Peter Pan wasn’t raised by his parents

Peter Pan playing his pan-pipes

If you were never aware of something, you don’t notice when it’s missing

People who are color-blind don’t necessarily realize it. Until and unless they’ve been screened for it and someone breaks the news, they don’t necessarily realize that some people can distinguish colors they can’t.

People who are mentally-ill don’t necessarily realize it. Sometimes their point-of-view is that everyone else is crazy.

Children who grow up in a dysfunctional home don’t necessarily realize that anything is unusual about their up-bringing because they lack any reference experiences to compare to. That’s one reason that problems often propagate generation-to-generation. Abusers don’t necessarily realize the treatment they got was abuse. Negligent parents may have been imprinted with low standards of childcare.

Millenials have a reputation among adults my age for delayed adulthood. Millenials themselves will often argue this point, and claim that actually something is wrong with the preceding generations. In some respects, they’re right.

The generation that hasn’t grown up

American sociologist Kathleen Shaputis labeled millennials as the Boomerang Generation or Peter Pan generation, because of the members’ perceived tendency for delaying some rites of passage into adulthood for longer periods than most generations before them. These labels were also a reference to a trend toward members living with their parents for longer periods than previous generations.Millenials - Wikipedia

Contrary to the quote, Peter Pan didn’t live with his parents. And proximity is not what’s lacking; what’s lacking is involvement.

Some people my age or older are shocked that so many adult Millenials still live with their parents. I’m not, because I realize that jobs are scarce and wages are stagnating compared to the cost of living. That part doesn’t bother me; it’s better that young adults live with their parents, than fail to support themselves and end up in dire circumstances.

I have to admit other aspects of delayed adulthood do shock me even though I realize that there must be some reason for them. The complaints are ubiquitous and fairly consistent.

My wife has had similar experiences with nurses; the younger generation are more likely to show up late, or sometimes not at all, without any explanation. She’s also noticed that they are addicted to their mobile devices and will play with them right in the middle of meetings. Older generations consider this disrespectful and an impediment to finding out what they need to know to do their jobs.

I’ve heard Millenials claim that they’re actually far more productive than older employees, because they use their cell phones to get work done. This is just an excuse; you can’t really do nursing care with a cell phone! My son who is a Millenial computer programmer doesn’t think his peers are doing any programming on their phones, and he and his boss have noticed his colleagues being distracted by football games going off in a window on their desktop.

Distractibility by electronic devices seems to be the characteristic addictive drug of choice of Millenials.

Raised by daycare

My guess is that too many Millenials were raised by daycare, not their mothers, and that, for better or worse, prior to their absence, moms were the ones who transmit basic social behaviors to children. The transmission process is overwhelmingly unconscious; if you have to tell someone not to play with a mobile device in a meeting, some process already broke upstream. Once moms stopped raising their own kids, a lot of very basic social expectations fell by the wayside.

About half of Millenials are missing dads, and most of the dads in intact families were passive as parents. Dads used to be the ones to teach competence.

I can think of other reasons for delayed maturity too, like lack of enough playtime, fewer playmates, and fewer older siblings. Kids learn a lot from taking their own initiative and from older siblings and playmates.

Think you’re a child, act like a child

Some trends, like thinking of themselves as being younger than they actually are, they undoubtedly inherited from earlier generations. Many baby-boomers I know who grew up rich were starting to have delusions about their own youthfulness, like some Boomer women declaring themselves too young to have children well into their 40s when they were in fact too old, or Boomers of either sex oddly referring to themselves as “middle aged” when they were 55 (you’re planning to live to 110?! really?). Some of the age delusion was probably caused by wishful thinking as regards sexual value. The same Boomers I knew who had delusions of youthfulness also had what I would consider an unhealthy fear of death; not just a healthy will to live but an unhealthy terror of their own mortality. These were people who would freak out over their parents or grandparents dying, and were worried about their kids being traumatized by the movie “Bambi”.

I do not blame Millenials for these characteristics; they didn’t ask to be raised that way.

I’m referencing the following article just so I can comment on it. I’m not endorsing its assumptions.

