7 Charts That Sum Up Our Jobs Mess

Nearly 26 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for a job. In this article, I want to put their story into pictures.

This chart, from the finance blog Calculated Risk, has been described as "the scariest unemployment chart you'll ever see":

Between the end of World War II and the late 1990s, every recession saw employment return to pre-recession levels fairly quickly -- typically in less than two years. And the deeper the drop in employment, the more rapid the recovery.

That trend ended in 2001, when employment took nearly four years to return to normal. That was by far the slowest post-war recovery, but the depth of the decline was never that severe -- unemployment peaked in 2003 at a little over 6%.

Today's recession is like nothing we've seen since the Great Depression. The depth of the decline has been horrendous, and it's going to take an unprecedented amount of time before we're back to par. If the economy adds 200,000 jobs a month going forward (about double what we are now), it would be 2019 before we return to normal levels of employment. Adding 400,000 a month, the economy wouldn't reach pre-recession levels until 2014, or seven years after the recession began.

Another post-war record this recession has broken is the average duration of unemployment, now 40 weeks:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The last time the average duration of unemployment was anything close to this was the 1930s. Consider this quote from the book Since Yesterday, describing life during the Great Depression:

Men who have been sturdy and self-respecting workers can take unemployment without flinching for a few weeks, a few months, even if they have to see their families suffer; but it is different after a year ... two years ... three years ... Among the miserable creatures curled up on park benches or standing in dreary lines before the soup kitchens in 1932 were men who had been jobless since the end of 1929.

Today, 4.1 million people have been out of work for over a year; half of those have been unemployed for over two years.

Of course, unemployment isn't even across all groups. One of the biggest distinguishing factors is education:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The breakdown is even more skewed when broken out by age. Those aged 20-24 without a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of over 20%. For those aged 34-44 with a college degree, it's just 3.4%. It skews even more when split by race and gender, but you get the point -- there's no one-size-fits-all unemployment rate.

Interestingly, for those who are unemployed, the odds of getting stuck in long-term unemployment (over one year) are about the same regardless of education:

Source: Pew Trusts.

This shows two things. One, the economy is slow just about everywhere you look. Two, this recession hasn't just been a slowing of the economy, but a complete restructuring of entire industries. Once high-flying fields that required an education -- real estate development, or construction management, for example -- are shells of their former selves. That's put even educated unemployed people on a similar track as those without a degree: willing and able to work, but only in yesterday's economy.

Yet, surprising to many, not a lot of people are losing their jobs today. Employers shed so much of their workforce during the depth of the recession that there isn't a lot of fat left to cut. Layoffs and discharges are now the lowest they've been in over 10 years:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There is still one group, however, that's laying workers off with force: governments. Since early 2010, the private sector has created nearly 3 million jobs, while governments have cut over 600,000:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. *In thousands.

 

This last one I think is the most important chart explaining our employment mess:

Source: Federal Reserve.

Since 1959, wages as a percentage of GDP have fallen from 51% to 44%. That shift is huge. If wages as a percentage of GDP were at the same level today as in 1959, workers would earn over $1 trillion a year more than they current do. A lot of that money has instead found its way into corporate profits, which have increased from 6% of GDP in 1959 to almost 10% today.

This causes all kinds of angst and protest, but I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with it. The change is not driven by corporate greed; it's driven by technology, and how the market values labor versus capital. My favorite example is a steel mill in Gary, Ind. In 1950, it produced 6 million tons of steel with 30,000 workers. Today, it produces 7.5 million tons with 5,000 workers. Automation and technology increased profits at the expense of labor. Here's how Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee put it in their book Race Against the Machine:

At least since the followers of Ned Ludd smashed mechanized looms in 1811, workers have worried about automation destroying jobs. Economists have reassured them that new jobs would be created even as old ones were eliminated. For over 200 years, the economists were right. Despite massive automation of millions of jobs, more Americans had jobs at the end of each decade up through the end of the 20th century. However, this empirical fact conceals a dirty secret. There is no economic law that says that everyone, or even most people, automatically benefit from technological progress.

They continue:

Even as overall wealth increases, there can be, and usually will be, winners and losers. And the losers are not necessarily some small segment of the labor force like buggy whip manufacturers. In principle, they can be a majority or even 90% or more of the population.

The problem today is that education isn't keeping up with changes in technology -- that's the race against the machine. With it comes a winner-take-all environment and all kinds of inequalities, not the least of which is the reality that the real winners of today's economy are those who can invest, not those who can work. That gap will eventually rebalance, but getting there is slow, painful, and can potentially leave a generation of workers behind.

Interested in more like this? I've just published a collection of short essays exploring the peculiar corners of the economy -- from rich people risking it all to gain money they don't need, to what investors should have learned after 9/11. Click here to download it on your Kindle or iPad. It's the best $1 you'll spend all year.

Check back every Tuesday and Friday for Morgan Housel's columns on finance and economics.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Follow him on Twitter @TMFHousel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2011, at 6:49 PM, Darwood11 wrote:

    Great job, as usual.

    It's too bad the average politician (and they are all average, in my book) hasn't gotten the message contained in your article.

    As for keeping up "with the machine" re-education or continuing education is an ongoing effort. Ossifying and then expecting to quickly ramp up, is darn near impossible. Most people I know have simply no idea of how much of their existence occurs in "the third domain of knowledge" which is defined where "I don't know what I don't know."

    As technology and technological advances have progressed, the skills required have become even more obtuse. For example, does the average MF reader really have any idea of how the technology, including the hardware and software, in a typical PC work? Can they troubleshoot even basic PC or MAC problems? Take this out a bit further and consider any of the complex system we use daily. Be it an automobile or even getting a Netflix movie on our flat screen TV.

    Even something as simple as a light bulb has become complicated. A typical CFL bulb contains myriad electronic components and a bit of mercury. It replaces something that simply "glows" if you run sufficient electrical energy through it, almost to the point of melting.

    Until there is a significant shift in the perceptions of Americans, and most notably our politicians, who, I understand would probably flunk an economics 101 course, there is little hope for change much less comprehension of the charts you present.

  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2011, at 7:56 PM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    I think you missed a key point. The market doesn't under-value labor, the government over-prices it. The distinction is huge. If minimum wage were $2.00 an hour, HS drop outs under 20 unemployment would drop to 2%. Why? Because at that price, the market would begin to value their labor again. But at the current rates of minimum wage/compensation and institutional burden for employing a human, what they provide just isn't worth while to most companies.

    Companies are sitting on their profits rather than hire new employees in the dubious regulatory climate in the current Federal government. No one's going to hire an employee that they're not sure will be profitable in 2 years, and they can't get rid of without breaching some arbitrary law. Thus.....valuable human capital sits on the side lines waiting for the regulatory burdens to decrease.

  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2011, at 9:35 PM, dlomax77 wrote:

    I think you'll find the quantity supplied of labor at $2/hr is effectively zero.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:08 AM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    No it's just outsourced to China.

    Our market has told us what the premium on unskilled labor is, and for the most part, it's not very much. However the demand doesn't go away, so those jobs get outsourced to where there is a supply of labor at that cost.

    Now if the question is "would your average slacker sitting on his ass rather work a $2 an hour job or take unemployment" I think the answer is obvious. Subsidizing unemployment (shockingly) leads to more unemployment. However if unemployment benefits were ended, and the governmental burdens to labor were abolished, then the labor market would equalize nearly overnight.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 5:06 AM, whereaminow wrote:

    Wow Morgan, you really went off the reservation on this one. You start with something somewhat interesting, and then you end up doing an alstry impersonation. "Technology took our joooobssss!"

    So let me just say that this is an article you're going to want to forget. You're a pretty good writer for a mainstream empty suit with about as much econ knowledge as my mother, but this is just really really bad.

    Where do I start? Technology doesn't kill jobs. Education doesn't have to "keep up" with technology. To the contrary. Technology actually CREATES education opportunities.

    Now pay attention, Morgan and all the other alstry heads.

    When you create something that is valued,let's use the iPad, there becomes a need for people to learn how to make it, administer it, network with it, secure it, etc. Those are education opportunities. Those opportunities don't exist without an iPad because there is no reason to learn about an iPad if there is no iPad. Comprehend? If there is no Cisco router in every office, there is no need to teach Cisco routing, is there?

    It's technology that creates education, not the other way around.

    Technology also creates jobs. Way more than it destroys. If that weren't the case, we'd all be dead by now, since the last time I checked we've had technological advancements for hundreds (thousands) of years. Every bad economist since the 1800s has cried about how technology is destroying jobs. Morgan, don't be a bad economist.

    Why is unemployment so high among the undereducated? Well, it depends. I have a two year degree but have no problem finding work. That's because I have a skill that people want. The kid from Oberlin with the south side major might have a worse chance than me. So it's a bit sketchy to do it by "Education Level", since you don't need university level education to get a great paying job. You need skills. You need to be able to discipline yourself to study (I am self taught. My associates is in General Ed, which is like saying "I have a worthless piece of paper. that doubles as toilet clean up.") And you need to know what a market is. It's not a place to pleasure yourself, so learn something that will please others. The ultimate selfish person is the one that refuses to learn skills that others need. Yes, I am looking at you Zuccoti Park.

    But the real reason for low unemployment among those with low education is their age, and how it relates to the marginal product of their labor. That marginal product is too low and doesn't cover the minimum wage. Hence, they are not employable. That's life. Get over it. Advocate for abolishing of the minimum wage, which would immediately end rampant unemployment among young people. Done. Overnight.

    That is, if you actually care about these kids in the context of reality, rather than shedding crocodile tears for the working man from Progressive ideology. I don't have time for that nonsense. I want the kids to work, so I advocate removing the obstruction that is their way.

