Union 2.0

I wrote this post below on labor day two years ago. From where I sit, very little progress has been made on this since then. That is a problem and also a big opportunity.

Some Thoughts On Labor On Labor Day

When one looks back over the history of the development of the modern economy from the agricultural age, to the industrial age, to the information age, the development of a strong labor movement has to be one of the signature events. Capitalism, taken to its excesses, does not allocate economic value fairly to all participants in the economic system. The workers, slaving away to build the railroad, the skyscraper, etc, provide real and substantial value to the overall system and yet, because they are commodified and interchangeable parts, they don’t always get their fair share of the economic value they help to create. So the labor movement provides the market power that each worker individually cannot provide.

The emergence of the middle class in the developed world in the 19th and 20th centuries has as much to do with the emergence of a labor movement as it has to do with anything. And a growing middle class in turn drove economic development as the obtained earning power was spent on needs like homes, cars, education, etc.

I am a fan of the idea that labor needs a mechanism to obtain market power as a counterbalance to the excesses of markets and capitalism. I think we can look back and see all the good that has come from a strong labor movement in the US over the past 150 years.

However, like all bureaucratic institutions, the “Union” mechanism appears anachronistic sitting here in the second decade of the 21st century. We are witnessing the sustained unwinding of 19th and 20th century institutions that were built at a time when transaction and communications costs were high and the overhead of bureaucracy and institutional inertia were costs that were unavoidable.

One has to think “if I were constructing a labor movement from scratch in 2015, how would I do it?”  My colleague Nick Grossman coined the term “Union 2.0” inside our firm to talk about all the organizing tools coming to market to assist workers in the “gig economy.” But I think Union 2.0 is way bigger than the gig economy. The NY Times has a piece today on workers in a carwash in Santa Fe organizing outside of the traditional union system. One can imagine leveraging technology, communications, and marketplaces to allow such a thing on a much larger scale.

I don’t know how much the traditional union system taxes workers to provide the market power they need. But if its like any other hierarchical system that we are seeing replaced by networks and markets, the take rates are in the 20-40% range and could be lowered to sub 5% with technology.

That’s a big deal. And I suspect we will see just that happen in my lifetime. I sure hope so.

#Current Affairs

Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    The pure motive of unions is to solve excess income inequality; revision of monetary policy through digital currencies will accomplish this in due time. With ethereum here we are not that far off….

    1. jason wright

      Ethereum is a bloatchain mainchain dependent network. ERC20 will grind it to a halt.

      1. kidmercury

        yes, i do agree that is a very real possibility. the idea of ethereum, meaning a protocol coupled with its own programming language, is what i think will enable the true full blown monetary revolution.

  2. jason wright

    so when’s US Capital Day? every day except today. that’s been the problem your post describes.

  3. William Mougayar

    Curious who is doing interesting work around Union 2.0 (besides Nick)?

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks. Great link.

  4. LIAD

    labour markets are bending towards casualisation driven by technology.downward pressure on wages.reductions in social security.the time couldn’t be more ripe for the revitalisation of collective bargaining. yet the same factors that make it needed make it unlikely.

    1. JLM

      .If you are talking US Social Security, there has not been an American President or politician willing to touch the third rail of SS since it was created.The SS recipient or the almost-recipient is the highest percentage voting bloc in the US.SS unites every party and division in the US.One has a better chance of altering the Law of Gravity than SS.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Matt Zagaja

        Bush Jr. tried. Our retirement system in America is screwed up. I do not pay into SS as a state employee. 11% of my salary is withdrawn (non-optional BTW) and put towards my state pension. It is a good deal, if the pension is still solvent in 30 years and I stay the 10 years to vest it. Otherwise it’s like I’ve been stuffing that 11% under my mattress. Little portability. If I want to move to another state, or work for the feds, I’m also starting over. Being a non-union gov’t employee I don’t even have anyone I can complain to besides this comment section.

        1. JLM

          .OTOH, I have a sister who retired from the State of Texas and receives a pension and healthcare for life. It has, literally, saved her life.The decision to work in the public or private sector has always been a balance between short term comp and long term comp. It is not such a difficult decision today since public sector comp is not as big (if any) discount v private sector.When I had 5 years in the Army, I had a decision to make. The Army wanted to send me to grad school and then to a very prestigious assignment. The two assignments would have totaled about 7 years.I would have incurred a 2:1 obligation. For grad school, I would go for 3-4 years and incur an additional 6-8 years. For the other assignment, I would serve 3 years and incur an additional 6 years.Do the math.5 + 7 + 14 = 26 years. I could retire with 20.There I was, the end of Vietnam, no prospect of another war any time soon, and I had to stare down 21 years of my future on the next decision I made.I got out. I got out because I had never drank a glass of water not provided by the US Army in my entire life (Army brat, VMI, Army).I made the right decision for me, but if I’d stayed, I would have been running the show long ago.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. LE

            I have a sister who retired from the State of Texas and receives a pension and healthcare for life. It has, literally, saved her life.Why her ‘rich brother’ no save her life? What I mean by that is the obvious shift in the world where instead of family bailing you out it’s the government that is doing so.I am glad for that of course I am glad my inlaws have that great teachers pension and I don’t have to deal with their issues.

          2. JLM

            .We Minchs are accountable for our own lives. She earned that pension and medical benefit because she wanted to go that route. The gov’t is not bailing her out in any way.But her lovely little brother does administer a nice trust for her benefit. None of your goddamn business, BTW.We should take care of ourselves before we ask others to take care of us. She did it the right way. So did I.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. JLM

          .W was a damn good Governor of Texas and had a lot of good ideas when he went to DC, but 9-11 and other stuff distracted him. He was as bad as Obama when it came to spending.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        3. sigmaalgebra

          > Bush Jr. tried.He got all wound up over nasty, evil, brutal, cheating, lying, violent, Stalinist, torturing, murdering, palace building, money wasting, power hungry, thug Saddam. Yup, Saddam was all those things, grade A or A+ on each of them.But for Iraq, the Mideast, and the US, Saddam was much, Much, MUCH better than W’s Gulf War II.W proved an amazing result: It was possible to be worse, a LOT worse, than Saddam.It was simple, Iraq and Saddam very much needed and deserved each other!Iraq is in a 1000 year civil war between the Sunnis and Shiites with a third player the Kurds with very interested and involved neighbors Syria, Turkey, and Iran. Saddam told us, grand understatement, that without him we’d have a tough time keeping Iraq together. As W killed Saddam, W proved Saddam fully correct.Gulf War II was also a huge gift to Iran.After W, AQ actually now does have a big role in Iraq.W in Arabia — dumb de dumb dumb, dumb. Wasted, US blood and treasure. Thousands of US lives, likely tens of thousands of wounded, PTSD, etc., US soldiers, at least in net present value, trillions of US dollars, all wasted, worse than wasted because Iraq is still worse off than it was just before Gulf War II. Dumb. Really dumb. Brain dead dumb. Stupid dumb. Grand example of an absurd foreign adventure.At the end of Gulf War I, it was fully clear to Bush 41, General Schwarzkopf, about 22 allies, etc. on just what the heck to do in Iraq — all in one word, LEAVE.W was off on some quasi-religious quest for something or other. E.g., there was the famous W “The Iraqi people are perfectly capable of governing themselves.” Rarely in all of human history has a dumber and more destructive statement ever been uttered.I’m not pissed off. I’ve been pissed off. This time I’m way, way past pissed off. And now for really good reason, I’m much more than pissed off:We need to understand a simple concept: Enter. Get the crucial work done. And LEAVE.And when we leave it will be democratic, pretty, a shining city on a hill, with social justice, a good legal system, a good member of the family of nations, with equality for women, peaceful, etc., right? Nope. None of those. Guaranteed, NONE of those.We will leave because we will have done the crucial work for national security for ourselves and our allies, and, as bad as it will be, staying would be worse for both them and us. When we leave, it will be ugly. It may be another Pol Pot, hopefully not that bad but just another Saddam.In this reality, a Saddam is a quite good outcome, not a bad one. E.g., he was a lot better than Pol Pot. He was better than ISIS.So, I’m pissed because just now we have, let’s see, Akrapistan, ISIS, and North Korea. By far the worst of these is North Korea. Soon we may also have Iran.For each of those, we could spend another five, 10, 20, … years before they would be “ready” for us to leave.For North Korea, to avoid a nuke going off in the US, its territories, or allies, we may very well have to bomb the place enough to create massive destruction and death. We may have to nuke the place. It very well may be also really bad for South Korea and across the border into China.When we leave, North Korea may well fall into Pol Pot like chaos. There stands to be a lot of cannibalism simply because they are close to starvation now, after a war they will have much less to eat, and for starving people cannibalism is better than starvation. There’s been routine cannibalism before — trust me on that one. Medical care? In North Korea, it’s a luxury now; after a war it will be worse, not better. Ballpark half of the people in North Korea may die, and for the rest life will be ugly enough to be a new chapter in the worst of human life on this planet. The main good news is that when it gets bad enough, people die and, then, stop screaming in pain and agony.Still, we must LEAVE.Turn it over to the UN. Fine by me.For practice, we can finish up in ISIS and Akrapistan now. We have a shot at having Baghdad and Damascus take over the ISIS areas and keep down ISIS. I don’t see much hope in Akrapistan, but maybe Mattis, and Co. have something promising in mind.Likely W was told these things but just refused to accept them.

  5. JLM

    .Labor unions in the US have almost gone out of business because they don’t serve their members and have devolved into political organizations, adjuncts of the Democrat party.In the last election cycle, the AFL-CIO contributed $14.6MM, the NEU donated $18.1MM, the SEIU donated $19MM — all to Dems. Overall, labor unions donated more than $132MM.Most such donations go to SuperPacs because of election donation limitations set by law.In addition, they donated $35MM directly to candidates.Their members have no direct voice in where their dues funded donations go. They are not consulted and they cannot “vote” with their union dues.What is remarkable is that Donald J Trump won highly unionized states in the Rust Belt on the back of union member votes. His immigration stance — perceived to drive wages higher — was the basis of most of this support.Fewer than 7% of private workers in the US are affiliated with a union. Most of these are at locations and in industries which have an institutionalized labor union presence. Absent this institutionalized labor union presence, the number would be 0%.The AFL-CIO, the UAW, the SEIU has had a string of organizing failures throughout the country, but particularly in the South. Good luck organizing an auto plant in the South. Big companies are moving their jobs to “right to work” states (Boeing to SC).One of the benefits of the Internet has been the ability for companies to communicate instantly and in great detail. The union’s empty promises have been countered by well-crafted company messaging which has resulted in crushing defeats in votes.In much the same way that Amazon preaches “your margin is our opportunity”, employers cite the high union dues as a cost that does not have to be borne to be able to provide identical benefits. This is why the unions keep losing elections — they deliver nothing of value.There is an enormous drag on available funds created by the unions’ political slush funds.Most of the union members in the US are in the public sector and work for gov’t. Talk about an area of the country which doesn’t work?I was a union member when I was a kid working in construction. It was a different time and atmosphere then. The union trained me as an apprentice concrete finisher and as my skills improved my employer paid me more money for my improved skills.The unions gave their members something of value. Today, they do not.Today, union dues are the well spring which pays absurd salaries to the union bosses, provides incredible obscene benefits to the bosses, and funds their political activities while feeding their egos.No union member has a chance of holding this management accountable. Any enterprise operated in a vacuum of accountability becomes corrupt. The unions have not disappointed.You know who really needs a union? College athletes. The NCAA is a plantation.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. JamesHRH

      Seriously though, what non-business organization has NOT devolved into a political organization?Joel Osteen & Lakewood Church doesn’t count – that’s not a church it’s a cheerleading service.

      1. JLM

        .Virginia Military Institute — OK, I did help put a few grads in the House of Burgesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia and they do protect our flank.How about the Ranger Regiment or the Travis County Rodeo?Joel Osteen is creepy even though his church was flooded. If he and God were so tight, He would not have allowed the joint to flood.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. JamesHRH

          At the top, sports and armed forces organizations are quite political, if only to protect their mission.