Most Millennials Are Finding It Hard to Transition Into Adulthood: Report

By his twenties, Kyle Kaylor imagined he would be living on his own, nearing a college degree, and on his way to a job that fulfilled him.

Instead, at 21, he found himself out of school, living with his parents, and “stuck” working as a manager at a fast food restaurant scraping to make hand-to-mouth.

Launching into adulthood has been tricky, he said.

“It became too difficult financially to be in school and not working,” says Kaylor, who dropped out of Lincoln Christian University, in Illinois, after one semester because of a money crunch. “And without schooling, you can’t get a job that you can survive on, so I had to move back home,” he said.

What Kyle considers bad luck is undoubtedly a blessing in disguise: if he didn’t bail out sooner, he might have ended up with a massive amount of school debt, and no job to earn the money to pay it back!

The media tends to excessively advocate for college, because bureaucrats involved with labor statistics see a correlation between years of education and income, and infer a causal relationship between the two. It’s like assuming that rain is caused by the falling of mercury in the barometer.

Education doesn’t make people any smarter. It’s not like if you go to college, you’ll score any higher on an IQ test. Neither will you learn skills that are more marketable than, say, trade school.

While standards for entry into college have declined, competition for getting into specific majors and degree programs remains fierce. As a result, too many college students end up in unmarketable degree programs for lack of being able to compete for high-demand degrees, or in many cases, lack of good advice.

Meanwhile, they’re racking up debt on unmarketable degrees, with the risk of never having ANYTHING to show for the time and money they spent, if they flunk out, run out of money, or get too sick to complete their degrees.

The problem that remains is where to get training and how to pay for it. There’s a bootstrapping problem: no money to pay for training, no job without training. Keep reading my blog; I toss out tips from time to time.

“In 1975, only 25 percent of men aged 25 to 34 had incomes of less than $30,000 per year. By 2016, that share rose to 41 percent of young men,” according to the report.

“That is a product of a shrinking blue-collar economy,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce, a non-profit institute at Georgetown University.

Traditionally, men occupied most positions in industries such as manual labor and construction work. With those mostly gone, male wages have been hit harder than “women who started off behind” but excelled in school and college, Carnevale said.

I agree that the remaining blue-collar jobs don’t pay as well as what used to be available. But show me the data that white-collar jobs aren’t disappearing too, or that the wages they pay are keeping up with the cost of living.

The part about women excelling in school and college is inaccurate and somewhat irrelevant; most of them end up with unmarketable degrees, or in service professions like teaching and nursing, making lower wages than engineers & computer programmers, which is one of the main reasons for the so-called “wage gap”. One of the most popular majors for women, psychology, is a disaster for marketability, so the comparison to women is irrelevant.

The problem for young men is not that they’re not going to college; it’s that there are simply fewer high-paying jobs whether blue-collar or white collar. Men might have been impacted more than women because their blue-collar jobs paid more than pink-collar jobs, but going to college at rates that women do won’t help because there aren’t enough places for all of them to get into high-demand majors and degree programs. Even if they did, which they won’t, it would simply flood the market for engineers and programmers!

I advice against piling up credentials without a plan. Credentials are not usually enough by themselves to get a job and keep it. Sometimes they’re worthless. Below I will post a link to a book by Charles Hugh Smith about his concept of “self-credentialing”.

While 81 percent of those who live at home are either working or going to school, one in four between 25 to 34 are “idle, meaning they are not in school and do not work” the report stated.

These individuals may be temporarily not working or not in school, but that doesn’t mean they are permanently out of the workforce,” said Jessica McManus Warnell, a professor at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business.

It would make more sense to tell us what it does mean. It means they’re not getting experience, have nothing to put on their resumés, and become ever less competitive with people who are working or getting credentials.

Further reading:

Unfortunately, the only good book I’ve ever read about how to relate well with others is long out of print, and used copies are hard to find. Here are some boosk about “self-credentialing” as an alternative to getting an expensive and possibly useless credential, mindfulness as a cure for “monkey-mind”, and a strategy for getting work done by training yourself to stay focused for manageable chunks of time:

Price: $13.44
Was: $16.95

Business slow? Here’s why.