    Finally, using GDP as a benchmark for any study is like using RBI to measure a baseball player's ability. It's 2011 Morgan, we've found better. Get with the times. GDP is completely worthless to anyone younger than Viagra's target audience. The younger generation knows its flawed. Move on.

    Easily your worst article.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 5:28 AM, whereaminow wrote:

    ---->But the real reason for low unemployment among those with low education<----

    Oops. Of course, that's high unemployment among low education...

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 6:15 AM, dag154 wrote:

    ^ Wow David ,

    do you work in PR or customer relations by any chance? Your smooth talking is impressive.

    It is also complete BS.

    In order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technology, you need to be educated in the first place. If you present a bushman from Papua New Guinea with an Cisco router, I doubt that his reaction will be to develop his knowledge on Cisco routing (duh!). It takes significant amounts of education to give some the mental tools in order to take advantage of opportunities presented by technology. There are significant cultural and educational issues that come into play, and this goes way further than school or university.

    As for having no minimum wage, this is no solution. Think about it. Assume it takes an average 5$ to get to work and back, 4$ for food and drink and an average of 1$ per day for clothing expenses, it costs 10$ per day in order to work. Who would actually work for 2$ per hour? only those in abject poverty needing a meal for the day .

    I agree that simply giving unemployment benefit is no solution either, but people need to be given basic tools in order to provide a service which is valued.

    EDUCATION -and I am not referring to the crap learnt at university, but useful every day tools.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 7:01 AM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    <<As for having no minimum wage, this is no solution. Think about it. Assume it takes an average 5$ to get to work and back, 4$ for food and drink and an average of 1$ per day for clothing expenses, it costs 10$ per day in order to work. Who would actually work for 2$ per hour? only those in abject poverty needing a meal for the day .>>

    Why do you assume it takes $5 to get back and forth to work? If I were impoverished, I'd get a job within walking distance of my home (and have, BTW).

    Also why do you further assume that this is someone making $2 an hour would have to take care of their own bills? More likely it would be a 15 year old kid in the city trying to make a few bucks and learn a little responsibility.

    Even further, why do you assume that it's your job to protect people from making bad economic decisions? If someone wants to spend $10 a day to make $16 dollars, who are you to tell them no? Because you're so smart and educated, you can decide what's a good choice for them???

    To hell with that, if market demand were able to set prices, people would make their own decisions in their own best interest. And besides....I don't think there would be a sudden shift of labor jobs to $2 an hour. Less than 1% of over 25 year old Americans make the minimum wage. Deregulation would create more jobs than the supply of laborers, necessitating a wage increase.....

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 11:22 AM, gp120warrior wrote:

    First, the idea of an educational/skill void in the workplace has merit. It is appalling to me that under educated parents can deny their children a basic education by home schooling. There is a huge educational gap between generations in today's workforce.

    Secondly, I do not buy the argument of reducing minimum wages to increase unemployment. Sorry, but the premise that there are scores of unemployed out there who can work and survive on $2 per hour wages, smacks of Marie Antoinette saying "Let them eat cake." We all know how that story de-capulated. We already have Wall Street protestors. This $2 philosophy will bring the 99% in to your neighborhood, break down your front door, and they will literally take everything of value. Who will you call? Fire, Police, Teachers, Army Guard and the US military have all been send home without pay or benefits. Please do not risk further anarchy with reducing wages and benefits.

    Technology is the key solution for sure. If we can develop the next generation of energy, beyond carbon based fuels, then we can effectively educate and train a workforce to support that infrastructure. We really need to take the next leap forward toward Nuclear Fission and Anti-Matter. Kennedy took us to the moon; we need another statesman to lead us to the next energy promised land.

    This was a good thought provoking article; even though I did not agree with every point.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 11:26 AM, caltex1nomad wrote:

    There is no excuse for not getting at least a High School education. I also think when you are going into your junior year of High School you should have a choice, of continuing if you plan to go to college or going to a Trade/Technical School. This is where we are losing out to Asia. We have companies in this country that can't get skilled labor here so they need H1B visas for workers from India,Pakistan, China etc.....Tech companies should maybe think about running Tech schools . Just a thought.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 11:58 AM, AvianFlu wrote:

    Sounds like you are in the camp with BO when he suggested that ATM machines cause unemployment because they supposedly eliminate teller jobs. I used to work at NCR. They were a manufacturer of ATM machines. Trust me when I tell you that lots of jobs were created that didn't exist before ATM machines were invented, from sales, marketing, repair, and programming, to name a few. Even low tech jobs that required no education were created since someone has to move the heavy beasts. What a dope that BO is.

    So extending your logic, such as it is, I guess we should eliminate all technology? Let's destroy our cars, ATM machines, planes, Ipads. I guess we'll need to go back to the stone age and live in caves like Neanderthals. Don't forget to destroy your hunting spears....those were technology also, although primitive.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:22 PM, Merton123 wrote:

    The State of Oregon citizens created a law that requires each gas station to employ people to fill gas tanks. This law has created several low paying jobs for people who otherwise would be on the streets. There are several Albertson in my town. One has self check out lanes managed by one person. The other doesn't have self check out lanes.

    The reality is that a permanent shift of the natural unemployment rate has occurred because of technological changes. So how do we as a community address this permanent shift of the natural unemployement rate? One solution is creating make work jobs through the iniative/legislative process. The pendulem could swing back from the Tea Party to the Democratic Party as the 99% begin to realize that their only hope of working is organizing and voting Democratic

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:32 PM, Endoret wrote:

    Getting back to the graphs. I blame the Fed and the worldwide experiment with purely fiat currency since Nixon closed the gold window for good. Since the Fed under Volker finally reigned in the resulting inflation, there have been a series of bubbles that have burst every ten years or so. After each recession, the fed has eased rates leading to the next bubble and bust. These bubbles have masked the inherent weakness and downward trend in the U.S. economy as key industries have closed down and moved offshore. After this last bust, there really is not much left of the economy to puff up and create the illusion of prosperity, as the means of production are now gone.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:35 PM, ScottmFool wrote:

    @CaptainWidget:

    While your points on the premium of unskilled labor in America have some merit, "regulation" has RARELY been cited as the primary reason employers have let go of employees during this recession.

    While I support simplifying regulatory codes, it's a red herring to the current root causes of this recession.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:49 PM, DividendsBoom wrote:

    Merton pretty much sums of the democratic party platform. Wait, I thought fossil fuels were evil? Oh, no never mind that is only if they create high-paying jobs on the front end, not if gas station owners can be mandated on the back-end. I am dying to hear more of these ideas.

    Any who, I would be more interested in seeing the trends for cost of labor as opposed to wages, as well as trends for percent of labor costs that wages make up, those numbers would be a lot more meaningful than simple wages.

    The costs of benefits, employer-paid social security, and general administrative costs have become a much larger part of compensation and i would expect that the overall non-wage cost of labor has risen since the start of the recession. If our government took steps to reduce their effect on this cost, new labor would be more competitive when compared to overtime of current employees, automation, and labor costs overseas.

    Furthermore, the fact that governments have been reducing their workforce I feel is a positive step.

    A 20-year old has 4.2 percent of their wage taken from them for social security, additionally employers have to pay 6.2 percent on top of that. Arguably the 20-year old will see no benefit from any of these dollars. Silly.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:51 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    <<Any who, I would be more interested in seeing the trends for cost of labor as opposed to wages, as well as trends for percent of labor costs that wages make up, those numbers would be a lot more meaningful than simple wages.>>

    That's a really good point. I'll look into it.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:53 PM, DividendsBoom wrote:

    Thanks, you are a lot better at it than I am.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 12:56 PM, EBerg13 wrote:

    You are missing one hopeful graph -- the number of workers 60 and older. A lot of our problems would be solved if the government offered incentives for early retirement the way that private companies do. Instead of raising the age for medicare and full social security the government should lower it. With older workers holding a great deal of wealth compared to younger ones and feeling shaky about their future job prospects, that safety net alone might shake loose some spending. AND, for those already laid off, it would keep them out of poverty. I am 65 and volunteered last year for a layoff at my company because I don't need a job. I was working for the benefits, and getting that medicare card in the mail a few weeks ago was a wonderful feeling!

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 1:11 PM, dalekin wrote:

    Captain Widget writes a compelling ,logical, and truthfull commentary.

    Sure enough, as usual, the naysayers come with their nit picking comments that in their mind negates the truth of the central message but in reality just confuses the issues.

    e.g.1) I do not believe Captain widget meant $2 as the exact amount to pay but rather that market forces would find on its own what a minimum wage would be and that implies that people are willing to work for that amount regardless of the wage.

    2) Is the argument whether education leads to technology or or technology to education the issue? Of course not!

    The issue is that you need an educated population period. This is where America is failing. Does anyone even teach the three R's anymore? Is civics even a class anymore? We need to get back to educating and allowing discipline in schools.

    3) People have to want to work and have pride in providing for their families; but if you pay them not to work and take away their pride through a nanny state , then many will choose not to work. The well meaning people of this country since the great society days have created a mind set of having your hand out always for more, that is a far cry from the work ethic necessary for not only their success but for our sucess as a nation.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 1:17 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    Another insightful and thought-provoking article, but I must strenuously disagree with the assertion that the shift in the relative positions of labor and capital has been driven by "how the market values labor versus capital." The market has very little to do with it - it's the inevitable and intended consequence of consciously adopted policies.

    Capitalism is not synonymous with a market-oriented economy; rather, capitalism - that is, an economic system based on the primacy of capital - represents a grievous market distortion. Capital is taxed preferentially relative to labor, it is treated preferentially at national borders (now nearly transparent to capital while remaining opaque to labor), and its organization is encouraged while the organization of labor is discouraged. These are all policy choices which inevitably and intentionally distort "how the market values labor versus capital."