          1. JLM

            .Except for the Marines, the current crop of 1-4 stars are all master politicians. When I was in the Army, one never heard a General say anything. They did not have press officers at any level.Even the Marines have a legislative liaison officer with the Congress (Gen Kelly served in this capacity twice, once for the House and once as the Commandant’s rep to the entire Congress).One of the biggest scams in the US is the not-for-profit status of the NFL.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. JamesHRH

            The other doozie being that concession workers are also often volunteers.Although, the NFL is a freshman on that front, compared to the PhD grad that is the PGA Tour.

          3. JLM

            .The PGA is a complete mystery to me. Greg Norman threw a scare into them and they bought him off.The PGA should be recast as a coop with every golfer getting a piece of the action.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. JaredMermey

            Could argue every league should be. Do you think players could negotiate sponsorships, stadiums, TV rights, coaches salaries, etc at better cost than 50% of revenues (about current splits)?PGA is easier bc players get paid directly relationally to performance/standing and costs of coaches, etc is charged to players and not teams. Formulaic splits for other leagues not impossible. Might be worth it as dollar amounts become so large.

          5. PhilipSugar

            Somebody had to put the money up to start the league.This is what people don’t understand.Don’t let me make money? I sit at home and say screw all of you, let me see how little I can pay servants to feed me food hand to mouth.See the rest of my comments.I think that the Rooney’s, Mara’s, and Halas’s would very much disagree with you.

          6. JaredMermey

            I think they’d be angry too. I’d be too.But I think startup costs would be way less now than they were back then, at least relative to capital/access to capital players have now vs then.

          7. Salt Shaker

            Well, for starters there are player contracts. Players can’t breach and their timelines are staggered across the league. Each has different start and end dates, some contracts guaranteed, most not. Then there’s this minor inconvenience called a limited talent pool. Just ask the AFL, USFL, XFL and even NFL Europe how difficult it is starting a new league? Of course, the largest impediment is capital. Those aforementioned leagues paid talent crap. (NFL rookies get $465K.) You get what you pay for. Broadcast/cable and digital rights fees–the cash cow for leagues–would be commensurate w/ demand, which would be extremely low (if any interest at all), assuming this could even be cobbled together. Then there’s the existing NFL player pension pool. Quite robust. The NFL is a machine like no other….it’s a gravy train (w/ health risks).

          8. Salt Shaker

            Mgt and Labor in sports don’t always agree, but ultimately everyone goes away happy at the expense of fans and sponsors. That said, I do believe we’re at a tipping point where the proverbial escalators in rights fees and tix prices can’t be absorbed too much higher. I wouldn’t worry too much about Labor, though. Even if athlete minimum salaries never, ever escalate again, I think players’ can get by w/ the current $562K/ yr. rookie salary for the NBA, and a paltry $465K for the NFL. What those guys spend annually on cab fare likely exceeded my entire “rookie” salary.

          9. PhilipSugar

            I called that way too early but look at Disney’s earnings due to ESPN.

          10. Salt Shaker

            The leagues kind of got a free pass for a few years as TV rights migrated more and more to cable, whose biz model could afford to underwrite increases w/ dual rev streams. Legacy broadcast networks couldn’t compete w/ ESPN and even others. (They had to cherry pick.) It’s gonna be a tough slog for the remaining years on all rights deals, while the renewal process will be fun to watch. No longer sustainable IMO. I think you’ll see more parsing of rights to offset large out of pocket investment.

          11. PhilipSugar

            We agree completely but I think you left three things out:They have increased the price to the point where an average person cannot really bring a child to the game. Sure I can, but when you go to the games? Corporate. Killing your own feed corn.The trend of younger people is to watch on a screen.People have now gotten fed up with cable prices and the internet lets you cut the cord. Why fund the teams with rights fees if you don’t even care? My next door neighbor is super nice. Head of Speech Pathology for a large district. Lives by herself. She helps my son who has trouble with R’s just like I did. Very engaging lets him bring his own words. But he brings words like Ravens, Steelers, Raiders, and he says she doesn’t even know who they are. Why does she want to pay ESPN their rights fees for the NFL.

          12. Salt Shaker

            Lack of access and affordability of ‘live’ sports has also contributed to the growth of e-sports. Trend started years ago w/ video games like Madden. MLB used to be most affordable, increasingly less so. Our company seats in Yankee Stadium were $750 a game per tix. Yeah, tix were best in house and certainly most affordable to corporate, but even so, it’s quite disgusting. Now in Seattle. Went to Mariners game with neighbors and collectively dropped $350 for (4). $12 beers. How many families can afford that? Particularly for shit teams, give the tix away and fill the house, build relations/fan base, etc….they’ll still make money on concessions. MLB says attracting youth and African-Americans is a challenge, pretty obv why.

          13. PhilipSugar

            Think about that. $750. I spent that each for two fridges (I have inexpensive his and hers) and two new beds during Labor Day sales.The fridges were old and not what I wanted same with the beds.My wife literally begged me to give them to some families from the ecumenical society. http://www.ccea4u.com/churc…I said how can I do that? They suck, just have Lowes and Raymore Flanagan take them, I don’t feel like lugging those things. They are used, a used mattress???I relented.I gave an extra twenty for each of the delivery guys to help me lug them into my old truck. They were stunned.I lugged them into houses with four girls. Two on the one end two on each side and me on the back.They begged me to let them give me something. I refused but relented and said they could give my wife fresh eggs whenever she asked.People don’t get this.

          14. awaldstein

            I do.Get beyond all the shit and most people give a shit about others.Not all of course.Listening to this interview really opened my eyes btw–tough but necessary for someone like myself.http://arnoldwaldstein.com/

          15. PhilipSugar

            Shows why it is so hard when people get raised in a bad environment. It is generational. Where I live it is still around because this was the choke point where slaves could make it to DE and into PA because of the Quakers, so they had people that made a living catching slaves. Read Chesapeake by Mitchner.I can tell you though they are very, very fringe and actively shunned by more than 99% of people.I didn’t mind most of Trump’s statements except for the one where “there were some good people in there” No, I am ok protesting the removal of the statue but when you see those fuckers show up you say: Great asshole, you just proved why they should take it down, you are a dirtbag and you leave.People used to fly the “Stars and Bars” as a symbol of states rights, being Southern, and not liking the Federal Government, but after SC every single one came down.

          16. awaldstein

            Yup–it is clear to me that my family raised me well and that my dad and grandfather were better people than I.I unfortunately have come to believe that racism and ugliness is not as much as a corner case as I believed and want to believe.And I think that it is encouraged by the White House.

          17. PhilipSugar

            I do believe it is a corner caseI also believe that two parties are making it worse. Trump and the mediaHis biggest failure is to not stay on messageEasyI want no support from you assholes. Vote for someone elseI respect your right to oppose taking down that piece of history. But when those assholes show up leaveIt takes two assholes to fight. If you come armed with anything masked with anything you need to go to jail and I am putting out a bill that both of you do 5 minimum for any weapon rock through torche and another 5 for any mask or hood while you do itIt is mind over matter I don’t mind because you don’t matter. Berkeley charge extra or not put down riots. You loose your funding which means you go away. Make your choice

          18. awaldstein

            I don’t disagree.Politics is really a mess.I’ve restricted my time each day. I’ve blocked those through Disqus that I don’t find useful. This is really focusing for me and let’s me continue to get value from the community, like this conversation.On the other side there is so much great innovation happening and opportunity everywhere.Strange dichotomy.

          19. PhilipSugar

            We agree completely

          20. PhilipSugar

            And it is his biggest failure and why he is unfit. You know. When you are 30. Stay on point. 300 that is your only job. 3,000 you have people to keep you on point. 300mm??? You have hundreds to keep you on point

      2. DJL

        Nobody is forced to go to Lakewood.

        1. JamesHRH

          No, but Lakewood will be the flashpoint for the death of religious tax exemptions.

          1. DJL

            Stopping religious tax exemptions is the “holy grail” of the Left. (And the real reason behind the recent LGBT issues.) Churches are the only thing standing in the way of total cultural dominance (and a key to Marxism).What is Lakewood doing that bothers anyone? I would rather have people sitting there hearing a positive message of hope – that than the perpetual victim-hood they get everyone else.

          2. JamesHRH

            Rights are lost due to abuse.Mr. Osteen is not wearing a hair shirt, to say the least.I am neither for or against. I am saying that in an over communicated, superficial environment, Lakewood is the type of place that becomes a flashpoint (55,000 congregants, pastor lives in $10M mansion, etc…..)

          3. SFG

            No fan of Mr. Osteen, and I wish that I could be.

          4. SubstrateUndertow

            Marxism badand religion/spiritualism is a left vs right thing?I suspect the world is in fact a little more complex than your framing portends. The devil is in the details.But thanks for keeping it simple!

          5. ShanaC

            Lakewood NJ? Home of Beth Midrash Genova…the largest/most important non-chassidic ultra-orthodox yeshiva in the US?Being a degree mill by faking degree qualifications despite the fact that the a large chunk of their graduates technically dropped out of high school at 16 while taking federal Pell grant money, encouraging their graduates to do welfare fraud, ect.If you mean evangelical churches- a required course at their most famous school (Liberty) is how to evangelize, despite the fact that I’ve spoken to Liberty grads and their bible reading skills and knowledge of how other (non-Christian and Christian) interpret the Bible and would see the course as funny.As for tax-exempt statuses and ability to advocate politically beyond a limited context1) The Supreme Court has affirmed that as long as it’s a good works where one is not evangelizing, Churches can get federal and state moneyhttp://www.npr.org/2017/06/…2) You’d be surprised if you went up to every person in the church/religious institution you belong to and asked a bunch of questions about their political beliefs. Just because the majority of members believe one thing, doesn’t mean that everyone does, and if the congregation gets too political, you risk splitting up (at best) or driving away members (at worst) of your congregation over something that isn’t a necessary theological point.3) separation of church and state in the US exists for good reason since the beginning. People forget that the state of Rhode Island was established as a colony because Massachusetts had crazy religious rules associated with its creation. It’s the same reason Boston didn’t really have a Jewish community until the 1860s, and the community that should have been there built a trap door underneath the Bimah(the central lectern) and asked George Washington to affirm freedom of a religious state when the Constitution was ratified and he was elected. A bunch of ex-Conversos and their decendants who came to the colonies from Holland and Spanish -Portuguese colonies where the church decided to bring back the Inquisition weren’t idiots. They were fearful people for good reason and wanted guarantees, especially since most of them fought and/or bankrolled the Revolution. Priveledging a church was a bad idea.http://www.thirteen.org/edo

          6. PhilipSugar

            Look where I live.Maryland: CatholicsPennsylvania: QuakersDelaware: Those Swedes we can’t figure out.

          7. ShanaC

            I just moved/still in the process of moving 2/3s of the way across the country so I can’t comment about where I live very much, outside of PPRI research. (moving is crazy. Avoid it if you can. Those researchers aren’t kidding when they say moving is one of the most stressful life events you can go through) But I do read sociology of religion data -primarily about Jewish people, but because of small numbers/noticeable sociological parallels between elements of Orthodox Judaism and Evangelical Christianity, I end up reading a ton about evangelical and mainline Christianity including polling data from people like The Barna Group. Whatever Joel Olsteen and related, similar churches are doing has behavioral equivalents in the Jewish world, and visa versa for what Beth Midrash Gehovah’s and its related institutions and people in the Christian world.(otherwise I don’t know how to explain prosperity theology in real world contexts)More people, especially those invested in churches/religions of various sorts, should read sociological data both from non-independent researchers and independent ones if they want to get a handle on how their beliefs and behaviors interplay. It is hugely clarity inducing at times.

