I encourage removing the barriers that prevent those without a higher education (mostly the poor and middle class) from fully competing. This in fact cuts into the rich’s advantage, something I would think you would appreciate…

            As for the rest of the list, why should I change my positions when you haven’t made an argument against them. The reasoning here is simple enough…

            Cut ALL taxes (not just high end) and make them simpler. This makes it far harder for the wealthy to avoid taxes, and gives the non-wealthy a level playing field. At the same time it frees up billions of dollars that are currently spent trying to avoid taxes, not to mention the market dislocations resulting from it. Far from a giveway to the rich, it is precisely the opposite. Don’t like it….explain why….

            Deregulation makes hiring more expensive, running a business more expensive, etc. Compliance costs money, and that is money not spent on better products happier workers and more profits. Regulations are more often than not heavily influenced by lobbyists (see ‘regulatory capture’) and used to stifle innovation and limit competition, both things that heavily favor incumbent actors….i.e. the Rich you so despise. Deregulation (not eliminating all regulations…put away that strawman) opens up markets for more participants, and gives formerly underrepresented groups more opportunity to participate. This is the way you grow an economy. There is a reason that heavily regulated health care and education are expensive while computers and materials science are cheap. Once again…dont’ like it…explain why….

            I don’t want to bust unions, I want to disintegrate them. I certainly don’t have any problem with them being subject to the same collusion laws that businesses are subjected to, however, and I would agree that companies which act in violation of laws protecting a workers right to organize deserve to be punished. With that said, I dont’ accept the rights of public sector workers to organize, nor have any number of members of the liberal pantheon you worship at. Unions are actively anticompetitive, undercut productivity and long-term sustainability for the enterprise, and if history is any example, have been a bastion of resistance against ending discrimination. Likely we won’t agree here, but let me propose a simple compromise….no more public sector unions, and in exchange I drop my complaints against the NLRB….don’t like it, explain why…

            I am making a serious argument here…can you do the same, or will it simply be ad homs?

          • FriendlyGoat

            You do know that I gave up even trying to justify right-wing talk in the eighties and nineties, right? Nothing is going to happen from low flat taxes but the already-rich get richer and the already-struggling are further compromised. As for tax simplification—-it doesn’t exist and cannot exist at the business level. There are always volumes of rules on what is deductible as a business expense and what is not. There are no “postcard” returns except for the 1040 EZ which already exists for some individuals who have nothing to account for but a W-2 and a standard deduction.
            Deregulation—-the only way to talk about it is a list or lists of the rules proposed for elimination. Then the benefit can be weighed against the reason(s) the rules were ever adopted. One—–at—–a—–time.
            Unions—–seems to me you want to eliminate the strongest ones in exchange for not objecting to those which have already been mostly killed off.
            Education—–employers are not asking for less of it. Until they do, it’s hard to tell a kid to skip it.
            I’m not saying you’re not serious in your comment writing. But I stopped siding with the conservatives’ laundry list 25 years ago. I tried to embrace some—-even most—–of it. But, alas, I can’t anymore.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You aren’t addressing the points, only making assertions. The argument in favor of flat taxes is that they remove the nooks and crannies in which corruption hides, they give legislatures less room to reward friends and punish enemies in the tax code, offer less scope for market distortions, and ultimately reduce the non-tax burden on the taxpayer at all levels. don’t think this is the case…show me why. Tax simplification can in fact happen…we only add deductions because we choose to, not because it is somehow written in stone that it must happen….why MUST a deduction exist? Tradeoffs between what is ultimately ‘fair’ and lower rates might in fact be a perfectly reasonable option here. You pretend (and it is pretending) that a simplified code cannot exist through assertion, but you aren’t offering any reason as to why it must happen.
            To some extent we agree that deregulation must be a detail-based process, but then again perhaps not. Sunsetting laws, for instance, can force real attention to this sort of thing, and it isn’t impossible to provide a reduction in the scope of federal (and state/local) agencies scope for writing laws. This isn’t anything new…limited government was the goal of the Founders, and was in fact the guiding principle behind most American society before the rise of the progressives following WWI. There is no reason why we cannot start eliminating the scope of control for the administrative state…start with reducing the funding and cutting back on their staffs. Look at court cases like Vermont Yankee (1970) as a good place for the courts to chime in.
            On unions I agree with your interpretation, but only because you are stating fact. Unions make no sense in the private sector, which is why they are dying off, but in the case of the public sector they not only make no sense, they are counter to the very idea of democratic self-rule. This isn’t about whether a union is a good idea or not, it is about the consequences that they have for the ability of the state to make its own decisions, and for the people (from whom state power is ultimately derived) to participate. Arguing that keeping public sector unions around because they are strong reveals what you really are arguing….that you want their political power, and don’t care about the principles.
            As for education…businesses want credentials and skills….schools aren’t producing skills (do you seriously argue otherwise?), but businesses are prohibited from using most methods of evaluating this, so they tolerate credentials. Give businesses a different choice, and most of them would be happy to agitate for different outcomes. This is easily proven by looking at businesses where skill sets are crucial such as IT….they tend to have a very low opinion of most modern educational systems, and more often than not eschew credentials in the name of skills. Get rid of Duke v Griggs and you remove a huge barrier to entry.
            Nobody is asking you to become a conservative, quite frankly I ask for a higher standard among my conspirators (grin)…. only that you address the arguments being made, instead of simply repeating the same talking points. Supporting the conservative (more libertarian in my case, though I have little patience for most of them too….grin…) isn’t the goal…intelligent debate is.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Can’t talk now. Busy day. Will get back later.

