Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for the ‘Labor Markets’ Category

Suntans and work

with 73 comments

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 Certain commenters have wrongly asserted that being rich means not having to work, but that’s outdated by a century.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 EDT 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 EDT am

The asylum statute

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1158

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 EDT 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 EDT am

Posted in Business, Labor Markets

The black billionaire who believes in IQ tests

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/vista-ceo-testing/559148/

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

The unaffordability of housing and Michael Rotondo

Commenter tmmm says: “In most of the world, including Southern Europe, it is totally normal to live with your parents when you are 30. So I don’t get what’s the big deal about this.”

That’s another aspect of the CNN interview with Michael Rotondo that irked me. The popular girl anchor didn’t just diss Michael Rotondo personally for being lazy, she dissed every single male in the entire country who lives with his parents.

“Don’t you know how much it sucks living with your parents? You’re not a real man. Don’t you want to be a real man?” Those weren’t her exact words but that’s what she mean.

The commenter is correct that this is a uniquely American ideal. I remember fifteen years ago talking to an Indian man complaining that his daughter didn’t live at home. “Why is she wasting her money on rent when she could live at my house for free? What is wrong with this country that Americans want to do that?”

What has changed during the last several decades is the increasing unaffordability of housing. My parents could NEVER afford to buy the house they live in now with the salary (even adjusted for inflation) they had when they were still working. And I think this is a common situation among white prole and middle-class America. The parents have a big spacious house they bought when prices were low, and they only thing available to their children, without parental monetary support, is some really crappy rental in a bad neighborhood. Unless the children are the lucky few with high-paying careers at an early stage in their life. Sure, Michael Rotondo is a loser, but there are a LOT of losers, he’s nothing special. Maybe he’s lazier than the average loser, but that also isn’t special. There are millions of worse losers in this country that the popular-girl CNN anchor could be dissing on instead.

The system can encourage laziness. At least, by not working, he gets Medicaid, which is a lot better than Obamacare. What’s the point of working at a dead-end job he hates so he can move out and live in a crappy apartment in a bad neighborhood? The answer from the pro-work people is that a job, any job, eventually leads to higher paying jobs, but I don’t think that’s a realistic prediction. Working at Best Buy doesn’t lead to better career opportunities, it’s dead end forever. Actually, even worse, it’s only dead end until Best Buy gets put out of it’s brick and mortar misery by online competition. Living at home, he may enjoy computer games, streaming television and movies, etc., with his free time.

* * *

http://cnycentral.com/news/local/classmate-remembers-rotondo-seeing-him-now-its-just-very-strange

Interview with former classmate:

A classmate of Rotondo for years, Pryor said she barely recognized the 30-year-old in court fighting to stay under his parent’s roof.

“He was a very smart kid. kind of kept to himself,” Pryor said.

She points out a picture of Rotondo with short hair saying he was a nice guy with a good sense of humor.

“He could be dealing with social anxiety or very severe depression, and maybe he’s just not feeling motivated to do anything,” Pryor said.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 24, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Labor Markets

Do you want fries with that?

Great comment from fortaleza84:

From what I understand, fast food restaurants retain human cashiers mainly because people buy more food when there is a live cashier to say “Do you want fries with that?”

This is an example of how our economy is entirely marketing driven and no one is doing any value creating work. It’s just people selling stuff to each other. The fast food cashier is actually doing a negative-sum job because he/she is encouraging people to gorge on fattening fries when they probably already weigh too much in the first place.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 26, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Labor Markets

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