did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Race to the Degrees

1

It's ridiculous how many endemic societal problems "education" is expected to somehow magically fix.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:07 AM
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I love the Demos Institute. It's the perfect place for getting quick policy papers on this kind of thing.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:21 AM
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Someone, I think Kotsko, suggested once that the humanities are the perfect thing to study in this environment. You're fucked anyway and your meaningless degree won't fix your poverty no matter what so why not have the fun of cultural analysis, a good reading list, and the vague sense of connection to the world of art and learning to make your pointless cubicle drudgery or fast-casual restaurant service job more tolerable?


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:27 AM
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Matt Bruenig is an excellent writer and has other articles in that series worth reading as well

http://www.demos.org/blog/12/4/15/promoting-marriage-has-failed-and-unnecessary-cut-poverty

http://www.demos.org/blog/12/3/15/problem-work-focused-poverty-initiatives

plus he is super good on twitter:
https://twitter.com/MattBruenig?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:33 AM
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3: You're kind of describing the original "slacker" culture of the early 90s. A lot of over educated and under employed young people hanging around and being vaguely artsy. The difference is that, as far as I can recall, there was less debt and less despair of the possibility that things would ever look up.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:36 AM
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the fun of cultural analysis

Something about that just doesn't seem to work.

Plus, why imply that only humanities degrees are fun? I studied biology. I had a terrific time doing it. The law students all seemed crushed by workload and the arts students were all mopey and introverted, but I can't remember seeing anyone seeming to have more fun, on average, than the physicists and engineers. Possibly because they had a wider definition of "things to do for fun".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:36 AM
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5: And those slacker-type jobs paid $10+/hour back then. That's still what they pay now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:40 AM
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I don't actually think there was less despair about the future then, at least economically.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:41 AM
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This seems like a good place to bring up that No Child Left Behind, long zombified, is about to be done away with formally.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:42 AM
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8: As I wrote I was wondering whether I was looking back through rose colored glasses. There were certainly a lot of hand wringing "the first generation that will do worse than their parents" newspaper and magazine articles.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:45 AM
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That's exactly what I was thinking of. On the one hand, I don't earn close to as much as my dad did when he was my age. On the other hand, I work much shorter hours.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:47 AM
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10: Isn't that compatible with things having been on a downslope from then until now? You could see that career prospects were going to be difficult in the 1990s, and they've just gotten worse?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:02 AM
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On studying humanities: The Clemente Course is built around the belief that studying the humanities is an essential part of escaping poverty. I love the idea (of course) but I don't know if there's any research on outcomes.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:04 AM
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I knew he had a bridge named after him, but I didn't know about the course.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:06 AM
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12: A complicating factor is that the dot com boom intervened and temporarily convinced everybody that they were going to get rich.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:07 AM
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The classic early 90s slacker was contemptuous of a regular career. But that's an easier attiitude to maintain when no one wants to live in the blighted urban center you and your friends are throwing loft parties in and when you are assured that the supply of 10 / hr service jobs won'the get eaten by software.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:12 AM
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Stupid phone


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:13 AM
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12 and 15 are my impression. I dunno, impressionistically it sure seems like being in your 20s now is much worse than it was in 1993. The resumes I've seen for prestigious jobs like "part-time nanny for R Tigre's kids" "part time gym receptionist" and "law firm receptionist" had good grades at UCLA, UCB, and Ivy League graduates (even Cornell, which, to make clear in case you've forgotten, is an Ivy League school) and seemed like the kind of credentials that in good old post-war America would have gotten you a job for sure as a management trainee at some giant company. And meanwhile housing costs (at least here) are like 5x what they were then in constant dollars, so you both earn less and take way less home to have fun with.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:22 AM
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The thing that's changed, that always confuses me, is on the job training. My sense of a job pre-1970s or so is that you walk in and are expected to know how to clean yourself and balance on two legs, and the employer trains you how to do the job. Now, the assumption for most jobs is that if you aren't already exquisitely skilled at precisely the duties of that job, you don't have a hope of getting hired (this isn't really true, people end up getting trained on the job anyway, but you have to at least fake it).

What drove that change?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:24 AM
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The globalization of capital.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:25 AM
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Global warming.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:26 AM
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Oversupply of labor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:33 AM
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I think 12 is right.

I want to punch people who complain about kids today and how they're lazy. No, my friend, we the adults fucked everything up. The US was the most prodigious job creation engine in the history of the world, and we broke it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:34 AM
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Business realized it was cheaper to pass that expense on to the government, and the government was happy to pick it up.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:35 AM
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19: The rise of HR departments? This is anecdotal, but people in the computer industry are always complaining about job listings that ask for 5 years of experience in technologies that are 2 years old.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:36 AM
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19: A change in corporate culture related to average length of employment? If you know that the employee is going to stick with you through thick and thin, then pouring money into training them up will pay you back. If you train them up (at a cost of their time plus their trainer's time), but they leave for a competitor after a year with the credential that you paid for, you feel like a sucker. And have to train the next person up from scratch.