        2. ShanaC

          I totally read Lakewood differently. I thought it referred to the town in NJ…

          1. DJL

            We were talking about Lakewood church in Houston. Joel Osteen.

      3. PhilipSugar

        Dude now you bring religion to the bar? 🙂 Damn this is going to devolve.

        1. JamesHRH

          Leaving sex as a topic for someone with more expertise 😉

          1. PhilipSugar

            I am fine with getting rid of tax exempt status for everyone. Same for carried interest AND……capital gains.IF you cut government to the bone and make it as efficient as we’ve required businesses to be.The only credit I would give is for the taxes your employees paid. The only one. It would be easy to figure with one rate.Penalty for those that qualify for aid.Now I bring in taxes the fourth rail.

          2. LE

            I am fine with religious organizations not being tax exempt because I am not religious. But I’d like to keep capital gains (and lower it) because I benefit from that.I am sure if I spent some time thinking more about those issues I could argue rationally why I am right. For now I will just state my bias as a beneficiary.But what I really want and would give up capital gains benefits for is some way to tax people who have diets that lead to long term health issues that I end up paying for in some way. Not going to ever happen as that food thing is a real addiction but not recognized as such.You know what else I would eliminate? Any benefit tax or otherwise that municipalities have by making pot legal.

          3. ShanaC

            Where’s Dan Savage when you need him?

      4. ShanaC

        Housing Works. It grew out of a political organization (ACT UP) but for the most part, it’s decidely apolitical…though as Aristotle says, “Man is a political animal”

      5. SubstrateUndertow

        So you seriously think business organizations are non-political.Maybe you need to zoom out on your definition of “political”.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Ah, there you go again, getting lots of highly emotional, irrational, self-destructive snowflakes all confused with solid facts and good rationality!!!!!

      1. Andy_Kreiss

        No, he’s getting snowflakes confused with establishment BS.

    3. JaredMermey

      LaVar Ball for NCAA Union Prez?

    4. Andy_Kreiss

      Unions do the same thing today. The corporate media has just told you otherwise.

      1. JLM

        .My opinion is informed by personal experience rather than, what did you call it, oh, yes — corporate media, whatever that is.I was a card carrying cement finisher.I negotiated project agreements with the unions when building high rise buildings in regions where such a project could go either way — open shop v union.I negotiated these agreements — agreeing to a no strike provision in return for a steady supply of trades such as ironworkers which were in short supply — directly with the union bosses.These agreements were administered with the local business agents of the unions. They were some very tough guys. When the ironworkers made a work stoppage over second and third shift premium pay — I was building a high rise 24/7 to beat my competitors to the finish line — I recruited ironworkers from Houston and broke the ironworkers backs.I served on the board of a state agency which employed Teamsters and negotiated the agreement directly with the top Teamster negotiator. I used to buy my suits in those days in London and his suit made mine look like a Goodwill giveaway. Nicest suit I ever saw.The Teamsters paid me back (it was a dark hour in Texas and they wanted a big raise) by smashing my MB into little pieces with baseball bats. They did not get the raise after I made a motion to research replacing all of them with non-union workers.So, no, I am not that impressed by what the corporate media — whoever they are — says about the subject.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Andy_Kreiss

          That was an exciting story about nice suits and baseball bats. Not sure what your rambling anecdote had to do with my comment.

          1. JLM

            .Let me unpack it for you, kind sir.Reading comp problem — you. Re-read the first sentence.I actually have been a union member and have dealt with unions in the real world while you are talking out of your ass about things you know nothing about.Hope that helps, Andy.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Andy_Kreiss

            Ah, once again, an incoherent internet poster blames the reading comprehension of others.Your assumptions about me are silly.Yes, that helps.

          3. JLM

            .Your words are silly, troll. Kids table. Stay there.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. Andy_Kreiss

            Sorry you couldn’t make sense. But go with that “kids’ table” stuff, if it soothes you.

    5. SubstrateUndertow

      Right Union bureaucracies are so corrupt/unaccountable unlike corporate/government bureaucracies ?And again thanks for the bag of myopic/partisan straw-man argument.

      1. JLM

        .There is plenty of corruption to go around for all. Nothing I wrote was intended to suggest the unions were alone in their wickedness.As to the arguments, do you deal in facts or just baloney? Refute the facts, if you can.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    6. ShanaC

      There has been a growth to unionize in industries not typically covered by unions, and for non-union labor organizations to step in to provide grassworks community development and political advocacy. See:Fight for $15, particularly among service sector workers in fast food, the push for regular schedules in retail rather than ad-hoc computerized/random scheduling, the growth of unions among graduate students and adjuncts on campus. None of these are typical union activities, and yet, this is what labor politics is advocating for. Even elements of the ACA were/are part of the restructuring labor movement in the US – more and more jobs are contract/freelance type work, which means advocating for a broader system of health insurance not tied to one’s place of employment has become a labor issue – since it’s very hard to create a liquid but fair freelance market if healthcare is a sticking point. Oh, and let’s not forget movements like those in NYC about freelance contracts being enforced due to new laws. Not paying freelancer on time and/or Effectively stiffing them by making it expensive/difficult for freelancer to sue to reclaim back wages is now illegal and failure to pay may mean damages awarded to the freelancer.https://www1.nyc.gov/site/d…So old union activities may be boring, but as long as there are workers, there will be relevant labor activities.—Though for the NCAA tier 1 televised sports, I agree with ex U of C president Hutchinson. When faced with the fact that the pre-World War 2 U of C football team was an extremely effective powerhouse, the team was dissolved (at the time of its dissolution, U of C was still an original Big 10 school and proudly undefeated by Notre Dame.) The old Stagg Field (it’s been rebuilt, the old location is 2 of the main libraries + a dorm on campus now) was basically abandoned, except for a brief period in the early 1940s, where the squash court underneath the bleachers were repurposed as Chicago Pile 1.The reason this all happened : Hutchinson was adamantly against the “athlete” part of student-athletes overshadow the work of the “student” part of the phrase. Hutchinson was a bit crazy, but he was and still is right that academics, learning, and research are the GOAL of a university, and that sports (outside of keeping oneself healthy for creating more research) is a side interest at best, and a distraction from producing real knowledge at worst. These universities ought to remember that -and if they are effectively more of a sports franchise than place of learning, own up to it.https://thedrakegroup.org/t

      1. JLM

        https://uploads.disquscdn.c…Not sure where you’re getting your encouragement as it relates to current union activity. The facts show a continuing decline in union membership since the high water mark of the early 1950s.What you are describing are really causes which are overwhelmingly unsuccessful and are not creating any union activity. The basic employment rights of a freelance worker are not union activities.SEIU has had some success in organizing Las Vegas hotel workers, but that is baked into the numbers.There have been enormous defeats for union votes in the South. Not a single success in more than a decade. Companies are moving operating units to “right to work” states.If unions were providing some utility, some benefit, they would be having better success.There is no doubt their political activities are hampering their popularity as well as their greed and corruption.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  6. PhilipSugar

    I like posts like these well thought out and acknowledging that there are issues and what they are.Let me be clear this is an observation not a political or any kind of viewpoint.I am in no way telling anybody what to do say or feel. That is up to the person.This vitriol against the current administration is causing increasing support and willingness to overlook the tremendous number of flaws. I am seeing more and more signs go up.Why? The people that we are talking about are angry. When they see somebody flailing and saying outrageous things because they hate the current administration they believe they are also talking about them.I mean think about it 20 years ago you could get a job for $30 and hour and raise a family have benefits and a pension. That’s $120k a yearNow you are lucky to get a $12 an hour job no benefits no retirement. If you work 3,000 hours a year at several jobs (and most do because employers limit hours to not pay benefits) you are making $36k a year. Working 50% more to make 2/3rds less.They are angry at the political elite who have allowed mergers, out of control investment banks, special interests, and bad trade deals to gut their jobs.The are mad at the technical elite that has streamlined their jobs and allows employers to move jobs, and give them the gig economy which means they need to work more.They are upset at the Wall Street banks making so much money and requiring employers to wring out every dime from their operations.They see the Hollywood elite as not having a clue about the real world.The media to them just seems to be worried about everybody but them. Name the group but it’s not them.There are a lot of “them” out there and they were willing to vote.

    1. JLM

      .$30/year at 2080 hours annually is $60k.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. PhilipSugar

        Add in pension a full pension, healthcare, and other benefits. Now tell me the annual wage

        1. JLM

          .The employee “makes” $60K before taxes. The employer has another 30% including SS, Medicare, benefits.Still not close to $120K.The maths don’t lie. The old days were not so good as we like to believe.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. PhilipSugar

            Do you think you could get your cement job today?

          2. JLM

            .I don’t know. Today, I would start a concrete placement and finishing company. I was 16 when I went to work in construction.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. JamesHRH

            No, but the feelings don’t lie either.People who were raised by labour parents cannot get that lifestyle. It’s a huge problem.

    2. Rob Underwood

      This is spot on and well put. These are the reasons I thought Trump could win (not would, but could) win. During conversations I had with my first cousins, all in their 30s, in states like Arizona, Colorado. Ohio, Connecticut, and New Hampshire during the election all the topics came up in one way shape or form.The wrinkle of course is the continued demonstration by some (not all) immigrants, who face all of these same obstacles plus (often) a language barrier, (nearly always) discrimination, and (sometimes) documentation status obstacles, who arrive on our shores, overcome these barriers, and within a generation or two are business owners.A lot of discussion in the education world is of “grit”, especially the work of Angela Duckworth, usually as applied to discuss why some children of color in disadvantaged communities in the inner city succeed while others don’t at school.I wonder if we applied the lens of “grit” to a larger field of view if we might not find that “grit” – perseverance against obstacles – plus both reverence for and possession of a high quality basic education, might not at the root for why some can overcome these obstacles and others can not. We are quick to analyze, examine, critique, and pick apart families of color at public schools in the South Bronx — maybe we should look at families around the country, including those recently arrived plus those whose families have been here generations, and apply the grit lens.I say this not to dismiss these very real obstacles, but simply to suggest we more evenly apply analysis of both individual factors – education, grit, family economic status with external factors (those well articulated above) across all people, and without our political baggage. It sometimes feels like, depending on our political point of view, we apply that ratio differently.In other words, I think liberals are quicker to attribute poverty in the inner city to externalities versus individual characteristics like grit (which as made Dr. Duckworth’s assertions controversial at times). Conversely, some conservatives flip it — they are quick to bemoan the inner city “welfare mom” and her (supposed) lack of individual accountability but can give all sorts of externalities to explain to plight of extraurban working class whites that remove nearly all individual accountability — the same accountability they insist the people in the inner city need more of.Maybe the answer is that it’s a little bit of both — both who you are and how you were raised, as well as the external conditions in which you live and work, that contribute to your economic success?

      1. PhilipSugar

        We agree completely and you are right the answer is a little bit of both.Right now the way it works is do anything and put out the extreme point of view, try and “win” at all costs. The only thing that happens is both lose.The other side then does the same thing.Notice I did not say which side.

        1. Rob Underwood

          Yup.I find it’s important to look at a wide scope of political and policy views (e.g., the worker directed cooperative model I posted about in another comment by Marxist scholar Richard Wolff), but in that consideration of many different ideas to avoid duality of thought and extremes in position.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        > who arrive on our shores, overcome these barriers, and within a generation or two are business owners.Do you write romantic poetry, too?

        1. Rob Underwood

          It’s growing up in Maine. Edwin Arlington Robinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Stephen King — gets in your soul.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            IIRC Ann Coulter has an explanation: A lot of the people who came to the US from Europe near 1900 had some really important, not so easy to see, advantages in “culture”. She explains the details. I will outline a little of what she wrote, from memory or from what is obvious:Maybe they were tired, with rags, poor, etc., but they had something really special: They understood US culture because they were from Europe, understood European culture, and the US was dominated by just such European culture. For religion? They were essentially all Christian, and so was the US. They fit in relatively well. And, the ones from Russia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Greece, France, Poland, the low counties, the Scandinavian counties, the Baltic countries, and more all had people from their home countries already here and established. E.g., the Scandinavians quickly understood that they might go to Minnesota. Etc.Sure, the people who want a lot of immigration paint a simple picture of people coming here from wherever, working really hard, much harder and smarter than US citizens (we’re supposed to believe that?), and soon enough assimilating just fine. Nope, not without much of what Coulter described.

