Jack Saturday

Monday, June 20, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1470-1472

According to its recent report, 25 percent of law schools obtain at least 88 percent of their total revenues from tuition. The average for all law schools is 69 percent. So law schools have a powerful incentive to maintain or increase enrollment, even if the employment outcomes are dismal for their graduates....
While enrollment did decline to about 38,000 last year from 52,000 in 2010, it has not been falling at the pace necessary to reach equilibrium in a stagnant legal job market. Too many incoming law school students still believe they will be among the lucky few who get decent jobs.
Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs
New York Times
AUG. 25, 2015
[emphasis JS]

I was the envy of my 30-something friends in Palo Alto, Calif. I had my own law office right on California Avenue. People charged with crimes handed me cash, in advance, over a big oak desk. Occasionally, I’d make a couple of grand in an afternoon.

But soon, my body started giving out one part at a time. First a shoulder, then my lower back, knee cartilage, neck vertebrae. Two groin hernia surgeries later, at 33 years old, I could not lift a bag of groceries, or sit without an orthopedic pillow. After 10 years as a law student and lawyer, working in a profession I didn’t like was taking its toll.
I could see myself in a billowy clown suit. After a free training session, I purchased the starter kit for $59 and waited for them to call.

Within a week, the company dispatched me to a party for a 7-year-old at a Ground Round restaurant in Yonkers. I applied colorful makeup, donned oversize shoes, orange wig, bag of tricks. It took a minute to decide on “Bobo” as my name. I silly-walked up to a table of children in the party room. By the end of the performance, the birthday boy said to me, “Bobo, I love you.” In the car later, I rested my head on the steering wheel. An unexpected feeling surfaced: happiness.
New York Times
By Robert Markowitz 
August 20, 2015
[emphasis JS]

The amount of those employed within the total population is at a record 38-year low of 62.6%. Meanwhile, despite slowing, GDP is still growing, so all the work is still obviously getting done somehow...
    Those who moved into optimal jobs showed significant improvement in mental health compared to those who remained unemployed. Those respondents who moved into poor-quality jobs showed a significant worsening in their mental health compared to those who remained unemployed.

That's right, having no job at all can be better than having a bullshit one. Thanks, science. And if low-skill jobs are more likely to be worse on mental health than medium and high-skill jobs, then for decades we've been increasingly working in newly created jobs that are depressingly worse for us than not working in any job.
So unless we all wish to pursue insecure lives of low-skill underpaid mostly meaningless employment thanks to all the machines increasingly doing all the rest of the work (not really for us but mostly for the benefit of those who own them), we will need to break the connection between work and income by providing everyone an income floor sufficient to both meet basic needs and purchase the goods and services the machines are providing. 

Scott Santens[emphasis JS]

Monday, June 13, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1467-1469

The labor market in France has been offering less and less job security for decades. Today, 85 percent of new hires are temporary employees and the duration of their work contracts keeps shrinking — 70 percent of new contracts are for one month or less.
New York Times
   JUNE 8, 2016

They replaced horses, didn’t they? That’s how the late, great economist Wassily Leontief responded 35 years ago to those who argued technology would never really replace people’s work.
As the idea sinks in that humans as workhorses might also be on the way out, what happens if the job market stops doing the job of providing a living wage for hundreds of millions of people? How will the economy spread money around, so people can afford to pay the rent?

What if, say, the bottom quarter of the population in the United States and Europe simply couldn’t find a job at a wage that could cover the cost of basic staples? What if smart-learning machines took out lawyers and bankers? Or even, God forbid, journalists and economists?
Last November, Lawrence H. Summers — a former Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton... made an unlikely admission: Perhaps economists were not always the smartest people in the room.
In a world in which many Americans do not work during large chunks of their lives, we might have to conceive of Social Security and disability much more broadly than we do today.

That, Mr. Summers said, “could start to look like a universal income.”
Eduardo Porter
New York Times
   JUNE 7, 2016

Say, for example, 20 percent of all such profits were split equally among all citizens, starting the month they turn eighteen.

In effect, this would be a basic minimum income for everyone.

The sum would be enough to ensure everyone a minimally decent standard of living – including money to buy the technologies that would free them up from the necessity of working.

Anyone wishing to supplement their basic minimum could of course choose to work – even though, as noted, most jobs will pay modestly.

This outcome would also be good for the handful of billionaire executives and owner-investors, because it would ensure they have customers with enough money to buy their labor-saving gadgets.

Such a basic minimum would allow people to pursue whatever arts or avocations provide them with meaning, thereby enabling society to enjoy the fruits of such artistry or voluntary efforts.