    If you have not, you should read "The Politics of Rich and Poor" by Kevin Phillips (now, sadly, out of print). The people who orchestrated this massive shift of economic power did so with all knowledge of what they were doing, and it's all turned out exactly as planned.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 1:48 PM, ershler wrote:

    David,

    I completely agree with you with that an AA in General Ed is completely worthless. I don't put mine on my resume.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 2:03 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    "If you present a bushman from Papua New Guinea with an Cisco router, I doubt that his reaction will be to develop his knowledge on Cisco routing (duh!)."

    That's right, but the reason is because their labor force is not sophisticated, it's not because they are incapable of learning Cisco routing. In fact, giving a text in language they understand, the bushman has as high an intelligence as the average American. So he could learn Cisco routing, but there is no need because there is no capital base that makes Cisco routers valuable.

    And I am living proof that you're incorrect, and that you cannot know in advance what people can learn without formal education. 15 years ago my friends thought I would end up dead and in jail. I had no skills and no direction. Yet, somehow, I taught myself Windows, then Unix, then programming, networking, and finally network security. Over 100s of books and several professional certifications later, I've still never taken a college course in computer science, and yet I make a great salary. My fiancee is an even more striking example. She has an even higher salary in an even tougher field in networking, and she was self taught on the job.

    As far as minimum wage, a liberal stops being a liberal when he stops pretending that he knows what other people want. You don't know. Stop pretending you know. YOU DO NOT KNOW WHY PEOPLE WORK.

    Let them make their own decisions. You think they get paid too little, so you make sure- using legislation - that they don't get paid at all. And you think this is a solution?

    Pay attention liberals (I love how you guys pretend to be scientists but you have no ability to reason):

    Marginal product cannot exceed cost. That is reality. It is indisputable.

    Got that?

    That's reality. Your dreams of what society should be are irrelevant to reality. Cost needs to come down. If you end the minimum wage laws, cost comes down.

    And did you know that the minimum wage laws were born out of racism? Yep, white union workers didn't like that blacks were migrating north and working for less than the union inflated wages. It was agitated for out of racism. And the last time black male unemployment was lower than white male unemployment was the year before the Minimum Wage Law was passed.

    Are liberals racists? Or just ignorant of economics and history?

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 2:04 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    ershler,

    Don't be ashamed of it. I display it proudly, just to stick it to the chumps that spent hundreds of thousands on student loans to get their worthless piece of paper.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 2:23 PM, earledouglas wrote:

    There was a recent analysis of two government programs that produced a substantial profit to the government. One was the meteorological satellite program that began in the '50s. The other was the GI Bill of WW II. Billions were spent by the government to educate the million plus returning veterans. The resulting increase in their earning power, and the increase in their income taxes, brought a net profit in less than ten years. Subsidizing education is a good investment. I would cancel a significant portion of the debt owed by students from their student loans. More later...

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 2:25 PM, DDHv wrote:

    When starting, one summer I used my sleeping bag outdoors to save money - needed to! Taking whatever work I could find, much of my spare time was spent in the public library - studying technologies. I did have already a good background education, but was a hick from the sticks with no idea how to find good work in the city.

    There is a disadvantage to learning well - I'm four years into "retirement" and they haven't found a capable replacement yet. One person who could do my work is much too busy running the company, another the local plant, etc. So far the best candidate cannot be hired except occasionally because he isn't out of high school until next year. Even then it will take several years to bring him up to speed, assuming he has no problems en route. I did manage to negotiate part time - 25 to 35 hours a week, depending on needs. Another person who was capable moved out to the Bakken oil fields.

    For some people, the education should be a good apprenticeship - skilled labor is hard to find!

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 2:27 PM, Merton123 wrote:

    History repeats itself. What are the veterans going to do when they return this Christmas? Are they going to go to the Union Missions and feel sorry for themselves? Maybe they will become entrepeneurs and spurr the next economic boom? Or they could become the panhandlers in the bigger cities.

    Ayn Ryand does a good job explaining what happens if we become a nanny state. On the other hand do we want to have an economy like Germany (with a large middle class) or Brazil (which is very capitalistic - with a small middle class)? The Germans emphasize education, hard work ethic, and a social net.

    I have lived in Colombia for almost a decade where the school busses are followed by police wagon. The people who have money live in gated communities and can't wait to move to the states. Both Colombia and Brazil do have a public school system. For whatever reason their economies still remain mostly agricultural in nature with an industrial size population. Are we moving in that direction?

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 2:33 PM, xetn wrote:

    whereaminow:

    Great incite and understanding. You are dead on when you state in effect, do things for their own reasons, not because someone else thinks they should. Nobody but the individual knows what is best or right for him/her. Hayek used the phrase "pretense to knowledge" to describe this. Politicians claim the same "power' to know what is best for all of us, yet they opt-out of all of it. Do any of them pay into social security, medicare or ..? Why? Because they have their own private system entirely paid for by us serfs.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 3:10 PM, Darwood11 wrote:

    Gary works in one of my favorite examples. I've been there many times (the old USS mill) and by the 1980s it was almost a ghost town.

    The culprits for this are many. Technology does eliminate jobs, but as someone else commented, it also creates jobs. However, it may not create as many. I saw a statistic recently that Facebook, a $77 billion company had 500 workers. For comparison, GE has about 290,000 with a market cap of about $175 billion. Certain technologies have amplified the abilities of some (many?) workers.

    When technological shifts occur, it seems to be extremely difficult to shift into those newly created jobs. Why? Wrong skillset, overeducated, undereducated? I suspect that moderately educated (BS degree, for example) are better capable. They have the basic building blocks and avoid some of the pitfalls of specialization or overeducation.

    This is not a new phenomenon. In the 1970s I was on a project with an electrician who had a masters in biochemistry! He stayed with the IBEW and retired with a masters electrician license in his pocket.

    Readers may recall the press for workers to specialize. That included technology workers. Desirable workers in the 1990s became extremely capable in a certain areas and were encouraged to do so. That may be OK, but I think it's necessary to have a properly rounded education for the field of study, and desired employment credentials. I’ve never trusted HR departments when it comes to my long term employability!

    At present, I suspect "employability" includes having the proper skills for the newly created or available jobs, and being in the proper location. It's easy to point the finger overseas, but there is also statistical evidence that people today are less mobile than they were. By that I mean less willing or able to relocate. Factors include a desire to stay near family, unwillingness to sell an underwater home, or even the inability to sell a home with positive equity. (For example, go to Zillow and check your current home estimated value. Then check the current sales prices of similar homes in your area).

    I know people who were or have been unemployed during this economy for those very reasons. Some even had job offers elsewhere in the US but would not relocate, and in one case, deliberately chose unemployment. One of these remains unemployed three years later.

    As you have gathered, I find it difficult to comment without providing some personal experience. Since 2008 I've spent considerable time in conversations with people who are unemployed, employed and more importantly to me, recently employed. I have been interested in determining "why" they might be in their particular employment situation.

    Education is a life long challenge. I think it's prudent to have a long term view and for most workers to avoid over specialization. One approach I advocated includes asking oneself if the skills being acquired or one currently has, will be relevant in 40 years. I know, we don't have crystal balls, but asking the hard questions has propelled me into making changes from time to time, some of which were painful. "Painful" as in concluding that a significant portion of the education and skills I had acquired were approaching obsolescence. In my case, this ongoing, sober personal assessment did facilitate the making of difficult decisions. These included continuous education and transforming my job skills.

    Did that continuous education work for me? On measure is employability. I began working nights in high school and have worked continuously ever since. Even while attending college. This year marked my 48th continuous year of employment. Was that luck? In part, but also I attribute it to being willing to take on almost any type of work over that period, including working in various locations all over the US and overseas, continuous education throughout that 48 years, a good work ethic, and a really sound basic education as part of my 'foundation,'

    I am absolutely clear that if I didn't have that fundamental education and all of the continuous education over the years, that I would not have been continuously employed. I have skills that were in demand because of my training and ability. I have known a lot of people in my field and related fields, who did not have the proper skills and were therefore not as fortunate as I.

    I've always considered it desirable to have a skillset similar to a chair; which means four legs to stand on. That was the incentive for continuous education. If one leg or ability faltered, there were three remaining, etc. At various times during each of the recessions I have experienced, things got very difficult. But one of those "legs" held up and I remained employed. So it is today.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 3:10 PM, Merton123 wrote:

    Isaac Asimov - wrote several books about a world where technology has displaced humans in the future. The outer worlds had a labor shortage so they used a lot of robotic labor. Planet Earth discouraged the used of robots because there were not enough jobs to go around.

    Morgan's article "7 Charts that sum up our job mess" describes the beginning of the world that Isaac Asimov envisioned. Many people will point out that in the past technological advances created new jobs. Will this be the case this time around? I hope you are right. My gut feeling tells me differently.

    I have been auditing businesses in Eastern Washington for Department of Revenue for the last 18 years. I have seen food processors go completely automated during that period of time. Companies that use to have three shifts are now being run by computer. The food processor floor actually is dark. Where have all the employees gone?

    I believe that the only option is to require business to hire additional people (i.e., make work). For example in Oregon State the general public requires the gas stations to have gas attendance to put gas into people cars. As Dividendbooms writes in a previous post this is a tax on the back end of the oil business. He is correct. The tax comes in the form of a job keeping a person off of the streets.

    The rail road unions had a practice of featherbedding where they required their employer to have so many people working on the rail road. We as a community may have to impose this "featherbeding" on additional industries.

    If we don't go this route - crime will become worse and worse. The unemployed people already are using their I phones to organize large groups to go into stores in steal in the East Coast. The next steps will be kidnapping, extortion, and so-forth. And can you blame them?