Almost empty interior of convention center in downtown Seattle.

If you’re self-employed and have to look for your own business, you might be having a tough time right now. If you depend on wages, you might be having a hard time finding or keeping a job.

The feature photo for this article is the interior of the Washington State Convention Center early afternoon on a business day, while it was hosting the Seattle Home Expo. The convention center is located in what usually is a thriving downtown. Its corridors are lined with small meeting rooms and retail commercial space. My guess is that with the traffic flow as low as it is, the few shops and cafés it hosts aren’t going to be able to survive much longer.

My wife and I got free tickets in the mail to see the home expo, even though admission isn’t usually free. The expo is full of vendors who sell to home-owners. We frequently need repair services to maintain our rental properties, and our own home has some deferred maintenance that needs attention.

We were a little startled to arrive at the convention center and find it empty during peak business hours. Even without hosting any particularly big event, normally it would still have plenty of traffic through it. The home expo alone would be expected to draw a decent crowd. Most of the huge complex is in fact empty.

We passed through the empty corridors to find the expo. Even there traffic was sparse. I shot a photo over my shoulder to show how little traffic the booths are getting:

All of them are this sparsely-visited. Maybe a third of the booths were temporarily abandoned by bored or frustrated vendors out looking for a bite to eat.

It’s a symptom of a bigger problem for business. Roughly 75% of the US economy revolves around consumer sales. However, sales are down so much that the phenomenon has a name, and even its own wikipedia entry:

The retail apocalypse refers to the closing of a large number of American retail stores in 2015[5] and expected to peak in 2018.[6] Over 4,000 physical stores are affected…Major department stores such as J.C. Penney and Macy’s have announced hundreds of store closures, and well-known apparel brands such as J. Crew and Ralph Lauren are unprofitable.[8] Of the 1,200 shopping malls across the US, 50% are expected to close by 2023.[9] More than 12,000 stores are expected to close in 2018.[10] The retail apocalypse phenomenon is related to the middle-class squeeze, in which consumers experience a decrease in income while costs increase for education, healthcare, and housing. Bloomberg stated that the cause of the retail apocalypse “isn’t as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt—often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms.Wikipedia entry 'Retail Apocalypse'

The wikipedia article contained a claim that I omitted as distracting that internet sales have displaced brick-and-mortar sales. The degree to which that’s true would not account for the volume of lost business. It’s not just shopping malls; it’s the whole economy. If you run a business on the internet, it’s probably hurting too.

Real estate prices & rents are falling in a number of big markets. Apparently they started falling in New York and San Francisco over a year ago. Now they’re falling in London and Seattle.

As of December 2017, average rent for an apartment in Seattle, WA is $2071 which is a 1.45% decrease from last year when the average rent was $2101 , and a 0.43% decrease from last month when the average rent was $2080.Rent Jungle, Seattle

Falling rent implies rising unemployment.

The rate at which money changes hands is called “monetary velocity”. It’s been falling in Japan for a long time now, and in the USA since our last big investment cycle related to the rise of the computer and software business.

Data and chart from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Notice that it peaked in the late 1990s. There are reasons to expect it to get stuck in a long, downward trend. For one thing, we’ve probably hit “peak economy” as we’ve hit resource limits to expanding the global economy.

When business is bad, the first companies and individuals to go out of business are the ones with cash flow problems or lots of debt. To last longer, cut your own expenses as much as you can, and make a plan to improve cash flow.

I’m going to keep most of my rents where they are, and cut the asking rent on my best unit. We have no debt, just operating costs and need for income. We’ll have to keep our expenses as low as we can.

Look for business in lines of business that are still growing or at least thriving. Good luck; it’s easier to figure out which ones are in trouble. Even a lot of “hot” new businesses will find venture capital drying up. Do the best you can; doing something is usually better than doing nothing. If you’re clever and nimble, you can usually find economic niches created by the economic decline itself.

If you saw this coming (I did), you’re sitting on a lot of cash, and you might be able to buy up discounted productive assets at bargain prices when businesses go bankrupt.

