Inflation -> recession

orbital

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... I like roofing. I'm good at it. I've been doing it for a long time. But no matter how many hours I work, I can not buy a house."

Capitalism is very unfair. However, it's the fairest system ever devised.
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Rent can be about the same as a mortgage payment.
Buying into a duplex can be a very good value.

How people spend their money is a tricky one to address, people can get nickel & dimed by pissing their money away on nothing.
 

turbodog

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...



An article or two doesn't change centuries of evidence that people want to work, people will work, and things get better.

That you're gonna sit out of the workforce and be happy means nothing. It's a rounding error to the Nth degree when considering the population as a whole. Just as some of my clients work 7x12 hours every week, by choice, with tens of millions of dollars in their personal accounts.

Your "arguments" are the same as have been said for 100+ years. It's never panned out.

The move to a 40 hour week was in an effort to spread out existing work across more people, to mitigate unemployment.

Currently, we are in a MASSIVE labor shortage... driven by multiple serious long-term macroeconomic factors. Things don't look well for reducing hours worked.

And again, the magic 10 hour workweek has never materialized.
 

M@elstrom

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The move to a 40 hour week was in an effort to spread out existing work across more people, to mitigate unemployment.
I would have to disagree, it was about improving employee's health and wellbeing & work/life balance, Henry Ford determined in his own workplace studies that overtime did not increase productivity to any great degree and certainly not for any prolonged period.

Productivity gains were noted from a better rested/healthy workforce and thus is the basis of the current movement towards a 4 day week, which like the 40/38 hour week will have the added net positive of shared labour positions for a workforce facing increasing automation and AI adoption.

 
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jtr1962

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Just as some of my clients work 7x12 hours every week, by choice, with tens of millions of dollars in their personal accounts.
Just curious what type of health these people are in. Working 84 hours a week literally leaves no time for anything but eating and sleeping (assuming of course you're getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep which I highly doubt your clients are). Just as a point of reference a number of people I graduated high school with went gung ho for "career". I can't speak as to whether or not they're happy as I haven't kept in touch, but looking at pictures of them in some class reunions they looked like grandparents even in their early 50s. Fat, out of shape, some discussed multiple health problems, etc. I'm 60 and still look like 30s. In short, if/when these people retire, they'll basically be waiting to die because I doubt they're going to be able to do much. Meanwhile, I'll be starting my second life once I'm no longer caring for my mother. I might even have 35 or 40 good years left. So what was their life? Working and then dying? As M@elstrom said, nobody ever wished they had worked more on their death bed.

BTW, there are treatments for workaholism if your clients are interested (yes, it's considered a mental illness):

Currently, we are in a MASSIVE labor shortage... driven by multiple serious long-term macroeconomic factors. Things don't look well for reducing hours worked.
Totally agree here, but the shortage is mostly in jobs most people don't want to do. The shortages are less acute in jobs people want. For example, tech companies are starting to lay off people. Anyway, in this case if automation helps with the labor shortage it really won't be taking many jobs away from people since we can't get people to do these types of jobs anyway.
And again, the magic 10 hour workweek has never materialized.
No, but current work weeks could be a lot shorter for most people if efforts are made to get rid of unproductive time:


The push for 4-day, 8 hour work weeks is already showing us in many cases that getting rid of 8 hours results in no lost productivity. Meetings for example are among the biggest time sinks. Changing them from regularly scheduled to as needed can often get you many hours of time savings each week.

Four day work weeks may not be ten hours, but it's a step in the right direction. Also, almost nobody is suggesting a 10 hour work week as some kind of gold standard. I personally feel you should have more days off than working. That implies a 3-day work week, which with standard 7 or 8 hour days would be 21 to 24 hours. Get rid of unproductive time, we could probably manage that right now for many (but not all) jobs.
 
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turbodog

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I would have to disagree, it was about improving employee's health and wellbeing & work/life balance, Henry Ford determined in his own workplace studies that overtime did not increase productivity to any great degree and certainly not for any prolonged period.

Productivity gains were noted from a better rested/healthy workforce and thus is the basis of the current movement towards a 4 day week, which like the 40/38 hour week will have the added net positive of shared labour positions for a workforce facing increasing automation and AI adoption.


