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View Diary: Why $17 an Hour Should be the Minimum Wage (95 comments)

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  •  Part of the problem, I think, is that there is (6+ / 0-)

    a bigger and bigger gap between the value of unskilled labor and value of more specialized and higher tech skills.  And I only see that growing.

    50 years ago, there were a lot of jobs available that did not require a great deal of post-high school education (if any) and/or specialized training.  Someone who was willing to work hard could get an entry-level job at a factor, for example, or as a welder's assistant and work up to a decent paying job.  Now, unfortunately, many of those jobs are gone. Some were lost to other countries, where unskilled labor is much cheaper, and some were lost to automation, which is often cheaper and more reliable for the business owner.  

    The stark truth is that in today's economy the best way to increase your chances of earning a decent living is to make sure that you acquire some kind of specialized skill that others are willing to pay for. And that principle is becoming more and more inflexible as time goes on, our society becomes more automated, and decent paying jobs for unskilled labor disappear.  It doesn't have to be college; it just needs to be some skill that is in demand and that the ordinary able-bodied 18 year old off the street can't do without significant training.  The future seems to be one where all unskilled labor that can be exported overseas, where it is much cheaper, will be exported, and the only call for unskilled labor here will be for those few jobs were the labor must be performed on site and cannot be moved.  And as the demand for unskilled labor decreases, I don't see a big push to increase the wages for unskilled labor.   The one saving grace might be that our birth rate is going down,  which means that as demand goes down, so will supply to some extent.  

    It's a difficult issue because when you talk about labor, you are talking about people's lives. But I think we need to be honest with people about what they can do to make their own lives better.  

    •  The stark truth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, NoMoreLies

      is that we have allowed our middle class to be gutted.  It did not have to be this way.

      You're so stuck in text-book economic dogma, that you can't even begin to entertain other possibilities.

      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 09:27:50 AM PDT

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      •  What is your alternative? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, erush1345

        How could we have prevented the increasing value placed on knowledge/skills over unskilled labor?  That's a result of (1) advances in technology, where many businesses are able to, more cheaply, replace unskilled workers with some type of automation, and (2) globalization, where markets are now global rather than being confined within national borders.  

        •  That seems a disingenuous question (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoMoreLies

          if you're going to throw "globalism" in there. The only thing globalism has to do with our current predicament is the size of the one percent and where their money is.

          That being said, it would seem that our laws could have stopped permitting the gross outsourcing of labor to the point where gainful employment for tens of millions were shipped overseas.

          Just one example, I'm sure there are more...

          It is time to #Occupy Media.

          by lunachickie on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 11:04:12 AM PDT

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          •  I can't imagine how a law passed in the United (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345
            That being said, it would seem that our laws could have stopped permitting the gross outsourcing of labor to the point where gainful employment for tens of millions were shipped overseas.
            States could prevent a company that does business in a number of countries from locating a plant or some other facility in another country where it does business.  How do you pass a law mandating that Royal Dutch Shell cannot located a refinery in any country other than the United States?  How do you pass a law mandating that Honda can't build cars in Japan?  The United States can't pass laws affecting what happens in other countries.  

            The fact is that because of better transportation, better shipping, and better technology, many companies operate in many, many different countries.  Unless you want to eliminate all trade with other countries, and eliminate any entity that does business in other countries from doing business here, I don't know how you do that.  Certainly, you can increase the financial incentive for companies to locate things here.  

            •  Start with the tax code n/t (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NoMoreLies, ilex

              It is time to #Occupy Media.

              by lunachickie on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 12:31:45 PM PDT

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              •  How do you propose to do that? (0+ / 0-)

                Generally, reforming the tax code so as to make it more attractive to move jobs -- and money --  back to the United States would mean a tax break here, or maybe moving to a territorial tax system instead of the ridiculous one we have.  See, for example, here or here.  That's a tax incentive for business -- likely to be seen as a "tax break" by the left, see here -- and thus problematic for Democrats, I think.

                Although it's complex, the bottom line is that you really can't tax what international companies have overseas, or the business they do overseas, so you can't say, "If you do business overseas, I'll tax you MORE" as a disincentive.

                How do you think we can "start with the tax code" so as to make it more financially advantageous for companies to move investments and jobs to the U.S.? Are you advocating for something like I've linked to above?

    •  It's the way we determine value (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Klusterpuck, NoMoreLies, dadoodaman

      itself that is all wrong.

      That's why folks like Limbaugh and Dimon are rich.

      As with intelligence, we measure these things too narrowly.

      People whose contributions have a negative impact on society are not valuable. Period.

      What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?

      by Words In Action on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 10:57:17 AM PDT

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      •  How would you suggest (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erush1345, nextstep

        "we" determine "value" -- and that includes who the "we" is that sets "value."

        Right now, "value" is set by (1) the person selling labor or products deciding how much he/she is wants to part with the product or provide the labor; and (2) the person buying the labor or products deciding how much he/she is willing to spend of his/her money or property for the labor or products.  When they overlap, that's "value."  

        I'm not sure how you propose "we" "determine value," and who is the "we" who do that.  

        Certainly, you can decide that Limbaugh is not worth spending your time.  And you can decide you would never pay Jamie Dimon one cent to do anything.  But how do you prevent others from deciding that THEY want to spend their time listening to a certain radio personality or how much THEY are willing to pay a person to be a CEO?

        •  Obviously a core problem with current (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Klusterpuck, NoMoreLies, dadoodaman

          capitalist markets and government regulation of them (i.e., Mixed economy) is that they are not adequately regulated to address societal goals other than the financial interests of capital.

          This is why can't address Climate Change, even though it is a gathering threat that could devastate millions of species, including ours. Clearly, better regulation and better regulatory enforcement could change that.

          This is why we have an unhealthy, unfair income and wealthy pyramid. Clearly, better regulation and better regulatory enforcement could change that.

          You write as if these are mysteries or the result of immutable laws. They aren't. Which is exactly why we have seen so much change so quickly the past three decades.

          These things aren't just coincidence. They are the result of the takeover and control of policy by a few who have no interest in the general welfare.

          And apparently you agree with them.

          And "they" could not accomplish their goals with the support of people like "you".

          What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?

          by Words In Action on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 03:53:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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