So companies got lazy and all decided that they'd let someone else do the initial training and they'd just steal the end result. Cue every job needing 3 years of experience and no one offering entry level positions.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:38 AM
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On the bright side, I'm sure that if we teach everyone, especially girls, to code, that will solve everything.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:39 AM
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I realize the kids have it worse. I'm not trying to string together three nanny positions in breadless households to make enough to live. But it is depressing to see that all jobs posted at this institution that I would be qualified for pay from 1/2 to 3/4ths of what I'm currently paid. I'm being shoved out the door (nicely and with months of warning) for wanting to keep my current salary. They won't be able to fill the these positions, but someone is making them try.


Posted by: Gerald Ford | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:40 AM
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27: And the one's that can't code can become yoga instructors.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:41 AM
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My brother, sister and I all entered OSU as my father had intended, and the principal reason he emigrated when he did--the giant provincial university of Guelph had not then expanded, although by the time my younger cousins were ready it had, and they all went there.

Life intervened and my siblings both dropped out, started families and entered management training programs, my sister somewhat later, my brother right away. Both have had very successful careers, and I would guess had higher lifetime earnings than I have, despite my 3 degrees. My sister finished a degree a few years ago to qualify for a management position she'd already been recruited for, my brother never bothered.

My suspicion has always been and still is that they were naturals at corporate life, as I am not, and were always likely to succeed and be recognized for it. Their combination of qualities and abilities would probably succeed today just as much as it did then.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:44 AM
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28: That's what darkly amuses me about "skilled labor shortage" stories. Whenever they interview the people at the companies, only rarely does the interviewer ask the CEO, "did you try raising your salary offers?" And when they do ask, it's amazing how often the response is, "No this position is a $10/hour position."

If you can't fill the position, maybe it's not a $10/hour position anymore. Or, per 19, train your own--which also never occurs to them!


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:46 AM
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11
That's exactly what I was thinking of. On the one hand, I don't earn close to as much as my dad did when he was my age. On the other hand, I work much shorter hours.

Same here, more or less, although I'd have to ask my dad about the details of when he switched specific careers, because he's had several. I think I might have already been at my current job longer than he stayed at any in his whole working life. It's complicated further by the fact that he has at least two more degrees than me. I guess we buck every trend.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:48 AM
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A change in corporate culture related to average length of employment?

I had that thought, and then my second thought (which was just semi-plausible BS) was to blame the LBO craze of the 80s. If there was a general shift towards corporations being (a) treated as accounting entities rather than a a entity involved in a productive project and (b) realizing that it was more cost-effective to rent capital infrastructure rather than building/owning I could see both of those shifts in attitudes being applied to "human capital".


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:48 AM
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19: A change in corporate culture related to average length of employment? If you know that the employee is going to stick with you through thick and thin, then pouring money into training them up will pay you back. If you train them up (at a cost of their time plus their trainer's time), but they leave for a competitor after a year with the credential that you paid for, you feel like a sucker. And have to train the next person up from scratch.

Couldn't employment be attached to some sort of contract, where the person agrees to work for a certain amount of time? It seems to work in professional sports.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:53 AM
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But those guys get trained for free by colleges.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:55 AM
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26 seems backwards. It's not that employees decided that job-hopping was awesome, it's that there are way fewer secure career-track jobs.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:55 AM
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Couldn't employment be attached to some sort of contract

HaHA. Then employers would have to give up at-will employment.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:57 AM
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Only probate attorney have at-will employment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:59 AM
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If you commit to employing someone for more than 1 month, you might even be able to pay them LESS per month, because they would have the knowledge that they would also be employed in subsequent months! I call this concept "job security". Obviously another scheme devised by technocrats that will never happen.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:00 AM
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34, 37: Yeah, while I wrote what I did from the corporate perception side, companies rarely have any loyalty to their employees. One bad quarter? Let's "tighten our belts" and let Ned in accounting go to make our next quarter look better to wall street.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:00 AM
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Ned isn't even in accounting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:01 AM
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Pro sports contract regimes are generally employer, not employee friendly. Reducing employee mobility isn't the answer.

The solution, which I believe every rich country except this one has figured out, is to end at-will employment as a matter of general law, have union (or other) rules protecting employees once hired, and still permit employee exit at will. Obviously there are a lot of details beyond that which matter, but you need a legal regime that to some extent encourages corporate stability, not "flexibility." And yes this may make it more expensive for companies to do initial hires but so what.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:07 AM
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Connecting 42 to the OP, it's depressing how totally the Rhee-ist anti-union lobby has captured the discourse surrounding education. There seems at this point to be an entire subculture of itinerant consultants and "experts" who make their living by going from meeting to meeting to give talks complaining about how the problem with education is that it's too hard to fire teachers.

Obviously I'm not saying anything new, but it's extra depressing because, once a large enough group of people are making their living from something, it gets that much harder to make it go away.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:14 AM
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The rise of HR departments?

