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Archive for the ‘Labor Markets’ Category

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

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.

* * *

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

About trade

Trade is a topic in the news again.

I am going to repeat what I’ve written before. The real problem is not that China is stealing jobs from Americans, but rather that our modern technologically advanced economy produces massive amounts of stuff, but we don’t have a system to allow people to partake of this bounty unless they can find some sort of job in the free market economy.

And it’s only going to get worse, when self-driving cars replace human driver, when fast-food restaurants have only 10% of the workers they have now because robots are cooking the food and people pay at kiosks.

If we had a better way to distribute goods to people while at the same time providing them meaningful things to do with their time, then instead of being mad at China for stealing jobs, we’d look at them as a bunch of suckers for working at crappy jobs for low wages while Americans are enjoying job-free self-actualization.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 26, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Labor Markets

Government work, amazing job security!

A commenter asked about whether government job security is really as great as it’s cracked up to be.

Well how about the latest news about the government worker who issued the false missile alert in Hawaii?

The employee’s work history was detailed by a state investigation made public Tuesday that found he had “been a source of concern … for over 10 years” to his coworkers. On at least two other occasions, that probe found, this employee also “confused real life events and drills.”

. . .

The state report released Tuesday described the employee who sent out the alert as having a poor history dating back more than a decade. Other members of his staff have said they did not feel comfortable with his work, the report said. The employee had been counseled and corrected on the spot, state officials said, but remained in his position.

So there you have it. No matter how bad you are at your government job, you still get to keep it. You only get fired if you screw up so bad that it makes national news, and even then it takes one to two weeks before you actually get fired.

Only being a partner at PWC gives you better job security. Remember the partner at PWC who, last year, gave the wrong envelope to the Academy Awards presenter for Best Picture? He was never fired.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 30, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Labor Markets

Kid drops out of school to play videogames

Swedish kid, now 19 years old and a “pro” Overwatch player living with his team in Los Angeles.

His unusually supportive father allowed him to drop out of school so he could practice videogames full-time. Thanks to his father, he’s now a “pro.” Great for him?

In the long run, I’m not so sure. I don’t think that professional Overwatch players make that much money, so even if he’s making a middle-class salary for now, his career is only 5 to 6 years before he’s too old and his reflexes are shot, and then he’s just a loser high school drop-out with no career, and it’s doubtful that he’s going to save enough money from playing Overwatch to last him for the rest of his life, if he’s saving anything at all after living expenses.

I guess the good thing is that Sweden has a great welfare system, so he can move back to Sweden and live off welfare.

* * *

An important question is whether a few years of self-actualization playing professional Overwatch makes up for a future without a career.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 17, 2018 at EDT am

Male nurses in the NY Times

People in the blog comments keep talking about how men should go into trades like plumbing or HVAC.

WRONG! Nursing is the best career for men without white-collar career ambitions seeking a safe middle-class job. It’s a guaranteed middle-class salary.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 7, 2018 at EDT am

Secret to success in the arts!

The woman who wrote this article (and a previous article) has some valuable observations that most people are unaware of (although people who read this blog will not be surprised).

If you meet someone who appears to be “successful” in an artistic field, it’s probably because they have rich parents, or a spouse who makes enough money that they don’t mind that their marriage partner isn’t contributing anything economically to the marriage.

A college degree in art is a pretty crappy deal. After spending $150,000 to $250,000 to get a degree, you wind up making $25,000/year as an artist, if you are lucky.

So in conclusion, does the author recommend that people major in something practical like computer programming or HVAC? Nope, instead she demands that society change its ways so that people who don’t have rich parents can still have a career as artists:

• universal healthcare;
• universal care for children, seniors, and those with special needs;
• free education and vocational programs for all, from preschool through graduate school;
• affordable housing for all;
• redistribution of wealth through taxation, reparations, and universal basic incomes;

Back when I was a libertarian, I would have been outraged. But now that I realize that robots are replacing human workers, and we have a post-scarcity economy, so I just have minor nitpicks. Such as:

Affordable housing: Housing is very affordable if you want to live in a mobile home on the outskirts of a prole city in flyover country. But because there’s a zero sum game of people wanting to live in the most desirable neighborhoods (including artsy neighborhoods like Chelsea or Williamsburg if we are talking about the NYC area), those neighborhoods are never going to be affordable. Someone should establish a mobile home coop for artists in a place like Reno, Nevada.

But since a basic income and free college is definitely not going to happen during the next decade, it would be good advice for young people whose parents aren’t rich to not spend a lot of money for college and to major in something practical. Someone needs to say “sorry, if your parents aren’t rich, then you can’t do something cool and fun with your life.”

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 8, 2017 at EDT pm

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