          • seattleoutcast

            Why do the rich get richer? Have you ever heard of regulatory capture? Do you not understand that most people in Congress want a byzantine tax code so that they can grant loopholes to campaign contributors? A flat tax would make everybody pay.

            Let me ask you this: do you take your deductions? If you do, then you are just as bad as those corporations. A flat tax would benefit everyone. We’d receive more taxes from the rich and, to be frank, poor people need to pay something. It is not fair to be able to vote someone into office just to give you freebies.A true conservative knows that everybody has to put something into the system, even if it’s only ten dollars. Clutching pearls and whining over the unfairness of the tax system on poor people does not help. You may feel morally superior, but that is just a feeling–there is no practicality behind it.

            How much do you, personally, give in charities? Is it a lot? Why do more conservatives give money to charity than liberals?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Make a list of the deductions you plan to kill and then get estimates of how much more revenue each forgone deduction would raise at current rates. After the public has a good discussion on those, then you can talk about lowering to a flat tax and at what rate.
            In the end you are talking about nothing but getting the poor to pay more and the rich to pay less. Make the dang lists. Get the details out in public. Until then, this whole flat tax talk is a charade.

          • seattleoutcast

            You never provide details, it’s usually just some derivation of, higher taxes are better, regulations are better, conservatives are evil….

            WRM has pointed out in extreme detail on many occasions why the blue model has failed. I have come to the conclusion that you never read any posts on the failed blue model.

          • FriendlyGoat

            If there was any alternative to the blue model which does not leave workers and families so screwed over that they gravitate to any huckster with a “make America great again” message, I’d listen to it.
            TAI harps on this all the time and they make a point of favoring no job security, no health care security, no pensions, fewer public-sector jobs and death to all the unions. They imply that would all be compensated by more people driving for Uber and fewer occupational licenses for hair braiders. I mean, the TAI “solutions” are so very, very lame, it’s hard to take them seriously.

          • f1b0nacc1

            An economy that isn’t producing jobs is the core of the problem. Pretending that you can just whip some up out of thin air is an expensive delusion. I have proposed elsewhere in this thread several ideas that would contribute to changing the dynamic we are facing. This took us time to get into, we aren’t going to get out of it much quicker.

            Let me throw out a few other options to pursue.

            Stop immigration for all but a very small number of individuals and make residency for those already here heavily conditioned upon civics, a command of English, and a overt, explicit, rejection of foreign loyalties. Taxing foreign remittances would be an excellent way to help undercut the desire of more cheap labor to enter the country as well. The biggest victims of uncontrolled immigration are those at the bottom of the economic ladder….stop undercutting their options by importing even more cheap labor.

            In addition to the above suggestion, actively and aggressively go after employers who hire illegals, as well as those that exploit those here legally. This means everything from outright illegals to the H-1B and H-2A systems that are so badly abused.

            End all student loan programs and subsidies, replacing them with limited scholarships for deserving students in low and middle income groups. Limit these scholarships to less than 10% of the total student population, and only for STEM and associated fields. Establish clear-cut standards for student support (housing, facilities, etc.) and prohibit any funding from reaching schools that exceed those standards. Why pay for luxuries?

            While I personally support a large defense budget, I believe that we can take steps to reduce some areas of that budget in order to free up room for others. Kill the F-35 and LCS outright, and reduce the size of the senior officer corps by no less than 50%. Alter procurement programs to move away from cost-plus models over a period of no less than 5 years.

            Move to zero-based budgeting for the federal budget as a whole, and enforce a full audit-ready model no later than 2021.

            Encourage public-private partnerships through tax incentives, particularly for roads and infrastructure, but phase out federally directed programs that do not materially impact explicitly interstate needs. End Davis-Bacon of course, and terminate all infrastructure spending on liberal pieties such as bike paths, parks, etc. End all affirmative action-based hiring (8A programs are the target here) for all government-financed programs, and forbid any closed shop from participating in such programs.

            End corporate welfare such as the ExIm bank (don’t just suspend it) as well as all ‘Green’ initatives. With the money saved, encourage block grants to SB organizations in the states, as well as direct innovation grants through trade schools. None of these grants, however should last more than 3-5 years (non-renewable) and all should be conditioned upon a strictly non-discriminatory basis.

            As for the more immediate needs of those displaced, lets acknowledge that Welfare (through block grants) and unemployment are necessary evils for the time being. I can accept extending them beyond their current time limits somewhat, but this should be open to later review. In the meantime, the unemployed who wish to obtain skill training (and this does not mean going to a community college, I mean real skills) should be given every encouragement (including stipends) to do so, but once again, this should be time-limited and open to supervision.

          • FriendlyGoat

            We somewhat agree on immigration. Unfortunately the employers of immigrants do not agree with us.
            Because half or more of our states are politically inept, I do not believe in block grants for much of anything.
            Ending corporate welfare sounds great. The corporations have lobbyists and we don’t.
            Your education model means we never train another football coach on scholarship, grant or loan. That’s progress.
            Better ask the rest of the conservatives if they hate parks. Some of them believe that the parks they use are the only good money government spends.
            Public-private partnerships only work if the government assures the private side that it can’t lose money. Not too sure that is smart. I mean, what else is that F-35?
            Getting tired. Going light as you see here. Until next time.

