Mother Jones | All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup
I’m noticing a pattern. It goes like this: Step 1): Progressives make some empty, bogus, polemic accusations against businesses and markets. Step 2) Libertarians and free-marketers see right through the accusations and expose their fallacies. Step 3) Progressives return from the drawing board after some time with slightly better developed versions of their accusations. Step 4) These new versions are a little trickier to unravel, but libertarians and free-marketers unravel them just the same. Lather, rinse, repeat. This link and the next link are examples of this pattern in action:
Now the word we use is “productivity,” [as oppposed to “speed-up”] a term insidious in both its usage and creep. The not-so-subtle implication is always: Don’t you want to be a productive member of society? … Except what’s good for American business isn’t necessarily good for Americans. We’re not just working smarter, but harder. And harder. And harder, to the point where the driver is no longer American industriousness, but something much more predatory.
This article is more artillery in what Mike Rowe has called the War on Work. Here’s the progression of arguments:
Argument 1) Businessmen will pay the workers as little as possible and grind them under their boot heels at any opportunity. Without government protection, workers will be forever condemned to lives of poverty. Response: Tom DiLorenzo taught me that businessmen must compete for labor on the labor market. This will create an upward pressure on wages that is limited by worker productivity.
Argument 2) Productivity has increased, but wages haven’t. Businessmen are riding their workers harder and not paying them any more! Well, no, actually. Advances in technology have made workers more productive without so much extra labor. Furthermore, expansions of the labor pool have caused average wages to stagnate while significant advances have been made for traditionally excluded classes, such as women, minorities, foreigners, etc.
3) This article is the next step in the progression. Better technology allegedly makes workers work harder because they are now tethered to the office 24/7 via mobile devices. There also hasn’t been a huge leap in technological development since the latest economic crises, yet productivity is up and wages are still down.
The authors knit a pretty tight sweater, but fortunately they have left a thread dangling to help us unravel it. When speaking to an Illinois college instructor, they found:
I can’t complain of overwork, because everyone is competing to get enough classes to pay the bills. If you lose a class, you lose a chunk of your paycheck. If we can’t handle it, the class can always be given to another teacher who will be desperate for the work or money.
More desperate? More Industrious? Either way, the thief who stealing this guy’s hard earned leisure is not the greedy bourgeois employer. Rather, it is the competing worker who is more willing to do the work. Where is the two-page article condemning this worker’s masochism? I’ll be following this issue for the next generation of arguments….
New York Times | Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs
Okay, here is the progression of arguments:
Argument 1) The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.–Response: No. The rich get richer and the poor get richer. The people who say this are ignoring income mobility. Back to the drawing board with you.
Argument 2) This article, in which progressives claim it is now harder for the poor move up the income ladder. At least they’re not claiming something as foolish as that “the poor are getting poorer”.–Response: Free market skeptics get mention in the article, but they don’t get a headline. Here’s the good part:
Skeptics caution that the studies measure “relative mobility” — how likely children are to move from their parents’ place in the income distribution. That is different from asking whether they have more money. Most Americans have higher incomes than their parents because the country has grown richer.
Some conservatives say this measure, called absolute mobility, is a better gauge of opportunity. A Pew study found that 81 percent of Americans have higher incomes than their parents (after accounting for family size). There is no comparable data on other countries.
Since they require two generations of data, the studies also omit immigrants, whose upward movement has long been considered an American strength. “If America is so poor in economic mobility, maybe someone should tell all these people who still want to come to the U.S.,” said Stuart M. Butler, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
The income compression in rival countries may also make them seem more mobile. Reihan Salam, a writer for The Daily and National Review Online, has calculated that a Danish family can move from the 10th percentile to the 90th percentile with $45,000 of additional earnings, while an American family would need an additional $93,000.