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What happened to wages?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by hobbsyoyo, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

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    But at what point do we start blaming the individual for poor life choices that lead to financial insecurity? Because a lot of the time people just make straight up stupid choices that have lifelong consequences. And this isn't about picking what field to go into. I'm talking about quitting a job when you can't afford to because that job isn't "making you happy" or whatever. Or "I'm not going to invest because I don't trust the stock market". Nevermind that the overall trend of the stock market has been an upward one, despite short term dips.

    I just can't agree with the mentality that one's destiny is not in their own hands. Can everybody be super-wealthy just because they want to be? No. Is it easy to get wealthy? Definitely not. But by taking the time to sit down and just do some damn life planning and start thinking long term instead of seeking instant gratification, you can carve out a pretty decent life for yourself.
     
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  2. Estebonrober

    Estebonrober Deity

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    the inverse of that point is should someone be stuck in rank poverty because of some bad decisions. Should someone not be able to work anywhere ever even if they want to find work and are willing to learn to find work? What kind of society leaves people who want to contribute to struggle to find healthcare, education, or even just food and shelter?

    why is it we don’t question that moral decision instead of the personal failures of a minority of the able bodied?
     
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  3. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Ugh, there are two factors. One is a systemtic issue. It's what's keeping the median suppressed. The other is the sum of individual choices, where enough people have made 'poor' personal investments that the mean is lower than it needs to be.

    The OP is about wages not keeping pace with the productivity of the worker. We poo-pooh these 'low-paying' jobs, but don't realize that the productivity of these jobs has risen (almost entirely due to macro-effects). But the benefit of that productivity increase hasn't been captured by the people actually creating it.

    Everyone knows (and even understands) why someone who didn't 'try' while young or wasn't 'wise' is poorer than someone who didn't make these mistakes. But that doesn't explain the stagnation of the median wage.

    There were bums when the median wage wasn't stagnant.
    Heck, we were still using leaded gasoline back then. There was lead in the paint. "Poor life choices" isn't the explanation of the stagnation of the median wage.
     
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  4. Estebonrober

    Estebonrober Deity

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    And even when it is it should not permanently punish those who made those choices is such severe ways as basically a life of at best permanent indentured servitude.
     
  5. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    That's a value-judgement, which is independent of any point I am making. I am the believer that the inheritor of wealth is allowed to benefit from that wealth. So I think that a National Basic Income is a reasonable idea.

    But it's not a lack of 'responsibility' at the individual level that's leading to wage suppression. Except maybe as an epiphenomena of not learning how an economy actually works.

    The long-term goal is holodecks and replicators for all, afterall. But, if someone makes bad choices, then I guess the better measure for 'progress' is that those same bad choices would have resulted in worse outcomes in generations past. But I'm looking at the success stories, and noting the the median isn't rising.
     
  6. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Theoretically:

    I think if everyone became a willing and able person trained in all the high paying productive hot growth fields (a nation of programmers) it would not only drive up the wages of the first people to do it, but would drive up the general wages of the other professions from the cashier to the cook to the waiter etc.

    We’d have legions of people able to create new things of value everywhere hoping someone else would do the menial work, where there would be no surplus of untrained labor competing for those jobs, and people would be bid back to them.
     
  7. uppi

    uppi Deity

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    Well, if there was a nation of programmers, there would be two possibilities:
    1) Most of these programmers are finding opportunities to apply their skills. In this case, you would have such a capacity for automation that soon there would not be any menial jobs left.
    2) Many of these people are not finding opportunities to apply their skills, have to get another job and have no choice but to take a menial job no matter the wage.
     
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  8. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Well, higher productivity allows wages to rise. That's for sure. But it's a different question as to whether those wages will result in a decrease of the 0.1% to own. Ownership (rather than value-adding) by the 0.1% is a major reason for wage suppression
     
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  9. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    3) when you solve problems you create new ones and demand new work.
     
  10. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    #3) is only true while the cost of retraining is less than the cost of building new automation. AND requires that you have something that those with the newly created assets actually want (other than ownership of your property).
     
  11. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Sure but the point being

    “Look at the macro we can’t all be good”

    And I’m like “look at the macro, if we’re all good it’ll work better anyway”
     
  12. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Yup, I pretty much agree.

    There's no doubt that higher productivity would raise the bottom. Especially in the shorter term. I'm not sure it wouldn't shake upwards. Though maybe the addition to the bottom would be permanent. Or at least 'long-term'.
     
  13. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

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    Not ours seeing as every state has some type of vocational training program. Hell, some states even make participation in such programs mandatory if you want to remain eligible for state assistance like food stamps or unemployment benefits.
     
  14. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Well, it depends on what you call a relative 'struggle'. Every state wants people working if they want to. Whether that work is a 'struggle' is a function of difficulty and earned wage.
     
  15. Estebonrober

    Estebonrober Deity

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    And yet we have a worsening homeless problem, we keep cutting the nets that you state here, and those vocational programs have loan sharks running them!
     
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  16. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Who are teaching those things anyway?
     
  17. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    A good comparison would be 'would you want the welfare job or a minimum wage job from 50 years ago?'. Then you know the direction of the progress.
     
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  18. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

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    Well I would say it's lack of participation in those programs that might be the problem. The states with the worst homelessness problems are also the states that, ostensibly at least, have the most robust safety net programs. That would indicate that the state is offering help and a lot of people just aren't taking it for whatever reason.
     
  19. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Against the normalizing needed rate of change to do-the-thing.
     
  20. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

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    In the long run sure, but not at this moment. To borrow from a later post of yours, we're in the knee of the exponential curve, not way up the mountain. Robots are not yet omnicapable and omnipresent because they still have prohibitive costs. Even smart software agents are expensive and pretty dumb, which limits their utility.
     
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