Come On and Get the Minimum

Seattle’s new minimum wage is $15/hour. While we wait for the assured destruction of that city by businesses fleeing for places without a confiscatory wage policy, this piece by Jared Bernstein made a good point:

One reason is that labor power is so diminished, what with private sector unions at seven percent of the workforce (public sector unions, historically less vulnerable to outside pressure, are at 35 percent but under attack). But that just begs the question: why isn’t labor more powerful, with “labor” in this context referring to not only unions but to the much larger group that depends on paychecks for their economic well-being.

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but my experience as a policy wonk and economist in government has led me to believe that economics, as currently practiced, is part of the problem. Not the discipline itself, which historically has been flexible enough to offer wide ranging and useful tools for analyzing and solving economic problems. I’m talking instead about the way it interacts with wealth and power today to support capital and hamstring labor.

For example, it’s widely argued that government actions that set wages or regulate commerce create “inefficiencies.” Regulate an industry and capital will flee; raise the national wage floor and employers will leave the market (or, in Piketty’s world, handily substitute machines for workers). Increase a marginal tax rate and workers will supply less labor; investors, less capital. Form a union and the unionized firm will face competitive disadvantages that will put it out of business. Provide a safety net benefit to someone and they’ll work less. Tax a polluter and you’ll crash GDP. Tax a financial “innovator” and credit markets will dry up.

Conversely, cut back on a tax rate, a safety net program, the minimum wage, the unionization rate, financial oversight, and growth, jobs, and liquidity will flourish.

I’ve been arguing against these positions for decades, backed by considerable empirical evidence showing that moderate changes to tax rates, minimum wages, union density, the safety net, regulatory oversight and so on trigger nothing like the disasters their opponents claim and can yield important benefits (which is not to say there are no “negative impacts” at all). Yet the bar to win the anti-interventionist argument is set remarkably low. You don’t need evidence; you can just cite “basic economics.”

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84 replies
  1. 1
    Walker says:

    The problem is University of Chicago and the Austrian economists. You have an “respected” academic school that has been thoroughly discredited and refuses to accept it. Moreover it has massive representation in government and the federal reserve.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    You don’t need evidence; you can just cite “basic economics.”

    Conservatism in a nutshell.

  3. 3
    skerry says:

    And yet, my daughter is working an “unpaid internship” in Seattle. She doesn’t get college credit for it either. How is that legal? I’m an old, but back in my day, people were paid for their labor.

  4. 4
    Davis X. Machina says:

    You can’t refute a theology.

  5. 5
    C.V. Danes says:

    The economists are just being used as another foot soldier in the never ending war of capital vs. labor. The decline of the labor unions is due to the conservative war on words. They made the word “union” a dirty word by getting the people who benefited most from them believe unions are dirty.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    I like this quote FTA:

    As another Thomas—Pynchon—said: “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

  7. 7
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Y’all should join us in the fight. We’ve shown the people can win when they organize, mobilize and fight.
    – socialist in Seattle

  8. 8
    Someguy says:

    Unless you make union membership mandatory – closed shop in all businesses – then capital will always be stronger than labor. The sad truth is that somebody who cleans rooms in a motel, serves coffee or pushes email around is probably fungible. Until you make it illegal to fire them and replace them, and require union membership as a cost of entry, the bosses will always have the upper hand.

  9. 9
    CnyOrange says:

    One of the biggest problems is that I doubt most economists have ever actually worked in the work force as the vast majority of workers now it. How can you possibly understand the problems labor faces when you’ve never actually been a part of it?

  10. 10
    jonas says:

    Conversely, cut back on a tax rate, a safety net program, the minimum wage, the unionization rate, financial oversight, and growth, jobs, and liquidity will flourish.

    If this were true, Mississippi and Alabama would be the country’s economic powerhouses.

  11. 11
    khead says:

    Organize the nurses. If they all walked off the job, the rest of us would be in a world of shit. Literally.

