Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for the ‘Labor Markets’ Category

Careers in pharmacy

This is what I wrote 10 years ago:

You are essentially a highly paid retail clerk, and you’re limited to two employers: CVS and Walgreen. If you decide you don’t like it, you’re screwed because there’s nowhere else to go. There’s no career advancement and no opportunity for moving up the ranks. CVS just needs you to man the pharmacy area because a government regulation says that you have to be there.

On the positive side, pharmacy jobs have a median salary in the high $90s [allegedly now the low $130s], which is a really good salary for a safe career. You’re pretty much guaranteed that if you get through the program and pass the licensing tests. Pharmacy jobs are located wherever there are people living, so it’s great if you want to live in a non-SWPL place such as the Midwest. There aren’t very many tickets to a high $90s job [allegedly now the low $130s], and this is one of them. And if you don’t want to work at a retail store, you can also work at a hospital.

It’s clearly a much better career than plumber or auto mechanic. It’s higher paying and you don’t have to stick your hands into pipes full of sh**.

The only thing I don’t understand is why people don’t flood into the field, bringing down the salaries? Why are there five times as many law students as there are pharmacy students, when pharmacy seems like a better deal?

* * *

Note that becoming a Pharmacist requires up to 8 years of education, 4 for an undergraduate degree and 4 for a Pharm.D. degree, but there are accelerated programs, and I would highly recommend young people get into one of those programs rather than waste more time in school (which means racking up more student loans). A young person should find the least expensive school possible, because all Pharm.D. degrees are the same.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 19, 2019 at EST am

Posted in Labor Markets

Raising the minimum wage helps the low-wage workers

I’ve been saying so for a long time, and this NY Times article provides proof backing me up.

Simplistic supply-and-demand-curve-based macroeconomics is wrong about a lot of stuff. As I’ve stated over and over again, Michael Porter’s book Competitive Strategy or one of its derivatives, taught at every MBA program, is a much better book for understanding how the economy works than an economics textbook.

Although the economics textbooks do have a term to explain why supply and demand doesn’t work, and it’s called “elasticity of demand.” So if demand for low-wage workers is “inelastic,” then increasing the price of low-wage workers through a government-mandated minimum wage doesn’t cause the demand to become lower by a significant amount, because the demand is “inelastic.”

But if you want to understand why demand is inelastic, then you need to turn to Michael Porter. Compared to workers, businesses have a lot more bargaining power, so although they would hire 10 workers for $12/hour if that were the going rate, they can get away with paying them $7/hour because of their superior bargaining power. The goal of minimum wage laws, therefore, should be to find the correct minimum wage so that workers are getting their fair share of profits without causing unemployment or other disruptions to the market.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 13, 2019 at EST am

Suntans and work

Classically, suntans were low class because they meant working-class outdoors jobs. But then, when air travel meant that rich people could go on vacation in warm sunny climates, suntans became high class. I am pretty sure that the invention of tanning salons has caused them to become prole again. Jersey Shore types typically sport fake tans.

It is the same with work and leisure. Certain commenters have wrongly asserted that being rich means not having to work, but that’s outdated by a century. With welfare and other public assistance making non-work more viable than ever for the lower classes, the higher classes distinguish themselves with their work ethic.

Of course people don’t want to do just any sort of work, they want work that’s meaningful and that increases their status. And being able to obtain that sort of job requires elite educational credentials and the right connections. So we are moving from a world in which poor people work because otherwise they will starve to death, to a world where working is a privilege for the rich and well connected while poor people will live off of Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend.”

Work becomes not just a source of income that’s used to buy positional goods, but a positional good in its own right.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 29, 2019 at EDT pm

Posted in Bobos, Labor Markets

The Class Ceiling

The Atlantic article headlined The Class Ceiling says what I’ve been writing in my blog for years.

1. It’s beneficial for a young person to have rich parents willing to pay their rent in an expensive city like London (this is a UK-biased article) where the best careers are, so they can work their way up to high-paying self-actualizing jobs. Young people without that parental support likely to get stuck in second-tier careers in second-tier minor cities.

2. Hanging around other upper-middle-class kids when young helps a person pick up an upper-middle-class way of thinking and behaving that makes it much easier to fit in, get along, and be liked by management at upper-middle-class professions. This is one of the major benefits of sending your kids to private school.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 27, 2019 at EST pm

Posted in Labor Markets

College, part 3

While the rest of the world is convinced that college helps people make more money, strangely I have to convince certain blog commenters, because there’s a belief among some in the HBD-sphere that IQ is everything, and therefore someone with a high IQ would make just as much money without a college degree.

There’s also an idea, which is more mainstream, that it doesn’t matter what school you go to, any school is the same. That’s also absurdly false, I don’t know how anyone can believe it. I know from personal experience that if you want to get hired as a lawyer, you had better have the most elite degree possible, because if your degree is outside of the Top 14, you’ll never get hired by a big firm and it’s a lot harder to even get hired by small firms. It’s unlikely you’ll have Michael Cohen’s luck to get hired by Donald Trump, and if anything Michael Cohen disproves that IQ matters above all else, because that guy doesn’t seem all that bright to me.

There is indeed a correlation between high IQ and having a higher income, but my own research into this matter is that people with higher IQ are able to obtain better educational credentials, and then the better educational credentials (if they are lucky and have other necessary things going for them) enable people to get into a higher-paying career track. Without the degree, no one will want to hire you into any good career tracks.