          • Anthony

            FG, if I might presume: on this thread and on “is religious freedom in the national interest’, you have attempted to convey to both readers and respondents that there is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity. Good night my friend and we may resume tomorrow if need be.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. As you know, though, most of the “readers and respondents” don’t receive it that way.

          • Anthony

            Well, one must maintain hope! So many of us have become afraid and angry. We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away much of our humanity (wittingly or unwittingly). I try hard to recognize both my own brokenness and that which surrounds me. Mercy, FG, “creates a corresponding need to show mercy – the humanity that resides in each of us.” And you’re welcome.

          • seattleoutcast

            That’s because we live in a plurality, and humanism is just one form of religion. As you know, our Constitution does not allow a state religion, and that goes for humanism.

          • f1b0nacc1

            The employers of immigrants are often breaking the law…the rule of law is essential for any free market to work, and I have little patience with defending their rather hypocritical lack of devotion to it.
            As for block grants, you may not like many states (I agree…the Blue states are inept….), but that is federalism, and it is precisely what the founders had in mind. We aren’t supposed to be a monolithic central government, for reasons that were laid out quite nicely in 1776…
            Corporate welfare should be eliminated, along with much of the private welfare. This can be done, pretending that lobbyists are the only thing keeping us from doing so is simply silly.
            We agree…if the NFL wants farm teams (and I say this as a big football fan), let them pay for it out of their own pockets. College sports (along with most colleges) are a waste of public resources and should be done away with. We don’t have the money for this sort of thing…
            I love parks, but I don’t believe that we should be pretending that ‘infrastructure’ spending is best used on building parks. When we are talking about improving infrastructure, it is sold as fixing highways and bridges, instead it is more often than people want to admit a question of building bike trails and parks. The same sort of silliness is present in things like High Speed Rail (a debacle in CA that is eating up desperately needed money) to satisfy lefty hobbies. parks can be funded directly (the national parks service, for example) or in public-private partnerships…but lets stop hiding the money elsewhere….
            Public Private Partnerships often work out quite well. The Feds don’t have to ensure that the private sector cannot lose money, only that it will make money IF it does its part. The F-35 is an example of that principle NOT being followed…Lockheed hasn’t done their share, and they are still getting their money. The ULA in NASA is another superb example of this failure. On the other hand, look at SpaceX, which has managed to develop, test, and deploy game-changing new technologies on their own nickel. They are getting rich on it, true, but only because they are providing a crucial service.

          • Tom Scharf

            You can’t get Lockheed Martin to accept very technically risky projects if they are allowed to go bankrupt in the process. They will just no-bid the contract and you will end up giving it to a second rate less capable company that will accept going bankrupt, and you will lose anyway. Some things that are tried are very risky and failing is an acceptable option. It happens much more often than people think it does, it’s just not visible. That’s how you press the envelope and get to the moon in 10 years. Is this sometimes abused? I would imagine so.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Having worked with numerous defense contractors, I find your assertion unconvincing. Lockheed Martin underbid the F-35 project, then sat by and signed off on an endless number of post-contract changes knowing that they could bill for them on a cost-plus basis. Tightening up the process wouldn’t stop them from bidding, but it would certainly force them to bid more realistically and push back against downstream changes that were more properly off-contract. This isn’t about not being able to get the planes built, but getting them built at a reasonable cost in a timely manner. If Lockheed cannot do it, why are we paying them in the first place?
            Citing the Apollo project is a poor tactic. The motto there was ‘waste anything but time’, and the various contractors (and NASA) certainly did that. What we ended up with was a few bags of rocks, some moving memories, and very, very little else. Even if this was an acceptable outcome (and I don’t believe it was), are you seriously suggesting that this is a model we should be using for defense procurement? Lets be clear, the F-35 is not a ‘do it or we end up as Chinese slaves’ sort of priority, it was supposed to be a follow-on to existing tactical aircraft programs…specifically to save money, enhance reliability, and provide for greater tactical and strategic flexibility. It has failed on a truly galactic level on all of those, and at a gigantic cost.
            Defense contracting is not supposed to be a license to print money with no serious attention paid to whether the outcome is going to be useful or not. It is supposed to provide viable weapon systems at (semi-)reasonable costs. If Lockheed cannot do this, it shouldn’t be bidding. If the DOD requirements are unreasonable (often the case), then we need to incentivize the contractors to push back against those requirements, something that they have no incentive to do at this time using cost-plus. If the contractor have no skin in the game (i.e. they have no real penalty when the programs go over budget and out of scope), then they will continue to tolerate the sort of poor management and shoddy delivery that we have seen with the F-35. Whimpering that ‘this is risky technology’ perhaps suggests that we need to be a bit more realistic about just what we are asking for, and how realistic those requirements are.

          • Tom Scharf

            The bait and switch is ever present in government contracting. Low bid the proposal and nail them for contract changes. We pay LM to build planes because someone is convinced everyone else will do an even worse job. Rockwell’s B-1 was pretty much a disaster and Rockwell isn’t building it for very good reasons. I have no particular allegiances here, government contracting is a huge mess and contractors play the system much better than the government defends it.