          2. Rob Underwood

            My great-grandfather on my dad’s side from Kiddeminster, England around 1910, and my great-grandparents on my mother’s side from Bradford, England in 1925 or so fit that model.But the Nguyen family who were “boat people” from Vietnam and were settled in in Kennebunk in 1978 do not. Each of their children, many of whom were within grades of me on either side , arrived here not speaking a word of English (I remember Diep in my grade specifically). And most (all?) of them ended up graduating in the top 10% of their high school class.So where I may agree with you and Coulter is that values matter. If a family values education and hard work that helps. Cultures are shared values but not guaranteed values. Many East and South Asian cultures, for example, emphasize hard work and education and many families – though not all – in those cultures adopt those values. The Nguyen family sure did. And from what I saw, first hand, Diep did work harder than the rest of his classmates and his parents certainly worked hard to open the first Chinese restaurant in Kennebunk, the Mei Le Wah.And I think there are lots of examples of immigrants from cultures all over the world – South America, Africa, the Mideast, and Asia who have worked hard, sacrificed, and been very successful here. The new CEO of Uber comes to mind.Remember it’s no small thing to get on a boat or plane and leave your native land, your whole world, to come to, as you allude to, a different culture. It takes a some bravery to seek a home so far away – it is in many (though not all) self selecting. And it takes bit of a characteristic I mentioned in another comment today — grit.Bravery and true grit? Sounds American to me.

          3. sigmaalgebra

            Yes, I concentrated north of the Italian boot, east of the Pyrenees, and west of the Urals. So, sure, there are other places where parts of the culture there and with some individuals there can let them do well in the US.> It takes a some bravery to seek a home so far away – it is in many (though not all) self selecting. And it takes bit of a characteristic I mentioned in another comment today — grit. Bravery and true grit? Sounds American to me.”So, that’s the argument of immigration as a filter so that the people who come essentially meet, say, Trump’s “extreme vetting”.Viet Nam people. I don’t know what’s going on: But Viet Nam was long a French colony, and maybe some of that French culture rubbed off.China? Just why apparently such a large fraction of Chinese are so interested in education I don’t know. As far as I know, there wasn’t much of that in China. Then, sure, Taiwan has been wildly successful in computing, much of which requires a lot of attention to education. Similarly for South Korea. At one time South Korea propped up a few of their guys who had graduated from, IIRC, MIT, Stanford, etc. and in the picture were wearing sweat shirts with the logos of those schools!I’ll go along with Trump’s “extreme vetting”.But we should be darned careful:First, IMHO, the real intention of a lot of the push for immigration is for people and companies who want cheap labor. If their skin is dark, then they can be identifiable as cheap labor and become a lower caste or even close to slave labor. We don’t want castes or slaves. Morality aside, history proves that such are too darned expensive in costs for police, welfare, etc.Partly it’s a currency exchange rate play: Come here from a really poor country, work hard for five years living in a room with five others, save the money, return home with the US dollars, exchange those for the home currency, and live well.The US worker who gets displaced can’t play that game; if he is to support a family, then he needs to earn that much money day by day. Of course, maybe the idea is for a US worker also to live six to a room, save the money, emigrate to a poor country, and then have a family!Second, if you care about the immigrants, then if they can’t make it here, it’s one heck of a dirty trick to invite or let them come here.Third, a huge biggie is the present US citizens who stand to get pushed out of their jobs. We have 94 million people out of the labor force. The current economy is nothing like what we had in 1900 when coal, steel, factory work, rail road construction and maintenance, muscle power, etc. was eager to welcome every strong back.Yes, some immigration can make the US stronger, A. Einstein, J. von Neumann, E. Wigner, J. Heifetz, M. Rostropovich, E. Dynkin, a friend of mine from France and student of Bourbaki member Choquet, and more.Also, understand that one of the big pushes was from the US DoD working with the NSF: In effect, when my annual salary was 6 times what a new high end Camaro cost from my doing applied math and computing for national security problems around DC, taking my wife to the Rive Gauche for dinner, to the Kennedy Center, etc., some people screamed “Too much!” and worked with the NSF to write into research grants that so many grad students needed to be supported and, hint, hint, could get those from poor countries A, B, C, …. In the end, that did hurt my career, e.g., was a major reason I was not able to buy a house or have children — no joke. Without my knowing it until too late, my career was managed in DC by the DoD and NSF and sabotaged. I wondered how people from a country where $1000 a year was a good salary were paying room, board, tuition, books, etc. at expensive US universities. Of course, they weren’t and, instead, US taxpayers were, were paying taxes to put through Harvard people from outside the US when they had trouble paying for tuition, etc. for their own children.When I was a grad student, my department confessed that they had a lot more tuition scholarship than qualified applicants, were awash in applications from poor countries but the applying students were not well qualified. Well, those tuition scholarships were coming from, sure, Congress on behalf of a goal of cheap technical labor for the US DoD. The goal was to flood the US with STEM grads, and that goal was achieved. A lot of people were better off getting an MBA because no one was subsidizing that to flood the US with MBAs.Well over 50% of this immigration stuff is looking for cheap labor to displace US citizens and can work usually only with tax money from US citizens. Maybe some Saudi prince pays full tuition, drives a Ferrari to class.We’ve been building a big divide in the US. Lots of US citizens see this. Trump saw it, and it’s one of the main reasons he got elected.Romantic anecdotes about hard working immigrants mostly cover up the main truth.No way: As a voter and taxpayer, no way did I want to pay taxes to import and train someone to throw me out of my job.

          4. SFG

            “Maybe they were tired, with rags, poor, etc., but they had something really special: They understood US culture because they were from Europe, understood European culture, and the US was dominated by just such European culture. For religion? They were essentially all Christian, and so was the US. They fit in relatively well”Yep!And don’t forget, really f’ing smart.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            “Smart”? I’ll match SAT and GRE scores and published papers with anyone including the immigrants.

          6. SFG

            Ok, let’s use the word “grit”. Natural smarts with boatloads of grittiness. Don’t worry, not trying to make the case that ANYONE is smarter than you. Have a good one!

          7. sigmaalgebra

            “Grit”? Yup, some people have lots of “grit”.I’ve thought that “grit” was easy, but AFAIK it never did me much good!E.g., too many members of the FedEx Bod were very concerned about scheduling the fleet for the full plans. Actually, founder, COB, CEO Fred Smith in his office tried for an afternoon and walked out saying “We need a computer.” Well, a guy I knew in college was working there, heard Fred, and gave me a call. Computer? Sure, I was in applied math and computing and just then was teaching computer science at Georgetown U and consulting on applied math. The friend, some more from FedEx, a guy from one of the management consulting firms, and I met in a room in the Georgetown library, and at the end I said I’d design and write the software.So, I did that. Lost some sleep. Took some “grit”. But, got it done.Later in Memphis, one evening Roger Frock and I used my software to develop a version of the needed schedule and printed it out. Our two guys from BoD Member General Dynamics went over the schedule in detail and announced to the BoD and everyone “It’s a little tight in a few places, but it’s flyable.”So, the schedule pleased the BoD, enabled crucial funding, and saved the company. No joke.There was stuff for me to overcome with “grit”, but that “grit” did me little or no good.There were other times I used “grit”.E.g., my current startup has run into a surprising list of obstacles: My “vision”, plans, designs, original applied math, software have all been fast, fun, and easy, the software appears to run as intended, but a bunch of outside things have gotten in the way and needed “grit” to beat back and overcome.Getting my Ph.D. wasn’t all easy: In a STEM field at a high end university, of well qualified entering students, only about 1 in 10 or 20 successfully complete such a degree. That failure rate makes the Navy Seal training, which is highly regarded as needing “grit”, look like fuzzy, bunny play time.My experience and anecdotal evidence aside, for US immigration policy I have what for the NYT is a radical suggestion: The US should follow long standing, existing polices, procedures, and laws. Trump and many tens of thousands of people at his rallies seem to want just this, too, but for him to follow that suggestion will take a lot of “grit” because there are some powerful forces, Zuck, US Chamber of Commerce, !Jeb, Rubio, Paul Ryan, and others who for whatever reasons very much want “open borders”.

    3. LE

      You left out being mad about DACA and the dreamers.Noting what Fred said:That is a problem and also a big opportunity.I don’t claim to be of a higher purpose in any way. I am not @Charlie Crystle:disqus .I am not saying this to make Fred look bad. Because I don’t honestly know if it’s anyone’s job to try to take a hit when their competition and others aren’t doing so. (ie ‘only be as honest as…’) I don’t do that and I have never claimed to be like that. My wife isn’t like that either.What this really comes down to is voice. The people with the best voice and communication skills end up on top. People who have money and/or are elite have the best chance of getting their voice heard. That is the way the world works. We have had a shift though with social media it’s possible for others to have their voice heard but that has created it’s own set of problems (everyone gets a vote theory or the noisest get their way).

    4. JamesHRH

      I like the a sense of identifiers other than workers.Bang on.