  12. 12
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Seeing as Republicans are so against minimum wage laws, it only follows that they are totally in favor of maximum wage laws, right?

  13. 13
    HRA says:

    During my work history, I have belonged to CWA and CSEA.

    I wondered why my CWA rep was constantly in the company of my manager. An older employee told me never to try filing a grievance. I never had a reason to anyway and the pay was triple that of an executive secretary along with excellent benefits.

    In my next job, I did have reason to file a grievance with CSEA. My rep told me to put it in writing and sent it to her. My letter was read at a management meeting. CSEA headquarters glossed over my dissatisfaction about my letter being given to management. The rep got a work promotion shorty after this happened and left the union. My work ethics and production have been constantly praised. Still went it came to promotions, I did not receive one. Benefits under CSEA are not totally free as they were under CWA.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly

    All one need do is look back at the plummeting of the economy, the shuttered storefronts across the land and the millions tossed out of work each time the minimum wage was raised previously…

    Oh, wait.

    Benghazi!

  15. 15
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @NotMax:

    Oh, wait.

    Benghazi!

    WHERE?!?!?!?!?!????

  16. 16
    Kay says:

    @Someguy:

    Until you make it illegal to fire them and replace them, and require union membership as a cost of entry, the bosses will always have the upper hand.

    I really disagree. It’s effective. They’ll never be equal, but equal isn’t the goal. Closing the really unsustainable power gap is the goal.

    My middle son works for a non-union manufacturer in a unionized area. They don’t want them to join a union, or even entertain the idea of a union. They deliver presentations on the union-like benefits they offer to try to persuade them they don’t need one. Their pay is competitive with union employers. He’s a direct beneficiary of private-sector labor union organizing, although he doesn’t belong to one.

  17. 17
    FlipYrWhig says:

    It seems like the investor class’s goal is to create an infinite velocity of money untrammeled by pesky people. Until and unless we become beings of pure energy, we meatbags kind of need “inefficiencies,” a/k/a food and sleep.

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    @Someguy: You identify an very significant structural issue.

    I think we have to look back at our progressive era as a statistical outlier. Several important factors arose at the same time giving labor more bargaining power than it had ever had and might ever get again. It is futile to view this (progressive conditions) as an evolutionary process that continues forward.

    This is and has always been a struggle between those who control resources and those who do not. I know that it is possible for things to cycle back to conditions under which laborers are better considered, but for the life of me I can not see how it is going to happen.

  19. 19
    sharl says:

    Over the years he worked for The Phone Company (TPC!), my union-belonging dad got steadily madder and madder about the CWA, as he watched what he perceived as purely rabble-rousing and bomb thrower wannabes assume union steward positions, defending some seriously effed-up craft-level fellow employees. At least in his earlier years he kinda-sorta knew the union was a necessity – “you kids wouldn’t have what you have without it” is what he told me and my brothers at the dinner table one evening when we were slagging on unions.

    Between getting older and a bit crankier, seeing accumulated nonsense among his successive steward and fellow employees at work, and eventually going full-on Reagan Democrat (though never voting for Reagan himself – “a total phony” he said), he eventually became totally union hostile.

    I think unions are really really hard to maintain as tough but honorable advocates; they seem to inevitably either sell out to corporate management, or decay through internal squabbling and petty politics. And I haven’t even talked about the external forces that wear them down, like international trade treaties and the tougher economic environment arising during our nation’s departure from those post-WWII Golden Years.

    I tried to ask former SEIU head Andy Stern about some of this once on the old MyDD site (I think Matt Stoller invited him on for a Q&A), but he never responded to my question.

    By their very nature, unions are at a huge disadvantage compared to a focused and driven corporate team sitting at the other side of the table. I know there are exceptions, but I’ve seen plenty of that sad dynamic play out.

    ETA: Or, kinda-sorta what Keith G. said in the previous comment!

  20. 20
    Belafon says:

    The people with the money say “What’s always worked for me is underpaying the help motivating the workers to work harder” and since every other American believes they are just temporarily poor, they go right along with it.