I had no idea they'd risen.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:16 AM
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They keep the 'ighe' hidden so nobody notices.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:16 AM
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Yes, I think the two discourses go together. If education isn't the way to end poverty (in the aggregate) then skimming off the behavioral/academic cream of the poor, putting them in hardcore disciplinary programs which few UMC parents would accept, and then leaving the rest of the system to de-professionalize and rot -- which is basically what the Rhee vision is -- surely can't be the aggregate answer either, even if it might be a net positive for a few kids.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:20 AM
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You got your anti-unionism in my declining standard of living for wage earners.

No, you got your declining standard of living in my anti-unionism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:26 AM
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I think it's safe to assume Human Resources is assholes, but I think the rise of HR is a symptom, not a cause.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:29 AM
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The last quoted paragraph in the OP is awesome and isn't a point made often enough.

As far as the 90s go, I wrote this in an email, summarizing a Bay Area ex-indie rocker remembering the glory days of the early 90s: "there was at some point a scenario where you make $30K a year doing clerical work and gigging at night until you manage to make $30K a year making music, and it's still a bit shabby and taxing but that's success of a kind. Now you make $90K in a professional job, rent is $3500 a month, and you are never in a million years going to make $30K as a musician."

43.2 is ironic given 43.1, although it is true that the teachers' unions have not been completely destroyed.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:31 AM
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The solution, which I believe every rich country except this one has figured out, [. . . ]

But almost all those countries are moving in the direction of more labor market "flexibility" as well. I doubt we have much prospect for a world in which that trend is reversed. Among the many unlikely paths to strengthening social democracy, I think "tax more and transfer more" is much likelier than "regulate hiring and firing more".


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:31 AM
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43.2 is ironic given 43.1

Maybe the anti-union shills should form a union to increase their job security.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:35 AM
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@#6, yes, we STEM-ists, actually love the biology, and the physics, and the coding, you know. I found the physiology of the kidney (about which we knew a lot) and the analysis of bird migration (about which we still didn't know much) far more fascinating than "cultural analysis" (in quotes, 'cause I'm not absolutely certain what it is).

And, to reference back to the summary, although I understand that education is at least partially about signalling, in my own personal experience it was also about productivity. I learned *things*, not just a signal.


Posted by: bj | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:38 AM
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I love 47.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:38 AM
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50 -- I'm sympathetic, and that certainly has been the trend of the past 30 years, but I've never seen how you can ever get to the politics for a tax more and transfer more system without stable employees and an organized working class movement, which in turn requires less precarious employment.

The places that are the models for flexible labor, tax and transfer regimes, Denmark as the most generally cited example, got that way because their workplaces were already intensely unionized and so capital was willing to cut a very generous deal with labor in which more flexibility came with very high social spending. That doesn't seem possible where workers are less organized -- in this country, a social bargain of tax and transfer in exchange for deregulation of the microeconomy has almost entirely been a joke -- centrist Ivy League cover for destruction of working people. The reality has been "We'll take your deregulation, and then we'll just stop transferring wealth too! Nice precarious position you have there, shame if you lost it."


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:41 AM
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I think globalization is what changed -- capital, labor, communication, and transportation, in conjunction. When goods, capital, and people can flow across borders, the marketplace labor and capital competes in is the entire world, and productivity gains can't compensate for realistically inexpensive labor that is available elsewhere. Seeing the good that change has done in countries like India & China, I can't hate globalization in isolation.

And add in a smattering of freedom ideology that breaks down bonds between labor and capital (that is, an employee could be an entrepreneur, obligations of capital do not extend to their employees and everyone will be judged on momentary productivity) and you get where we are now.


Posted by: bj | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:42 AM
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"What if we deregulate the economy to grow it, and then transfer the wealth around -- everyone would be better off, and we'd all win" says Mr. Theorist. Except that there's vanishingly little evidence that deregulation produces growth, and the then-we'll-transfer-the-wealth part of the bargain is never kept.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:45 AM
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56 also to 50.


Posted by: RT | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:46 AM
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I'm sympathetic, and that certainly has been the trend of the past 30 years, but I've never seen how you can ever get to the politics for a tax more and transfer more system without stable employees and an organized working class movement, which in turn requires less precarious employment.

It will likely take different forms of organizing than what we had in a Fordist economy, but I'm not smart enough to know what those are. Re: 56, I agree that Yglesias' style theorizing that it will magically happen is glib.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:56 AM
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Yeah I have no idea what the solution is either, other than putting me in charge.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:01 AM
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It will likely take different forms of organizing than what we had in a Fordist economy...

Donald Trump is leading the way with a replacement for Ford's antisemitism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:02 AM
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My son says 40 million US jobs will be eaten by software in the next 20 years. Not exactly easy for a 20 year old to get motivated in that context.

That's probably too high. But it's certainly true that my smart phone is more valuable than I was as a first year lawyer.

To the OP, even if education doesn't change society in the aggregate, you still, as an individual at any station, have little choice to make. Maybe a few people like idp's siblings can still slip through these days, but I'm pretty sure that corp HR people see a BA as evidence that a person can put up with mindless bureaucracy and still produce whatever meaningless product is demanded, along with an appropriate quantum of asskissing. Is that not a perfect measure of qualification?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:02 AM
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When goods, capital, and people can flow across borders, the marketplace labor and capital competes in is the entire world, and productivity gains can't compensate for realistically inexpensive labor that is available elsewhere. Seeing the good that change has done in countries like India & China, I can't hate globalization in isolation.