    5. sigmaalgebra

      Dad got married, soon finished his Master’s, got a job, bought a house, and my brother was born. Dad moved to a better job, bought a house, and I was born. Dad moved to a better job, bought a house, put my brother and I through college, and then got a better job in the Pentagon. There for the first time he rented.I never could buy a house. I won’t be able to unless my startup works. If the startup works, the result for me could be anything from a hand full of old peanuts to being worth $1 T (a must have, the first good, with a good barrier to entry, solution for essentially everyone on the Internet in the world).There should be a lot of angry people: There are about 94 million US citizens ready, willing, able, and eager to work but out of the labor force. Why? Bad trade deals. Importing cheap goods and temporary labor. Too many absurd, wasteful foreign adventures. A lot of automation, e.g., word whacking instead of typewriters, e-mail instead of USPS letters, telephone voice response instead of people, bank Web sites instead of bank tellers, the Internet and DVDs instead of movie theaters, spreadsheets instead of desk calculators and graphics arts departments, bar code scanners and sorting machines instead of people, in production of food and fiber, much more product per worker hour (with much more to come, e.g., from what Belgium is doing with greenhouses), etc. Too many laws, regulations, mandates, nonsense (e.g., quasi-religion from the EPA) from government from local to DC. Not enough in technical training that leads directly to a job that can buy a house, support a family, and provide for a secure retirement.It’s bad, really bad. Just how bad it is? It’s so bad we are going extinct, literally. The fraction of the population that can form families is way, way, way down, especially since, say, 1946 to 1960.With big budget deficits and next to free money from the Fed, why no inflation? We’ve got huge deflation! How? What it costs to send a letter is maybe 5% of what it used to be. Due to just the simple throttle body fuel injection and electronic ignition, cars don’t need new breaker points or carburetor replacement/maintenance; due to better fuel mixture and ignition control, engines last much longer. Due to much better tire design and rubber chemistry, tires can last 50,000 miles instead of 15,000. Due to permanent press cloth, we don’t iron shirts. My SUV has 220,000 miles with the original ball joints, suspension bushings, shock absorbers (Bilsteins). Latex paint and rollers are much more efficient than oil based paint and brushes. Drywall is much more efficient than lath and plaster. For house sheathing, oriented strand particle board (OSB) is much more efficient than diagonal 1 x 6 boards. Nail guns and plywood are much more efficient than hammers and boards. It used to take a man a day to hang a door; now buy pre-hung doors and put them in place in minutes. Plumbing? PVC pipe and some glue and no more cast iron and much less copper and solder. College, grad school text books? The author types into TeX, LaTeX, Word, or some such and does self-publishing — no typesetting. In fact in all of publishing, no more typesetting. Editors? We have good spell checkers and more — now even I can mostly get spelling correct! In grade school I gave up on spelling after “pneumonia” but do fine now! Apparently the spell checkers know that in English no telling what the right vowels are — a, e, i, o, u, w, y — since they are close to interchangeable, so use that to correct misspellings from having the wrong vowels! I have letterhead for my business; I did it using TeX; it looks fine, as good as lots of high end letterhead from big businesses; and no typesetter or printer was involved. Same for my business cards. Telephone? Comparatively dirt cheap, $30 a month or so for unlimited calling all over the US and more, and if want to use voice over IP (VOIP), get telephone essentially for free. Photography? Charged coupled devices and no more Kodak. I have a sack of just gorgeous Nikon camera equipment; so far I can still get film and get it processed to JPGs to take, say, kitty cat pictures! TV sets? Why bother? I have three really good ones, use only one of them to play VCR copies of old movies and never use the other two. Computing? Maybe the biggest deflation of all — Moore’s law and much the same for data storage and data communications. But there’s lots of deflation in medicine, e.g., I have sensitive skin and used to go to dermatologists. Now I just keep a good supply of three tubes of goo from Wal-Mart, generic triple antibiotic, hydrocortisone (e.g., great for any poison ivy), and anti-fungal (it’s done so well I hardly need it now), and some iodine solution. Haven’t been to a dermatologist in many years! Sure, with an annual flu shot, I don’t get the flu. Dad died of a heart attack — now an afternoon in a heart center with a stent or two might have saved him. We’re talking big time deflation.First cut is not really the situation on unions, labor laws, or the gig economy. Instead the first step is just to put a lot of the 94 million people back to work. Then they will pay taxes, and that will reduce government deficits. They will spend money, and that will mean more jobs, taxes, spending, and jobs, …, in a virtuous circle. So, gotta put people back to work. So, first cut, throttle the importation of cheap goods and labor. Right, the slogan is “Buy American. Hire American.”. Another slogan is “America First.”. Uh, nearly no one in Manhattan, SF, and DC has ever heard of such things! A lot of people in the fly-over states have heard those things loud and clear.The US middle class — buy a house, have a family, mother busy with the kids and home, educate the kids, maybe have a boat on a trailer, retire — has been ripped off to the point they are going extinct, literally. So, they are not pissed. We’ve all seen pissed. They are way beyond pissed. And they vote. And there’s nothing the NYT, WaPo, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC pundits in Manhattan can do to talk those people out of being way beyond pissed and voting. Instead those pundits can talk those media companies out of business, and they are. Last I heard, the formerly revered, now highly self-esteemed, lying, fake news, Goebbels style (“If tell a lie often enough, people will believe it and even you will come to believe it” — IIRC) propaganda NYT is saying that their work is so important that they should have charity donations! Uh, I can assure the NYT that the way beyond pissed off people in the fly-over states do like the Sunday NYT and WaPo because a week later when free they are cheaper than Charmin, good for wrapping dead fish heads and starting fireplace fires in the winter.

      1. JLM

        .Interesting comments about the efficiency of things. Well played. Happy Labor Day!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. SFG

        Yep, put them back to work. The virtuous circle. My father in law was always so fun to listen to at the dinner table as he talked about all of those people working and spending money. Smart, smart guy. As JLM would say “well played”.

      3. SFG

        And just so you know, my father in law was an immigrant. He escaped Croatia and bought his first house in Michigan late 60’s. He worked his ass off with multiple jobs. He never whined about identity politics. CA made perfect sense to him in every capacity versus Michigan. Weather, work, the best universities. So he moved his family out here and accumulated homes in south Silicon Valley and rented them out. All on a “regular” working professional’s wage. He never started a business, but didn’t have to since he had the native ability to play real estate so perfectly. He took his last breath very, very wealthy. Probably the smartest blue eyed man that I’ve ever met.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Sadly, I got from my father the idea that (1) go to college, Master’s or Ph.D., (2) get a job, (3) buy a house, (4) get married, (5) have children, (6) enjoy life, (7) retire and enjoy grand children. Mom sort of agreed with that.For me that worked until (3) buy a house; I never could. There was a short period when I was saving money quickly and soon might have bought a house.It took me a while to understand that for financial security in the US, it is nearly essentially to start, own, and run a successful business. So, that’s what I’m trying to do now. I have a lot of advantages and a good project and a good shot.But “the old residential rental property ploy” took me a while to understand. Why should that path be a relatively good way to relatively good financial security or even some wealth? Answer: Because not many people make high scores on the SAT tests, and not many people will do the work, have the discipline, the smarts about people, etc. to do well with residential rental property. That’s just a fact from the relatively common fallibility of humans.E.g., when I was an MBA prof, I met one of the more important families in US finance, well known name. The father had a lot of advantages from his father, e.g., inherited the family business, but also, since he was a business owner had flexible time, got into rental housing. So, he’d buy a house in really bad shape. E.g., once one of the walls was bowing out and about to fall apart. He got a chain with the lever and ratchet device to pull on the chain and pulled the wall back into position and reinforced it there. His son told me that he was the fastest painter he ever saw.Dad was really, really good at carpentry, painting, etc. and gave me some good lessons in painting, high quality, lots of surface preparation, the brush strokes, etc. That’s NOT being a fast painter for low end rental houses!So, do 1-3 such houses, and now have some equity. NOW, finally, can go to a bank and borrow for a house. If do well selecting tenants, then essentially the tenant can pay off the loan. Keep that up; can get to be highly leveraged. US government policy is designed to keep house prices rising, and that’s crucial for leverage. Then might build some apartment houses and rent those out. Sure, that’s what DJT’s father did.If in addition are lucky/smart enough to pick a place with wealth exploding such as Silicon Valley, then can end up buying a place for $10,000, fix it up in evenings over a few weeks and have something worth $30,000, rent it out, wait, …, and now in parts of SF or Silicon Valley it’s worth $1 million. Yup, can do that.I’ve seen a pattern before: Immigrants come to the US and somehow know to avoid the 9-5 job path, or take it not very seriously, and, instead, pursue a business, often a Main Street business such as big truck, little truck, being the best plumbing supplier, electrical equipment supplier, building materials supplier, etc. in the area.Dad would have been terrific at any or all of those — knew all those trades and much more cold, expert knowledge — and more, e.g., high end wood working (e.g., fine furniture), metal working (machine tools, was certified for high pressure steam boiler welding), and printing, but set it all aside concluding that Sears would beat him in the hardware business. Nope, not really.Why such a large fraction of immigrants I’ve seen from Iran, Turkey, and more were so eager to get into Main Street sole proprietor businesses and do well I don’t know.Ah, maybe Dad was “seduced by the Force” — believed that education and a job based on it would be good. Well, mostly it’s not with the main exception being medicine. Law is not an exception: The country is awash in people with law degrees who never use their degree; the lawyers who make big bucks, and a small fraction do, use much more than just what they learned in law school.If making a lot of money were easy, then many more people would do it, so many more that the economic pie is not that big. So, really, to make a lot of money, need luck, smarts, hard work, etc. or some good selection of those.I believe that now, in general I’m on the right track and in particular with an especially good project. In the end, if I’m successful, some of my high end education will have been crucial, but in that case I should be able to have a meeting in an airline wash room of everyone that holds for — A. Viterbi, J. Simons, and not many more.Just what it is about Croatia that some guy from there has a big advantage, I don’t know.But, if we’re going to consider US immigration policy, procedures, and laws, anecdotal evidence just won’t do much. Immigration policy, …, is super important stuff for the US, and anecdotes won’t cut it.E.g., flatly I don’t believe that being from Croatia is an advantage in the US; however romantic the stories, Croatia can’t be an advantage. If someone from Croatia did well, then that was in spite of being from Croatia, not because of it.I have a guess that one of the most important attributes a person can have for business and family success, including in the US, is the ability to read and affect the emotions of other people. Then I’ve concluded that mostly a person gets that ability from their mother. So, I’d have to bet that a guy from Croatia who did well had a very good mother. That’s something a good mother can do in nearly any country of the world, Croatia included.

          1. SFG

            ? Answer: Because not many people make high scores on the SAT tests, and not many people will do the work, have the discipline, the smarts about people, etc. to do well with residential rental property. That’s just a fact from the relatively common fallibility of humans.– Yep, that was a lot of his magic. Discipline and delayed gratification. He’d tell me stories of other family members who called the top in SV real estate and sold to cheaper areas. Once you do that, you can NEVER come back as a home owner here. Somehow he always had the wisdom to accumulate on market dips, and never sell anything. Plus, he could build loyal relationships with his tenants so he never had problems or turnover. But sometimes success is being in the right place at the right time. And buying RE in his area over the past 40 years has provided unfathomable appreciation for those who hung on and had the cajones to plug their nose and buy in. It’s NEVER been easy to buy here. It’s always been “too expensive”. I bought my 1st place in 1993. The seller was underwater due to a market down turn and I held my nose and paid 243k for a 1300sf starter home. I was so freaked out at the time, especially since my job was straight commission sales. I lacked wisdom and sold the place in 1999 for 420k. I bought a bigger place and did well on that, but it was stupid to have sold when I didn’t have to. The place is now worth 1.4mil and I could be collecting 3500 per month in rent. <sigh>

    6. Richard

      I’m don’t think that you have thought this through?There are groups that are “mad” at wall st banks making “so much money and requiring employers to ring out everydime” but history has shown them to be not the displaced worker but what I call the politics first class (who often deference these bankers, not as bankers but Jew Bankers).Who are these banks? How do they require employers to ring ?In the real world, companies compete by increasing productivity. And the huge winners in the tech space are winners because they have provided tools to companies to increase its productivity.

  7. Pointsandfigures

    Unions restrict employment, even though many of them have standards that make sure people actually have the skills they say they have. One of the largest problems with unions is their leadership. It’s centralized, bureaucratic and really lives pretty large off it’s members (not unlike a TV Preacher).In my opinion, public employee unions ought to be disbanded. Having an elected official bargain with a union employee on the other side of the table is a recipe for disaster

    1. PhilipSugar

      Unions are like government, they get big, bloated, and the leadership of both feeds at the trough like pigs. One should re-read Animal Farm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi… George Orwell got a lot of things right way ahead of his time.But the one thing as Fred points out is technology has not helped us solve government bloat. I think each employee should have to write what they did that week, and not be allowed to vote.And we should also figure out how to pay skilled employees. Frankly in my comment I should have pointed out skilled employees still can do well but they are fearful for their jobs. When I expanded my office I listened to them all colors and creeds. They are fearful and angry. They speak in front of me freely because I am willing to get in a ditch and help. I know their jobs, I can do their jobs, and my hands prove it. I more than once had an executive at a big company tell me: those are not the hands of an executive. Makes me happy.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        The idea of “bloat” is a relative one. Having spent enough time in the belly of the beast, if the measure of bloat is whether there is enough labor available to do all the things that government needs to do, the answer is generally no. You don’t spend hours in line at the motor vehicle department because there are too many employees and not enough to do, you spend those hours because there aren’t enough employees and resources to handle the workload. This is not to say there are not employees who do not perform well or ignore their work, but this exists in every organization. It’s a management/recruiting challenge.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Bloat is everybody but the front line employees. There are two administrators for every teacher in a district I am in.When they talk about cutting teachers they never talk about cutting administration.

        2. pointsnfigures

          a lot of government has shunned technology. Tech would cause them to use less employees and automate stuff. In my home state of Illinois, city, county and state government are a machine where they utilize taxpayer dollars to employ people, get votes etc. If you don’t get the vote out, you lose your job. It is murderous on taxpayers. People in places like Harvey IL with a 80-100k valued house are paying 5.7% in property taxes, along with the highest sales taxes in the country and nothing to show for it.