He may have found that out, but he doesn't set US labor policy.

And careful about cherry-picking your heroes... Ford was strongly anti-union and opened fire on protesting workers, killing some, this being just a fraction of his anti workers' actions.
 

turbodog

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Just curious what type of health these people are in. ...

Not that it matters for public policy, but they are in excellent shape. Mixed into the 12 hour workday is a trip to the gym at lunch, then eating at their desk.

These are exceptional men, and I don't presume to set policy by them. Inversely, we can't set policy by someone that simply chooses not to work such as yourself.

You forget that I deal directly w/ a few thousand people (clients & their employees) on a daily basis for decades. At one point I had over 7k people in my phone. People want to work, plain and simple. Recreation doesn't bring a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, neither does sitting on one's ***.
 

jtr1962

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Not that it matters for public policy, but they are in excellent shape. Mixed into the 12 hour workday is a trip to the gym at lunch, then eating at their desk.

These are exceptional men, and I don't presume to set policy by them. Inversely, we can't set policy by someone that simply chooses not to work such as yourself.
I'm glad to hear it, although I'm not sure I'd count gym or lunch as part of the workday. FWIW, my late uncle had a great career as an engineer for American Cyanamid. He was born in 1927, which means he was part of the generation where if you went to college you could basically write your own ticket. Anyway, he retired around 70 but continued doing part-time consulting work well into his 80s. He enjoyed it, he really never developed any hobbies, and his wife said he was bored just staying home. So he worked voluntarily when he no longer had to, but certainly not 7 12 hour days. He still had plenty of time for family events, spending time with his grandchildren, etc.

As for choosing not to work, at this point it's no longer an option beyond the small number of hours I mentioned I put in this year so far. I'm stuck taking care of my mother. The demands of her care started taking enough out of me 5 or 6 years ago that I could no longer work at the level I used to. Thankfully, my last consulting gig also happened to end around then, so it wasn't like I was turning away high-paying work.

What I've done in my life is find stuff that pays enough per hour so I can make the equivalent of full-time wages working part-time. BTW, work-life balance isn't the only reason I opted for part-time work. I've had severe enough CTS from my late 20s that full-time work was no longer an option. My mother went out on disability for the same thing in her early 40s.
You forget that I deal directly w/ a few thousand people (clients & their employees) on a daily basis for decades. At one point I had over 7k people in my phone. People want to work, plain and simple. Recreation doesn't bring a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, neither does sitting on one's ***.
You're falling into the trap of assuming "hobbies", or other stuff which isn't work, is solely mindless recreation. A lot of the stuff I've done for hobbies resembles engineering development work. I built a thermoelectric temperature chamber in the 1990s, including making the switching power supply. No easy task with the electronic parts available 30 years ago. I taught myself microcontroller programming, and did dozens of small projects with it. Then there's tons of stuff I did with LEDs that I posted about on this site. All gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Some were even useful to other people. That's not even getting into the more conventional recreational hobbies like cycling.

Bottom line, if you're not working these days being bored is a choice. With the information readily available online for so many subjects there's a world of interesting things you can do.

Sad fact is that it IS the people like those clients you mention who set public policy. You mentioned why don't we have 10 hour work weeks? Or at least something a lot less than 40 hours. It's because the bosses have the influence to set public policy. Workholics tend to use hours worked as a proxy for the amount of work done. They like to put in a ton of hours, so they assume their employees do also. They then try to maximize the number of hours their employees work for the least amount of wages. They often give promotions or raises based on who puts in the most face time at the office, not who does the most work. They hate work from home because they can no longer keep track of how many hours people are actually putting in. It all boils down to lazy, incompetent management. A good manager knows who is doing what. An even better manager couldn't care less how many hours you put in so long as the work gets done by the deadline. Ultimately any job is paying an employee x dollars to do a set of tasks. If the company deems paying a certain salary to have those tasks done as reasonable, hours worked shouldn't even matter, so long as the task is completed as specified. If all bosses thought this way, work weeks would be much shorter on average. Workers would cut out all the time-wasting stuff they do now just to fill 40+ hours since their bosses require them to be there for those hours.
 