A big issue is that people can't freely flow across borders. Locality matters -- there are all sorts of reasons why literally outsourcing labor to cheaper countries is often not as good a deal as it looks like. But having people in high-productivity countries, where their labor is most valuable, who are either completely deprived of legal protections by being undocumented, or whose immigration status is dependent on compliance with employer demands, definitely injures everyone else's bargaining power in a way that totally open borders might* not.
______________
*Am I sure about this? Not really, this is 'seems to me.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:03 AM
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It will likely take different forms of organizing than what we had in a Fordist economy

I wonder to what extent the sudden rise of the internet and the dot com boom played a role in stifling the appearance of new forms of organizing.

I joked up thread about the dot com boom convincing everyone that they were going to get rich, but it actually did convince a lot of people that there really was a magical New Economy where old concerns like job security were irrelevant because there would always be another well paying gig around the corner. Which I suppose made at least some sense during the brief period when you could get paid 6 figures for minimal HTML skills.

Many people snapped out of it, but many others have remained zombie technolibertarians ever since. If the early 90s duldrums hadn't been banished by the dot com frenzy, I wonder if people would have woken up to what was happening sooner.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:08 AM
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63 definitely describes, anecdotally, my own rough generational cohort, and tales of the next youthful tech zillionaire even now seems to exert a constant moderating pressure on the contrary "people especially young people are getting fucked" narrative. I mean I was joking above but lots of smart well-meaning people whom I know and who are roughly my age really do think things like "teach girls to code"* are for-real solutions.

*not saying that we should not teach girls to code
** that is if they're not hot enough to train as ninja-strippers


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:18 AM
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it actually did convince a lot of people that there really was a magical New Economy
Well before the dot com bubble the neoliberals were pretty confident that they had solved the problem of recessions and that the Maestro could set the unemployment rate to any desired level by saying a few magic words. The only remaining macroeconomic problem was mobilizing people's risk-bearing capacity, getting them to take on debt, to invest in home ownership, reducing rents, and education, increasing their productivity and thus their wages, thereby reducing inequality.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:22 AM
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I think networking worker centers, and expanding them to include people in the gig economy and other not traditonally blue collar types of labor would be promising: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_center


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:22 AM
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I joked up thread about the dot com boom convincing everyone that they were going to get rich, but it actually did convince a lot of people that there really was a magical New Economy where old concerns like job security were irrelevant because there would always be another well paying gig around the corner. Which I suppose made at least some sense during the brief period when you could get paid 6 figures for minimal HTML skills.

Of course all this only applies to the people in one small industry.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:32 AM
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But if we teach everyone to code they will all earn dot com money.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:39 AM
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Which I suppose made at least some sense during the brief period when you could get paid 6 figures for minimal HTML skills.

I was recently musing about this. I've occasionally felt that I missed an opportunity because I've ended up doing computer programming professionally but have never worked in a city where there was a real dot-com boom, and never really got into the quote-unquote tech career path.

My recent thoughts were

1) In theory, I suppose, there's a missed opportunity, but I really can't complain. I've nevertheless been quite fortunate in how my career has worked out.

2) I wonder if I had, somehow, ended up in a high-paying tech job in the bay area or Seattle, if I would have just accepted that as normal and inadvertently been a clueless asshole. I'd like to think that wouldn't have been the case, but I'm not sure.

3) [Longer thought which is off the topic of this discussion.]

4) We've talked occasionally about how obnoxious it is when tech people talk online about their experiences of the job market. I submit this essay as a good example of the type. The author seems to basically have their head on straight and to be asking some reasonable questions and yet . . . it's hard to write about that experience and not sound smug, and I don't think that essay pulls it off.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:41 AM
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But if we teach everyone to code they will all earn dot com money.

The dot coms didn't actually pay money. They paid magic internet beans worthless stock options.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:52 AM
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The ninja-stripper is a fascinating paradox, but surely they would all benefit from coding skills?

The girl-empowerment rhetoric is always creepy because it is very, very careful not to talk about actual power, including the actual power that is used to "empower" people. So you get all this weird anodyne utopian stuff, trying to split the difference between social-justice values and economic exigency, with the effect of a weird simulated command economy. Girls should learn to code, but only if they do nice and cool and creative things with their skills. They should make money but not too much, just enough to keep their parents from worrying about having to support them. They should start companies but only nice helpful companies that cooperate with other companies. Boys can do whatever the hell they want with their coding skills and make as much money as they want, as long as they can shrug off the haterz. (For adult men the story is a bit different.)

ALL THE SAME I really should learn to code.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:52 AM
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I was recently musing about this. I've occasionally felt that I missed an opportunity

Yeah...as a grad student I set up and maintained our lab's web site for free. I couldn't believe it when I heard how much people were being paid who knew less HTML than I did. I sort of have to admire the people who made a bundle in the first few years. They did a nice job of convincing technophobic traditional business types that basic HTML was some sort of arcane and highly technical skill, as opposed to something you could teach yourself in a few days.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:52 AM
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40
Yeah, while I wrote what I did from the corporate perception side, companies rarely have any loyalty to their employees.