          1. Matt Zagaja

            I don’t think they’re shunning technology. Technology requires money/time/effort to ramp up and there are risks along the way. Given the choice between hiring a social worker/teacher/police officer or investing in a tech project, and in a world where the government in fact needs both these things, the teacher is the safer bet and wins most of the time.That being said Illinois suffers from the same issue as my previous residence which is that they’re paying high taxes today for spending from yesterday. Government did not put away funds for pensions and kept taxes artificially low for a long time (relative to spending). While you can rejigger the environment and energy departments to get more efficiency, you cannot innovate your way out of a pension/debt problem. You can either amortize it over a longer period, massively raise taxes to pay it down in a shorter term, or if you’re lucky you can find the magic sauce that gives your state humongous GSP growth.

          2. pointsnfigures

            Matt. In Illinois it’s different. They are shunning it. See MichaelMadigan.com. Will make your stomach crawl if you are a belieber in good government

          3. JLM

            .Much of it is governance decisions driven by political ideology.First six months of their presidencies:Pres Obama — +60,000 Fed employeesGeo W Bush — +15,000 Fed employeesPres DJ Trump — MINUS 11,000 Fed employees, headed to MINUS 25,000 Fed employeesThis is real and it is important to follow.In the last two years of the Obama admin, they gutted the bayonet strength of the Army and Marines by getting rid of riflemen while keeping the office corps and the infrastructure.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. SFG

            So interesting! Wow!

      2. pointsnfigures

        i tweeted out an article at Fred in the NYT on the difference between a janitor at Apple and Kodak. Janitor at Kodak had a way to get ahead. Janitor at Apple is a contract employee. Part of this is the way corporations work. As the article states, should Apple be trying to worry about the well being of it’s janitors? That’s not core to the business-although having a clean work environment makes your employees happy etc.Perhaps the real problem is public policy and the rules around employment. We have created rules that incentivize contract employment rather than full employment. This was one of the largest missteps of Obamacare in a policy that was full of them.Unionizing that janitor probably isn’t a good way to get them more benefits. The reason they are contract employees is the laws/regs on labor. California has tough labor laws, so that’s not an answer. Re-doing public policy and creating incentives for corporates to hire rather than contract might be the path forward. Lowering corporate taxes will help.

        1. LE

          Part of this is the fact that many execs have never worked near or close to people in the lower ranks. Like right with and along side them. @PhilipSugar:disqus has and I have. Literally with them. Know what makes them tick. Talk to them to this day when given the opportunity. Part of this is because it pays for me to understand human nature but also it’s kind of a hobby and good for business in a way you might say. I am not friends with and I don’t socialize with them though. That is not me in any way.I’ve always wondered about low level employee jobs at great places. For example someone gets to be qualified enough to be the maid at the white house but yet all they have achieved in life is to be a maid at the white house. So you have to wonder what is holding them back from having a better job. Is it they don’t have the opportunity? Or they simply lack the motivation. Or circumstances prevent them from taking risk. Maybe they simply realize their limitations and are smart to not try to go for a nicer brass ring.

        2. Jeff Jones

          Company called Managed by Q based out of NYC treats cleaning service workers as employees, offers paid time off, equity, bonuses. https://www.google.com/amp/

      3. sigmaalgebra

        I started my career within 50 miles of the Washington Monument and was in applied math and computing for mostly US national security. I made a big mistake: For various reasons I left that area and didn’t return. Whatever is said about government bloat, rigidity, etc., what I was doing there near DC was awash in wide open innovation, great variety of organizational approaches, lack of bureaucratic resistance, and terrific results.Much of the reason was that Congress put ceilings on the number of direct US government employees but provided much more money than needed for those employees. The deliberate approach, strategy, result was what I described, variety, …, results for US national security.E.g., for a while a biggie was the fast Fourier transform. I ran into it at GE Information Systems where I was the main applied math, statistics guy. Quickly I got deep into the subject — no bureaucratic anything and instead I just dug in. Soon with that expertise I got another job with a big raise, annual salary 6 times what a new, high end Camaro cost.Soon the software house I was in, right, an independent little company serving the organizations a step closer to the Pentagon, responded to a request for proposal for some software development. The proposal was from the JHU/APL, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab — which from WWII and the proximity fuse to then and the Navy’s version of GPS (before the USAF’s GPS) wanted some analysis of ocean wave noise. They didn’t know how to do that, and neither did I or the little company I was in. Sure, that would be close to the fast Fourier transform. So, I got a copy of Blackman and Tukey, The Measurement of Power Spectra, and dug in, especially while eating broiled flounder, coleslaw, and french fries for dinner at a little place in Silver Spring, MD.[Uh, Tukey was a big guy, at Bell Labs and Princeton. He was sitting in a President’s Scientific Advisers meeting taking meeting notes with one hand and doing Fourier derivations with the other. Richard Garwin was sitting next to Tukey, had been struggling with numerical Fourier transforms, and asked Tukey if he knew something Garwin didn’t. Right away Tukey showed him the fast Fourier transform, and Garwin had Cooley code it up. The result was the famous Cooley, Tukey paper and a big flurry of activity from software, books, applications, specialized hardware, stochastic processes, digital filtering, X-ray diffraction analysis, etc., important to the present.]Then, bending some rules, in a week I designed, wrote, and ran some PL/I code for some illustrative examples. I called an engineer at the JHU/APL to meet me on a Friday evening and showed him the good, bad, and ugly of the analysis he wanted — he had another case of the trade-off of bias and variance, in this case, bias and spectral resolution. He saw that as the length of his stochastic process sample path grew, the accuracy of his desired power spectrum converged slowly but accurately to what we had used to generate the sample path.The engineer was impressed, and my little company got sole source on the software.It went on that way: Lots of bright, fast, unfettered innovation and progress.Bureaucracy drag? I had none! I drove my high end Camaro at high speed around the DC beltway from VA, to MD and DC, doing applied math and computing. Later to support my wife and I through our Ph.D. degrees, I did much more of the same at a little company in Silver Spring that was working for the Navy, NASA, NIH, etc.E.g., a guy was having trouble with numerical stability with some software he wrote for polynomial curve fitting. Gee, it’s easy to see why — he was using the usual normal equations! So, I showed him a rock solidly stable approach, basically simpler, via orthogonal polynomials!That system, of course, extended to Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, Electric Boat Company, and much more. Otherwise in US business, including nearly all of Silicon Valley, the level of rapid innovation is on average under 10% of what I saw.E.g., a guy at the JHU/APL had wired a fast Fourier transform (FFT) hardware box. I asked him what version of the FFT he had used, and it was the usual one. So, the FFT is in stages; with the FFT version he used, each stage was different which meant that he had to wire special circuitry for each stage. So, I showed him a version of the FFT, just as fast, accurate, etc., that was the same at each stage. Had he used that version, most of his circuitry would not been needed!Some guys at NASA had two satellites and wanted to send them signals. If the satellites got too close in the sky, then there could be some signal interference. So, they wanted to know which signals to assign to which satellite to minimize the worst case of interference. Some people didn’t see a solution at all. Other people thought that the solution was a challenging 0-1 integer linear program. Well, there’s a simple solution: Using a simple algorithm for maximum matching, do an assignment. Take the one signal assignment that is causing the worst trouble, remove it as a candidate, and assign again. Continue. Actually can do a binary search on the crucial assignment, and in this search the last solution can be a good start on the next one. So, I’d just reinvented the solution to the bottleneck assignment problem. It took me about 90 seconds. NASA got their results.Basically Congress is highly aware of bureaucratic bloat, stuck in the mud, etc. so, with the head count cap, etc., in effect spreads the money around to include lots of alternatives with the result of rapid innovation, etc.

      4. Rob Underwood

        Of course bloat exists in corporations too.I served large telecommunications, network equipment manufacturers, and technology companies in the Fortune 100 and 500 for twelve years, doing strategy and operations consulting. I’d estimate that at any of those companies at least 30-40% of SGA costs were spent on the labor associated with building entirely pointless PowerPoint presentations and then attending meetings to discuss and review said PowerPoints. From there another 3-5%, maybe more, of SGA could be spent on external consultants (like me) who built still more pointless PowerPoints, albeit prettier (Wharton and HBS MBAs get trained at such consultancies to become very good at kerning) that end up in the rubbish bin once the $3M bill is paid.When I see one of these companies lay off 5k, 10k, 15k people I always feel back for the individuals and their families but know those companies will not miss a beat because sadly their jobs were just a form of tacit upper middle class welfare. These jobs added little to any value to shareholders.The “culture of PowerPoint” – coupled with corporate schedules where many workers spend 5, 6, even 7 hours a day on conference calls discussing PowerPoints – is a huge problem as this bloat hurts shareholder value and also represents huge swaths of unlocked human potential.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          Meetings and conference calls are a compounding debt problem. When people have lots of meetings and calls, the only way to focus the right people on something to get it done is to schedule meetings. Their time otherwise gets absorbed by the other meetings that are scheduled into it.

          1. PhilipSugar

            Great way to put it.

        2. PhilipSugar

          We are a kindred spirit. I on principle refuse to do a powerpoint.

          1. Rob Underwood

            Especially when nearly anything useful you might do in PowerPoint could be done in emacs org mode or even just markdown.

          2. PhilipSugar

            Loved your comment. We are in total agreement on this thread.

    2. LE

      and really lives pretty large off it’s members (not unlike a TV Preacher)Will never miss a chance to re-tell the story of the neighbor who was a union leader in the 70’s, the day he drove home in a brand new Mercedes Benz 450SEL instead of ironically a big caddy which as you know as the defacto champion of that day. Gave me a super nice gift for my bar mitzvah as well. [1][1] The largest gifts were from the union leader and the guy who owned porn shops. $1000 in today’s dollars.

      1. DJL

        Per my post above. I saw this first hand. The Labor bosses make huge money and “work” about 2 hours day. Then it is lunch and golf.

  8. David C. Baker

    Fred, Julie and I are at our mountain retreat at the moment on “The Mountain” in Monteagle, TN. Just a short walk from us is where the “Highlander Folk School” was created (it’s now been renamed and it moved to another city). This was HQ for civil rights AND for the labor movement. Some notable events that occurred here: “We Shall Overcome” was written; Rosa Parks received her training; and Martin Luther King was trained here.Anyway, it started as a civil rights movement but morphed into an instigation for the labor movement. Really interesting stuff. There used to be billboards along I-24 denouncing them as communists, but it’s an important part of TN history, especially in this very rural, very poor county.It was eventually disabled through bogus claims by the Feds.

  9. Matt Zagaja

    I believe that unions are not a macro problem where “the world has changed and we need to transform the system” but rather a micro problem. The idea and system of unions that existed for generations was effective and is easily adaptable to the modern economy. It is just that the current crop of people working on them are specifically bad at what they do. (See also: Congress.) This is not to say that everyone is specifically bad at their jobs in labor unions, I have met many people paid and volunteer who really believe in the movement and do a lot of good. However collectively the talent just is not there. I am not sure why this is true, but I also don’t think the AFL-CIO HQ pay scale quite compares to Google or a16z.

    1. DJL

      There are people walking around the local UAW Union HQ in Detroit making over $300K a year. And they essentially do nothing. Big labor has become a racket where the top brass gets rich and everyone else gets nothing. I have seen it personally. Just like industry needs disrupting – so does organized Labor.

  10. awaldstein

    Thoughtful and important.I was brought up in a labor union family–My dad in the teachers union, my grandfather a labor organizer in the sweat shops in the apparel district.I agree times are changed of course. I agree, the needs are different and the tech something that can bind in new ways.But honestly there are people like the mass of people in our restaurants and food industries who are skilled, work like crazy make very little and get screwed. Especially if they are immigrants and language challenged.They can’t fall out of this fix.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Add to that the construction trades which are dangerous as hell. I have told the story of coming home on my brickwork project and seeing a guy with a gas powered stone saw turned upside down, throttles zip tied, and safety guard off.When I tried to give him earplugs, safety glasses, and a dust mask he just looked at me strange and refused.