            I don’t know enough about the F-35 procurement to defend it but I think judgment should be withheld until the program is mature. The expectation is there will be a lot of international sales but I doubt it will be another F-16. We shall see.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Yes, Bait and Switch is very popular in government contracting. Why should we tolerate this, or worse still attempt to rationalize it. Until we start making contractors suffer, really suffer for this practice, it isn’t going to stop, and the rest of us will pay for it. There are perfectly reasonable methods that can be used to do this….I have already shown several. Pretending that it is somehow OK because it is business as usual isn’t one of them.
            The B-1 (which I should point out that I originally opposed) was a failure as a nuclear strike aircraft, but a brilliant success as a conventional bomber, and now has a potential future as an arsenal aircraft. Rockwell isn’t building any more of them because there is no real need to do so…
            As for LM building planes because they convinced people that they do it well….consider their track record, it isn’t a pretty one. LM convinces senior DOD personnel that they should buy from them, whether or not that includes ‘because they can do it better than others’ is an open question. Given the number of retired Air Force officers on the LM payroll, I suspect that may be a bigger factor…
            The F-35 program is far, far too expensive to ‘mature’…more likely it will stagger on for a while, but it will never be able to be fully completed. In the end, it will be truncated, and its defenders will start a torrent of excuses to rationalize its inability to perform even essential core functions. In some ways, this will be the DOD’s Obamacare, though I suspect that Obamacare will be responsible for more fatalities…
            We agree, international sales projections for this turkey are wildly overblown. For every success story like the Israelis, there will be debacles like Canada.

          • Tom Scharf

            Engineering unemployment has always been low, and the H-1B system acts more to suppress wages than cost jobs in my opinion.

            I consider the DOD engineering welfare, ha ha. If there ever was an example of the government providing good high paying jobs to its citizens, this is it. And the fact that you typically can’t get hired into most defense contractors without the ability to get a security clearance (i.e. you are a citizen) it checks all the right boxes. There is some really good engineering work in defense. Lockheed Martin et. al. know a lot about making rockets for NASA because they learned a lot making ICBM’s and spy satellites.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Some engineering unemployment is low, and it certainly hasn’t been ‘always’. Take a look at aerospace engineering, for instance, and read up a bit on the aerospace crash in Southern California following the moon landings. Careers and lives were destroyed in that, some of it unavoidable, but hardly unknown at the time or since. You can find similar examples following the end of the Cold War, or during the 90s in industries that didn’t participate in the boom. For that matter, automotive engineers have had serious unemployment problems often enough in the years since the 1970s, almost on a regular basis.
            H-1Bs act not only to suppress wages (their whole purpose, and the reason why the tech titans love them so dearly), but they actively cost jobs of citizens. Now this can be justified on a lot of levels, and that is an entirely different debate, but the fact of the matter is that they do have this effect. All you need to do is take a look at the telecom industry in Northern Texas, or the software industry in the Pacific Northwest.
            As for DOD, some of it is engineering welfare, NASA even more so. The ULA is a superlative example of this (as is the SLS, possibly the single most expensive example after the F-35), but it is also inefficient. The government provides good jobs (actually they pay for real companies to provide good jobs, but I am quibbling), but at a hugely inflated cost. Compare the ULA to SpaceX, as a simple example, or look at Boeing’s commercial business vs its defense business. Of course there is some good engineering going on in these places, but the question should be whether or not this would be happening anyway if the government wasn’t playing for it, and if so, why are we doing so? Some of it is valuable and should be retained, but some of it is simply a waste (or could be done more efficiently elsewhere) and should be dispensed with. Yes, we are generating employment, but we might be better advised to simply hand the money directly to those that we wish to subsidize and let them go on and do something useful at a far, far lower cost.
            Not to sound like FG, but another advantage might be gained by making active use of anti-trust law to prevent the overconsolidation of defense firms, particularly aerospace giants like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing (to say nothing of Northrup-Grumman). The ULA is another mess that should have never been permitted, and it is easily within NASA’s remit to have prevented it in the first place. Competition is a positive thing, and allowing such consolidation, with its inherently anti-competitive nature, has served no one.

          • seattleoutcast

            This is not helpful.

          • seattleoutcast

            As an aside, Drucker’s Knowledge Economy is also in danger thanks to outsourcing. In the 90s, those in manufacturing were told to go to school to learn computer skills or go into medicine. Now many of those jobs can be easily outsourced to India. It’s quite easy now to say, send X-Ray images to India in the evening where doctors examine them and return the results by morning.

          • ljgude

            I think globalization is what makes it so problematic. We managed to go from an 80 to a 40 hour week because government could define what constituted a job and set enforceable penalty rates to prevent people working more than the specified hours within its jurisdiction. I think we would be better off socially if 20 hours a week constituted full employment and produced a liveable wage, but it seems unworkable because labor and capital are so fluid. And I am highly skeptical of the idea or a social wage where you just pay people not to work to keep them supplied with food clothing and shelter. I think people need to contribute to their own upkeep, but culture is remarkably flexible and social norms may emerge that allow societies to operate in ways we can hardly conceive today. We have to somehow get by the assumptions that structure the present social situation where jobs come in 40 hour lumps and you either have one or you’re toast. Henry Ford was no Marxist, but he figured out he had to pay his workers above the odds so they could buy a model T. Today’s PC tycoons, Blue Model politicians etc. have considerably less imagination.