There are ways to make money even when asset prices are falling instead of rising. Unfortunately they’re a little risky because of the possibility of counter-party default, but it’s probably still early enough in the game, and I’m only going to risk money that I can afford to lose. Good luck to all of us!

No good jobs, no good help

Most of you are younger than I am, so you might not have as much personal experience watching job opportunities dry up over time. I think most people are vaguely aware of the trend though, because I’ve seen internet “memes” like “Old Economy Steve/Steven”, which typically claim that the late baby boomers had an easy…

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Mainstream media is warning you about this threat to your job. Are you listening?

As a skeptic regarding the integrity of mainstream media news, I’m probably not the best man to ask why people believe the mainstream media’s lies about Syria, or who’s really behind terrorist attacks, or fabrications about Russia, but they don’t believe it when the media warns them that their jobs are on the line, which is one thing about which I actually DO believe them.

Robots Are Coming for Jobs of as Many as 800 Million Worldwide

The consulting company said Wednesday that both developed and emerging countries will be impacted.

It’s a global phenomenon. The USA was hit with job losses early, because of domestic economic policies that encouraged offshoring of jobs, but now the job losses are hitting countries like China and India that the jobs were offshored to. The USA will still get a lot more job losses, because unlike Germany and Japan, our industries have only just begun automating.

Machine operators, fast-food workers and back-office employees are among those who will be most affected if automation spreads quickly through the workplace.

My guess is that machine operators will be impacted because the machines will operate themselves! Fast food workers will be impacted because fast food is by nature relatively easy to standardize and therefor to automate. You’ll order from a kiosk. There might be one guy running around in the back taking care of the machines that prepare the food, though eventually one robot will feed supplies to another robot, and the robots will make their own service calls when they need service or maintenance. Your order will pop out the chute.

Another reason fast food jobs will be one of the first to disappear is because rising minimum wages are forcing franchises to pay higher labor costs despite market wage pressure going the opposite direction. I noticed a long time ago that wages have been stagnating for most professions, and in many cases not keeping up with rising costs of living, which is effectively the same thing as going down. But rising minimum wages mean that the jobs that contribute the least to profitability being forced up against the tide. That guarantees that minimum-wage jobs will be among the first to disappear.

Minimum-wage jobs won’t be the only ones to be automated, though. Jobs that require skill, but no creativity, can also be automated. That will take out a lot of what had been high-paying jobs.

The good news for those displaced is that there will be jobs for them to transition into, although in many cases they’re going to have to learn new skills to do the work. Those jobs will include health-care providers for aging populations, technology specialists and even gardeners, according to the report.

By “health-care providers”, they mean people doing routine care for elders. I wouldn’t count on that, since most elders will be broke! Gardening is hard to automate (gardens are too variable), but I would guess that as urbanization continues, and people become less interested in nature, and more interested in virtual realities, that gardening jobs will be sparse. I suspect there will be jobs for doing personal services for the rich, but I wouldn’t count on being one of those people; there won’t be enough openings, and seemingly modern rich seem to like to leave plenty of distance between themselves and the hired help. There was a reason that in the book Brave New World, 90% of the population are low-intelligence gammas, deltas, and epsilons.

By the way, I am NOT predicting that a highly-automated future, with mass unemployment, is going to happen. There’s another possibility that I think is rather more likely: system crash due to running out of resources, financial breakdown, and other problems all coming to a head. But it’s almost certainly one fate or the other.

Subscribers can talk about how to plan for either case.

Millenial men, buck this trend…

Millennials Are Delaying Marriage Because Men Aren’t Earning Enough

Economists and social scientists have gathered multitudes of data about Millennials’ tendency to delay the traditional milestones of maturity (starting a career, getting married, buying a home, having kids) in favor of a prolonged adolescence.

But in a new study examining household formation patterns in the US, Pew Research Center has isolated the biggest factor behind the rise in those households without a partner or spouse: “The declining ability of men to earn a salary large enough to sustain a family.”

No surprise to me; “good jobs” are getting sparse, and the lack of enough to go around is probably impacting men more than women.

…men are more reluctant to marry and start families unless they’re earning above a threshold, which Pew identified as $40,000, the Hill reported.