    The United States was built on a dream that if a person hustles, works hard, can make something out of themselves. We have now become a mature economy without a western frontier. I would like to suggest space colonization where we take our excess population and send them to the outer planets. Lets help Issac Asimov dream come true and we can make a lot of money funding the businesses that will make this possible

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 3:28 PM, Merton123 wrote:

    I am impressed with all the posts. I believe that the secret on the individual level is to keep a positive attitude. We as individuals don't have any control over the big picture. We are not helping ourselves by thinking we can't find a job because of technological change. I saw an add by a trucking company on a billboard stating starting wage $18 to 22/hour with a lot of overtime for long haul drivers.

    I believe that crime must inevitable rise in the larger cities unless we can find a way as a community to put people to work. Next year we will have several military veterans who have been trained to kill coming returning. Now we as individuals can move away from the ghettos. However, we still have to commute to work. And the have nots will eventually find our safer neighborhoods. We can hire security companies keep our neighborhoods safe. That could be the next growth industry.

    I really don't see any other alternative then increased government involvement if we want to continue having Normal Rockwell Communities. Maybe someone else will provider a rosier picture of what can be done to keep our neighborhoods crime free

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 3:38 PM, LACEYLEE wrote:

    One of the reasons we have such high employment is that the minimum wage jobs barely bring in what an unemployment check equals. So we can either raise the minimum wage (not smart) or curtail unemployment benefits (very smart). I am sure many will disagree with me, but anyone, except possibly a convicted felon can find a job if they look hard enough. Now it may not be what that person wants as a career but a job brings home a paycheck. I teach in an area that has lost textile and paper jobs requiring unskilled or semiskilled labor and they are now on the 2nd generation of welfare and "baby checks" (governent checks for unwed moms.) Trim unemployment benefits to 12 weeks and require the recipient to pass a drug test before picking up the check (no mail delivery) and you would eliminate a lot of the fraud and misuse. Being hungry is a teriffic motivator! I have worked for 50 years, part time as a teenager and full time at age 18 to present and have never collected a dime in public assistance. I have been out of work a total of 3 months by my own choice. People need to "MAN UP" and get a job. Like the guy above, you have 4 legs to stand on. Don't whine, go to work! There are jobs out there. It may not be what you were trained for, but that can come later, when the economy improves.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 4:10 PM, JackCaps wrote:

    The big elephant in the room is the graph of U.S. Government spending as a % of GDP. (If you are curious, see usgovernmentspending.com for some adjustable time frame graphs on this.)

    It should also be noted that the U.S.corporate tax rate on profits is 35%. So, about a third of the profits generated by corporations are consumed by government spending. Of course, government spending is not bound by its tax revenues as it incurs debt to facilitate spending above the tax revenues.

    Another applicable graph is that of U.S. Gross Public Debt as a % of GDP (also at usgovernmentspending.com). Throughout most of the U.S. history this percentage was either near or below 50%, except for WW2 again when it spiked over 100% and then went down below 50% in the 1960s. Currently, this percentage is about 75% and is projected to exceed 100% before 2015.

    The U.S. is not yet at the 150% debt to GDP level of Greece, but it's heading in that direction.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 5:41 PM, FutureMonkey wrote:

    Nicely done Morgan.

    (1) Businesses hire when demand for product or service increases beyond labor productivity.

    (2) Businesses lay off when demand slackens and the labor productivity exceeds that needed to meet demand.

    Conclusione - Our nation won't return to full employment until demand exceeds our labor forces' current productivity.

    All the rest of it (minimum wage, offshoring, regulation, etc) is just a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing. I'm sure it has some influence on certain business plans, but not nearly the force exerted by demand.

    As a business owner and employer, if there is demand for my services and I need staff, I hire...period. I will pay the going rate for the position to get the right person. Lowering minimum wage does nothing to induce me to hire. If there is no demand, even $2/hr is too expensive. All eliminating minimum wage would accomplish is to lower quality of life for those that must work to survive and reduce the incentive to work for those that should work but don't have to (teenagers).

    Commenters, can we please dispense with the myth of the lazy welfare queen and shiftless unemployment benefit fatcats. For the vast majority, unemployment has very little to do with sloth, it has to do with lack of demand in their field or region. I'll give an example, current unemployment among veterans is near 15% -- is that because our military produces lazy, lay-about, good for nothings, that have no inner drive to work hard? No, I didn't think so either.

    FM

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 6:54 PM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    <<This $2 philosophy will bring the 99% in to your neighborhood, break down your front door, and they will literally take everything of value. Who will you call? Fire, Police, Teachers, Army Guard and the US military have all been send home without pay or benefits. Please do not risk further anarchy with reducing wages and benefits.>>

    I don't get it? Do police, fire fighters, teachers, and military make minimum wage? Are they currently unemployed?

    <<While your points on the premium of unskilled labor in America have some merit, "regulation" has RARELY been cited as the primary reason employers have let go of employees during this recession.

    While I support simplifying regulatory codes, it's a red herring to the current root causes of this recession.>>

    No because they'd get their asses sued off. Regulation however, IS the reason employeers aren't adding new jobs.

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/stossel/index.html#/v/1205...

    Regulation is a subtle tool. When you look at the work done by a potential new hire, calculate his costs/benefits, and realize it would be unprofitable, do you blame regulation? Of course not, you just say "it's not economically feasible, my business needs to grow more fist". Unfortunately very few people stop to realize that if the initial numbers plugged into the costs were ALLOWED to be smaller, that's one more job that could be created. It's someone who's been unemployeed for years, who just needs a chance, to get back into the job place. Killed by regulation (wages/healthcare/compliance/labor costs.......whatever have you...it's all laws in between voluntary business owners and voluntary labor owners)

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 8:02 PM, mongo55 wrote:

    The history of this country can be divided into defining stages

    Birth & 18th Century

    Franklin- notion of middle class - a dream to strive to achieve

    Hamilton- formation of world reaching financial system - essential for democratic capitalistic society

    19th Century

    Industrial Revolution

    Early Twentieth Century

    Standardization, mass production

    Late Twentieth Century

    Digital Revolution

    Essentially, whatever can be invented which has a broad reaching societal impact has been discovered.

    Technological advances are just the evolution and morphing of what has been created.

    Organic and inorganic systems have a beginning middle and end.

    Infancy, growth, maturation, ??? stagnation, ??? dissolution

    Stagnation which can result from chaos (governmental; environmental) leading to dissolution

    I'd say this country is the middle of the sixth inning

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 9:18 PM, Gloomfrost wrote:

    @CaptainWidget

    You make valid points, but I have to disagree.

    It all depends on cost-of-living, as well as relative wages of one's neighbour. Let's take a more realistic example and say $5/hr. That's only $40 for a full working day! During that time, you'll need to eat 3 meals, travel, use your cell phone, probably eat again at night, watch TV, internet, hydro, etc.

    I think you know where I'm going with this.. It is unsustainable. The marginal costs of living simply exceed $5/hr.

    Second, if your neighbour makes $15/hr, with only slightly higher skills or experience, you're going to want to improve yourself and seek employment for a higher wage (you may do this instead of working at all).

    We have common ground on the second point. I think eliminating (or better yet, lowering) unemployment benefits will, obviously, make people either seek employment at a lower wage level, or attempt to improve themselves (whether by volunteering, or going back to school if possible) to achieve a higher wage, instead of occupying parks complaining to the world.

    G

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 9:33 PM, Gloomfrost wrote:

    Btw in that ^ comment for the first part I mean it in the way that if it's for TEENS to work, then they'll instead seek education. If it's for adults, then it's too late and the first point of sustainability stands.

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 9:58 PM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    <<It all depends on cost-of-living, as well as relative wages of one's neighbour. Let's take a more realistic example and say $5/hr. That's only $40 for a full working day! During that time, you'll need to eat 3 meals, travel, use your cell phone, probably eat again at night, watch TV, internet, hydro, etc.>>

    That's just not true. You can live with roomies in a bare minimal life for $500 a month. I know, I did it for a large period of my adult life. And I'm not talking 20 years ago, I'm talking 2007.

    It's not fancy, but we're talking the bare minimum (as in minimum livable wage). $200 a month in food, $200 a month in rent, $40 a month bus pass, $60 incidentals. It's not unfeasible.

    The other point is 80% of people making minimum wage, no matter what the rate, are unskilled, probably living at home with their parents or in some fashion a ward of some other more responsible person. Why does the minimum wage need to be designated as a minimum to a relatively comfortable lifestyle? By setting the minimum wage at a rate that minimally affords creature comforts, all you're doing is ensuring people below that base skill level will go unemployed.

    I remember, not long ago, in the 90s, when the grocery store had 15 lanes opened every night at 7 PM. Most of the cashiers were 16 year old kids making a few bucks and learning some discipline after school. They didn't need a living wage...they just needed their foot in the door to learn some job skills. The only thing a raised minimum wage has done is cut those kids off from productivity in the work force and make ME wait longer in line......

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2011, at 11:48 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    More on the minimum wage:

    So we've already covered the racist origins of the law and the reality of cost of labor vs. product compared to Progressive fantasies about how they just super duper wish the world could be. And although it doesn't seem to sink in, we've also covered the idea that no one can say whether or not it's in ANOTHER person's best interest to work at a certain wage. That little lesson is really tough for the wanna-be dictators to swallow. Most never get it.

    Moving on.

    Other factors not considered by minimum wage proponents.

    1. The effect of NOT working on young people. Many young people want to work. They want to develop a work ethic, which outside of the ivory towered Progressive mind, is considered a noble development. You develop a work ethic and you learn how to develop skills that serve others. I don't know what is worse, the left's selfish refusal to learn skills that others need or their use of legislation to prevent others from learning those skills.