      • seattleoutcast

        This is the Obama economy. WRM has discussed this several times. This is also what they do in France. I do not see France’s standard of living very high.

  • QET

    “It’s about decreasing the amount of work and energy it takes to produce the necessities of life so that fewer and fewer people spend their entire lives in routine and repetitive labor, toiling at drudgery that provides a living but detracts from life itself. . .As a species, we will be spending less time wresting nature into submission, and more time learning what it means to be fully human.”

    This has actually been the case already for some time in the West. The telos of the West for the past 300 years has been to overcome material insufficiency. Material well-being measured by production and consumption has been the sole universally-acknowledged value of Western civilization for the last 300 years. That is a historical fact. In our dominant utilitarian philosophy, material quantity and distribution is the only scale of value.

    By any standard that would have been accepted even a century ago, material sufficiency in the West has been achieved. We have record numbers of people not even considered to be “participating” in the labor force, yet we have no mass starvation, no mass vagrancy. Nearly everyone has “adequate” (again, measured by the only relevant standard which is a historical one and not a present one) food, shelter, clothing and shoes, without having to labor at all to have them. Technology has practically solved the problem that dominated all prior ages and all prior peoples and places. The goal has been reached. The race is over, and has been won. We actually live in the future of prior ages. So what does it look like?

    From time to time people like WRM (and Marx) wax poetic about how material provision will finally “free” man to be “fully human.” But it is no more than that: poetry. Let’s take a peek at our species in its long-hoped-for emancipation from toil and drudgery: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/07/what-are-young-men-doing.html (“The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of 12, and sometimes upwards of 30 hours per week.”); http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/world-without-work/395294/ (“Hunnicutt’s vision rests on certain assumptions about taxation and redistribution that might not be congenial to many Americans today. But even leaving that aside for the moment, this vision is problematic: it doesn’t resemble the world as it is currently experienced by most jobless people. By and large, the jobless don’t spend their downtime socializing with friends or taking up new hobbies. Instead, they watch TV or sleep. Time-use surveys show that jobless prime-age people dedicate some of the time once spent working to cleaning and childcare. But men in particular devote most of their free time to leisure, the lion’s share of which is spent watching television, browsing the Internet, and sleeping. Retired seniors watch about 50 hours of television a week, according to Nielsen. That means they spend a majority of their lives either sleeping or sitting on the sofa looking at a flatscreen. The unemployed theoretically have the most time to socialize, and yet studies have shown that they feel the most social isolation; it is surprisingly hard to replace the camaraderie of the water cooler.”)

    A scientist might say that the evidence has falsified the theory. So maybe it’s time for a new theory?

  • Tom Scharf

    I don’t think “let them eat cake” is going to be an acceptable answer, even if it is technically correct. Voter backlash is already happening. The meritocracy has to at least pretend they care, and I don’t even see that.

    The knowledge economy has served me exceedingly well over the past 30 years and I made it a point to get my kids prepared for it. It is impossible to defend an accusation that this economy was built from the ground up to be self serving for the meritocracy. One only has to look where the largest and most profitable company on earth manufacturers their products to conclude that there probably is such a thing as too much globalism (I must say I find it perplexing that Apple is given a pass on their practices by the left). The low tech workers are distributed everywhere, they don’t all live in China.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Yes, but if Apple didn’t have China as an option, they would likely move to a robotic assembly line (still more likely they would find African workers who could undercut the Chinese) rather than start building them in Flint, MI. The truth of the matter is that low/semi-skilled labor is rapidly becoming easily dispensed with, or at the very least automated/outsourced away. That future is what we face, and no voters revolt (short of a dystopian Luddite takeover) is likely to change that ugly fact.
      Like you, I have been a beneficiary of the rise of the knowledge economy, and I share your view that the meritocrats are going to have to learn to at least fake some sincere concern at the plight of those who don’t make it. Don’t bet on them to do so…they do enjoy their smugness…bet on them finding ways to simply isolate themselves from the lower orders…

      • Diws

        It seems to me that in the 90’s and early 00’s it was much easier to break into an IT role through a career change, because there were a lot of entry level roles out there. Now these are to a large degree offshored. So this is one safety valve which has at the very least narrowed. Retraining workers does not work too well if there are few jobs for them..

        • Tom Scharf

          I don’t think offshoring imposes a real threat to IT careers. The highest paid and most recruited people straight out of college are still engineering and computer science. I lived through the period mentioned and was very concerned about it, but the threat never really materialized. Almost every * sufficiently skilled * IT graduate can get a decent paying job. Part of IT skills are unfortunately innate talent similar to athletics and some people will never make that cut and that limits supply to some extent.

          • Diws

            My point is that a lot of people come into IT in nontraditional ways (for instance, I was an English major in undergrad), and this represented a safety valve which does not exist now, at least not to anything like the former extent. Sure, people will still come in via internships, etc. And to reply to your company size differentiation, fib0, I think that you are seeing the small to midsized companies increasingly opt for managed services, which generally do a terible job IMO, but which also really like to employ the H1b’s (as the work conditions at MSP’s are often terrible). In any case, I do feel that the talent pipeline into IT is somewhat threatened – how does one build the skill set from the ground up if those entry level jobs are increasingly in Bangalore?