I have mixed feelings about this at the moment. As I've mentioned, we're having contract problems at work. An update since this: a few people who weren't on the bridging contract got temporary jobs on other contracts. As far as I know, those all run out tomorrow. There's at least one guy who as far as I know never got any work and I feel vaguely guilty for not getting in touch with him.

The company did more for us than they had to - paid us for some of the time we weren't working, and found a little other work for some of the people not on the bridging contract. On the other hand, they did less than they said they would. So, I'd grade them a B- maybe?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:54 AM
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I should learn SQL.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:54 AM
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I only recently learned it's pronounced "sequel."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:56 AM
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76

Of course all this only applies to the people in one small industry.

There was an interview going around recently-ish with several people (Hank Shteamer was one, maybe?—no, SF/J) who had worked for Columbia House Music. Obviously this is not the same as "buckets of $$ for knowing how to make a table in HTML", but it seems positively utopian from here.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:03 PM
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75: Did you think it was a Deliverance joke?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:09 PM
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I just said the letters individually.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:14 PM
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Which, I think, is the most reasonable thing to do when there isn't a vowel.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:17 PM
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SQL is pretty old as far as technology goes, but it certainly doesn't pre-date written vowels.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:21 PM
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Both pronunciations are common and okay. I do say "sequel" but I understand "SQL" as well.

Girls should learn to code, as machines are a force-multiplier when patriarchy-crushing.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:21 PM
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If I read the "Teach Yourself SQL in Ten Minutes" book three times in a row, I wonder if I could put SQL on my vita and apply for a job that requires excellent knowledge of SQL.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:23 PM
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If you want to take the extra step in beefing up on that, you could take Coursera's databases course (I haven't taken this, but I took the preceding Stanford MOOC course). The first week or two teach you how to do arcane stuff that you would almost never want to do in the relational calculus, which translates pretty well to SQL queries. Usually useless, but sometimes they come up in real world edge cases, they might help on an interview, and they do build good intuition for how that stuff works.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:27 PM
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The problem is that I'd be interviewing with people who already know me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:30 PM
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arcane stuff that you would almost never want to do in the relational calculus
They had SQL, but not in a way we can understand anymore.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:37 PM
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That should give future linguists a clue as to how I pronounce it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:38 PM
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I usually say SQL. I might say "SequelServer" if I ever talked about that product, but I don't.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 12:43 PM
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You're the guy who said I could update to Windows 10 and still run Minecraft. But I can't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 1:04 PM
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Windows 10 will clear a room on the internet as quickly as in real life. Good to know.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 1:41 PM
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I do recommend that you all read neb's link in 76 and pick the conversation up from there. (Although the weird science-vs-humanities mini-debate made me wonder how many people here did double majors, or otherwise studied extensively in both a STEM and a humanities or social science field.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 1:49 PM
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You're the guy who said I could update to Windows 10 and still run Minecraft. But I can't.

Well, that answers my "should I update?" question.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 1:54 PM
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I know. It's really played havoc with my plan to built a trench as deep as the bedrock from one ocean to another in a straight line.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 1:58 PM
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Pro-tip: Use some of the cobblestones you get to build a wall to keep you from accidentally falling into the trench.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 1:59 PM
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Also, I studied social sciences and found my way into STEM because of wanting to eat without having to lift heavy things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:00 PM
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You Americans and your dessert specs.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:01 PM
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For the longest time, I had Minecraft confused with Minesweeper, and I couldn't understand why all the kids today were so obsessed with it. But it turns out they are two different games.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:11 PM
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my second thought (which was just semi-plausible BS) was to blame the LBO craze of the 80s. If there was a general shift towards corporations being (a) treated as accounting entities rather than a a entity involved in a productive project and (b) realizing that it was more cost-effective to rent capital infrastructure rather than building/owning I could see both of those shifts in attitudes being applied to "human capital".

Not B.S. at all, actually. As it happens, I've been working with these figures lately. In 1981, 2% of corporate profits were used to buy back stock. Then came the LBOs, massive corporate debt, and CEOs being paid with stock incentives. And now companies are using over 75% of profits to buy back stock and jack up the value of incentives. Corporations "being treated as accounting entities" is exactly right.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:28 PM
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We should treat them as people instead?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:33 PM
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Surely people have estimated how much of the US economy was transferred from public to private hands via stock options. Is there a summary readable by layvegetables?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:33 PM
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We should treat them as people instead?

Long-term projects, perhaps.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:40 PM
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how much of the US economy was transferred from public to private hands via stock options

Not following you. Aren't stock options just an option to purchase an ownership interest in a private corporation?


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:40 PM
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Unusually wealthy cats?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:41 PM
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I have things to say about this! But I'm already in bed and typing on my tablet is too much work. The link in the OP is great.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:44 PM
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Not B.S. at all, actually.

Glad to hear.