We would thereby create the kind of society John Maynard Keynes predicted we’d achieve by 2028  – an age of technological abundance in which no one will need to work.
via AlterNet
   [emphasis JS]

Veroufakis and Chomsky on Basic Income

Monday, June 06, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1464-1466

Treating workers as if they are widgets to be used up and discarded is a central part of the revised relationship between employers and employees that techies proclaim is an innovation as important as chips and software. The model originated in Silicon Valley, but it’s spreading. Old-guard companies are hiring “growth hackers” and building “incubators,” too. They see Silicon Valley as a model of enlightenment and forward thinking, even though this “new” way of working is actually the oldest game in the world: the exploitation of labor by capital.

Congratulations! You’ve Been Fired
New York Times
[emphasis JS]

We often hear how damaging welfare dependency is, stifling initiative and corroding the human soul. So I worry about the way we coddle executives in their suites.

A study to be released Thursday says that for each dollar America’s 50 biggest companies paid in federal taxes between 2008 and 2014, they received $27 back in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts.

Goodness! What will that do to their character? Won’t that sap their initiative?

The Oxfam report says that each $1 the biggest companies spent on lobbying was associated with $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts.

One academic study found that tax dodging by major corporations costs the U.S. Treasury up to $111 billion a year. By my math, less than one-fifth of that annually would be more than enough to pay the additional costs of full-day prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds in America ($15 billion), prevent lead poisoning in tens of thousands of children ($2 billion), provide books and parent coaching for at-risk kids across the country ($1 billion) and end family homelessness ($2 billion).

The Real Welfare Cheats
Nicholas Kristof APRIL 14, 2016
New York Times
[emphasis JS]

Redistribution would best be in the form of a basic income, Mr Bregman believes.

And ideally, that income would be universal, unconditional and individual. It needs to be universal, regardless of other income or wealth, so that there is no stigma attached to it, he argues.

"It is not a favour, it is a right. Some people see a basic income as a dividend of progress. That, because our forefathers worked so hard and brought us all this technology and prosperity, we all deserve a share of these accomplishments.''

In answer to claims it is unaffordable, he says look at the net results.

"What we know from studies is that one of the most important effects of introducing a basic income is that it would eradicate poverty.''

Poverty is expensive in terms of higher healthcare costs and crime rates.

It means lower tax takes for government and less investment in human capital.

"Eradicating poverty is actually really cheap; it is a few percentage points of GDP. It is actually an investment.

"So in the long run the rich will profit from that as well because everyone is happier ... If your neighbour is doing well, then you are also doing better.''

Wouldn't this utopia just be full of lazy people?

Mr Bregman says he is told that all the time. In response, he asks people whether, if they received a basic income, would they stop working.

They say they might cut back a bit on work, but that they would use the extra time for volunteering and other pursuits they haven't had time for. However, when asked what they think other people would do, many reply they believe others will be lazy.
Knocking off early
By Bruce Munro on Mon, 16 May 2016
Otago Daily Times


Saturday, June 04, 2016

Calm A Crying Baby

Monday, May 30, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1461-1463

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the United States has an overwhelming surplus of cheese...

According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 795 million people on the planet don’t have enough food to lead a healthy life. That’s about two and a half times the population of the US, but there’s enough surplus cheese here to give each of those hungry people 1.5 pounds. Even though cheese is not particularly healthy, and some people are lactose intolerant, some cheese is still better than no cheese, which also happens to be my rule at cocktail parties during the passed appetizer period.

All the extra cheese would be gone, dairy farmers could milk cows as much as they pleased, the price of cheese would soar, and the world’s starving masses would be able to enjoy a spot of brie that pairs excellently with a glass of pinot noir. There are no losers here.

Of course, that’s not what will happen.

Whatever we do, though, let’s make sure we don’t give it all away to someone who needs it. That would be un-American

America is drowning in surplus cheese. What should we do with it all?

Dave Schilling

Tuesday 17 May 2016 20.09 BST

[emphasis JS]

 Manufacturing jobs described by Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders as “lost” to China cannot be found there, or anywhere. As Charles Kenny of the nonpartisan Center for Global Development has shown, technology is causing factory-floor employment to diminish worldwide, even as loading docks hum with activity. This transition is jarring to say the least — but it was always inevitable. The evolution of the heavy-manufacturing sector away from workers and toward machines will not stop, even if international trade is cut off completely.
When Did Optimism Become Uncool?
New York Times
MAY 12, 2016

[emphasis JS]  

...recognize fully that the bulk of our real incomes is not the fruit of the efforts of today’s workers (let alone of the abstinence of today’s capitalists), but a gift from nature increasingly combined with capital accumulation, technological innovation and institutional improvements inherited from the past. In a “labourist” perspective, those morally entitled to this gift — whether directly in the form of wages or indirectly in the form of social benefits to which they are entitled through their work — are the present generation of workers, in proportion to the market value of their skills, the length of their working time and their bargaining power. In a truly “socialist” perspective, those entitled to this gift are all members of society equally, male and female, irrespective of the extent of their participation in well-protected full-time employment, and in paid work generally.
Philippe van Parijs on 11 April 2016

Social Europe

[emphasis JS]


Monday, May 23, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1458-1460

Poem About Morning
by William Meredith

Whether it's sunny or not, it's sure
To be enormously complex-
Trees or streets outdoors, indoors whoever you share,
And yourself, thirsty, hungry, washing,
An attitude towards sex.
No wonder half of you wants to stay
With your head dark and wishing
Rather than take it all on again:
Weren't you duped yesterday?
Things are not orderly here, no matter what they say.