    2. Although the marginal product of young labor is low, it is still product. And when you add product to the economy, ceteris paribus, that lowers prices for consumers. Now, if you don't know what that latin phrase means, look it up. It's important and I don't want to answer your nitpicking qualifiers. More product equals lower prices. That's an economic law. So by shedding your crocodile tears and high fiving your smug lefty friends over how much you care that you just have to impose a minimum wage on us all, you're making all consumers suffer higher prices than they otherwise would have under a policy of no minimum wage. Good job. I can't say it enough. The Progressives really set the bar low when it comes to "helping" all of us.

    ------>"Let's take a more realistic example and say $5/hr. That's only $40 for a full working day! During that time, you'll need to eat 3 meals, travel, use your cell phone, probably eat again at night, watch TV, internet, hydro, etc. "<-------

    None of that matters. None of it. You're playing dictator, trying to determine the subjective value scales of a human being you have never met, and really don't give two you-know-whats about, simply to defend your ridiculous position.

    Pretense of knowledge. It's what separates the liberal from the libertarian. The liberal thinks he can plan for others. The libertarian understand that everyone must plan for themselves. The liberal thinks he has a righteous duty. The libertarian sees that as a delusion of grandeur fit for a straight jacket,.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 12:13 AM, Maraith wrote:

    Now do an overlay of age. See how many more older workers are unemployed. Add how many took early Social Security because they'd run out of unemployment and cannot find work. Add how many ran out of unemployment but are too young for Social Security and are still looking. Plus those who cannot find work. Overall unemployment is way higher than even these charts show and for the older worker...darn well impossible to find jobs at all.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 1:04 AM, ronhartman wrote:

    THIS IS ALL OVERWHELMING TO MANY WHO ARE GROPING FOR SOLUTIONS.

    Eventually, as machines replace more and more workers, worldwide, who will have the buying power to buy anything beyond staples for survival on a daily basis?

    Every "-ism" when applied with fervent devotion to its logical extreme, seems to undermine and destroy not only the need for the application, but can also destroy the culture that created and used it.

    One of the best examples I can think of is the apparetnly blind religiosity of the Polynesians who settled on Easter Island and then doomed themselves to being stranded there by misapplication of using up natural resources just to erect totems to their ancestors.

    Some say the remnants of that culture were forced into tribal war for cannibalistic survival.

    Let us hope America is not so blind in it devotion to productivity gains in capitalism.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 4:53 AM, archeanchaos wrote:

    I think that CaptainWidget is understimating the people that would make minimum wage. When I got off of active duty in 2003 I thought I would have lots of oppurtunities with my leadership skills I had learned in the military. What I found was that people in the area I moved to really didn't give a crap about that and I (along with my ex-wife) began working at minimum wage jobs while I was attending college. I was not some teenager looking for a few bucks, nor was I unskilled, I had spent ten years in the Army as a mental health tech, but because of my lack of "a degree" nobody wanted to hire me. During this period I was married and had 2 young children, not exactly a "ward" of anyone and as I hadn't lived at home in 11 years I did not see that as an option. During this experience I met many hard working people that were just not skilled, who were just getting by on minmum wage or a hair more, most were living on less then me as I was getting my GI Bill at the time. If given the oppurtunity many of these employers would have been glad to have the oppurtunity to pay most of us less.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 5:08 AM, archeanchaos wrote:

    As for Merton123 and his fear of homocidal vets. My experience (19 years Army) has been that most people come into the military to attain a better life, regardless of the skills they may or may not learn. Most in the military have learned that life isn't fair and we make the best out of what we have. I would be more afraid of the disillusioned 20 year olds that were promised a great life regardless of what they do by mommy and daddy. Those are the people that will come rioting down your street because they deserve what you have.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 5:21 AM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    @archeanchaos

    I hear your story, but it makes perfect sense. You probably had no job history (because we both know job and military are not analogous) and employers weren't willing to take a risk on you at a high price tag.

    Someone was however, eventually willing to take a risk on you at minimum wage (by the sounds of it, after quite some time job hunting). So what happened? Did you stay at minimum wage for the rest of your life? Of course not, I'm just taking a shot in the dark, but I'd guess within 6 months you either moved up in the company or to another, higher paying job.

    Judging by your position on this site, I'm sure you're now doing well for yourself, investing money, and becoming well off.

    You NEEDED the minimum wage job to get your foot in the door. By your own admission, it took a long time to get that single minimum wage job.

    So now sit back and very carefully analyze the question. Would you have been better or worse served by a higher minimum wage? At a higher rate, maybe no one would have hired you? Maybe you would have needed to re-enlist.

    At a lower minimum wage you would have found that first job even sooner, gotten the job skills and padded your resume immediate, and have moved onto bigger and better things much quicker.

    You are the perfect example of minimum wage hurting the labor market. If the minimum wage were $20 an hour, you might have still been unemployed.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 10:45 AM, archeanchaos wrote:

    CaptainWidget: As you can see in my next post (I have 19 years in the army) after 2 years of struggling I went back onto active duty. The minimum wage, lack of people wanting to take a chance, and an ex-wife that didn't understand why I couldn't find a good job with all my experience. Led me to run back to the Army where the world makes sense.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 10:53 AM, archeanchaos wrote:

    Not to mention its led me to volunteer for multiple deployments to make extra income that I've used to invest. Now if your saying that I learned to sacrifice my wife and family for beter income thats true. I see my children about twice a year when I am not deployed, which I currently am. I have been through multiple deployments to save enough money to have a nice savings for retirement, but I did make sure when I returned to active duty that I chose an occupation that is in high demand as a civilian. Thanks, I'm sure glad myself and many of my fellow soldiers have learned this amazing lesson.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 11:39 AM, thoughtfulliving wrote:

    There is a way to fix the problem but it requires unconventional methods and will be met with great contention. I expect most people would fight against what makes sense as well.

    The methods are addressed at http://proposedsolutions.blogspot.com

    You have to consider:

    1) world economy

    2) business efficiencies

    3) wealth divide

    There needs to be LESS hours worked to supply all goods and service as a percentage of people. This requires decreasing the labor pool or reducing the legal workweek.

    More details provided...

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 1:02 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    archeanchaos,

    I empathize with you. I did 10 years. The longer you are in, the harder it is to adjust.

    The military's leadership skills have value, but they are overrated. So I was a platoon leader in the Marines. Does that mean I should be put in charge of 30 people in the civilian world? How about 4 people? Weird thing is, being in IT, I've actually never used any "leadership skills" from my military days. The only it has helped me with is to identify when other people are doing it all wrong. I suppose if you were able to channel organizational skills into an entrepreneurial endeavor, it may help. But I don't see it in the normal corporate world.

    But the military are generally hopeless in the civilian world for other reasons. Again, the longer they stay in, the worse it is. The "Skills" learned in the service are generally worth very little. Whatever technology they utilize is always grossly out of date.

    Destroying private property (bombs, guns, mines, etc.) is also not a skill useful for private property owners. It's funny that the Marxists think corporations are going to take over the world and enslave us. If that were true, they'd being throwing themselves at all the veterans, wouldn't they?

    Worst of all, military personnel cannot fathom economic choices. Everything is given to them. The e-5 fixing radar makes the same wage as the e-5 handing out towels at the gym (bonuses, aside, if you're lucky enough to swing one). So there is no cultural understanding that it is the skills you learn that reward you financially. In the military, you get rewarded only by hanging around long enough, or by deploying often to the most dangerous areas. In the military, your food and housing is provided (either directly or through allowances) and even your shopping at the commissary is subsidized by the taxpayer.

    In other worlds, the military is one of the most socialist places on earth. And the longer you stay in, the less you understand the real world and the private market.

    So when I think back on my service, I don't see much of anything that indicates I should have been better off than the near minimum wage monkey that I was.

    You have to learn what a market is. It's not a place that owes us anything, no matter what silly costume we put on for a decade or two. All that matters is the skills and services we can provide to others. If you don't have any, you're not going to get paid squat, whether you were once a four star general or a private. That's life in the real world.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 1:41 PM, oberta wrote:

    Contribution to unemployement is also owing to the extreme computerising and robotorising of the industry.I therefor join teh remarks /comments of Darwood11.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 5:18 PM, elizabethinva wrote:

    <<The issue is that you need an educated population period. This is where America is failing. Does anyone even teach the three R's anymore? Is civics even a class anymore? We need to get back to educating and allowing discipline in schools.>>

    I'm reading this debate with great interest, as I am constantly trying to find ways to prepare my students for a world I can only try to imagine. Dalekin, I teach two of those R's to eighth graders (reading and writing) and all of my students take Algebra as well, and Civics. I understand your point, of course, but I would add we need to get back to educating and allowing discipline outside of school. I assure you that hoards of teachers around the country are desperately trying to educate students, and using all the technology at our disposal to make it happen.

    From dealing with 75 to 100 students and their parents and family members each year, I will say that this has become such an entertainment oriented society that a real work ethic has virtually disappeared. Social networking, mainstream infotainment, turbo-guerilla marketing (I made that up)...all this has been impacting the kids I teach since just after birth and has their parents well in its grip. I'm afraid that sixth inning that one commenter mentioned rings all too true to me. I will say, however, that our current teenagers have all the same brightness and fire inside that all previous generations have had. The potential for something great, as well as for further decay, is there. My hope is that we lay a path for them that emphasizes work and pride and eliminates handouts and government babysitting. If we do that, I think they will amaze us.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 6:00 PM, materialsman92 wrote:

    @ whereaminow

    I find your story very inspirational and am highly impressed with how you managed to learn so much through self study. I was wondering I you could recommend some very good C++ books for a beginner with little to no experience in computer programming.

    Thanks

    Danny

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 7:02 PM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    I completely agree with thoughtfulliving.

    Philosophically, automation is a gift to be used for liberation. Instead, it is utilized for the sake of achieving maximum profit for the few at the expense of the many disregarding future costs.