It seemed like a reasonable theory, I just didn't have any way to know if reasonable = correct in that case.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:48 PM
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Great. Now I'm going to be left to wonder how many rich cats trapnel knows.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:49 PM
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Third, poverty is really about non-working people: children, elderly, disabled, students, carers, and the unemployed. The big things that cause poverty for adults over the age of 25 in a low-welfare capitalist society--old-age, disability, unemployment, having children--do not go away just because you have a better degree. These poverty-inducing circumstances are social constants that could strike anyone of us and do strike many of us at some point in our lives. To the extent that education does nothing to provide better income support for those who do find themselves in these vulnerable situations, its effect on overall poverty levels will always be weak, or, as with the US in the last 23 years, totally nonexistent.

The rest of the op makes lots of sense, but this paragraph bothered me, because if true it would seem to imply that poverty should NOT actually be strongly correlated with lack of education. Yet it was my understanding that, as I think is the premise of the rest of the OP, poverty actually is factually correlated with a lack of education. (It's not perfect correlation, of course.) So, something about this paragraph doesn't square with the general premise. Unemployment risk specifically of course doesn't "go away" if you have a degree, but I think the likelihood of unemployment decreases drastically. (Right?)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:55 PM
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101: I may not be followable. I was thinking of a process like Witt describes, where the executive class awards themselves stock options, which were for a long time not even expensed, using profits to buy back stock driving up the value of their options, and then exercising them.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 2:55 PM
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Ah. Then this is what you're looking for, I think.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 3:10 PM
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This report gets at the shifts discussed re: buybacks and so on:

"This paper provides evidence that the strong empirical relationship of corporate cash flow and borrowing to productive corporate investment has disappeared in the last 30 years and has been replaced with corporate funds and shareholder payouts. Whereas firms once borrowed to invest and improve their long-term performance, they now borrow to enrich their investors in the short-run. This is the result of legal, managerial, and structural changes that resulted from the shareholder revolution of the 1980s. Under the older, managerial, model, more money coming into a firm - from sales or from borrowing - typically meant more money spent on fixed investment. In the new rentier-dominated model, more money coming in means more money flowing out to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks.

These results have important implications for macroeconomic policy. The shareholder revolution - and its implications for corporate financing decisions - may help explain why higher corporate profits in recent business cycles have generally failed to lead to high levels of investment. And under this new system, cheaper money from lower interest rates will fail to stimulate investment, growth, and wages because, as we show here, additional funds are funneled to shareholders through buybacks and dividends.

Key Findings

In the 1960s and 1970s, an additional dollar of earnings or borrowing was associated with about a 40-cent increase in investment. Since the 1980s, less than 10 cents of each borrowed dollar is invested.
Since the 1980s, shareholder payouts have nearly doubled; in the second half of 2007, aggregate payouts actually exceeded aggregate investment. Today, there is a strong correlation between shareholder payouts and borrowing that did not exist before the mid-1980s.
This change in corporate finance, associated with the "shareholder revolution", means there is good reason to believe that the real economy benefits less from the easier credit provided by macroeconomic policy than it once did."


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 3:11 PM
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106: I think the point is that education, to the extent that it alleviates poverty, works indirectly by creating better employment opportunities. This list is of situations that make employment difficult, impossible, or ineffective and call for direct aid instead: "old-age, disability, unemployment [i.e. losing a job or being in a chronically terrible labor market], having children [with the difficulties of finding appropriate cost-effective childcare, plus major additional expenses]." Notably, those are circumstances that leave people worse off than the working poor. The point is not that education doesn't help people who can work, it's that if that's your entire anti-poverty strategy, it's going to do nothing for the most vulnerable people.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 3:18 PM
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Whereas firms once borrowed to invest and improve their long-term performance, they now borrow to enrich their investors in the short-run.

Making a liar of Elmer Fudd in the process. Think I've linked to that here before.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 3:34 PM
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I got two Window 10 machines, each plays Minecraft no problem.

My kid's school was shut down for a Code Red today because there were a couple suspicious characters with rifles out in the back. Turns out they were hunting iguanas.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 4:29 PM
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56: There's a special Chicago-school twist of the "deregulate the economy to grow it, and then transfer the wealth around" argument. Deregulation is good, right? And there's no reason to think that deregulation will systematically benefit some people more than others, right? So we should just deregulate as much as possible, and then we don't need to redistribute, since the benefits of deregulation will be distributed randomly.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 4:48 PM
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The Minecraft gini-coefficient keeps looking worse every year.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 4:57 PM
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Unless you are doing really clever/complicated things, SQL really isn't difficult. There are lots of potentially difficult cases, but 99% of what anyone ever does is simple select, insert, update, and delete queries.

I get a bit depressed about salaries. Adjusted for inflation, I earn almost exactly the same now as I did in 1996. Two additional university degrees, a decade or more of work experience, and so on. While housing and transport costs have vastly outstripped that inflation-parity change.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 4:58 PM
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108 is exactly right. Here's a shorter and more understandable piece that uses that data and also ties it all in with institutional racism, rates of incarceration, and poverty: Runaway Inequality, Runaway Incarceration


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 4:59 PM
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I upgraded to 10 and Minecraft runs fine


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 4:59 PM
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Maybe the problem is my shitty computer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 5:03 PM
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There's a special Chicago-school twist of the "deregulate the economy to grow it, and then transfer the wealth around" argument.