  21. 21
    Emma says:

    @Kay: So your son gets a free ride on the benefits the union manages to wrest from the employers? Because that’s what usually happens. An employer sees that his employees are looking over at the union jobs because they have better deals, so they try to match it. But all the work to get the benefits is put in by the Union people.

  22. 22

    @NotMax:
    Yes, Benghazi. As long as racists are pissed off that they’re not special white snowflakes anymore, they will want to hurt the country in revenge and will vote for asshole economic policies that do it.

  23. 23
    Keith G says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    we meatbags kind of need “inefficiencies,” a/k/a food and sleep.

    More true than you may know.

    A bit of process inefficiency can be very important to a working class (as a whole). The highest level of process efficiency rings every bit of money that it can from the process of making and delivers it to the shareholders and executives (Carl Icahn’s “Shareholder Value).

    Operating at a bit less “efficiency” might mean a bit more money spent on payroll. – maybe another worker or two per shift – maybe a few paid sick leave days.

    That is the trade off (more efficiency and less help for labor) that many, including more than a few Democrats, have been willing to support.

  24. 24
    Belafon says:

    OT: Daily Kos’s Abbreviated Pundit Roundup had this from Eugene Robinson about the new EPA standards:

    Obama hopes that action by the United States, the richest country in the world, will make it possible for the other big carbon emitters to act. Some of the domestic critics who scoff at this notion also complain that Obama, in their view, does not sufficiently assert U.S. leadership around the globe. What do these people think leadership means, if not actually leading?

    Answer: Bombs

  25. 25
    randomworker says:

    @Kay: This is what my dad used to say. I was under the impression he was anti union. They had lots more strikes back in the 70s. I asked him about it one time and he was surprisingly sympathetic with the unions. “We will get those benefits, too” was what he said.

    All working people have benefitted from unions even though many people claim to be anti union.

  26. 26
    Keith G says:

    @Belafon: I just want to say, that at a time when many find nothing redeemable in journalism, for over a decade I have found Eugene Robinson to have a rock-solid core of professional best practice. Even when I disagree with him, I still have to listen.

  27. 27
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Belafon: I’m telling you, the only thing Republicans understand as “leadership” is shows of force. Anything else isn’t leadership, by definition. And they have the media believing the same thing.

  28. 28
    flukebucket says:

    Conversely, cut back on a tax rate, a safety net program, the minimum wage, the unionization rate, financial oversight, and growth, jobs, and liquidity will flourish.

    I believe it was on this site once a while back that a commenter said, “If this was true then Silicon Valley would be in Mississippi”

  29. 29
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Keith G: “Efficiency” is one of those things that makes a lot of sense as a general principle, but at the margins it goes totally haywire. Sort of like how everyone in the city wants to live close to transportation, but not above the train station.

  30. 30

    I originally thought the lyric was “Come on and get your meaty bun.”

  31. 31
    Eric U. says:

    I’m seeing a lot of evidence that employers are having trouble filling their positions. Convenience stores are seriously undermanned. Our local Subway is offering signing bonuses.

  32. 32
    Tommy says:

    I went, after the dot com thing, from making more than $100,000 a year to minimum wage at a convenience store. I guess I could have taken unemployment, but I felt I was able and I should work. Got an MBA. Most days wore a suit to work. That job was “work.” I’d go as far to say it was backbreaking work. I think I made $7.15/hour. I recall looking at my pay check at the end of each week and wondering how it was legal to pay me so little. You go Seattle!

  33. 33

    Reaganism in a nutshell – “The working class has had a taste of the good life; now it’s time to put them back in their place.”

  34. 34
    Applejinx says:

    @Eric U.: In order to participate in an economy as if it’s an economy, it has to meet certain standards. If sucking dicks, robbery, selling drugs and/or becoming a heroin addict is WAY better and less grueling than working the obligatory two menial dayjobs just to make rent, then that’s going to tend to take over.