    Using technology for liberation is the only course to achieve a thriving evolution for our species. Today's use of technology only mines human potential and will result in annihilation. Our present course will certainly lead to a lingering darkness only imagined in legend.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 8:02 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    materialsman92,

    If you're just getting into programming, skip C++. It's procedural programming, which is shrinking in use. Focus on OOP, like Java and .Net. It's far more valuable. And if that stuff gives you a hard time, try something like HTML first to see if you actually enjoy it.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 8:36 PM, materialsman92 wrote:

    whereaminow

    Ok but do you recommend any C++ books in particular because I have one, Gaddis, but I didn't quite like it. I am still interested in C++ because many companies hold it as a requisite.

    Thanks

    Danny

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 9:29 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    I don't. I'm sorry. I can recommend a lot of books, but nothing there. I never learned C++.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 10:40 PM, materialsman92 wrote:

    Alright, thanks for your input David

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2011, at 10:53 PM, skypilot2005 wrote:

    On November 13, 2011, at 1:02 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    “In other worlds, the military is one of the most socialist places on earth. And the longer you stay in, the less you understand the real world and the private market.”

    I agree. But there are culturally, similarities depending on where you “land” in the private market.

    I did 6 years in the Air Force and then went directly to work for a huge U. S. multinational as a manager. It was a very similar culture. Specifically, you execute the “plan” and don’t question the “plan”.

    I was surprised but, found the environment “comfortable”. It was nice to finally be able to fully use some of the knowledge gained from all of my college courses.

    I work in government now. I don’t miss the Air Force or working for a large corporation. But, that’s just me.

    Sky Pilot

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2011, at 11:33 AM, geets1 wrote:

    Just in response to the argument for abolishing the minimum wage.....

    There is no minimum wage in Germany and the unskilled labor there is worse than dirt poor...And where will these people live who make $2.00 an hour? I live in a rural area and one bedroom apartments start at $650.00 per month. How will they pay for gas at $3.75 a gallon to get to their jobs let alone buy a car? How will they pay for food when a box of cereal cost over $4.00? $2.00 an hour is ludicrous!

    This could be a solution if we want to create an underclass of citizenry living on the edge and destitute. We already have 25% of our children living in poverty now whose parents are working at minimum wage jobs. What will America be like when these kids turn 18? Just be glad we all live in a gated community....But you were just exaggerating to make a point, right? The market is a hard master.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2011, at 2:10 PM, Kauaicat wrote:

    Morgan, did you include net new job seekers in your two scenarios (200,000 or 400,000 new jobs per month) for returning to pre-recession employment levels?

    I define "net new job seekers" as the number of people seeking employment for the first time in the job market less the number of people entering retirement. I have read that this number is between 100,000 and 125,000 jobs per month, meaning that the U.S. economy has to create at least that number of jobs each month just to stay even.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2011, at 2:14 PM, slpmn wrote:

    geets1 - you have to understand something about people who advocate things like abolishing the minimum wage - they don't care about those who it will impact. I don't mean that perjoratively, rather as a statement of fact.

    It's the classic conflict between those who believe "we're all in this together" and those who subscribe to the "I'll take care of myself, you take care of yourself" philosphy.

    Two fundamentally different worldviews that are at the heart of just about every political and economic debate. We seem them fight it out in the comments to every Housel column. It's pretty entertaining.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2011, at 2:23 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    kauaicat,

    Yes, it factors in population growth. The net employment gain from growing 200k a month is around 50k.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2011, at 2:33 PM, Kauaicat wrote:

    Re: the minimum wage and wages. Not one person has mentioned illegal immigrants as a drag on wages, and job growth, for minimally skilled workers.

    As an example, I would happily employ someone at minimum wage to do the landscaping work on my 4 acre property here in Hawaii. At present, my wife and I spend 6 to 8 hours per week mowing, weedeating and trimming - a ongoing chore we could do without.

    But despite an $8 per hour minimum wage, even those who will work only for cash expect $15 to $20 per hour for such work. I attribute this to two factors: $424 per week that the unemployed receive in Hawaii (a livable wage even here), and more importantly, virtually zero illegal immigrants.

    Being a 4th generation Arizonan, I can contrast this to Arizona, where I would go on construction sites with 15 or 20 workers and find two people who actually spoke English - the superintendent, and the bilingual foreman. For the most part, these construction jobs were relatively well paid jobs - $12 per hour and up in a low-cost-of-living state. In another comparison, in 2006 a survey of hotel maids/housekeepers in Phoenix showed that the average wage was $6.50 per hour - what do you suppose that wage would be without the illegals? I expect it would be $10/hr or $12/hr, a decent wage for a working mother or part-time college student.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2011, at 6:08 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    ---->It's the classic conflict between those who believe "we're all in this together" and those who subscribe to the "I'll take care of myself, you take care of yourself" philosphy.<---

    This is a common misperception. We have the same view of being in this together. The difference is that we believe the best for way for all of us to live together is through voluntary cooperation, not through the use of force/violence to dictate how each other should live. Minimum wages laws are only possible through the imposition of force upon your fellow man. You are saying that you do not care what voluntary agreements he has chosen to enter. You don't think they're fair and that's that.

    That's not really living together. That's ruling over your neighbor.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2011, at 3:30 AM, thoughtfulliving wrote:

    Thank you 48oz.

    Most people are blinded into thinking what is needed is based on what companies desire and that is for an "educated" workforce. This is a false premise, however.

    We do not need more than a few percent of the population as college educated in the sense of the current college educational system that is terribly inefficient.

    We need mostly very short training programs that should be the onus of the employer and secondarily outside the employer.

    I address this on http://proposedsolutions.blogspot.com and also on http://tlextras.blogspot.com.

    Why is it you need a 4-year degree? It's because it serves to make it easier for employers to sort through job applicants. If there were far greater positions available, this would not be such an emphasis. You need to go back in time and see what was needed to be a productive worker and even look at how the military does its training.

    I will mention over and over again, I could train any half-way smart 16 year old to be a scientist in 1 month's time. A college degree is not necessary except by convention, but not in actuality of being able to perform the work. Everyone knows that college is a waste of time yet one must knuckle under the system else fear the consequences.

    Most all occupations ultimately requires so little training yet we are led to believe there is far more involved in jobs that demands wasting 4 or more years in school. To be a pharmacist, at most several months should be necessary. The same with dental hygienists, and when it comes to accountants, EVEN LESS time, if the training is done efficiently. I am shocked to see people whose only function is so narrow such as an accounts payable clerk and yet are paid $4K/month or so when a high school student is capable of doing the job after a few hour's of training. I was in plenty of jobs to know what is really required in them, and it's not college.

    College separates the wealthy from the poor even more.

    Now in addressing our business efficiencies, unless we want to go back in time before the feminist movement to make it a cultural shift to voluntarily have married women as housewives so we could maintain a 40-hour workweek (and which would still in time need to be adjusted lower), we really need use a 35 hour workweek immediately so we could make room for the many unemployed persons. AND NO, it's not a matter of being educated that matters unless we as humans are so dumb as to think it's needed when it really is not. It should be clear to members of our Congress yet my communications with over 50 of them leads me to believe they have little understanding of our problem and they just address the problem in ways that worked in the past yet they will fail without addressing the essential problem of automation and the global labor pool.

    In time, we would be able to have a 20-hour workweek to move us into greater prosperity. However, those in power seem to not understand this and hold onto this magical 40-hour workweek as if it's set in stone. Why must it be 40? It's just a number. There must be a relationship with the workweek and the unemployment rate yet the fools in our leadership roles of government fail to recognize this. In the manner they are moving, we will have a large amount of people who will NEED to collect government money on the backs of a lesser workforce. It makes sense to enlarge the workforce to enable more people to work and less people would need to be supported by those who work.

    Now, a very big aspect of what is going wrong with society is in regards to the wealth divide and this shows up in who owns properties and who is collecting rents. There must be a limit on the number of homes any one person may own. Else, as also should be clear, as time goes to infinity, capitalism will result in one or few persons owning all property. This is a mathematical tool to let you see better what needs to be fixed before a problem gets out of hand, however that problem is already here. Home prices are too high right now, but the wealthy love it - it means they can charge higher rents and when on the opposite side of mortgages, they can strip a higher percentage of one's income. The wealthy are able to live parasitically off of those who earn far less, via rents. It's always assumed the poor are taking advantage of the wealthy but unless one sees how the rich are creating poor people via high rents, it just simply is not so. More small homes need to be built that would cost around 2.5 times the local area annual incomes, and that would be an average of $100K, or half of what the current median home price is at this time. In addition, the shadow inventory of homes need to be put on the market at once. And of course a reasonable limit on homes any one person may own to help facilitate an average LOWER cost of living for people. Yes, lower home prices is GOOD for greater society but only bad for the very wealthy, which is why you are always hearing that falling home prices is bad....but it really is better to have falling home prices, if you want a home you can actually afford!

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2011, at 3:37 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @Whereamiknow: "This is a common misperception. We have the same view of being in this together. The difference is that we believe the best for way for all of us to live together is through voluntary cooperation, not through the use of force/violence to dictate how each other should live."

    Until force is used to dictate WHERE you live, then no force is being used to dictate HOW you live. There is no fence around this country and you are free to live in any nation or even no nation, if you wish to build a very stable boat. The globe is an anarcho-capitalist environment.

    If you wish to remain in the United States, I certainly don't blame you. You are also free to advocate for your political views here and to work to build the country in your own image, just as I am free to do the same. But to claim that taxation is forcing you to do something when you retain the freedom to leave is disingenuous. Taxation and the infrastructure it pays for is part of the deal that comes with living in America. You are free to try to change that, but don't pretend it's a forced decision to pay taxes when you continue to remain in the country and reap the benefits therein.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2011, at 3:57 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    For those who would argue "the unemployed simply need different skills, and they made bad choices and that's why they are unemployed," please recognize that you are not making an economic argument, you are making a moral argument. You are judging the value of another person's decisions based on his or worth in the marketplace.