I would bet a cookie that it’s more likely that women are more reluctant to marry them if it doesn’t look like they can support a family. In fact, I would bet it’s hard even to just get dates!

I don’t have a quick tip to pass along. My advice for the moment would simply be to make a plan to earn a “livable” income, and make it a high priority.

No good jobs, no good help

Most of you are younger than I am, so you might not have as much personal experience watching job opportunities dry up over time. I think most people are vaguely aware of the trend though, because I’ve seen internet “memes” like “Old Economy Steve/Steven”, which typically claim that the late baby boomers had an easy…

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Carve out the job you deserve!

Deep-pocketed corporate employment, the kind that used to be called “a good job”, as depicted in the Monster.com ad, will be increasingly out of your reach as the years go by. But don’t fret; there are other options, and you’d do well to aggressively pursue them.

That said, what if you could…

  • Not act like a wimp?
  • Compellingly negotiate with your boss so that he doesn’t want to waste your time and attention?
  • Not depend on how other people treat you to maintain a good mood and high energy level?
  • Go home in a great mood, even if the boss snapped his fingers at you?
  • Build rapport with the old boy?
  • Initiate change instead of just react to your experiences?

Then YOU could have that lady’s job after she miraculously finds one that revolves around HER needs! And you could find it a lot more satisfying than she ever did! Win⸺win! Subscribe today and I’ll tell you how!

Don’t think in terms of “getting” (sic) “the job you deserve”; if it was handed to you, YOU DON’T DESERVE IT. The message of passivity is reinforced by the monster having to rescue the damsel in distress.

Think more like an entrepreneur, EVEN IF YOU’RE WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE. What do I have to do to make a compelling offer to my boss, so that he thinks of me as a strategic partner, not as an organic and highly interchangeable (that is, replaceable) cog in his machine? How do I take initiative? Add value? Leave my boss and colleagues delighted customers? Keep coming up with new benefits that keep them coming back for more?

 

Someone else’s take on the post-employment economy

I’m not the only one who thinks you and your kids need to be prepared for a future that will be harsh and brutally-competitive. Here’s a documentary worth watching: Obsolete, on Amazon Video http://amzn.to/2kFn0qL If you have Amazon Prime, which is how I stumbled onto it, you can probably watch it for free. As of…

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Ready or not, here comes Sociofascism

Michael Snyder states the obvious for the benefit of people still in denial:

40 Percent Of Americans Now “Prefer Socialism To Capitalism”

This was inevitable for many reasons. For one thing, the United States already has its productive infrastructure built-up. The powers-that-shouldn’t-be set their livestock loose on the continent and left them relatively alone (except when drafted for seizing land or resources in wars) to build up the infrastructure. Now that it’s built, they want to switch to a combination of Socialism and Fascism (also known as “corporate Socialism”) because that gives them more direct control over people and other resources.

So, the public and private school systems (including college and university) have been set up to indoctrinate for socialism for decades now. Propaganda disguised as commercial entertainment helps too.

Instead of the government directly managing the means of production itself, the government sets up partnerships with cronies in private corporations, which is Fascism, except that unlike classic Fascism, Sociofascism is hostile to small business and private property for the serfs, and it openly embraces big government. The cronies in private corporations affect a superficial “progressive identity”.

Oddly, the powers-that-shouldn’t-be regularly knock over socialist regimes overseas, like in Venezuela. I don’t have any insider insights, but my guess is that there is a rule that Socialism is for developed economies only; in countries with less infrastructure, they want more productivity first. Another issue might simply be that socialist economies are more vulnerable to trade embargoes; Iran, Syria, and Russia have withstood trade sanctions but Venezuela was an easy target. One factor is undoubtedly fear of seizure and nationalization of assets owned by US government cronies. If and when countries like Venezuela are absorbed into a super-state comparable to the EU, things might change, and if they do, the Venezuelans won’t have any choice!

I have no idea how to stop the tide; at this point my options appear to be to swim or drown. I don’t like the idea of throwing in the towel and joining the forces of evil, though the very wealthy, and in particular a lot of software company executives, have done exactly that. Aside from being the path of least resistance, which is how ruthless people end up on top, socialism helps to protect them from up-and-coming competitors.