    This is overlooked by the ‘toughen up on the poor and they will work super hard for you!’ crowd.

    It’s also a hell of a comment on what ‘shit jobs’ have come to these days.

    It’s NOT that people are less desperate. I think a lot of people are just checking out, and that’s a problem. It takes a lot of patience and some good luck for ME not to check out, and I sure as hell can’t manage a ‘go-getter, Mr. Entrepreneur’ thing this year. Stress is too bad.

  35. 35

    Small business is already being driven out of Seattle to its suburbs, but this seems to be the result of very high rents (Seattle was a bubble city), business-hostile state tax policy (the state has a gross receipts tax, rather than an income tax, which is hell in a downturn), and anti-mass-transit state policies.

    It seems that the Washington state legislature wants to turn Seattle into Detroit, I hope it fails in doing so, and I suspect a high minimum wage is not going to make too much difference one way or another.

  36. 36
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Walker: The succinct answer – all you really need to know to understand the phenomenon. If only the federal government weren’t stacked with true believers of the nonsense.

  37. 37
    Tommy says:

    @The Raven on the Hill: That is how things work. A city that works, well it cost more to live there or run a business. Sure things will get put to the burbs. Again, how things work.

  38. 38
    gene108 says:

    Letting capital chill out would be a big boost to the working man.

    In the 1980’s, Wall Street was floored by what the Reagan Administration was allowing them to do. They did not expect it, but the leeway Reagan gave them with regards to M&A activity has really set the stage for the gutting of labor and moving jobs overseas.

    Also, CEO’s got punished for not cutting costs and maximizing profits, so a company that paid its employees well, but was not maximizing profits was a prime target for a hostile take over.

    If it is ever possible to undo the mess that caused, you may have a chance to rebuild wages in this country, but as it stands businesses are actually threatened by takeover, if they do the right thing by their employees.

  39. 39

    @Tommy: did you read what I wrote? It’s not that “some things are moving to the suburbs,” it’s that the state is pursing tax and transit policies which harm the city, the real estate bubble of the past decade and the city’s landlords aren’t helping much, and the rise in minimum wage probably won’t make much difference.

  40. 40
    p.a. says:

    @Emma: we tried to organize the local Cox Cable workforce. In addition to the usual scare tactics Cox had informational meetings informing the employees of the benefits available. The workers were shocked: “where did these bennies come from? How long have they been available? Whadda ya mean the info has been available for years on a Cox website? NO ONE EVER TOLD US ABOUT THIS.” (Source: wife of Cox employee). The union vote was rejected approx. 60-40.

  41. 41
    Tommy says:

    @p.a.: The local pub I go to, well bar, is frequented by union people. Union. I don’t know how things are where you live, but you don’t mess with unions where I live. I recall my father telling me your house will burn down if you don’t use union labor.

  42. 42
    Citizen_X says:

    Over here Dean Graeber is interviewed by Thomas Franks on the undervaluing of valuable work, and the overpayment of “bullshit work” (prime example: Wall Street financial shenanigans). I highly recommend it.

    One of the main themes is how modern productivity doesn’t require us to work 40 hours a week, so there’s a propaganda effort to make us tolerate doing make work.

    Apparently, the commies had it easier:

    I have a lot of friends who grew up in the USSR, or Yugoslavia, who describe what it was like. You get up. You buy the paper. You go to work. You read the paper. Then maybe a little work, and a long lunch, including a visit to the public bath… If you think about it in that light, it makes the achievements of the socialist bloc seem pretty impressive: a country like Russia managed to go from a backwater to a major world power with everyone working maybe on average four or five hours a day. But the problem is they couldn’t take credit for it. They had to pretend it was a problem, “the problem of absenteeism,” or whatever, because of course work was considered the ultimate moral virtue. They couldn’t take credit for the great social benefit they actually provided. Which is, incidentally, the reason that workers in socialist countries had no idea what they were getting into when they accepted the idea of introducing capitalist-style work discipline. “What, we have to ask permission to go to the bathroom?” It seemed just as totalitarian to them as accepting a Soviet-style police state would have been to us.