But the clock goes off, if you have a dog
It wags, if you get up now you'll be less
Late. Life is some kind of loathsome hag
Who is forever threatening to turn beautiful.
Now she gives you a quick toothpaste kiss
And puts a glass of cold cranberry juice,
Like a big fake garnet, in your hand.
Cranberry juice! You're lucky, on the whole,
But there is a great deal about it you don't understand.

"No, I do not feel better… I have the sense that everything is going more to pieces by the day. Getting up this morning I looked at my watch, and in the little square that shows the date, I seemed to see a tiny prison widow with its two bars: the eleventh of the month…  And my nights are seldom better: the feeling that there's a big tree-trunk lying across my chest, whose weight finally waked me. After which, more or less pleased with the accuracy of the image, I got go sleep again, somewhat calmer …".

"Sometimes at the end of the afternoon, when work lets up a bit, I look at the office walls around me, then the last of  the hills, steadily nibbled away by their ashen contours. And it goes on, goes on, like an agony… It's usually at that moment I tell myself I've surely been on the wrong track all these years. And that it's not impossible, it is in fact a certainty, that I shall follow this road, the wrong one, to the very end. Then I wait a while longer, the time it takes to gather my things, bid good evening to my neighbour if he has not already left, and go home as if nothing were wrong, […]"
Gilles Ortlieb
Into The Deep Street 

Guess what? The worldwide arrival of the basic income is imminent.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1455-1457

Despite the province’s 2008 poverty reduction plan, the women’s plight and that of almost 158,000 other single adults on welfare or Ontario Works is getting worse, according to a new report on social assistance being released Monday.

For this group, the poverty gap has jumped by almost 200 per cent since 1993, says the analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
"dramatically worse than 20 years ago.”

Ontario's soaring poverty gap ‘starkest’ for single adults as welfare rates stagnate
Mon., May 9, 2016
[emphasis JS]

You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”

They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.

Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:

“I put in 35 years…”

“It ain’t right…”

“I don’t know what to do…”

They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?
[emphasis JS]

Half a century ago, harvesting California’s 2.2 million tons of tomatoes for ketchup required as many as 45,000 workers. In the 1960s, though, scientists and engineers at the University of California, Davis, developed an oblong tomato that lent itself to being machine-picked and an efficient mechanical harvester to do the job in one pass through a field.
How could a publicly funded university invest in research that cut farmworker jobs only to help large-scale growers?
In America’s factories, jobs are inevitably disappearing, too. But despite the political rhetoric, the problem is not mainly globalization. Manufacturing jobs are on the decline in factories around the world.
“The observation is uncontroversial,” said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning economist at Columbia University. “Global employment in manufacturing is going down because productivity increases are exceeding increases in demand for manufactured products by a significant amount.”
...strategies to restore manufacturing jobs in one country will amount to destroying them in another, in a worldwide zero-sum game.
The Mirage of a Return to Manufacturing Greatness
Eduardo Porter
New York Times 
APRIL 26, 2016
[emphasis JS]

Monday, May 09, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1452-1454

Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A 2014 Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week — not the supposedly standard 40 — while 18 percent report working more than 60 hours. And yet overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that a majority of salaried workers were once eligible.

In a cruel twist, the longer and harder we work for the same wage, the fewer jobs there are for others, the higher unemployment goes and the more we weaken our own bargaining power. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6 percent of gross domestic product to about 12 percent, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount.
Overtime Pay: A Lifeline for the Overworked American


New York Times
[emphasis JS]

I know about the debate over banning tips and raising the minimum wage. I am not sure how I feel about it, and from what I can tell, my co-workers don’t either. People can be awful and not all bars are like this one. I am aware that many servers have shitty jobs for shitty pay. And let’s be real, it isn’t enough money. But here is the thing; being a part-time lecturer in academia never paid me enough, either.
Sixteen years in academia made me an a-hole

After a decade at the Ivies, I work at a bar. But I've learned more waiting tables than I did as a professor
Rani Neutill