          • Tom Scharf

            I think the the competition is more from the much larger proportion of our own population that has had computer skills from 3 years old. Since everyone has these now, it is no longer that valuable. The best path is a tech degree, but I wish competency exams were an option.

          • Diws

            That’s partially what vendor certs are for, which in reality are a mixed bag. I remember the joke that MCSE’s were at one time. But F5, and Cisco with at least some of their certs (CCIE), do it right. It would be intersting to discuss just how IT certifications fit into WRM’s “Twilight of the Guilds” scenario.

        • f1b0nacc1

          If you only look at large corps and the government, your analysis is pretty much spot on, but (particularly in IT) there are a ton of small and mid-sized businesses that don’t do a lot of off-shoring, and don’t waste their time with the idiocy of the paper chase. Retraining works just fine for them (right now I work for a company that has that as a core policy), though predictably enough, the HR drones hate it.

  • Greg Olsen

    This transition, where science fiction is becoming fact, is part of what is driving discussions once unheard of in policy circles. Recently Charles Murray, who is hardly Left wing, has floated the idea of abolishing the current social safety net in favor of an unconditional basic income scheme. It is one approach to the problem of what you do with the 50% of the population ill-suited to the new work place where manufacturing, transportation, and routine office work have been replaced by machines. They can’t all be hair dressers and massage therapists (what economists mean by transition to the non-tradable service sector).

  • FriendlyGoat

    If only we could further reduce taxation in a dramatic fashion for the shareholder class and the multi-million-dollar managers they hire to fire people, we could even ACCELERATE the pressure-culture described as already in place at Kimberly-Clark (and other companies). I have been criticized for arguing that high-end tax cuts DO NOT “create jobs”, and this article describes one of the chief mechanisms I have noticed by which job destruction from tax cutting occurs. We are being asked to believe in a lower-taxed culture that K-C cannot possibly afford to retain the “mediocre” workers as they age, but the era of higher tax rates on corporations and dividends happened to coincide with a greater loyalty to long-term workers and the gold watch culture.
    The normal Social Security retirement age for younger workers is already 67. Some people want to raise it to 69. Here’s the problem. With few exceptions, MOST workers at K-C and other large companies will likely become what they are now calling “dead wood” long before 69. TAI is apologizing all over the place with sympathy for those who will be dumped at midlife. Greg Olsen here is flirting with the idea of some kind of guaranteed basic income scheme (presumably for people to stay home). Blackbeard is asking what happens to the half of us who are lesser lights. f1b0nacc1 is suggesting that it might be okay for more people to fall into the despair of Detroit. None of this really points to the kind of country we wish we were living in. The idea that our enterprises no longer wish to be burdened with average or a-little-below-average employees is NOT the road to “making America great again” for those people (workers left behind)who are being asked to believe the “Make America Great Again” slogan. It is the opposite. The more you cut the taxation of the ownership class, the more you will see this “Sorry, you’re not needed anymore” trend. Beats me why this does not strike more people as obvious.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Actually I don’t think it will be ‘OK’ for people to fall into the despair of Detroit, I simply think that it is going to happen no matter what we do. There is a huge difference between acknowledging an unpleasant reality and arguing that it is desirable….are you really so dense that you cannot see this?

      You argue that ‘the good old days’ of corporate loyalty coincided with high tax rates on corporate dividends, but this is a seriously inadequate misreading of reality. When the US was the unacknowledged industrial core of the world (WWII conveniently destroyed our competition for over 2 decades, leaving us the only game in town) it was simple enough to support what proved to be an unsustainable Blue Model. As the Europeans and Japanese (and later much of the rest of Asia) began to recover and develop, we quickly found that we couldn’t maintain the sort of market control that permitted such luxuries, which has now led us to where we find ourselves. We could also discuss the excessive (and unsustainable) labor agreements that grew from that period Note; this is NOT a discussion of whether or not those agreements were desirable, only that they are unsustainable. Throw in the rise of automation, global supply networks, and world trade agreements that tend to benefit consumers at the expense of producers (not to mention vast global oversupply as a result of states like China pursuing export-led growth) and any real connection with corporate tax rates and employee welfare evaporates quite quickly.

      I don’t take any joy in the decay of many formerly great American cities in the face of this, nor do I think that we should simply ignore the problem.As an entirely side matter, I find the use of the sort of management techniques associated here with K-C repellent, and wouldn’t work for them. With this said, they are real and we must live in the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be. I am open to suggestions as to how to deal with these issues, but the burden of evidence that they will work (or at least are worth trying) is on those making the suggestion….and you seem short on evidence

      • FriendlyGoat

        You may consider yourself fortunate that your current employer apparently does not (yet) see the new K-C model as the best way to manage you. Except to the extent we politically control this kind of thing, it just grows as a norm—–coming soon to a company near us, as they say. The best way to control it is to reduce rewards associated with driving employees (and suppliers) crazy. We have been headed the wrong direction on this since about 1982 (when I first began to notice that some corporate customers were becoming ridiculous with the “what have you done for me lately?” mentality. I have even often wondered if this is one of the roots to why so many people think we’re on the “wrong track” in the famous poll question. If they were in workplaces which treat them as “human capital” as opposed to “humans”, it may explain a lot about why so many people are so hurt and so mad.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Do you think that I like this model for management? I find it repellent, and do NOT support it. This is hardly a new phenomenon though….we can go back to ‘process engineeers’ in the 1950s, and ‘efficiency experts’ before that to see the same control-freak mentality. This sort of thing is as old as mediocre managers, and sane people do find it utterly unacceptable….which is one reason not to work for companies that use it. Until that happens, companies will see no downside to using such tactics…

          • FriendlyGoat

            I didn’t say you liked it. But citizens need to push back against it——as a group, not merely as individuals. Some people have skills which are mobile enough and in demand enough that they can just jump. Most people can’t and the older one gets, the more that tends to be true.