    Some good comments on the populist resentment of “intellectual elites,” too.

  43. 43
    Belafon says:

    @Tommy: Maybe if union people carried more guns.

  44. 44
    RaflW says:

    Of course, another term for “regulation” is actually “pricing the externalities.”

    One of capitalism’s great failings, mostly unacknowledged, is that it sucks at pricing the social and environmental costs of its workings. Now, command economies are bad at this too. But regulations are not just some bureaucratic muscle-flexing for flexing’s sake.

    Power plants are more profitable if they don’t have to pay for any of the impacts of spewing carbon. Chemical plants were more profitable when they could just pour untreated wastewater into any nearby stream.

    Economists, IMO, suck at helping the public (and even business leaders) understand and price the heretofore “freebies” that capitalists have taken for granted and that it is all too convenient for them to pretend are external to their work.

    But eventually, even the gated, cosseted, helicoptered elite will need breathable air and eatable food. They keep wanting a dump all your shit free card, but there is a price…

  45. 45
    Interrobang says:

    I have a friend in Portland who is about as radical as they come who is totally against the idea of a $15 minimum wage, and I do actually see his point — it’s going to kill a lot of the independent microbusinesses that are just barely hanging on now. (He certainly doesn’t have the cash flow to afford more help at $15/hr.) I honestly don’t know how you fix that particular problem, other than maybe a very carefully-worded exemption policy for struggling microbusinesses…?

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Really, we just need a few tumbrels for Ferengi to create some significant emotional events to modify behavior.

  47. 47
    Crusty Dem says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    Agreed about the state screwing things up, but on Cap Hill I’m not seeing suburban exodus. The biggest problem is rents and rebuilds, resulting in a mix of relocations and closures. But the central district is vibrant and theres absolutely no influx of national chains..

    Its nearly impossible to offset rent increases like we’re seeing right now under any conditions. Cap Hill will end up another downtown, and you don’t get that without problems with property values…

  48. 48
    Kay says:

    @Emma:

    He does free-ride, absolutely. It won’t work for an older person with different priorities though.
    He’s 20. He takes as much overtime as they’ll give him because he’s 20, he has no family or other priorities and he has virtually no physical limitations.
    If he were to stay there he would need some leverage on scheduling or his quality of life will suck.
    That’s what older workers complain about. It isn’t just wages. They want some kind of orderly hours so they can plan and have normal lives. They want a measure of control he doesn’t have.

  49. 49
    Mike in NC says:

    Republicans have been pushing their voodoo economics bullshit for 40+ years and it hasn’t hurt them one bit. If they could cut the federal minimum wage to 30 cents an hour, they’d do it tomorrow and the media would cheer them on.

  50. 50
    Crusty Dem says:

    @Interrobang:

    Which is why the Seattle increase starts much later for small businesses than national chains. For a few years small business employees will make more at McDonald’s. That is an interesting economic experiment.

  51. 51
    C.V. Danes says:

    @RaflW:

    Economists, IMO, suck at helping the public (and even business leaders) understand and price the heretofore “freebies” that capitalists have taken for granted and that it is all too convenient for them to pretend are external to their work.

    I don’t think you will have much success convincing business leaders, since the “freebees” they have been taking for granted are a part of their business model of privatizing the profits and socializing the costs because, you know, FREE MARKET = FREEDOM and the fact that anyone who says otherwise is, you know, a SOCIALIST.

    Its all part of the conservative war on words.

  52. 52
    sharl says:

    @RaflW: Ain’t that all the truth! And international trade deals have made it much easier for corporations to escape to less “burdensome” locations if the local government gets too uppity with enviro and/or labor-friendly regs.