Even if I were tempted, I don’t profile correctly to get past the gatekeepers. And the parasites have reached the point of saturation anyway.

In the mean time, you and I have a living to make. That will get harder and harder as the economy contracts, and more and more of the remaining jobs are with companies and government agencies that have hiring preferences for someone else.

Here’s what my plan is counting on: Socialism is Socialism, even when it comes packaged as progressive Fascism. It’s inefficient, and fails to adapt to change. Even to the extent that Socialism is imposed on the rest of us in the form of higher taxes and more regulation, the socialists have to tolerate at least a small sector of private businesses to take care of details they can’t. Even the Soviet Union winked at some black market activities. I don’t think it will be necessary to go black market except for a few services like medical—imagine going to see some guy who isn’t a doctor but knows how to set a broken arm, because you don’t rank high enough in the socialized medicine system to get to see a doctor within any kind of reasonable time-frame. Mostly it will be grey-market and tolerated as long as you don’t give someone in the system reason to come after you. Watch your back! Tolerances will be low and gatekeepers on the internet are already watching your every move.

Watch for my mailing list subscription, which is about ready for roll-out, then sign up for my newsletter so you can follow the discussion.

Lobbying to destroy jobs

Prices are related to supply and demand. When supplies are low relative to demand, prices go up. When supplies are high relative to demand, prices go down. When demand goes down relative to supplies, prices go up. When demand goes up relative to supplies, prices go down. When prices are set, then supply or demand will change to reach a new equilibrium.

I’m not aware of any valid evidence of exceptions. The relationship applies even in centrally-planned Communist countries, where  supply and demand are impacted by central planning bureaus set both price levels and production goals. If the price is set lower than the price that would be negotiated between buyers and sellers, then shortages occur. If the price is set higher than the price that would be negotiated between buyers and sellers, then products sit unsold in warehouses, or more likely, get stolen and sold on the black market.

The same relationship exists in the market for hourly labor. If the price of labor is set higher than the price that would be negotiated between employer and employee, then a shortage of jobs occurs.

In Seattle, the city council unanimously passed a law phasing in $15/hr minimum wage, which at the time was the highest in the country. Proponents of the law immediately deemed it a success, without waiting for much less looking for any evidence of higher unemployment.

If you claim that “all swans are white”, you can’t prove that statement by showing me a white swan. You can’t prove it at all; you can only show me that your good-faith effort to find a non-white swan hasn’t produced anyyet. Your claim is good until and unless you go to someplace like Australia, where black swans occur. Absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence.

Similarly, if you claim that raising minimum wage doesn’t increase unemployment, then to support that claim, you need to make a good-faith effort to look for people who lost their jobs after the wage increase.

The first restaurant to announce layoffs was zPizza on Capitol Hill near Seattle Central Community College. The owner didn’t just lay off all her staff—she had to shut down. She said she didn’t want to lay off her staff, but she didn’t know how to make payroll.

Instead of looking for evidence of job losses themselves, proponents of the minimum wage increase were quick to discount the evidence found by others:

You might remember that a few months ago, the Seattle zPizza location announced its looming closure and said the city’s $15 minimum wage law was to blame.

The story became national news, offered as a cautionary tale about the impact of higher wages. Never mind local unemployment is below 4%. Never mind that more than a dozen pizza joints were hiring that very week. Never mind that there are more restaurants licensed for business in Seattle than before the $15 law passed.

Now a new pizza place is set to move into the very same location that zPizza is leaving.

Remember that pizza place that said it was closing because of $15? Everything they said was wrong.

Remember that pizza place that said it was closing When did pizza places ever say anything? It was the owner who said it was closing. This misattribution is part of a pattern of inaccuracies, generalities, and distortions in the author’s thought processes.

Everything they said was wrong. Assuming “they” is the owner, the article doesn’t provide a single specific example of anything she said that is wrong. It doesn’t provide a single example of anything that anyone else said that is wrong. The whole editorial is full of non-sequiturs—that is, reasons that don’t logically justify their claims.