 I had a lengthy discussion about the global impact with Mexican industrialist Carlos Slim Domit. He had a surprisingly good understanding of the advances in technologies such as computing, sensors, networks, robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing. He spoke of the uplift of society in the developing world through broader access to information, education, health care, and entertainment — and the need to share and spread the prosperity that advancing technologies will create. He predicted the emergence of tens of millions of new service jobs in Mexico through meeting the Mexican people’s basic needs and enabling them to spend time on leisure and learning. He sees tremendous opportunities to build infrastructure where there is none, and to improve the lives of billions of people who presently spend their lives trying to earn enough on which to subsist.     
Should We Redesign Capitalism to Address Our Jobless Future?
By Vivek Wadhwa

Singularity Hub

[emphasis JS] 


Getting There

Monday, May 02, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1449-1451

To the Editor: The toxic work environment we have today simply reflects our current American values. Employees were once a valued part of the organizations I worked for. Now they are disposable parts. Our children have been raised to value material gain at the cost of lifestyle and positive human experience, and we are paying the price in lower happiness and higher stress and related disease. This won’t change until our culture changes.
Bailey, Colo.
NYT Sunday Review | Letters

 ...taxpayers continue to pick up the difference between what fast-food workers earn and what they need to survive. An estimated $1.2 billion a year in taxpayer dollars goes toward public aid to help people who work at McDonald’s.

At the same time, McDonald’s is under fire in Europe for shifting profits to Luxembourg in ways that allow the company to avoid tax in Europe and in the United States.
At McDonald’s, Fat Profits but Lean Wages

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD APRIL 28, 2016 New York Times
[emphasis JS]  

Equilar notes that Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav makes $156.1 million a year ($74,796.36 an hour), or approximately 1,951 times as much as his average employee. Doug McMillan, the CEO of Wal-Mart takes in $25.6 million ($12,266.41 an hour), 1,133 times as much as the average experienced store associate, who earns roughly $22,000. Other highly-paid CEOs include Larry Merlo, the CEO of CVS Caremark, who makes 422 times as much as CVS employee, meaning that he earns an average worker’s yearly pay by 1 PM on his first work day of the new year; and Goodyear CEO Richard Kramer, who pulls in as much as an average Goodyear employee’s yearly pay by 3:00 PM on January 1st.
As the gap between the wealthy and the working-class continues to grow, the federal minimum wage remains stagnant at $7.25 an hour, or a little more than $15,000 a year, far below the $24,000 poverty line for a family of four.

Do you find this state of affairs upsetting?

Big Crony CEO Pay Grab--Effects Beyond Greed!

Ralph Nader

[emphasis JS]

Monday, April 25, 2016

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1446-1448

“This idea [basic income] works on so many levels,” she says. “It’s a very practical policy, in terms of ensuring that people don’t fall between the cracks of the welfare system. But it’s also a deeply radical idea in terms of its feminist potential, and what we do in a world in which more and more work is going to be automated. It also gets you into a sense of contributing to your community, cleaning up the beach, visiting an elderly friend who might be lonely. There’s a whole freedom and liberation that it gives you, and I think it takes you into really deep questions about whether we really exist simply to spend a third of our lives working for someone else.”
British Greens’ sole MP, Caroline Lucas

Should we scrap benefits and pay everyone £100 a week?
John Harris

In 2014, following many complaints from members of the armed forces, retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps was asked to conduct an external review of sexual misconduct and harassment in the armed forces. Her report, released in April 2015, found that the Canadian military was ridden with a misogynistic and sexualized culture, and that harassment and abuse were overlooked and under-reported. 

The issue gained prominence in the mid-1990s with the introduction of women into combat roles, and has resurfaced regularly with publicized reports of abusive behaviour and assault. 

Deschamps was told “there is not a female who has not had a problemsince joining the military, and yet most were afraid to complain for fear of repercussions, including being hampered in their careers or removed from their units. Reports have been received of abuse ranging from sexual jokes to inappropriate touching to sexual assault, with a chain of command largely blind to the issue.
Editorial: Hasten change in armed forces

Times Colonist

February 2, 2016 12:26 AM

[emphasis JS]

 Up to the present, man [sic] has been, to a certain extent, the slave of machinery, and there is something tragic in the fact that as soon as man had invented a machine to do his work he began to starve. This, however, is, of course, the result of our property system and our system of competition. One man [sic] owns a machine which does the work of five hundred men. Five hundred men are, in consequence, thrown out of employment, and, having no work to do, become hungry and take to thieving. The one man secures the produce of the machine and keeps it, and has five hundred times as much as he should have, and probably, which is of much more importance, a great deal more than he really wants. Were that machine the property of all, every one would benefit by it. It would be an immense advantage to the community. All unintellectual labour, all monotonous, dull labour, all labour that deals with dreadful things, and involves unpleasant conditions, must be done by machinery.
Oscar Wilde