The classic and very common two-step is simultaneously pushing to "deregulate the economy [or do some other business/elite-friendly policy] to grow it, and then transfer the wealth around" and then, in the next breath, opposing wealth transfers for creating "disincentives" for work, etc.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 5:25 PM
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I earn almost exactly the same now as I did in 1996

I'm earning a great deal more than I did then, but this can be largely attributed to the fact that I was a graduate student in 1996.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 5:38 PM
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||

It's the type of article you want to have on hand if you're arguing with some acquaintance's second-cousin on Facebook.

Is there anything similar for intelligent design? I'm kind of interested in learning a bit about how it became semi-respectable. Was the Templeton Fund a player? I ask, because somebody sent me an article the other day written by some ex-NASA scientist which was half-way climate change denying. I guess that it didn't completely deny that human activity was a factor, but it attributed a lot of it to cyclical patterns etc., and then at the bottom there was some tiny bit about intelligent design. I think that people who aren't very good at evaluating sources see creationism dressed up and espoused by people with science-y sounding words and titles and they get hoodwinked. But how did all of this develop?

I'd like to have a book/article on this so that I can give it to the soft ID-ers.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 5:51 PM
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For the longest time, I had Minecraft confused with Minesweeper, and I couldn't understand why all the kids today were so obsessed with it. But it turns out they are two different games.

Me too, for a little bit.

I earn less than I was offered by Microsoft in 1999, with an undergrad degree in math and no computer skills. Not inflation adjusted, just plain less.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 6:24 PM
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I will probably never again earn as much as I earned as a second year associate at a law firm.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 6:34 PM
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122: You should have done graduate school at OSU instead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 6:44 PM
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My sense of a job pre-1970s or so is that you walk in and are expected to know how to clean yourself and balance on two legs, and the employer trains you how to do the job.

This still exists in the fire and police departments. But it involves a totally socialistic model that people aren't ready to implement in private companies. We're not at will, there's a standardized pay scale, a pension, all management except for CEO has to be hired from within the ranks, and the CEO makes maybe 2-3X what a topped out patrol guy makes. Bigger corporations like auto companies, etc. used to be much closer to that kind of thing but now that's laughable.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 7:18 PM
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topped out patrol guy

You people are always making me go to the Urban Dictionary, but that one isn't even there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 7:24 PM
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people aren't ready to implement in private companies

Which people? Workers would love to go back to something like this, but it's been pretty effectively and deliberately dismantled my management/politicians. You guys have managed to keep it because dealing with crazies/fires gives you leverage.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:14 PM
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Workers would love to go back to something like this

Some, but not enough of them, not yet. Look at the makeup of Congress. You think that's reflecting a population that's ready to vote for CEO's being mandated by law to being capped at say 10-20X lowest employee earnings and an increase to SS to the point that it would look like an actual decent pension?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:22 PM
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"Workers" and "voters" are different groups.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:32 PM
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Which is how you get the Republican position on public health care (forbidden for people under 65, can't even be subject to cost controls if over 65).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:41 PM
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IIRC aged 65 and up is still less than 20 percent of your voters. The reality is that crazily stereotypical old man fat cat Romney got something like 40 percent of the 18-29 voters. IMO the country is going to have to go to shit for a while longer before enough people are down for a big shift back towards some good old socialism.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:53 PM
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Yes, but voters over 50 case the majority of votes in Republican primaries in most states.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 8:57 PM
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Primaries don't elect officeholders.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:10 PM
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They do essentially that for plenty of state and local offices.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:24 PM
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Including the large majority of House seats that are not competitive between parties.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:26 PM
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I recommend that Moby go learn SQL on a cruise.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 9:57 PM
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This was a good blog post about database fads and some other things.

As various NoSQL databases matured, a curious thing happened to their APIs: they started looking more like SQL. This is because SQL is a pretty direct implementation of relational set theory, and math is hard to fool.

Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:17 PM
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That's an interesting post even for someone (like me!) who knows little to nothing about computing. Thanks for linking it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 10:49 PM
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We must destroy the old before they destroy us. That's why I favor election by combat.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:16 PM
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In reality, of course, and without kidding, democracy has failed. Clinging to it now is like throwing good money after bad and is the response of the pathological and pathetic. Only by subjecting yourselves to rigorous ideological commitment and charismatic personal rule can you rid yourselves of the nightmarish gerontocracy of goobers you currently endure. One simple step will allow you enjoy the benefits of a properly ordered government and society. Give it a chance. It can't be worse than what you have now.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-10-15 11:29 PM
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Nice try, Donald.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 12:25 AM
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How could this be more shit?

Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute claim to have hatched a bipartisan consensus plan for reducing poverty. As exciting as that sounds, the details of the plan, unfortunately, won't be available until David Brooks unveils them at an event on December 3rd. Nonetheless, it's clear from the materials they have released that the consensus plan will focus on three things: education, marriage, and work.