    2. DJL

      Hmm. It’s amazing how many of the “immigrants” who are “language challenged” went on to become some of the most amazing company founders in history.You see – it is all about attitude. These jobs are supposed to be stepping stones – not careers. You tell people they are victims – that is how they stay. You tell them there is hope and opportunity – then they work harder. It’s the American dream.

      1. Dan T

        I’m an active owner of two companies that together employ about 1,000 people, 80% of who earn between $10 and $20 per hour, and more than 50% born outside the US, like my father, except English is a second language for most: Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, etc.Inability to communicate in English does not keep one from getting a job, but it absolutely limits job progression. We consistently struggle to fill positions with people that will show up, work hard and get along.We have many instances of people moving from the $10 to $15 per hour jobs to positions that pay $25 per hour or more. It seems to be mostly dictated by ambission, hard work and reasonable communication skills.That being said, most do not move up. They seem to settle in, accept their work/comp situation and make do. Our market won’t pay high wages for low skill jobs, almost regardless of productivity, so that can be a disincentive.There are so many opportunities available, that it can be difficult to understand why anyone would feel limited or trapped in their jobs, but I am sure many do. Mostly because they can’t see the path to a better situation OR just don’t seem to be willing or able to know how to get started.It’s really an educational and mentoring problem. If all the people complaining about the plight of the low wage worker would spend some time with active low wage workers and figure out what they need to get ahead, I don’t think it would seem so hopeless.

        1. DJL

          “If all the people complaining about the plight of the low wage worker would spend some time with active low wage workers and figure out what they need to get ahead, I don’t think it would seem so hopeless.” – Yes!You can take that and apply it to every other class of “victim” in the US. What you have hit on – in your personal experience – is one of the many lies of modern Liberalism. The truth is that it is still better to learn English and work hard (like 90% of the immigrants in this country until recently.) But if you tell these people they are victims – they are being held back because of their language skills by their unfair boss – where does the incentive go? It is done. All of the creative energy gets wasted on bitterness, protesting and blaming. So the hope is destroyed by a lie (“it shouldn’t matter if you speak English, that is unfair”)We have far more resourced today than the first immigrants had – and yet they all knew that they needed to learn English and the DID.Congratulations on your business! 1000 families with food on the table and a roof over their head. How awesome.

  11. Rob Underwood

    On the overall topic of labor policy generally.I was home in Kennebunkport last week and I went out to dinner with my aunt who used to own an inn in town and was a member and then president of the Rotary.While we were at dinner the restaurant owner, a woman in her 20s, came up to our table and started talking with us. She was bemoaning that they could not find any dishwashers and that she (the owner) was now having to do all the dishwashing on top of managing the restaurant.After the owner left us my aunt explained that over the last 10-15 years labor in Kennebunkport’s restaurants and hotels has shifted from primarily young people (i.e., a high school and college job) seasonal immigrants from the Caribbean, especially from Jamaica.This year, few to none of the people who come to Kennebunkport from the Caribbean each summer to work could get seasonal work visas.She further explained that due this shortage of available labor some of the restaurants have curtailed their hours or only are opening 4-5 hours during the summer, peak season. Even with offering higher wages local people, including young people, don’t seem to want to wait tables, change beds. or wash dishes — all jobs that literally everyone did growing up (including, incidentally, the Bush children, who also did summer jobs like these at Kennebunkport inns).I had heard about and read such stories before but it really struck me to see my home town and the industry that supports it (tourism) suffering economically (and not opening 2-3 nights is a big deal over the course of the summer) only because of lack of labor.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I’ve been working on a youth jobs program and one of the issues it is facing is lack of demand for the program itself. Not a lot of hard data yet but anecdotally more young people are choosing academic enrichment experiences over summer work.

      1. JLM

        .This is cultural and societal. In my youth, I had three jobs at all times during the summer. I worked in construction, restaurants, and as a lifeguard.I loved summers.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. JamesHRH

      In New Brunswick, local people do not work in the fish plants. Same thing – folks from Jamaica.I think there is a cycle to it. Parents do it, tell kids not to so they don’t?

  12. Humberto

    Yes!I’ve placed a bet that by 2030 one such union will reach 1m people.In general, I think we’ll see a lot of platforms fighting to re-establish the power balance from larger organizations, be it a employee-company or costumer-seller.It’s hard to imagine Amazon, google et al will keep amassing leverage in terms of pricing and purchasing power and customer knowledge without a proper organization of people.Tech is making Societal Power more liquid.

    1. JLM

      .US population 16+ is approximately 243MM.Labor force — people employed — is 161MM.Do the math as to how many in the “theoretical” labor force are not working. It is theoretically 82MM while reported to be 94MM (difference is often attributed to a fouled anchor attributed to “unemployed” though unemployed are supposed to be in the labor force.)Having a union of 1MM is hardly the high hurdles, still I doubt it happens. Unions cannot organize even traditional industries like the auto industry.The most growth is in gov’t workers. Over the next decade, the number of gov’t workers will decline. Already, Trump has trimmed Fed payrolls by 12,000.Can I get in on the bet?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Humberto

        doesn’t have to be in the US! but sure, I can bet with you a symbolic amount!

  13. Rob Underwood

    I have never seen discussion of worker owned cooperatives here, including and especially the work of Richard Wolff on this topic. Interesting stuff in light of this discussion. Here’s a lecture on the topic from last year: https://www.youtube.com/wat

  14. DJL

    Being from Detroit, we watched organized labor turn from a positive force for the people – to a mechanism of greed and corruption that almost destroyed the US auto industry. This happened in one lifetime. And these large Unions became a political force that could destroy opponents at will by sheer numbers and Union dues. The pendulum of power swung too far in the other direction.Labor 2.0 should be an entirely different animal. It should not focus on flexing muscle to bully corporations. It should create benefits across the population. It could be allowed to negotiate for lower premiums on insurance, etc. But it should be based on attraction – not force. Labor Union participation should never be mandatory. I am happy that this is slipping away – state by state. That is the evil heart of Union 1.0 that is clinging desperately for survival.Happy Labor Day. (We don’t need another day off in Houston – but here we go to the BBQ pit)

  15. Salt Shaker

    The prob w/ UBI is too many will view as the next “no show” union gig. I’m a proponent of UBI, but we need circuit breakers to insure this doesn’t happen.

  16. Dave S

    Another way for our country to provide union-type benefits for our people would be to reconceive the notion of infrastructure to include funding of higher education and healthcare. In a meritocracy, having equal access to education and healthcare is as important as having unfettered access to paved roads (or, er, sometimes paved roads).

  17. @mikeriddell62

    The membership economy is on its way. (Platform Cooperative). Payment, membership and reward services. SaaS. Community Currency. Earned into existence. Establishment of measurement practices that are shared with the people who produce the value. Data at the heart. Volunteered personal information. Walled castle. Big Moat. Network Effect.

  18. lunarmobiscuit

    Unions were useful 100 years ago, to fight for safe working conditions, and for the plethora of benefits we now take for granted as employees, which the gig economy is silently taking away.Their relevance (and participation rate) faded from the diminishing returns of the next benefit, and from what seems like the standard cultural issues which arise as organizations get large, complex, and slow.What I expect to see later this century isn’t Union 2.0 but something different, this time focused on ownership and governance, pushing back at the historic divide of owners v. employees and management v. workers.The founding VC fathers of the tech industry changed the norms of ownership, with employee success sharing upside via options. 99% of companies don’t do that, but should. A handful of companies also share governance with their employees, and I expect more of that too, as employees devolve into gig workers.

    1. Andy_Kreiss

      The idea that unions are no longer useful is an idea promoted by the same people who love the gig economy. They know their older voters benefited from their union, but want to trick them into screwing younger workers.

  19. Jay Janney

    My (now deceased) father was a labor organizer. IBEW #1382, back in the day. He worked for the power company. Before I was born his safety equipment failed and he was electrocuted–7200 volts. They found his (still alive but smoking) body 100′ from the pole where the accident happened. He was off work for 6 months. Came back for another 40 years.He initially fought for safety equipment, and better working conditions. He felt he accomplished that before he retired. He was president of his local for a time, they had a strike which he advised against. He felt towards the end they were focused on making mgt’s work harder, with rules not related to safety.In sports they say only father time is undefeated. It seems to me the marketplace will always win–maybe lose a round in a fight here or there, but wins the fight. A union that gets wages too high will see that industry decline over time, as competitors have a real incentive to innovate labor out of their costs.Unions need to protect worker safety, and they need to figure out how increase a firm’s profits, so that higher wages are offset by larger profits. If all they succeed in doing is in raising costs ($72 a gallon for coffee in a union hotel at a conference, 3 years ago), people will look elsewhere.

    1. Michael Elling

      A union is like any other monopoly. It ossifies over time and becomes static, not generative. The key is to remaining generative.Good story about your father!

  20. LE

    Also partial employee ownership should be a part of every company; people should benefit from the increase in value they help to create.Sure and the people who comment on AVC create an increase in value (make it popular) and therefore should have financial ownership and benefit from the additional value it creates for USV by the same token right?I guess what I mean is when you say ‘part of every company’ are you talking about some law that you feel should be passed that makes companies do this? Or are you saying that company owners should simply do this because this makes them a good person?As a business person (it’s part of the mindset) you don’t do things unless there is either a legal requirement or a clear benefit to doing so business wise vs. the drawbacks. Giving up equity is a clear drawback. Sure there are non-traditional vc funded business that do all sorts of things because they can loose money short term.Let’s assume also that you give your employees equity. Can you also take that away if their circumstances change with respect to the ‘value’ that they create? What happens if they are fired or leave for another job? What happens if they retire? How would that restrict your ability to sell the company? What are the legal fees to even draw up this plan and keep it up to date and modify it from time to time?At WF this am in the ‘nothing is changing just the pricing for now’ there was a very subtle change. The girl at the customer service counter who normally gladly rings me out with my small basket told me I couldn’t go there anymore. I had to use the regular checkout lanes from now on. I said ‘you need a sign that says that’. She replied ‘oh we are getting that this week but just thought you should know that’. You’ll see Charlie you will end up having to squeeze somewhere to keep that account happy. Your customer will make you do the dirty work and buckle down at the expense of people who work for you or your vendors if you yourself are not willing to take the hit. This is traditional business that is pretty much the way it works. And you know if you don’t some other company will be there ready to do that and take your place with that or any other account.Back in the 80’s I had a big account and a new purchasing agent came in, made demands, and when the guy who worked for him (the one we dealt with) said ‘these guys are really good and everyone here likes them’ his reply was ‘find a new vendor if they are not willing to do x y z’. He had no personal connection if you’ve ever wondered what golf is about it’s about keeping your ‘enemies’ closer in part.

  21. JLM

    .Charlie, what is your basis for saying that taxpayers are “subsidizing Walmart to the tune of $6 billion?”Happy Labor Day!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  22. DJL

    Hmm. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Walmart employees who have jobs and basic benefits. If it is “clearly” exploiting, why are people continuing to work there? If they want better they can work hard and go work at Costco or In-and-Out Burger.Why not pick on Amazon or Apple or Alphabet or Facebook? These companies are collectively stealing over $50 billion from taxpayers using their Irish tax shelters. Uber pays less than 1% corporate income tax. This is true fleecing of US taxpayers.

  23. LE

    yet its annual profit is $14 billionWalmart’s ‘crime’ is actually (if you want to call it that) that they are focused on getting lower class people to by crap that they don’t need. You know the mad rush for the plasma tv (or similar impulse buys) so that they are forced to source everything in China. Thereby decimating companies in the US by reducing demand for fairer priced products.The question is how many ‘triple e’s’ are bringing goods into the US vs. taking them out.https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…The new tax on the poor? It’s social media and paying for cell phone plans.

  24. JamesHRH

    You have credibility up the kazoo here.What is the price point difference b/t your bread and Wonder?No agenda, just curios what the consumer uptick is to produce quality basic goods @ humane wages.