Never mind that more than a dozen pizza joints were hiring that very week.” How is that relevant? Assuming that the claim is true, what matters is whether the trend is rising above its moving average, or falling.

Now a new pizza place is set to move into the very same location that zPizza is leaving. How is it that the new management is able to make positive cash flow when the previous management couldn’t? Oh, here’s how:

The space of more than 1,700 square feet cost her more than $7,000 in rent each month. Shah-Burnham said 33 percent of her budget went toward labor costs, and raising the wages that fast would have been unsustainable.

She closed the shop after July 4.

Now the space will become Ian’s Pizza, which currently has four stores in Wisconsin and one in Colorado.

Because they have fewer than 500 employees at these stores, Ian’s Pizza will be on a different schedule.

For small employers, they must pay $15 an hour by 2021. For small employers who pay health benefits, they must pay $15 an hour by 2019, which includes a minimum of $12 in cash and a minimum of $3 in benefits.

A tale of two pizza joints: Seattle’s minimum wage for franchise owners

The new pizza operator isn’t required to pay the higher minimum wage yet! The previous one was on a different schedule because of the size of her parent company—which in no way changed her costs or profit margins. In other words, the new pizza restaurant Working Washington offers as “proof” that the higher minimum wage rate wouldn’t result in higher unemployment isn’t actually paying the higher rates!

The lobbyists for the minimum wage increase didn’t disclose this information. They’re only looking for evidence to support their bias, not evidence that contradicts their bias. They’re trying to prove that all swans  are white by looking for white swans, not black swans.

It’s worth addressing another argument for higher minimum wages: that wages in general are not keeping up with the cost of living.

That’s true, but irrelevant. The assumption is that corporate profits are keeping up with, or maybe even surpassing, the cost of living, and that workers aren’t getting their fair share.

Which corporations are we talking about? Halliburton? Apple Computer, with its offshore sweatshops? How about all the companies that have hiring preferences for holders of H1B visas? These are not major sources of employment within the USA. At least in the USA, most wage-earners work for a small business, the ones with thin profit margins.

Stagnating wages are a symptom of “peak economy”; nobody can simply regulate them higher, without triggering higher prices elsewhere. It’s a game of trying to minimize your own losses.

There are a number of possible ways that employers can respond to rising minimum wages. They might have to shut down their business completely, especially if they were never particularly well-capitalized in the first place, which is generally true of small businesses. That’s what happened to zPizza. They can automate more of their operations, which is what bigger and better-capitalized businesses tend to do. That’s what several fast-food restaurant chains are planning to do, replacing cashiers and order-takers with automated kiosks. Some can use subsidized labor, and a few can get away with using black-market labor. The overall trend will be net loss of job.

  • Plan to enter the workforce as something comfortably above “entry level” labor. Being able to do so requires job-ready skills and experience.
  • Don’t start a business that is dependent on entry-level labor; it will be expensive relative to its productivity.
  • Beware of starting a business that is vulnerable to the job losses of low wage earners. An example would be low-income housing; your tenants would stop paying the rent after losing their jobs.

No mystery why men missing from workplace

Here’s an article about male unemployment I read a few days ago.

Thousands of Maine men are missing from the workforce, and no one really knows why

I don’t find the article very informative, but it’s worth a few comments of my own.

…at 26, Twitch has never held an official job. He’s worked as a roofer, a blueberry raker and a construction worker — “backbreaking shit,” he said — but always under the table.

In other words, Twitch DOES work, contrary to the hypothesis of the newspaper article. One of the questions the author should have been asking is why it’s easier to get a job on the black market than elsewhere. The answer would probably have to do with excessive government regulation, including excessively high minimum wages and the burden of mandate Obamacare. But she never goes there.

Male labor participation rates (the inverse of unemployment) have been in long-term decline in the USA, since about 1950. That was shortly after World War II, when most of Europe’s industries were in ruins while those of the USA were still intact. That left the USA as the world’s premier industrial powerhouse of the era.