    I remember when the first trade agreement with China was passed, after Congress made certain that labor and environment-friendly provisions had been stripped from earlier versions of the legislation. The word from those folks back then was ‘we couldn’t get agreement on those issues; they will be addressed in subsequent legislation’. Even a naive type like me could smell that steaming bullshit from the get-go.

    Now you can see lots of folks wearing masks and respirators in just about any current footage from urban China and Hong Kong. And I’ve heard the horror stories from folks who travel over there for business. Lots of that from manufacturing of stuff for export to the U.S. All Hail the Invisible Hand of the “Free Market”!

  53. 53
    Cacti says:

    O/T but going back to Soonergrunt’s take from yesterday, some of the reasons for hostility toward Bergdahl by his “brothers in arms” are looking awfully petulant and personality driven

    Platoon members said Sergeant Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was known as bookish and filled with romantic notions that some found odd.

    “He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,” Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.

    He read too much and didn’t drink enough beer.

    Sometimes I think Idiocracy was a documentary.

  54. 54
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Keith G: Often what seem to be “inefficiencies” to MBA assholes actually boost productivity and morale in ways that don’t fit conveniently on a spreadsheet. Increasing worker loyalty results in lower costs in ways that don’t directly show up on the end of the fiscal quarter balance sheet. For example, reducing worker turnover has benefits that escape the bean counters.

  55. 55
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    why isn’t labor more powerful

    Because workers are easily misled cowards, and will consistently settle for half a slice of bread rather than a whole loaf.

    Labor has all the power it needs. They just refuse to exercise it.

    Ignorance is no excuse. Labor was warned over and over and over again. They chose to buy the propaganda and the lies because it was easier.

  56. 56
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @gene108:
    Well said. Stockholder demands for more profits or else are killing any number of golden geese. The latest example is Amazon. It has raised the cost of a Prime membership from a barely tolerable eighty bucks to an intolerable one hundred bucks. It’s introduced add-on items as a requirement for formerly free shipping no matter what and it’s raised prices to the point where a bit of shopping online will find you a better price, including shipping, elsewhere. It’s begun a customer-fucking battle with Hachette books (One of the Big Five publishers) because Amazon wants a better deal on the pricing and revenue split for Hachette e-books. These things aren’t being done because Amazon isn’t profitable, it is showing a small profit at last. They’re being done because Amazon stockholders want more profits and they want them now.

  57. 57
    Linnaeus says:

    So, fundamentally, the problem is capitalism.

  58. 58
    Liberty60 says:

    Its also a matter of whether or not we accept the basic framing of all questions in terms of econometrics, rather than morality.

    If we accept the premise that the primary goal of all laws and societal organization should be the maximizing of efficient allocation of resources, rather than the flourishing of the human person, capital will always win over labor.

    This is because, in part, because capital is difficult to amass, and therefore dispensing of it becomes highly desired; we are all born with labor, and the dispensing of it isn’t as highly sought after. There are slight variations of course, where occasionally labor becomes a scarce commodity.
    But in the main, everyone wants to dispense and use their labor. Most of us would work simply for the joy it brings, and compensation is secondary.

    There isn’t any reason we can’t state, openly, and proudly, that work should be governed by rules that seek to maximize human flourishing, a better sense of community and harmony, even if it means things cost more or the 1% have less toys.

  59. 59
    Belafon says:

    @Interrobang: We had lots of businesses pop up when real wages were higher than they are now. It’s actually the fact that real wages have not kept up with inflation that has forced people to go to places like Wal-Mart, a company that can buy in bulk. By forcing everyone to pay the same wage increase means everyone will have to share the same cost increase. And there aren’t that many places where salaries are the majority of a company’s cost. Maybe your friend is different, but I think it might work out differently than what he’s thinking.

  60. 60
    Belafon says:

    @Linnaeus: The problem, as I see it, is that we are not a purely capitalist society, in part because families are not capitalist systems, but socialist systems (each according to his ability to each according to his need is the definition of a family), and people are not disposable components. But we refuse to see that.