          • f1b0nacc1

            The most effective way to deal with this is to simply refuse to work with companies that behave this way. You are right that some people don’t have much leverage, but that is an unfortunate fact of life. I think that the world would be a much better place if I could pursue my goal of being a supermodel taster, but we all must learn to live with life’s disappointments (grin)…Seriously though, even a bad job is often better than no job. Don’t like the conditions (and I don’t think you should), get skills and leverage so you don’t have to deal with them.

            Citizens do not have any ‘right’ to push back against a company that is behaving legally, even if it is reprehensible. Shame them, picket them, boycott them….I encourage you to do so….but that is where it ends. We have enough problems with the government acting as an HR department now…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Actually, citizens write the laws which charter the corporations here and everywhere. Citizens are only as powerless as they allow themselves to be. This is one of the big misunderstandings of politics. “Behaving legally” depends entirely on what the citizens saw fit to make legal.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Actually I agree with you, but just how would you propose that they stop this?

            Remember that if you really want to encourage government doing this things (and that is what you are proposing I surmise) then businesses will respond. They can take their business elsewhere, or simply choose not to do it at all.

            Actually I found an implication in one of your comments earlier interesting. You suggest that companies be encouraged to ‘believe’ in better treatment of their workers. Social pressure, boycotts, etc. might be most useful here…after all, this is how gay rights activists have made much progress, and they did it without serious legal victories or much legislation. Might we find a basis for agreement there?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Sure, I like social pressure and boycotts. They’re hard to pull off in ways that get results. With respect to Kimberly-Clark, will the Moms stop buying their diaper products to protest new HR software or other tactics?
            As for gays, we might surmise that they have made progress because most of the corporations are either on their side (as a form of customer relations) simply or don’t care about the issue in a political sense.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I suspect that a name and shame boycott would work quite well with K-C, after all this sort of thing (the software use) is especially egregious, and easily understood by almost everyone. Enlist someone like Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) to put together a few compelling cartoons…
            Just because public movements are ‘hard to pull off in ways that get results’ doesn’t mean that they aren’t a desirable venue.

          • Tom Scharf

            I would like to point out that many people thrive in these type of environments. They tend to be productive Type-A’s and those who do not suffer fools easily. They very much want to work with people like themselves. I don’t think there is any shame here. As long as people know what they are getting into then let the market sort it out.

            The government outlawing this is like telling Harvard and MIT they are no longer allowed to take only Type-A ultra competitive wonderkids. So after you protest at K-C, make sure and drop by MIT as well.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Indeed so…and then those individuals will not feel any shame (most of that ilk rarely do anyway), so there won’t be a problem.
            I think that you have misinterpreted my comment. I am NOT calling for such things to be outlawed by the government (FG is, take your objections up with him), in fact quite the opposite. I am suggesting that if the public doesn’t like such behavior, they should object to it and let the company decide whether or not it wishes to continue it. I agree with you that the government has no place in this.
            As for your comparison to MIT/Harvard, please….lighten up. Those institutions are ultra-selective, once you get their they don’t monitor your every waking moment. There is a huge difference, and I suspect that you know better.

      • Tom Scharf

        My wife works for a company just like K-C. I cannot believe the rate at which they fire people. Everybody is always on edge.

        It also results in a productive workplace. She joined the company in 2008 and it has more than tripled in size during the Great Recession. Perhaps this is coincidence, perhaps not. There are many factors that lead to success.

        If firing deadwood leads to better growth and even more people getting hired it becomes difficult to call this “repellent”. Everyone gets fired when the company goes out of business. A hard and fast rule like “fire 10% of our employees every year” does seem a bit extreme, but “let’s not be shy with getting rid of unproductive people” does not.

        A lot of unproductive people end up working for Uncle Sam and maybe that is actually the best place for them.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I am a great believer in free markets and liberty in general. If K-C (or companies like that) wish to engage in such practices (and they are, by and large, repellent….however successful that they might be) they have every right to do so. I do share your low opinion of the government and its employees…organ donors, the lot of them. On the other hand, the rest of us humans also have the right to call them what they are, and treat them accordingly.
          Suggesting that there is a black/white alternative existing solely of control-freaks overseeing a deathmarch of workers to success and a mass of deadwood leading to failure somewhat oversimplifies things, don’t you think? I have worked for a few firms that were notorious for their high-pressure environments (Microsoft immediately comes to mind), and a few others that were amazingly ‘worker-friendly’, and there is little reason to argue that either strategy produced consistently good or bad results. Pretending that this is the case does not server your argument well.
          A company that choose (with the law) business practices that I may find objectionable will rise or fall based upon the success of those practices not their appeal. With that said, even a highly successful company cannot argue that success means their practices are beyond criticism
          The broader question though is whether

  • JR

    Have we tried taxing corporations at really progressive levels? I mean, we are the highest now, but I’m talking really progressive if you know my meaning. Having a larger tax bill will totally make them want to retain below average workers. Beats me why this doesn’t strike more people as obvious.