Since then, the globalized economy effectively means that every worker on the planet competes with every other worker. Germany quickly rebuilt its Ruhr industrial center after the war, and Japan became a major industrial power-house, followed by South Korea and China. The locus of production shifts a bit from time to time, but the overall, long-term trend has been to shift away from the USA and western Europe.

From the 1970s on, women started competing with men for jobs on a large scale. That created more competition for jobs for men domestically.

Pressure to keep labor costs down spawned a meme (that is, a “mind virus”) popular among the ruling class that women are willing to do the same job for less money than men. Actually, they’re not, which has spawned huge numbers of discrimination lawsuits, but the meme persists. I have heard employers explicitly state a hiring preference for women.

I’ve also heard another meme that sales and service staff should always be women and people of color on the theory that “sales staff should look like the customer” and that they are “less intimidating than white males”.

Hiring preferences for other-than-white-males reduces the number of jobs available for men and especially white men. The author of the article doesn’t bring up this fact.

I would guess there is another cause of rising American unemployment that is becoming an ever-increasing factor in the situation: the infrastructure is already built. In fact, with the switch to a post-industrial economy, much of our infrastructure was abandoned. But the point is you don’t need big shipyards once the ports are already full of ships that will last a while longer yet. Foundries don’t need to make more steel rails for trains when the amount of railroad track is declining, not growing. We already have more airports and freeways than we need.

The total size of the economy has probably peaked. Infrastructure accumulates, but resources to feed into the industrial infrastructure do not. This is a big problem.

Standards of living are falling, and eventually our population will fall as well. We won’t need as much inventory of single-family housing as we have now. Probably pretty soon, most people won’t be able to afford cars, so we’ll need fewer of those. The long-term economic decline will keep feeding on itself.

Women are impacted less than men because they are favored for service occupations, which are not related to manufacturing anything. But recently even women’s employment has peaked and is starting to fall.

Wages for less educated men have been falling steadily in recent decades.

Irrelevant. Wages for highly-educated men are also falling! I strongly suggest ignoring the author’s insinuation that going to college will get you a job: unemployment rates for new graduates are high, and most of the jobs they are finding require no college degree!

What’s lacking is not college; what’s lacking is skills. A degree in Liberal Arts will not get you a job any better than Twitch’s black-market itinerant labor, but it will get you into debt. At least Twitch probably doesn’t have any student debt—he’s ahead of the game!

A surge in incarceration rates has also made it harder for men to find work, since the vast majority of prison inmates are men, a 2016 report by former President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors theorized.

The vast majority of men are not criminals. This is not a real reason for rising male unemployment. Presumably the only reasons for claiming otherwise has to do with kiss-off attitudes towards men, and caring more about jailbirds than the rest of us.

The last of the big theories about why men are leaving the labor force comes mainly from conservative scholars who say the broadening of eligibility criteria for social welfare benefits — in particular, disability — have lured men away from the labor force.

More likely, the eligibility criteria were broadened because of rising thresholds for employability, in other words, confusing cause and effect.

Men are LESS likely to receive so-called “entitlements” as women.

Minority women in particular are far more likely than their male counterparts to have used food stamps. About four-in-ten black women (39%) have gotten help compared with 21% of black men. The gender-race participation gap is also wide among Hispanics: 31% of Hispanic women but 14% of Hispanic men received assistance.

Among whites, the gender-race gap is smaller. Still, white women are about twice as likely as white men to receive food stamp assistance (19% vs. 11%).

Pew Research, The Politics and Demographics of Food Stamp Recipients

They are also less likely to receive, and receive a smaller share of, other entitlements than women do. This makes men LESS desirable for low-wage employment, because they are not being subsidized. Employers assume that employees will want more money if they’re not getting welfare benefits, so some of them won’t even consider hiring anyone who is not in the system. Some jobs placements are arranged directly through the social welfare agencies; companies like Wal*Mart and Marriot Corp send their openings directly to welfare agencies for placement. You can’t get those jobs if you’re not collecting welfare benefits.

There’s no real mystery regarding why so many American men are unemployed or under-employed. The real question is what to do about it. The president’s council of economic advisors is not going to help you, you probably won’t qualify for a subsidy from the government, and the media is misleading you.

Keep reading my blog for better ideas.