    This overlooks several things:

    1) If you spend a great deal of money to train for a job which shortly thereafter becomes obsolete, is that somehow your fault for not foreseeing it?

    2) If you become sick and your insurance company denies you benefits, or if you work at a minimum wage job that doesn't provide health insurance, is that your fault?

    3) If you make one bad decision, should you be punished for it as though nobody else has ever made a bad decision? Or more accurately, as if there is even a single person who has NEVER made a bad decision?

    4) If you can't afford a better education, or can't take the time off from work for it, should you then be denied ever having a decent job?

    5) If you just plain don't want to get a different education, should you be punished for that? If the market does not value artists and historians, does that mean that we as a society should tell artists and historians to get a "real job" at Wal-Mart for 7 dollars an hour and no health care?

    Some of us here have extremely compelling stories of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and getting by - even getting ahead - after starting from scratch. That's admirable. But the question that prompts me to ask is why, in the wealthiest society ever to grace the globe, it is necessary for people to do so. Just because you can - if you work extremely hard and make the right choices and get lucky and nothing goes drastically wrong - survive against all the odds is not an argument that the system is equitable, or even particularly efficient. How many geniuses do we lose to science because they can't afford a degree? How many artists do we lose to our culture because they have to support themselves at Denny's?

    There is more to life than efficiency. The market exists to serve human beings - not the other way around.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2011, at 4:01 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @ThoughtfulLiving - I'm particularly intrigued by your suggestion of reducing the work week. Advances in technology are drastically improving productivity; spending less time on work strikes me as an excellent way to return that productivity gain to the workers who are instrumental to it, while also opening up additional job opportunities for the unemployed.

    I'd be very interested to see an in-depth analysis of the effects of a shorter work week on the labour market.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2011, at 4:17 PM, fikemj wrote:

    Just want to say that, once again, the comments on here are one of the better places I have found for intelligent commentary and arguments. The issues Morgan addresses are by no means simple, and I'm sure he would agree in saying that the charts he used don't paint the entire picture. As some of you pointed out there are a lot of other factors in this "jobs mess". Kudos to Morgan for again sparking a lively debate with (in my opinion) a very interesting article.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2011, at 7:09 PM, djarmst wrote:

    Thoughtfulliving wrote:

    "I will mention over and over again, I could train any half-way smart 16 year old to be a scientist in 1 month's time."

    And what would this one-month-trained scientist be capable of doing? I don't care how smart an individual might be, the skills required by a practicing scientist in highly technical fields such as physics and chemistry are impossible to acquire in one month. That comment is total nonsense and displays a high degree of arrogance.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2011, at 8:29 PM, Sunny7039 wrote:

    The comment about being able to train a working scientist in one month is a perfect example of what is truly going wrong in this society. How could anyone believe this? A person couldn't be a competent pharmacist or attorney in a matter of a few months, much less a researcher in basic sciences, which is far more difficult.

    You must know nothing about science, or you must be unfamiliar with the educational level of the average high school graduate, or both. People come out of high school believing that the most persuasive YouTube video should determine public policy.

    If you were calling for tuition-free education, and admission based on achievement rather than "aptitude," as is the norm in most of Europe, I would agree with you. But if you think we can attain greater equality with less education, well -- all I can say is look around you. As the difference between the best and worst educated increased, so did the difference between the richest and the poorest, and so has the penetration of propaganda. How do you think millions of people were persuaded to mortgage their homes in the aftermath of 9/11, the dot-com bubble bursting, two wars, historic spikes in oil prices, etc.? What made them so susceptible to well-documented pitches to get them to borrow against home equity ("Live Richly" was one notable ad campaign documented by the NYT)?

    Lack of education, and intellectual discipline, and lack of access to a real education, are the problems, not the solution. Training-based instruction is just that, and is inadequate for life, especially during a time when most people are expected to do just about everything for themselves.

    The fact that you think flavor-of-the-month training is the way to go shows that your critical thinking skills are deficient. The reality is that as educational standards have declined, so has social mobility, to the point where a person in most EU countries has a better chance of transcending the circumstances of their birth than the average American has. Ever heard of the OECD? Check out their information on these (relatively new) trends some time. Or do you think you don't need to know that stuff?

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 4:22 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    DJDynamic,

    -----> Until force is used to dictate WHERE you live, then no force is being used to dictate HOW you live. There is no fence around this country and you are free to live in any nation or even no nation, if you wish to build a very stable boat. <----

    Ok, let's put it this way.

    I live in California. I decide to I am willing to work for $6/hr to mow my neighbor's lawn. He agrees.

    You are saying that if we really want to do this, we BOTH have to leave the country? Because a voluntary exchange has at least two parties.

    Your idea is not the idea of liberty. America was not founded on your ideas. America was founded on the principle that both I and my neighbor have the right to pursue our happiness without having to be threatened with deportation by you.

    America is a place for liberty, not a place for tyranny. You are telling me that the tyrannous majority should have the right in America, to live in a land promised for liberty (a promise broken many times, of course), but the people who wish to live in liberty have to leave.

    I don't think I'm crazy to believe you have that backwards.

    David

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2011, at 8:31 PM, Sunny7039 wrote:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/nov/16/occupy-p...

    Speaking of leaving the country . . . why is it that you have to consult the Guardian for news? Or the BBC, if you want to know where the latest American drone landed?

    It's something I've been wondering about a lot lately.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 1:55 PM, Kauaicat wrote:

    thoughtfulliving - re the shortened work week: This is more utopian poppycock. The French tried this a few years ago in a classic harebrained socialist attempt to regulate business, and it was an utter failure. They thought they could decrease unemployment by decreasing the number of hours worked, and increase the number of employees, but failed to take into account the overhead burden per employee - a relatively fixed cost - which increased total cost per employee, and also the propensity of people to spend their entire income. The employees who found their workweek shortened, and their pay decreased as a result, rebelled when their disposable income dropped.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 2:17 PM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    djarmst; sunny7039: Indeed! Law, teaching and medicine (Doctors., not technicians} respectively require possessing bar certification, a teacher's certificate, and residency just to begin. Advanced education is needed to approach these professions and their credentials. Experience and aptitude are required to thrive. However, I comprehend some very strident viewpoints joined with limited vision regarding your flaming of thoughtful's suggestions.

    I proffer some four dimensional thinking is in order here to fully grasp thoughtful's point. Despite some dismissive simplicity describing the requirements for becoming a "scientist", I agree with thoughtful's point of view regarding today's job market prerequisites gate keeping technical vocations. In my experience, I've never observed undergrads using differential calculus or matrix vectors or writing scientific papers describing quantum applications as a requirement to fulfill entry level job duties paying 40-60k yet demanding science degrees. Rather, these entry level technical jobs tend to be apprenticeships using a smorgasbord of provided software, written mostly by non college graduates to assist the operations for which the graduates were hired. These jobs are supportive in nature involving recording observations and gathering data. Scientific career progress requires the equivalent of a doctorate directing and publishing research.

    Gates, Jobs, Edison, Einstein, Beethoven, Picasso, Henry Ford are a few examples of non graduates. They each learned their disciplines in about a month. Each month was succeeded by another month of learning etc.; all without college; ergo progressing these immensely talented individuals toward their achievements. To say that any of these individuals could not learn their craft on the job sans a college degree would discredit their gifts of persistence and vision. Being born of privilege with parents who support one to indulge his aptitudes serves great advantage to talented individuals. They tend to create their own educations. Credentials are largely meaningless to these individuals.

    Colleges should serve to expose talented individuals to like minded peers and mentors to amplify and accelerate the pace of learning and achievement. Instead, I believe colleges are extravagant liberal arts trade schools whose paper represents a completion of a gantlet of conforming disciplines alerting employers to a pliable, obedient and indebted if not desperate employee... someone who can be mined. Corporate and state support of these institutions ensures maintenance of this status quo.

    College also serves to postpone the available work force at the attendees' expense as does military service. Valor, duty and honor have little relevance when applying for a job after military service. Employers today tend to avoid individuals of character; they are difficult to mine. When one examines the scope of our world, how can one ignore the implications of an engineered stratified society bent on winner takes all? Today's economic circumstance will no longer support the sustainability of current social engineering goals. To avoid collapse, the paradigm of today's competitive consumption society must shift to a society participating in shared output.

    Technology today can support a productive 16-24 hour work week or equivalent dispersal with 98% participation. Overvalued and overcommitted labor must be replaced by shared output participation.

    The only justifiable reasons for exceptional commitment of time and labor are:

    1) by financially committed and proportionately rewarded parties involved in a competitive pursuit.

    2) by all available resources to deal with a crisis where all parties have a shared interest to resolve. This includes surgery, police, fire, rescue, military etc.

    3) artistic pursuits, or any individual choice to commit as much time as needed for pursuit of one's goals excluding involuntary sacrifice of others.

    The most obvious opportunities we are passing up with the current status quo are:

    1) Shared output will enable time enough for individual growth at one's own pace. I believe that once the basic human needs of ample, not merely custodial, sustenance (physical and psychological) and health are met, the vast majority of people will self improve. Risk of committing crime will lose its incentive, psychological disorders excepted. Greed will be socially recognized and obsolesced.

    2) Ample time on one's hands will create demand for education (self or otherwise); pursuit of personal achievements beyond employment; entertainment, volunteerism, and a self determinism to challenge oneself just to see how proficient one can be at his work. Most important of all, ample time will permit needed attention to and involvement with family, benefitting society in ways unimaginable today. These pursuits seem idealistic, but I believe they are realistic when humans can experience the pursuit of their own potential unfettered with struggling for basic needs never seeing progress, never being able to realize actualization because of structurally engineered disadvantage for the many just to preserve advantage for the few. Does congress and lobbying ring a bell here?