    • FriendlyGoat

      You’re catching on, but you need to add in the understanding that paying people is more attractive than paying that bigger tax bill. The goal of higher taxation is not necessarily to actually collect those taxes. They can be avoided with more expenses against revenues in those companies which are doing well. Companies that are not doing well don’t have an income tax problem in the first place, of course.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Short of a 100% tax on profits, what is to stop a company from simply automating the workers away, which is the logical response to higher labor costs (which tend to be fixed, especially in the environments that you propose creating), combined with punitive high-income taxes, which make even ‘good years’ not so good? Since in a bad year (i.e. low profits) a business would have the same fixed costs (high labor, etc.), keeping workers on makes little sense when they can be replaced by lower cost automation which means that during ‘bad years’ the fixed costs are lower.

        • FriendlyGoat

          I tried to warn JR about the pitfalls of 100% talk—-comes off silly, you know?

          • f1b0nacc1

            Work on the reading comprehension…I said ‘short of…’, I didn’t propose a 100% tax, and didn’t suggest that you did either. In point of fact the phrase ‘Short of…’ is meant to point out that even in an extremely unrealistic scenario this wouldn’t work.

          • FriendlyGoat

            What we need is an end to the world race to the bottom on income taxation of incorporated endeavors and a greater reliance on the income tax than on the more-hidden value-added taxes or transaction taxes. Otherwise, gross inequality merely accelerates. I am far more “reasonable” on rates than you think, but (as you know) in the recent and current election season, all our conservative side can talk about is cuts, cuts, cuts—-when they are the wrong prescription here and everywhere. They say we have to do it because some other country is doing it. But we don’t—and that “other country” doesn’t have to either.

      • JR

        I also know that corporations will move outside a jurisdiction that taxes them too heavily. Corporations are there to provide goods and services, not to employ unproductive people. That’s not how you achieve growth. There is a reason hiring people to dig holes and fill them up is not a viable economic strategy.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Corporations are there to do what citizens find appropriate and beneficial as customers and as employees and as the writers of law which governs corporate activities . Companies are not uncontrollable monsters to which people must bow and scrape.

          • JR

            Companies are nothing more but collections of people. You can’t just expect them to just not respond to incentives, like all people do.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I wish companies were just collections of people. Companies today are collections of money with hired lobbyists.

          • JR

            You have to shrink the size of the government to avoid regulatory capture. I’m game for that.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’d rather cut the money out from under the lobbyists than out from under the government.

          • seattleoutcast

            If it includes public unions, then so be it. But you can’t have fewer lobbyists without a smaller government.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Amazing how he misses the sarcasm….isn’t it?

      • FriendlyGoat

        I didn’t miss it.

      • JR

        Yeah… I think it has less to do with collecting taxes and revenue and economics, and more to do with punishing those who earn these wages. Those high profit are a sin and they must be cleansed of it. There are plenty of ways to escape higher taxes rather than spend them on employing those who are not productive enough to merit a wage. Interestingly enough, FG supports higher minimum wage which will make a lot of these lower skilled people not just unemployed but unemployable.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Perhaps a rich guy ran over his dog?

          George Will once said it best “Money, which can hire accounts and travel agents, can easily escape the clutches of the most ardent tax collector”

          • FriendlyGoat

            You’d think George would like Donald Trump for (apparently) doing exactly that, but I hear George is not a Trumpie.

          • f1b0nacc1

            George Will loathes Trump, but I suspect it is more a cultural thing (Trump is a boor, Will fancies himself a gentleman of the old school) than anything else…

            In any event, the truth of Will’s comment is self-evident…

  • Andrew Allison

    Hogwash. As The spokesman said, it’s about “managing out the deadwood”. Companies can no longer afford to carry the deadwood which

  • CosmotKat

    Is the transformation to an information society really that laudable? It seems so much of that information is just noise and how much really increases productivity. To me it sounds like the Newspeak we’ve been getting for some time and that coupled with political correctness appears more detrimental than a true positive change. The managers doing the weeding out process are generally highly paid and incentivized to weed out in order to maximize their own remuneration.

  • dlg1976

    “The Great Work of the human race in this transition from the old industrial economy to the new information one is about releasing the energy and talent of hundreds of millions of people to work on making their lives better, richer, and more interesting. [. . .] Nor is their grief assuaged by thinking about how much more the managers who have engineered this change in corporate culture are making under the new dispensation.”

    But beyond that – since there’s no guarantee that the more efficient folds at Kimberly-Clark are reaching Nirvana by making better toilet paper dispensers – ALL of us benefit from the efficiencies created by OTHER firms which bring us everything from Uber to XBox to heirloom tomatoes to Archer Season 7. It is the deep, deep interplay of human production that makes life so much more fulfilling now – even for the loafs who lost their jobs for being slackers. So while working at one particular corporation may still be dull, even for the productive, their increased income can provide them more leisure to enjoy what everyone else is doing. And we all get cooler looking toilet paper dispensers in the process!

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service