Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Does anyone need to have billions of dollars? Maybe in this circumstance.

How much money is enough money? How many vacation mansions does one family need? Some people have way too much money. There's vast and growing wealth and income inequality. If everyone was alike, it would be a more boring world, but too much inequality is the other bad extreme.

Income inequality is often justified by the need that business has for capital to run the business. Someone doesn't need hundreds of millions for personal consumption, but the budget of a business may need to be in the millions, or the billions to meet the payroll and build the facilities that house the business.

If the money is invested in a business, that money is needed. Tax discussions need to take this into account, but for "pure luxury personal income," some people make way too much money for the health of society.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Andrew Yang had a good run. He's now dropped out of the 2020 race.

I remember Yang once saying that just influencing the discussion is a form of success for his presidential run. He always realized it was a long shot. My favorite candidates are Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar. Andrew Yang was one of my favorites also, but I would vote for any Democrat.

I'm hoping some of Yang's ideas and talents can stay in the discussion whoever the final nominee becomes. I like his analysis tho I think the idea of minimum income wasn't the best strategy for this campaign season. People quickly say, "we don't need that, unemployment is at record lows."

In the long run, or thinking more deeply beyond the sound bytes, there is downward pressure on wages due in part to efficiencies and automation. Meanwhile real estate prices and other things keep going up. Most workers need a better deal. Economics does need new thinking.

We need innovative thinking beyond just the stale old talking points of the left versus the right.

I would even vote for Billionaire Mike Bloomberg if he was the nominee. When that question came up on someone's Facebook wall, I wrote:

I would still vote for the Democrat; especially thinking about the prospect of a Supreme Court totally stacked with hard core right Republicans. There's the danger of all branches of federal government being run by one party; the Republicans.

As for Bloomberg being a billionaire, it isn't ideal, but it's up to us to push for the ideal after whoever gets into office. Given our celebrity culture, maybe it takes being a billionaire to have name recognition. Otherwise, gee, maybe I should run.

We the people often fail at living the ideal. We don't shop based on our politics as well as we might. We are the market forces. Corporate power and advertising corrupts us, but we are not totally helpless, or faultless. It is kind of a vicious cycle. Corporate influence and then our mass behavior in the market. "It's which came first, the chicken or the egg." For instance if people want them to do more about lowering carbon emissions; like having a carbon tax; we can't then turn around and complain about rising gasoline prices. We have to be the change we want to see in this world.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

One reason why it's hard to pay teachers more. There are a lot of teachers.

Some folks say that teachers should be paid as much as lawyers or how about pro sports players. The problem is in the numbers. There are a lot more teachers than there are lawyers so it's harder to be elite if one is part of the majority, in some cases. School districts are often the biggest employers in a community. I think that usually teachers are paid moderately well compared to large segments of the workforce. Restaurant employees, janitors, gardeners, home healthcare workers, Uber drivers, security guards, for instance.

I remember thinking, back in the 1980's that teachers were fortunate to at least have health insurance. Back then, we were starting to realize that a large percent of the workforce didn't have health insurance. In the 1980's there was a big push to try and elevate teacher pay and also the pay of college professors. Various states were worried about loosing their talent, in these professions, to other states that paid more; like the grass is always greener on the other side. Brain drain. I remember thinking, back then, that someone needed to speak up for the many restaurant workers, and so forth, who didn't have healthcare.

Since the 1980's it does look like teacher pay hasn't gone up a huge amount relative to other more elite (in numbers of people involved) professions. It's hard to bring up a large group, compared to a small group such as elite lawyers or a handful of celebrity actors or football stars, or maybe a smaller number of highly specialized technicians. Sine the 1980's there has been a rise of elite tech workers. Smaller, in number than the vast number of teachers in each region. Tech workers are mostly concentrated in a few cities like Seattle and San Francisco Bay Area.

Monday, February 10, 2020

When labor unions shot themselves in the foot

I've often thought that unions led to their own demise, to some extent, back in the 1970's and 1980's. Back then, it seemed like the unions mostly just cared about their members working for a specific business. They would rise wages for Georgia Pacific employees, for instance, but didn't care that much about whether non unionized workers, say at a local restaurant, had access to healthcare. As less and less people were members of a union; members of a bargaining unit, the political constituency of union members dried up.

I remember when I heard, back in the recession days of the early 1980's, that one pretty much had to have a relative in a union to get an apprenticeship in the trades, such as in the plumbers union. They were trying to restrict entry into the trades to keep the wages of insiders up. Now days there is a very low percentage of the workforce; especially in private enterprise, that are in unions. Not that large of a constituency for political power in society as a whole anymore.

Now it's a different situation. I hear that there is a shortage people who do skilled trades. Entry into the field may be easier, now, but the unions have already lost their members and their political clout. These days, more of the economy is self employed, like Uber Drivers. Activism needs to look at the big picture and push for things like universal access to healthcare.

To address these problems, I think we really need to look at the big picture. Support things like healthcare access. Obamacare is an attempt at that. Also support things like affordable housing. Things that bring up all people rather than just certain union members or segments of the population. These days, it does seem like what is left of the unions is doing better at advocating the larger political issues rather than just concerned with the financial well being of their own members. Bottom line really should be quality of life and sustainability of the environment rather than just "how much can I get for my people;" so to speak.

Interesting article, related to labor unions, I saw a few weeks ago; published in 2011. 30 years ago: the day the middle class died.

Now it's nearly 40 years ago when PATCO (air controllers union) lost their battle with President Reagan. They went on strike and he fired them. Ironically, the PATCO union endorsed Reagan for president in 1980 in spite of Reagan's campaign rhetoric to cut government spending. The air controllers were government employees. They must have thought he would have made a special exception for them, but he did stand his ground and fired them in spite of their earlier endorsement of him. That endorsement was definitely a tactical mistake that even other unions didn't do.

I think it was a case of putting self interest over the big picture. I do remember that they were not just asking for more money, but better working conditions. Better working environment for air controllers equals safer situation for flying public. Some laudable goals, but they did pretty much loose it all. Endorsing Reagan, not long before that, was a bad idea. I wonder what they were thinking? They cut off the limb they were standing on. They endorsed Reagan, yet they were government workers. He was campaigning against government workers in general.

Now, many years later, this news situation is often seen as a watershed in history. My take on it is an example of self interest versus looking at the big picture.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Before internet dating, classified ads were skimpy for a reason.

Before internet dating sites, there was the meet-a-mate classified ads in newspapers. Back then, one had to pay by the word so the ads were usually pretty short. Like sound bytes. I wasn't into dating partially for that reason. Then when the internet got popular with it's unlimited space for messages and descriptions, I thought that would solve a lot of the problems that people going on dates face. Better, more detailed descriptions. One would know the person better before going on the date. Well, I guess that isn't really happening. The descriptions still tend to be quick. Maybe it's even moving faster now than before. I'm not into dating so I wouldn't know except just from what I can gather. There was also meeting in bars, back then, which encouraged alcohol use. I guess that's still happening to some extent now.

Ironically, the concept of life long committed relationships is often based on superficial things like first impressions. Another problem with dating is how competitive it can be. I think of the phrase, "the early bird gets the worm." Things can move pretty fast. Quite often people fall in and out of love at the drop of a hat.