    The economic and social evolution of human beings has everything in common with four dimensional physics. Until now, expansion into sparsely populated regions was the spacial component of progress. If one could not thrive in one location, with nothing to lose he could move and start over; abandoning a saturated market to bring his skills and dreams to an open market. Today, without interstellar travel, and with a cramped planet, humanity has only one dimension left in which to expand. That is the creation and use of time. If time, space, resources and dignity for the masses are constrained, then the temperament of the masses with nothing to lose will reach a critical state and seek to destroy the constraints to create space. We know this from history. We repeat history using the same paradigm and continue limiting our own evolution. Using progressive technology, without space to sustain this paradigm will lead to our extinction. The synergies of a shared output paradigm can lead us to the stars. The alternative is presently being initiated by the Wall Street protesters. Hopelessness, anger, constraint do not evaporate.

    Overall, the haves for the sake of their own survival will need to reduce the quantity of their lives (creating space and time for the growing numbers of those with nothing to lose) and replace that with time to challenge themselves to seek and recognize quality and meaning without extravagance. This can be done progressively just as their accumulation of quantity has been progressive. A cooling down as opposed to fighting off a destructive, explosive revolution which is at hand. Someday, providing we survive, applied science realized by a shared output society will enable all material appetites to be satisfied without social cost.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 6:26 PM, hbofbyu wrote:

    @48oz

    I fell asleep halfway through your post.

    I am another example of what's wrong with our education system.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 11:19 AM, TheOthermfa wrote:

    The current slump is not only deeper, it's wider -- it first shows on the first chart at -25 months, as did the 1981 drop. But it departed from the otherwise-similar 1981 curve at about -17 months and headed for the celler, where it's pretty-much stayed. These lost jobs aren't coming back any time soon, if at all. Choose your favorite reason:

    1) They're lost to technology, not necessarily high-tech. Our trash is now collected by one guy driving an automated truck, instead of one driver and 2 fetchers.

    2) Nobody's got any money to buy anything, so nobody wants to invest in higher production. I haven't been hit all that badly yet, but my discretionary consumption is less than half what it was 2 years ago.

    3) Along with investment capital, even high-tech jobs have been sent overseas. I doubt Apple makes anything onshore these days.

    This time, maybe it is different.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 3:26 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @whereaminow:

    "I live in California. I decide to I am willing to work for $6/hr to mow my neighbor's lawn. He agrees.

    You are saying that if we really want to do this, we BOTH have to leave the country? Because a voluntary exchange has at least two parties. "

    Let's say I live in California. I agree I'm willing to sell the weed I've been growing in the basement to my neighbour for whatever the going rate for weed is. He agrees. Voila, we have a voluntary exchange between two parties.

    Now, do I think either of our two examples SHOULD be illegal? No, I don't. But they ARE illegal. And part of the deal with living here is you agree to abide by the laws, even if you work to change them (which you are also free to do). If the laws are not to your liking, then you also have complete freedom to leave. In no reasonable sense is this "forcing" you to live in a certain way. The founding fathers rebelled against taxation without representation and corprorate monopolies putting them out of business; you have taxation WITH representation. If you don't like the representation you have, change it. If you don't like how impossible it is for the common person to get through to entrenched interests, well, welcome to Occupy Wall Street. But to claim that a representative democracy is "forcing" you to live a certain way when you have every right to vote, every right to campaign, every right to leave - that's completely irrational.

    You've chosen to live in a representative democracy where the majority of people want to live in a different manner than you do and the laws reflect that. That's the nature of democracy. You can change our minds or change your zip code, but don't pretend we're forcing anything on you when the ballot box is right there and the border is just over there.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 11:51 PM, punitsjain wrote:

    Interesting article. One thought that strikes me is that I feel the US mutual fund & broking community has not done a very good job of spreading the Corporate gains across a larger section of people. My anecdotal evidence is that the average (potential) investor in US is very wary of Mutual Funds, concerned at high and unfair tax burdens on new investments and prefers to walk away/ stay off. For the regulators, the key task is to improve the market penetration and industry perception, and clean up the industry.

    If no improvements are seen for a substantial period, it is a sign of a weak regulator.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2011, at 1:17 AM, esotericevets wrote:

    Legal penal complex (lpc) def: symbiotic network of law making legislators, legal workers,accountants, regulators, police, penal system workers and others who combine to create a living for each other. The lpc will enhance its' position in quantum jumps by seizing additional stance after disasters by creating agencies. In normal times augmentation of power is accomplished by the passing of " laws with teeth". End of definition.

    Does this concept sound tenable to you? If it does, it might help to put a face on why a business would be reluctant to hire. The lpc would also be a damper on conducting any villifiable business. Remember, the lpc has some of our best linguists, people who could find a way to put a purveyor of apple pie away if it so desired. One of the lpcs' techniques is to make it necessary to spend your stash on paperwork. If this is not done correctly, money goes for a legal defense. If that is not done adequately, your sorry ass will be a boon to the penal institutions.

    Just throwing a paradigm out there in the tray of oddities such are the commentaries here.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2011, at 12:16 PM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    I must correct an inaccuracy in my comment. I included Einstein as a non college graduate.

    He completed studies at the Federal Polytechnical School in Zurich following a brief interruption of his attendance. He dropped out then returned.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 8:21 AM, thoughtfulliving wrote:

    @Kau: I do mention illegal immigration in http://proposedsolutions.

    To the detractors who think you cannot have the necessary skills to function with competence in many fields from just 1-month of EFFICIENT training, this goes to the root of the problem: too many people think it cannot be done and so it is not done. Open your minds and you will see it is possible.

    I was an inventing research scientist and I was an excellent tutor. I do know what I am talking about. I did circles around my colleagues and thus it was more trouble for them psychologically to have me around producing at the level I was providing. I made it clear I could train any bright 16-year old to function as a scientist. It is simple. I am sorry many of you are unable to understand this. College does not prepare you for the actual work as much as you would like to think. With many people who think college of unspeakable number of years or stuck on the 4 year plan as if it's written in stone just like the 40-hour workweek is somehow written in stone and no one is to say differently really shows low-level human thinking abilities.

    My offer still stands. And by the way, I was a scientist in my own right at age 16 but of course you will not want to believe and utilize ego protection mechanisms by denigrating me. I am not showing off as you would like to think. Some things need to be stated for a basis to help others understand what is possible.

    How many of you people researched on your own at universities from an early age and had your own laboratory at home?

    Open your minds I ask of all of you and see what is POSSIBLE, not just shut your minds out and say however things function now must continue so as if it cannot be improved.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 8:25 AM, thoughtfulliving wrote:

    Pharmacists: another overpaid profession that should require 1 to 3 months at most with EFFICIENT education.

    It's sad to think many of you here are unable to understand this.

    You find out the actual work performed by pharmacists and then you should begin to figure it out. Do not let current standards be your guide. Open your minds!

    Lengthy and costly post-secondary education is not the answer for employment!

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 8:43 AM, thoughtfulliving wrote:

    Kau: read my prose on a shortened workweek.

    I doubt the French made any effort to reduce the cost of living as I propose to make the shortened workweek a success.

    Guess why the cost of living is so high? It is partly from certain people taking too much and making it worse for others. This includes housing/rental costs. Home prices are way too high relative to wages these days. What we need is even lower home prices but fools follow the pundits in thinking higher home prices are better when in fact it's mostly true just for the wealthy who can reap gains off of others. Apparently, people do not want a stable ratio of home prices to wages just like they don't want a stable stock market system because it would take away a significant avenue away from those people who want to capitalize on others.

    In our country, shortening the legal workweek to 35 hours (a 12% reduction), I expect an increase of 5-8% in the labor force, not 12%. I understand this overhead you speak of. I never did not understand it.

    And my overall plan addresses the cost of medical coverage as well. And my plan addresses the salary divide of employer to employee. I know the French didn't attack the employment problem on all these fronts as I propose in my book "God Gave You a Brain; Use It!" nor on my http://proposedsolutions.blogspot.com site.

    You can try to pull out a single issue I address and try to denigrate it all you want without seeing how everything fits together if you choose but if ever we are as a race of people ever going to have widespread prosperity, all of the issues I address must be met with a new way of thinking that appears most are not willing to undertake. Perhaps it will take a generation of slowly infusing the youth to the concepts until which time we will make strident gains towards prosperity, but I say humans should not have to function in such a slow painstaking process to effect needed change.

    So what side are you on? You want to protect the status quo (and perhaps your wealth) or get going and solve the problems?

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2011, at 10:48 AM, thoughtfulliving wrote:

    Here's a newsflash for many of you:

    We need fewer jobs, not more (on a man-hour per population basis).

    When we have greater productivity, in asking for more people to be employed, you have to invent jobs.

    So the logical conclusion would be to share in the total number of hours needed to produce all goods and services AND/OR lower the workforce (such as making the cultural change of no longer would married women [or men if you feel slighted as a feminist] be in the workforce to any significant degree).

    It's so simple. But in this plan, for it to work, many other things need to take place with the most important one, addressing the wealth divide and in this, two areas must be addressed: passive income from real estate and active income from taking so much more than the median salary. I propose my solutions to these elsewhere. I even came up with a REASONABLE anti-accumulation idea for a law that would recycle extreme excesses of individuals back into the economy. Certainly ardent capitalists would hate the idea until which time they see how it makes for a better, more vibrant economy. Imagine having $5 million as being 25 times more than the average person. How could this not be enough for one person in life to own at any given time? One could still keep "earning" but at the end of the fiscal year, have all but $5 million of it spent or relinquished. How dreadful it would be to have "JUST" 25 times the average person, right?

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2011, at 11:12 AM, Hearditallb4 wrote:

    Sounds like a good plan thoughtfulliving!

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