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People want to work, plain and simple. Recreation doesn't bring a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, neither does sitting on one's ***.

Introduce almost any two men to each other for the first time - What's the first or second question they always ask each other?

So, what do you do, Bob?

I believe that deriving one's self-worth from their occupation is foolish. However, that is the standard of many.
 

bykfixer

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Rent can be about the same as a mortgage payment.
Buying into a duplex can be a very good value.

How people spend their money is a tricky one to address, people can get nickel & dimed by pissing their money away on nothing.
There was a point in my adult life where renting was way less than buying each month. Mortgages had reached a point out of my reach. I rented and put away what I could to eventually buy a place. Then the bubble burst. Suddenly it was way less to buy than rent.

When someone asks me "what do you do?" I say "watch giant Tonka toys build stuff all day".
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idleprocess

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I believe that deriving one's self-worth from their occupation is foolish. However, that is the standard of many.
An American social norm for sure. A vocation will slot into that trope neatly as well - be it volunteering, service, an encompassing hobby, a passion that can reasonably approximate the job-shaped hole were encouraged to fill.

My father to a large degree was his job for decades. But even before winding down to part-time and partial retirement he was aware of that pitfall and has leaned into his woodworking hobby - furniture, cabinetry, cutting boards, a variety of Christmas ornaments, and I suspect he'll soon get a laser engraver. And while he had the luxury of being a de facto franchise employee and found employment fulfilling, he's also glad to be almost fully retired.

But not everyone has such opportunities. And not all employment has as much opportunity for autonomy, mastery, and recognition. But far more have some of these than is often given credit, and through grasping opportunities that present themselves one can often live a more fulfilling life and experience some growth that's apt to be useful.

And for those that don't have such opportunity at work the Bohemian perspective could be deployed: work to get by, do something else in your spare time to find fulfillment.
 

PhotonMaster3

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Business assets? You mean the stock I own in my business, right? I don't get paid on assets. I get paid on my share of stock ownership, after all costs/expenses, as a percentage of my ownership.

Sounds like.... the public stock market for example...

Hmmm.

Good luck starting a business w/o investors/stockholders/bondholders.

And you must not be a student of historical facts. People have been spouting the whole "what will we do with our leisure time due to steam power, gasoline power, electrical power, mechanization, automation, etc" for longer than you and I have been alive. And it's _never_ panned out. It's not physics, it's human nature... we want current goods/services. And honestly, not working sucks.

Educate people differently? Really? To sit on their ***?
You've seen "officespace", right?
Ha totally agree dude. I have a friend who insists that no countries are overpopulated and that there are enough resources for everyone to work like 15 hours a week.

Here's the catch with his amazing plan. Everyone lives in a 1 bedroom apartment, gets the exact same stuff, everything divided equally.

I don't even know where to begin on all the reasons why that wouldn't work and even if it did it would be my idea of a communist nightmare to live in.

I always knew how much money I wanted to make, from the time I was a little kid.

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bykfixer

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In high school my buddy "cave man" was sleeping in math class one day. The teacher taps him on the shoulder and says "pay attention Mr or you'll end up digging ditches for a living". So around 10 years after we graduated he was working a union job on a busted gas line in front of the high school we went to. I was the inspector. He said "I have a mind to walk into that school and tell that teacher I made $125,000 last year digging ditches".
 

jtr1962

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In high school my buddy "cave man" was sleeping in math class one day. The teacher taps him on the shoulder and says "pay attention Mr or you'll end up digging ditches for a living". So around 10 years after we graduated he was working a union job on a busted gas line in front of the high school we went to. I was the inspector. He said "I have a mind to walk into that school and tell that teacher I made $125,000 last year digging ditches".
If I'm doing my math right this would have been in the early 1990s since you're about my age, give or take. $125K was great money back then, equivalent to perhaps $275K now. I'm sure it was at least twice what the teacher was making.

Moral of the story-don't knock manual labor jobs. They're not for everyone because most people's bodies wouldn't last more than a couple of years doing them. For those who can, they're still a route to a decent life.

