I recently read a truism that the more replaceable you are, the higher the standards you're held.
The total number of investigators enforcing state minimum-wage and related laws – 659.5, including many who spend time on other issues – is very modest compared to the almost 100 million private-sector employees in the jurisdictions that provided answers to the survey.
While a handful of larger states such as California and New York employ dozens of investigators, most states have fewer than 10. Though it’s not universal, a number of states are seeing cutbacks. Most state departments enforcing such legislation also are charged with overseeing other laws as well, and a significant share of their investigators’ efforts go toward other responsibilities.
Zach Schiller and Sarah DeCarlo, INVESTIGATING WAGE THEFT: A SURVEY OF THE STATES (2010)
I was always amused, though, that it was possible to fail the test for being too honest.
If anything, I learned that the sort of mindset you need to actually run a successful retail is possibly the diametric opposite of the mindset you need to not be a total shit to your employees.
"At a basic level, people need savings to get them through even the smallest of financial shocks or their life just goes into total chaos and catastrophe," Smith-Ramani says.
Just one unexpected bill, she says, can set things off.
"Your car breaks down. You can't pay for it. You can't access other credit. Your family can't help you. How are you going to get to work?," she says, adding that could then lead to loss of a job.
But getting people with so little money to save can be a challenge.
"I need every penny, I need every penny, " says Baltimore truck driver Wilbert Braxton, who's waiting for free tax help at a site run by the Baltimore CASH Campaign (the acronym stands for Creating Assets, Savings and Hope). He says he tries to save money, but always needs it before too long.
"Bills, bills, and bills. You know, that's my life. I work and pay bills. I got two kids in college. They need everything. You know, loans have to be paid back," he says, adding that he also has car payments to make.
Greg_Ace: “What corporations seem to forget is that loyalty is earned, not imposed.”
It is interesting to reflect on how this thesis fits in with the Tyler Cowen "Average is Over" argument about how a tech-savvy elite will inevitably dominate the low-skilled masses (and the associated argument that inequality is down to skill-biased technological change). In a previous post, I argued that the assumption that this situation was sustainable didn't allow for the existence of democracies or indeed for 1789-style mass revolts against entrenched wealth.
But, of course, one can reason in the other direction. Democracy came about, in part, because the rising middle classes and industrial working classes demanded political recognition for their increased economic power. But if economic power has gone back to the rich, we may be sliding back into plutocracy, where government is controlled by the rich; look at the expense of US political campaigns or Larry Bartels's work on the correlation between congressional votes and the views of their better-off constituents. Silvio Berlusconi's long career in Italy indicates the way that economic wealth can translate into power in a more direct fashion. We may indeed being going back even further than the 19th century to the Roman republic where rich men bought their way into the Senate and placated the populace with bread and circuses - junk food and reality TV, perhaps?
In the first half of Capital's introduction, Thomas Piketty lays out the intellectual background for the work. In the second he shares the main results of the book. The first is that levels of inequality represent the result of political choices, rather than deterministic technological or economic outcomes (a point reinforced by recent IMF research). Whether or not structural economic shifts generate rising or falling, low or high inequality is down to the structure of the political system and the way it chooses to accommodate those changes. "Skill-biased technological change" or "superstar economics" are incomplete explanations of rising inequality. They may actually leave out the more interesting half of the story.
The second result is that economies do not naturally evolve toward more equal distributions of resources as they mature. There are some forces pushing toward greater equality, like the spread of new technologies from rich areas to poor—what he calls "the principal force for convergence". And there are some forces pushing toward less equality, one of the most important of which is the ability of the rich to secure further economic and political benefits for themselves. Importantly, he notes, the equalising power of the diffusion of knowledge is closely linked to state policy: to investment in infrastructure, education, research, and a regulatory environment conducive to entrepreneurship and competition. It isn't a natural force for convergence at all, but must be actively cultivated (and may be resisted by those with wealth and power).
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