  61. 61
    sparrow says:

    @Interrobang: What are microbusinesses? Sorry, but I think if you have a good business model, you can afford $15/hour. Otherwise maybe your business model sucks.

  62. 62
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “Efficiency” is one of those things that makes a lot of sense as a general principle, but at the margins it goes totally haywire. Sort of like how everyone in the city wants to live close to transportation, but not above the train station.

    (Emphasis mine.) I learned in Microeconomics 101 that everything happens at the margins.

  63. 63
    Linnaeus says:

    @Belafon:

    I was being a little tongue-in-cheek, though I agree that we aren’t a purely capitalist society. We never have been and never will be. Even the capitalists don’t really want a truly laissez-faire economy.

    What I’m getting at is that the bugs in capitalism strike me as features of an economy that doesn’t acknowledge that, among other things, human beings don’t orient themselves completely along capitalist lines.

  64. 64
    Citizen_X says:

    @Cacti:

    said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists.

    What the fuck? The Republicans set up a bitch session so Bergdahl’s troop mates could publicly trash him? Woo, support the troops!

  65. 65
    Belafon says:

    @Linnaeus: Agree. I happen to believe capitalism is the best model for managing materials and services because it is decentralized, but it requires the participants to realize when it fails to apply. We fail quite often at this last part, but the fix of making everything decided by a central authority has not exactly been a success.

  66. 66
    Weak troll attempt says:

    @The Raven on the Hill: In my ~decade here, Ballard, Cap Hill, Central District, Columbia City, Rainier Beach have all seen massive business growth — no chains to be seen — despite enormous property value appreciation (and relatedly, rent increases). The suburbs are growing, too, but that’s because the city is.

  67. 67
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Cacti:

    Sometimes I think Idiocracy was a documentary.

    It certainly was prescient.

  68. 68
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @Kay: Yes, even as a white collar worker I find that I benefit from the contracts that the Union in my plant negotiates for its workers.

    I have no illusions whatsoever as to the pay raises, benefits, etc. that I or others [your son] will receive once all those Unions are gone.

  69. 69
    RSA says:

    I’ve heard people, mostly libertarians, argue that capital and labor have equal power, because a boss is free to offer a job or not, and a worker is free to take that job or not. How divorced from the real world can one be? I wonder how many such assumptions are built into the way that rightwing economists think.

  70. 70
    Belafon says:

    @RSA: Yep, the worker can choose to not eat or to not pay rent.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Belafon:

    They just sell off some of the stock options they inherited to pay rent while they wait for a better job offer. Doesn’t everyone?

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    It’s begun a customer-fucking battle with Hachette books (One of the Big Five publishers) because Amazon wants a better deal on the pricing and revenue split for Hachette e-books.

    Hachette is partnered with the Giant Evil Corporation I work for, so it’s even more of a battle of the titans than you think.

  73. 73
    mcjulie says:

    @Weak troll attempt: I tried to figure out if there was more job growth in the suburbs compared to Seattle city limits, and found articles supporting that narrative dated in 2010, when the recession was still pretty deep. I’m not sure it’s true anymore.

    I do think there’s way too much construction going on, particularly in South Lake Union and the Pike/Pine section of Capitol Hill. Partly, I think this purely because I’m sick of all the hammering and banging and closed-off sidewalks and general chaos. But when you’re constructing three or four mega-projects in the same area at the same time, there’s no chance for the neighborhood to adjust.

    Also, I suspect this whole Amazon thing might be a bubble, and when it collapses, wow, that’s a lot of office and high-end condo space nobody can afford anymore.

  74. 74
    The Tragically Flip says:

    In a world that’s more complex than Econ 499, conservatives are forever citing Econ 101 maxims.

    There really is a lot of intuitive appeal to these simple, elegant theories of economic activity. That they’re only approximations and wrong in many ways is something conservatives and libertarians (especially) can never grok. This is why even if they agree the market is not working the way the theories say it should, they inevitably blame whatever government intervention, no matter how trivial or irrelevant for the non-theory compliant outcome. The CRA caused the Housing Bubble! Not being to buy across state lines is why US health care is not both cheap and universal. Social security is why people don’t save enough for retirement.