Yup, it's still all about the strapping on your job helmet and firing off into job land where jobs grow on job trees, to quote Mike Konczal. Plus a bit of dogwhistle "get married NOT LIKE THE BLAHS" shit. And David Brooks, or rather whoever he's plagiarising this week. And who brings you this? Fucking pablum central, Brookings, plus actively evil and destructive AEI. How's that black coffee briefing with Danielle Pletka on democracy whiskey sexy working out for you, fuckos?

I mean, I literally remember the same people babbling out this "huh, yes, just graduate high school, get a job, and get married and all problems are literally solved" shit in 2004ish. And since then they dumped the Second Depression on everyone and they're still not fired and still not sorry and still copy-pasting the same talking points.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 5:27 AM
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Well, that's the appeal of religion. You don't have to change your self-serving myths no matter what reality says about them.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 5:40 AM
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That seems too simple. Maybe if you don't graduate high school, you need to be celibate to avoid poverty but if you went to professional school you can have a mistress.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 6:03 AM
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"Associates degree in business administration plus a job? You can have a spouse and one Platonic but fraught with sexual tension friend."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 6:20 AM
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If you can land a PhD, you maybe become eligible to attend the regular Thursday Night Orgies.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 6:51 AM
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Only if you have a job.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 6:59 AM
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"huh, yes, just graduate high school, get a job, and get married and all problems are literally solved"

What's noticeable is that there is a lot of US government action aimed at making a) easier, and b) is at least an indicator much watched by governments and economists and so on, but no one seems to do much about c). I certainly hope Brookie will be calling on the US government to, say, institute compulsory attendance at singles nights, or putting tequila in the water supply, or leaning on the airlines to put mutually eligible people next to each other on long-haul flights.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 7:18 AM
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That's not exactly right. What they mean by "get married" isn't a concern about meeting people. They mean don't have children with somebody you aren't married to and don't get divorced. There have been plenty of calls and efforts to make divorce more difficult and to discourage un-legalized cohabitation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 7:22 AM
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leaning on the airlines to put mutually eligible people next to each other on long-haul flights.

Mixing seating charts with on-line profiles may actually be a brilliant idea for a startup. Flindr.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 7:26 AM
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They mean don't have children sex with somebody you aren't married to and don't get divorced


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 7:27 AM
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Well, if you aren't going to teach anybody about birth control, it's basically the same (heterosexually-speaking).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 7:28 AM
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But. yes. I don't expect the AEI to come out and say "Only oral or anal sex until you get that first job."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 7:36 AM
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"Why are you interested in working for us?"

"So that David Brooks will approve of my sex life."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 7:37 AM
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150: I thought of that one a few years ago. But not just for dating profiles - general personality profiles. So A, who just likes to sleep on flights, gets put next to B, who also just likes to sleep. Chatty types who like showing people pictures of their offspring get put next to each other. Surfers get seated with other surfers; culture vultures get to chat to other culture vultures. Business travellers sit next to other business travellers who might make interesting contacts (or failing that who will just be sitting working on their laptops too).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:14 AM
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Tennis players with vulgar, unfaithful wives get seated next to people with unpleasant fathers.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:18 AM
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Has anyone ever actually used that Virgin Airlines seat chat thing to flirt, as they suggest you do? I often get messages that say things like "Hi I'm the cutie three rows back, sex in the bathroom in 5?" but I'm too virtuous to respond.


Posted by: R Tigre | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:39 AM
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Not at all topically, the government is requiring that I get photographed for my new PIV card next week.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:43 AM
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155: Soon Google will know enough about everyone that this can be done seamlessly, but it will be done in such a way as to maximize the purchase of in flight movies or crap from Google's equivalent of Skymall. People with common interests will be kept apart, as conversation is hard to monetize. Boredom and irritation with one's neighbor will be maximized so as to drive customers to online content, and advertizing will be seamlessly integrated into that content with single-click purchasing. One of the items pushed by the integrated advertizing will be alcohol (available by simply touching the screen so a flight attendant can bring it without you even having to talk to a human) so as to lower people's inhibitions against pissing away money on crap. Windows will be a thing of the past, though a camera view from the cockpit will be available for a fee.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:44 AM
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158: Can I get a Penis-In-Vagina card, too?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:45 AM
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The gap between productivity and wages is the culprit for a lot of these issues

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/why-the-gap-between-worker-pay-and-productivity-is-so-problematic/385931/

Workers need to be paid more.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:46 AM
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One of the items pushed by the integrated advertizing will be alcohol (available by simply touching the screen so a flight attendant can bring it without you even having to talk to a human) so as to lower people's inhibitions against pissing away money on crap.

At this point I expect this to be an app any day.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:47 AM
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graduate high school, get a job, and get married

MOOCS; Uber, but for the whole economy; tinder

Problem solved!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 8:56 AM
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but no one seems to do much about c).

Everybody always complains about marriage, but nobody ever does anything about it...


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 9:16 AM
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Semi-related, this is a great graphic: http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/d823a614-9e82-11e5-b45d-4812f209f861.img


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 11:11 AM
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That really is. Visceral.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-11-15 11:22 AM
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