  25. Salt Shaker

    Walmart has a decent 401K with company match up to 5%. Nice benefit, but w/ such low wages I wonder how many can actually afford to contribute?

  26. JLM

    .The vibe at Amazon-WF has already changed in the ATX. They have lower prices and lockers where they load your online orders. It is happening right now.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  27. PhilipSugar

    I told you that would happen. No doubt.

  28. LE

    My saying is ‘sit over there with the rest of the crybabies’. [1][1] It comes from when I was a little boy and my mommy took me to sleepaway camp. I was crying as she was saying goodbye to me. The counselor at the time said ‘oh come with me LE I will get you something to eat there is no reason to cry’. As my mom faded in the distance (if this was a movie scene that is what would happen) the tug of his arm became stronger and more sharp. We finally made it to the lunch room. He literally flung me to a table and said ‘sit over there with the rest of the crybabies!!!’. True story.

  29. sigmaalgebra

    He may be saying that Wal-Mart employees qualify for food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing, don’t pay their fair share of taxes for schools, police, roads, national security, etc. Maybe.Again, the solution is put people back to work, get the economy going again, get employers eager to hire, train, and promote workers.If we can’t put the people back to work, then all such discussions are just pissing into the wind. If do well putting people back to work, then we don’t need any such discussions.Back to work? Did I mention that?

  30. LE

    To me that type of thing is really ‘ownership theater’ and simply ends up maybe being golden handcuffs on employees. Good for the company in many cases I would agree. Good for some employees as well I am sure. Not all. I mean if a company does well and you are a key employee you already have power. So sure if you are just a labor unit maybe it’s good to have a bit more stashed away.Related to this is the concept of some people who work for family businesses with the hope that they will run and own the business when the parent dies. So they are often willing to work for less money and with some extra perks thinking one day it will be all their company. But parents might not pass until children are in their 60’s (parents in 90’s let’s say). Plus in many cases the parents are living somewhere and drawing an income and actually get veto power over what happens in the business. But the draw of ‘someday you will own’ is the golden handcuffs that keeps the child in the business.This isn’t the reason for my comment since I’ve seen this in many cases but that is what is happening with my cousins who work in a family business. Aunt is still around and pretty much controls things and has to be catered to. Uncle died a few years ago. The kids literally have kids who are in their 30’s (grand children). Can’t really be your own boss if your mom still has veto power.The grandkids end up having to take off from work to shlep their grandmother around during the work day. Like a personal attendant. Would never happen if she wasn’t the owner of the company or at least the majority owner. They would see her at Thanksgiving not have to suck up to her all the time (and suck up they do….lest they get sliced out of the will..)You know a manager who worked for me way back wanted to be cut into the business. I said no but I would pay him a higher salary. Wow just looked it up was $175k in today’s dollars, shit!Anyway as a result of not cutting him in he only stayed for 2 years after I sold the company. He then started his own company and last I checked was doing quite well and owned 100% (or actually his wife owned 50% so..)So my point is golden handcuffs. Not all upside.

  31. awaldstein

    Thanks for being thoughtful on this with your actions.This is a huge problem that I’m not certain even ownership will fix as that by definition it appears that any percentage of companies like your own make it to be huge, rather than simply become self supportive.Most people who work in the food and hospitality world entering from the bottom up are not using it as a stepping stone. Shift manager in a kitchen is a career and the very margins of the product they are making throw a wrench in the economics of making it a true living wage.You know this well.

  32. JamesHRH

    Yes, it makes sense that you see them as in a different market.But, if the goal is employ more people at higher wages, more of us have to buy higher quality staples. That’s what spurred the price point question.Are their production people running larger output facilities?Are your delivery people doing more customer work? Theee deltas are interesting.

  33. JLM

    .Walmart (whose board once upon a time included Hillary Rodham Clinton) is a familiar, knee jerk whipping boy for the liberal left, but the truth is something else altogether.Walmart provides the following benefits:1. Health insurance (dental, vision, life) at the rate of 60-85% for employees after 90 days of continuous employment.2. They offer short term (temporary) disability and long term disability insurance3. Accidental death and dismemberment (in addition to straight life)4. Sick pay, vacation pay, bereavement pay. There are time periods to qualify for these.5. 10% discount on all WalMart goods including groceries6. Discounted cell phone purchase and service7. 6% corporate match on company sponsored 401(k)8. Company sponsored defined contribution plan (different than 401(k)I have no dog in this fight, but knee jerk liberals are prone to make absurd accusations without any research as to the validity of their claims. It is intellectual laziness and dishonesty.Walmart is engaged in a fierce competition with Amazon for the digital dollar. They have to pay good salaries and benefits to be able to access software engineers because of the fierce competition.One can look up salaries of positions on Indeed and PayScale. They do not show the Draconian salaries that Charlie baselessly accuses them of paying.I care not a whit about Walmart and while it looks like I am defending them, I am only defending the truth.If the facts were otherwise, I’d be filling the molotov cocktails, lighting the fuses, and throwing them over the barricades.The truth is good enough. An honest dialog deserves the truth.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  34. DJL

    I don’t agree on the “poverty wage” idea at all. Walmart has been bashed for years because they won’t Unionize.As long as we have open borders to unskilled labor – you are going to have depressed wages. It is happening everywhere. If you want higher wages build a wall and slow down immigration.

  35. PhilipSugar

    See my comment to James.

  36. SFG

    Let’s face it: There are a lot of average people in the world. The bell-shaped curve is full of them. Not everyone is an alpha. So the fact that Walmart can gainfully employ folks of this nature, is that really a bad thing?

  37. JamesHRH

    Thanks.If you believe markets evolve to 3 points – cost based, value based and quality based -, the dynamics of these different models are super compelling.

  38. Salt Shaker

    I’m surprised you’re not leveraging your company’s cause related benefits more strongly on your site, packaging and via PR. It’s a compellingly story, although you need to strike a balance to minimize any perception of exploitation. Assuming shelf life is relatively a non-issue, have you tested a D-T-C approach online and via social (plenty of opportunities to explore w/ an altruistic message behind a quality product)? Distribution channel certainly has higher margin potential vs. traditional store door delivery and its intendant headaches.

  39. LE

    One of the reasons organizations need high profits is because the next dollar that you get is never assured.So it’s like our cat. He is in the habit of pinging me for food even if his food dish is nearly full. Instincts. He is smart enough to try to rub against me and stock pile more food in case we are not around to feed him. Even if we always are there to feed him. That is the way business is. You have to pile on money because you don’t know the unknowns that lay ahead. It’s not all ‘being a pig’. More money, more security. Not as simple as ‘just take less profit’.This is my honest advice to you after more years that I want to admit to in what is know as ‘traditional business’. Meaning not quick growing tech and not vc funded OPM businesses.

  40. DJL

    Yes, a tired old whipping post.i wonder how much Hillary (“I hate big business”) made from her Walmart options?

  41. sigmaalgebra

    All I said was “maybe”, but I’d heard gossip about the food stamps, etc. Yes, for an a priori estimate, I got sucked in. Ah, I gave to much face validity to a guy who is good at baking good bread! And I didn’t look up the facts. Not so good. Apparently Charlie didn’t either.So, once again, you use, instead of what in usual emotional mumbling, facts and excoriate, eviscerate the nonsense. In Manhattan, SF, and DC, you’d risk being chastised and ostracized!For some things, I like Wal-Mart. For some more, I like the Sam’s Club next door.E.g., my most recent lawn mower I got for $150 delivered, from Wal-Mart. It’s a Briggs and Stratton engine on a Murray base.[I have several dead ones. For the most recent one, I’ve done six things: (1) Gone ahead and changed the oil each Spring, even though the engine no longer has an oil drain plug in the bottom and have to tilt the whole mower and pour the old oil out the oil filler tube. (2) Be sure not to let the mower try to “mulch”. For the grass I mow, mulching the grass instead of just cutting and throwing it 10′ to one side will overload and overheat the engine, and the hard iron exhaust valve seat pops out of its press fit in the aluminum engine block which ruins the engine. Bummer. (3) Also, to keep from overloading/heating the engine with grass caught under the deck, remove the plastic chute over the grass exit hole. Then, yes, do wear glasses when mowing. (4) Take the crankcase breather tube that, thanks CA neurotics, feeds into the carburetor, open it to the outdoors, and plug up its connection with the carburetor. Else too soon, say, after maybe 20 hours of engine running time, goop from the crankcase breather forms a thick carbon deposit on the seat of the intake valve, greatly increases the usual gap in the valve train, each time the valve opens puts a big shock on the plastic camshaft, breaks it, and, thus, again, ruins the engine. Bummer. (5) Install a diagonal brace from one side of the middle of the handle to the front of the deck so that have no up-down slop in the handle, crucial when mowing irregular areas.With (1)-(6), the mower works great and lasts!]On computing and on-line ordering, Wal-Mart very much needs to get off their back side.E.g., they, and Sam’s Club, should have kiosks that, given an item description, say where it is in the store. In particular, Wal-Mart should index their DVD and CD collections. And their kiosks and Web site should have good recommendation systems — really good recommendation systems and not just the ones common in academic books and papers, open source software, etc.Bezos is a tough competitor. I underestimated Amazon: I thought that to move much beyond books and records, he would need a Web site awash in really good pictures and that Internet data rates were way to low for that. I was correct except for the little fact that Internet data rates quickly zoomed from 300 bit per second dialup to 60 million bit per second download speed, and Web browsers, disk sizes, etc. made handling all that data trivial. I don’t know when Bezos concluded that such data rates were on the way, but those data rates were just crucial for Amazon.Then Bezos was smart enough to realize he needed essentially one of the best server farms in the world and made the investment to get that, so good he has his side business Amazon Web Services (AWS) or some such — the “cloud”.Meanwhile back in Arkansas, Wal-Mart was walking slowly.Wal-Mart has the product sources, product selections, logistics, store locations, brand, etc. so can compete, but they will have to try hard.

  42. SFG

    I’m with ya. Walmart provides a lot of good jobs to people who otherwise might not be able to “knock it out of the park” in other workplace venues. That’s the reality of life. That’s the marketplace.

  43. LE

    Costco is high volume. Most businesses don’t have that volume. And never will.But more importantly that is like me trying to encourage someone to have a career in music because there is a Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel or Beyonce. Those are atypical examples of success in music (or a big scale at least) vs. it being a career path for someone with even above average talent. [1][1] My neighbor the dentist plays guitar and does gigs when he isn’t doing dentistry. He told me that he was thinking that when he gets older giving up dentistry and just doing music. Then he says what sounded like the equivalent of your ‘play piano man for us’. In other words nobody wants to hear his new songs just his covers. He is good enough to get flown out to the west coast all expenses paid to cover John Denver. “We want Chris” people say so companies hire him. I said to him ‘you have answered your own question stick to being a dentist..’

  44. LE

    Great story. We need more of that type of personal stuff here on AVC.If you’re in it for the music, it doesn’t matter how many people show up. Play to the room that’s there.See my comments here on nickgrossman.is :https://www.nickgrossman.is…In particular this which I said: But the pleasure that I get from that pales in comparison to writing a program to solve some problem or make something more efficient in my life. And that’s even w/o anyone to even say ‘cool’ like you did.Like this has been the problem my whole life. Not even 10 people showing up or caring.If you’re in it for the music, it doesn’t matter how many people show up. Play to the room that’s there.I told the story here about my brother in laws wedding. I thought the band was really good. The sound was good everything was good. So at the end I walked up and told them. They looked at me with this ‘wow. great. some guy likes our wedding mix thanks for the, uh, compliment’.I don’t think I can blame them for thinking that. Let’s face it in society there are social rewards for doing things that are generally considered ‘halo esq.’. Like it was impressive to hear you opened for those bands and I wasn’t even of fan of them and am not even a music person (my wife was in a big way). But I’m like ‘wow he must be really good if he could do that’.