    It’s always government’s fault. Markets never fail, they are only failed.

  75. 75
    Kay says:

    @NorthLeft12:

    Well, right now he’s ” we all have to work 6 days, 12 hours!” because he’s 20 and he’s (basically) indestructible and he wants the overtime.

    He might feel differently if he had a couple of kids, or was, ya know, older than 20 :)

    They have to work whenever they’re told, over three shifts, basically for as long as they’re needed, within the law. I think quality of life sometimes gets left out for lower-tier workers, as if it’s unimaginable they might have lives they have to conduct outside work.

    I don’t know if you were aware of it, but I remember this whole discussion among women (in particular) on flexible scheduling maybe a decade ago. Women needed flexible scheduling. The problem was, that was really class-based. Lower income women (and men) want REGULAR schedules. They have huge problems with the disorder and lack of predictability that a “just in time” schedule can bring. It throws their whole family into chaos. Try scheduling child care, or taking classes, or really doing anything around work when you’re completely vulnerable to a schedule change. It’s really hard on them. They can’t budget, either, because they don’t know if they’re working 22 hours or 32 hours.

    I think that was one of the most important things unions did. They said ‘these people have the same life outside work everyone else has. They can’t be on call all the time for 9 dollars an hour”

  76. 76
    Crusty Dem says:

    @mcjulie:

    SLU is a odd conflagration of Amazon, Paul Allen and UW; a completely inorganic Soviet-style building project. Im not saying it will fail, just that it is a top-down decision to overbuild in a well-located neighborhood. Pine/Pine is a natural response to increasing density. Very different, IMHO.

  77. 77
    GregB says:

    Swift Boat Summer Bowe Bergdhal Edition. So now we know that Clive Bundy is a hero and Sgt
    Bergdhal is a zero.

  78. 78
    Anoniminous says:

    @Interrobang:

    That, in a nutshell, is the problem with flat rate assessments and mandates. It hits micro and small business with a sledgehammer, destroying the creative renewal cycle. (See Jane Jacobs)

    I don’t have an answer.

  79. 79
    karen says:

    @The Raven on the Hill:

    Under your logic, since China and India pays wages of pennies an hour, Seattle will become Detroit if it pays more than Chinese or Indian wages.

  80. 80
    Kay says:

    @GregB:

    They are. I was in the car all morning listening to cable. Full-on freak out. I don’t know what this does to the Benghazi hearings!

    I saw Obama said they “consulted” Congress on the soldier, at several points (maybe not the actual pick-up, but prior to that). That should be interesting. Which screeching Congress members were consulted and are NOW outraged?

  81. 81
    Anoniminous says:

    @GregB:

    Wondering if this is evidence of a breakdown of the GOP Spin Machine. They can’t have any polling evidence this is a vote getting WIN! for them. There hasn’t been time.

  82. 82
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    I don’t know if you were aware of it, but I remember this whole discussion among women (in particular) on flexible scheduling maybe a decade ago. Women needed flexible scheduling. The problem was, that was really class-based. Lower income women (and men) want REGULAR schedules. They have huge problems with the disorder and lack of predictability that a “just in time” schedule can bring. It throws their whole family into chaos. Try scheduling child care, or taking classes, or really doing anything around work when you’re completely vulnerable to a schedule change. It’s really hard on them. They can’t budget, either, because they don’t know if they’re working 22 hours or 32 hours.

    You speak the truth.

    People need the certainty. So that they can make plans.

  83. 83
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    I saw Obama said they “consulted” Congress on the soldier, at several points (maybe not the actual pick-up, but prior to that). That should be interesting. Which screeching Congress members were consulted and are NOW outraged?

    Barack Obama always receipts.

    He’s been Black in America for longer than 3 days.

  84. 84
    rikyrah says:

    President Obama always has receipts

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