My mother used to say something similar to me and my siblings. If we got bad grades she would tell us do you want to end up shoveling s**t? Of course, I doubt there were many jobs doing that even back then. The phrase likely has its roots from the days where those with poor education ended up cleaning out stables.
 

bykfixer

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He was holding a round end shovel when he said that.
He started out as the guy who had to turn off gas service to customers like notorious drug king pins in a nearby community so when the chance came up to make a living in a safer job, fixing leaking high pressure gas lines while still under pressure.... he took it.

Last time I saw him he'd gone into management and was driving a company Mary Kay car.
 

bykfixer

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Actually CG cave man was not the operator. He used to be the "fixer", which included pipe fitting expertise, welding of various materials and other skills that did not involve math but boosted his pay scale.

He fixed leaking high pressure natural gas lines while still under pressure. In many cases the pressure of the gas had done much of the excavation. Other times an error by another contractor had broken the gas main. Backhoes and such were mostly used to backfill the hole after repairs were made.

Nowdays he's mainly an instructor and has a cushy job with an expense account and enjoys the fruits of his labor.
 

M@elstrom

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He may have found that out, but he doesn't set US labor policy.

And careful about cherry-picking your heroes... Ford was strongly anti-union and opened fire on protesting workers, killing some, this being just a fraction of his anti workers' actions.

Cherry picking heroes? Is that an attempt to discredit the outcome of the workplace study?

Whilst Henry Ford may not have determined US Labour Policy he would have undoubtedly (as a successful industrialist) had the attention of those in Government that did.

Ford did not personally open fire on anyone (the suggestion is false), the Police and Ford Security were confronted with 3000-5000 protestors hurling stones and resisting attempts to disperse the crowd, firearms were used in response and people were killed but it was hardly a peaceful protest in a period of great economic downturn, a disastrous outcome where desperate people were influenced by the American Communist Party and Union Movement into undertaking such an ill-fated protest.

The situation could have been unquestionably better managed by both sides however intimidation/obstruction tactics enmass are still employed by Unions and Marxist activists to this day.
 
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fuyume

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If you really want to understand why the economy is the way it is, and what we can do to improve it without violating anyone's natural rights, then I would suggest reading the following books. Links are given to free, legal versions. Regardless of your personal political inclinations, I think you will find something of value in all of these books, if not of the normative sort, then at the very least of the descriptive sort.

We don't really live in a capitalist socio-cultural-economic system. Our system is really more accurately described as "neoliberalism-neofeudalism". What most people incorrectly perceive as defects of "capitalism" really have nothing to do with capitalism, proper, but with the neofeudal rent-seeking behavior that is a result of economic monopoly privileges which enable private owners to privatize what is essentially the common wealth of humanity.

These books make the argument, none of them for the first time in the history of human scholarship, that all the living have an equal and common right to the gifts and produce of Nature, and that our failure to recognize and uphold this principle is at the root of literally everything wrong with human civilization.

"Neoliberalism", by contrast, is the dominant ideology of our times, and is in broad terms the ideology which seeks to apply market economy principles to all spheres of human life, regardless of consequences. To understand what is meant by neoliberalism better, I would suggest Simon Glendinning's paper, Varieties of Neoliberalism (2015).

1. Henry George, Progress and Poverty (1879). This actually should be at the top of everyone's required reading list. It's one of the most important books in history, particularly on the topic of political economy (which is more or less the philosophy of economics, rather than the mechanics of economics). In the years following its publication, it became the most popular book in the English language, after the Christian Bible, and resulted in the passage and ratification of Amendment XVI to the Constitution of the United States. Sadly, George's economic philosophies largely fell by the wayside, in the wake of WWI and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918, and have since been forgotten by most, to our detriment.

2. Ralph Borsodi, This Ugly Civilization (1929). Borsodi gives a very insightful breakdown of how the factory system of production and the drive for efficiency results in a race to the bottom.

3. John Sherwin Crosby, The Orthocratic State (1915). Crosby, like Borsodi, was a follower of Henry George, and I might say this book should be read even before Progress and Poverty, because it's much shorter, and lays out a plan that ties Georgist principles directly to the legitimacy of governance and how governments ought therefore to be structured.
 
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