People like to say that employers only care about your experience at prior jobs and not your education, but the problem is that without education you can only get hired for crappy jobs like retail or working at call centers, which only gives you experience to work at other crappy jobs.

Even if you are lucky enough to get hired (for example some people with hot in-demand computer skills have been known to get good jobs without a college degree), you’ll eventually hit a glass ceiling for people without college degrees.

None of this is to say that there is anything intrinsic in years of formal education that makes people better employers or better at making money, but because our society is set up so that only formal learning with a degree is valued, and self-learning is not valued, that’s the way it is. And it’s why I called education a positional good in my recent Lionomics post. The benefit of a degree is that it gives you a positional advantage over people without a degree, and a prestigious degree gives you a positional advantage over people with a degree from a directional state school.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 11, 2019 at EST am

The asylum statute

8 USC § 1158(1) reads:

Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title.

I don’t know what Trump’s legal team’s counterargument is, but this statute seems pretty clear to me.

There are many things that Trump could do by executive order to hasten the processing and denial of these people so they can be quickly deported, but I have to agree with the judge that he can’t stop them from applying in the first place.

And that’s why we need a Wall, to prevent them from becoming physically present in the first place. (Or we could just get Congress to change this statute, which would be less expensive than building a Wall, but it’s politically more feasible to just build the Wall.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 20, 2018 at EST pm

Amazon’s HQ2 stunt

I think this further cements the trend that there are only four metropolitan areas where there are any careers worth having: Seattle, Washington DC, New York City, and the San Francisco to San Jose region. (Plus maybe Boston and Chicago, or maybe those cities fade away in importance. Especially Chicago is likely to fade away. Boston still has Harvard and MIT going for it.)

* * *

People ask, “what about Los Angeles?” I think that city has only one notable industry, show-business, and it’s kind of prole if you’re not involved in that industry.

I think if you take Phoenix Arizona, and you triple the population, and you add a beach, and a massive amount of smog, you get Los Angeles.

The point is, I don’t think it’s a place where Harvard grads move to (unless they are writers with Hollywood connections). But it’s a fun metropolitan area to virtually drive around using Google Street View. I like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 13, 2018 at EST am

Posted in Business, Labor Markets

The black billionaire who believes in IQ tests

Robert Smith, the richest black person in America (richer than Oprah Winfrey) takes over software and technology companies, and he’s a strong believer in IQ testing.

Applicants to Vista companies, from the entry to the senior-executive levels, are subjected to a timed standardized test.

Testing, Smith says, helps his companies find talented people—people the competition has overlooked because their résumé lacked certain credentials or because of the inherent biases of managers. Smith describes Vista as a pure meritocracy, where high performers succeed regardless of their background, race, or gender. He likes to tell rags-to-riches stories: senior employees who began as a mail-room worker, a roofer, a shelf stocker.

And then the article presents this bogus counterevidence:

Another reason the mid-century vogue for testing came to an end: The tests just weren’t effective. William Whyte once persuaded a group of corporate presidents to take some of the assessments popular at the time. None of the executives scored high enough to be hired by their own company.

That naively assumes the executives were the best people, rather than incompetents who were good at office politics (or even backstabbing people to get to the top).

* * *

Some additional info from the Wall Street Journal:

Former employees say cost cutting is critical to Vista’s model. Some of the companies Vista takes over are located in markets with a high cost of living, such as Southern California or New York City. To tamp down wages and other costs, Vista will relocate part or all of the company to a less-expensive city such as Dallas. Many employees won’t make the move, allowing Vista to hire cheaper replacements. Vista often keeps a company’s headquarters in place and encourages it to expand in lower-cost markets.

Most of the people Vista hires score highly on the cognitive test. Often they are young employees with less-impressive credentials or experience. These HPELs, as they are known, may have gone to state universities and be willing to do a job for $75,000 that an Ivy League graduate in a high-cost market would demand twice as much for.

Vista takes the tests very seriously, using proctors or observing test-takers by video to make sure no one cheats. The test’s purpose, says an executive at a former Vista portfolio company, is to “level the playing field” among employees. The executive says he told a manager who was upset about having to take it that all of his subordinates would be doing so as well.

Former employees say low scorers aren’t fired, but they are less likely to be promoted.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 24, 2018 at EDT am

Only the rich can afford to have a job

An article in The Atlantic has the completely non-ironic headline Not Everyone Can Afford a Job They Love.

This demonstrates the continuing trend of people in the media believing that jobs are something you can afford if you are rich, and not the way my grandparents looked at jobs, as a means of getting a paycheck and something you wouldn’t do if you didn’t need a paycheck.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 17, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Labor Markets

Public sector unions

Public sector unions are a scourge on the public. Unlike private businesses, the government has shown that it is unable to bargain against unions and wind sup getting ripped off to the detriment of taxpayers whose taxes have to increase to pay the inflated wages and retirement benefits.

So if the Supreme Court has weakened public sector unions with its ruling that requiring a government employee to be a union member and pay dues (which then get donated to Democratic political candidates) in order to obtain or keep their job violates their First Amendment rights, then the end result is beneficial for the voters and taxpayers who aren’t in public sector unions.

I feel differently about private sector unions, but this ruling has nothing to do with them.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 28, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Labor Markets, Law

%d bloggers like this: