Saturday, March 5, 2016

Surface Thinking Libertarian's "Industriousness" Strawman

John Ellis bush, back when he was still a candidate for potus, in regards to American's slothful workers, said "people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families" (Jeb Bush says Americans "need to work longer hours" to earn more).

In regards to these lazy workers, Jeb! thinks they need to work harder, but employers absolutely should not have to pay them overtime when they do work more than 40 hours a week (Jeb Bush Wants More Americans To Work Long Hours But Doesn't Want To Pay Them Overtime).

In agreement with the insulting lower-income-workers are lazy meme, the surface-thinking Libertarian blogger Willis Hart posted a chart on his blog that, according to him, shows that workers who earn more do so because they work longer hours. More hours equals more money... it's that simple. These workers are simply more industrious, whereas those who earn less do so because they are less industrious.

Willis Hart: On the Fact that the Average Worker in the Top Quintile Works 140% More Hours Per Week than the Average Worker in the Bottom Quintile Works... So, do the progressives have some sort of magic industriousness pill that they haven't shared with us yet? I'm guessing that they don't. (7/14/2015 AT 4:21pm).

Proof that this blogger is a surface-thinker is the brevity of his commentaries. His posts are ususally quite short because he NEVER drills down and attempts to figure out WHY. In this case, he assumes that because this chart shows workers who put in more hours earn higher wages that - BAM! - it proves they are more "industrious". And, conversely, those who put in fewer hours are lazy. The standard Libertarian tactic of demonizing and blaming workers, in other words.

But this is not true - it is a strawman (which this blogger LOVES, further explaining why he accepts it so readily).

Before I get to the TRUTH that explains this chart, I'd like to point out the source of said chart (which this blogger does not give)... which is the Heritage Foundation (Income Inequality: How Census Data Misrepresent Income Distribution by Rea S. Hederman Jr. and Robert Rector. 9/29/1999. chart 12: Average Weekly Hours of Work Per Working Age Adult. see below for said chart).

Wikipedia notes that "the Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner, and Joseph Coors". Paul Weyrich (1942-2008) was the scumbag who admitted that the greater the percentage of the citizenry that actually votes, the more likely it is that the Republican candidate will be defeated. Because Conservatism is bad for America. ("...our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down" was what he said cira 1980).

Heritage is now headed by the climate-change-denying former Representative from SC, Jim DeMint [1]. Why deny climate change? Because it's advantageous to the dirty fossil fuel industry. Here they're spinning the fact that higher income workers put in more hours as a result of their "industriousness". In other words lower wage workers could earn more if they weren't so lazy - and we shouldn't be blaming employers (they aren't underpaying workers).

However, the REAL reason for this discrepancy is that higher wage employees usually work for a fixed salary while lower wage workers are paid by the hour. Higher wage workers are putting in more hours because they aren't paid any more for hours in excess of 40! Of course employers are going to want to squeeze as many hours out of them as possible! Duh!

Lower wage workers, on the other hand, are (almost always) paid by the hour and (because of this) employers determine the number of hours worked. And they prefer to limit these workers to 40 hours or less a week (due to overtime and insurance issues). These workers can only work the hours their employer allows them to. "Industriousness" has nothing to do with it!

That salaried employees put in more hours than hourly-wage employees proves is that employers want free labor from salaried employees. And they don't want to pay overtime to hourly workers (a sentiment by Jeb! expressed, saying overtime pay is "the wrong approach"). And so they restrict worker hours.

Why High Earners Work Longer Hours (excerpt from a NBER article) During most of the 1900s, the hours of work declined for most American men. But around 1970, the share of employed men regularly working more than 50 hours per week began to increase. In fact, the share of employed, 25-to-64-year-old men who usually work 50 or more hours per week on their main job rose from 14.7 percent in 1980 to 18.5 percent in 2001.

This shift was especially pronounced among highly educated, high-wage, salaried, and older men. For college-educated men, the proportion working 50 hours or more climbed from 22.2 percent to 30.5 percent in these two decades. Between 1979 and 2002, the frequency of long work hours increased by 14.4 percentage points among the top quintile of wage earners, but fell by 6.7 percentage points in the lowest quintile.

[NBR researchers concluded] that many salaried men work longer because of an increase in "marginal incentives" to supply hours beyond the standard 40 per week. These workers don't immediately get overtime pay for the "extra" hours. But over a longer time period, they get a substantial reward in the possibility of earning a bonus or a raise within their current position, or they may win a promotion to a better job, or simply signal to the labor market that they are productive and ambitious and thus suitable for a better job in another firm. Alternatively, the longer hours may enable them to acquire extra skills or to establish networks and contacts that could be rewarded in their current firm or in another one.

In addition, the long hours may enhance their prospect of keeping their current job if the firm decides to lay off workers in the future. Studies suggest that perceived job insecurity has risen substantially among highly educated workers. (Article from the The National Bureau of Economic Research website).

So employers are dangling possible future rewards in front of their salaried employees noses to coerce them into working longer hours... while only a portion of the workers who volunteer free labor will receive these bonuses. And, if you are a salaried employee who does not want to give his labor away for free? Well, then, if there ever is a layoff, you will be the first to go.

This coercing of salaried workers into the gifting of free labor is just one aspect of the plutocrats' desire to not pay workers fairly (more money for them). Regarding hourly workers, they're being forced to work for less (or having their labor outright stolen).

America, Land of Low Pay - The Numbers Will Surprise You (excerpt from an Alternet article) In 2013, the gross domestic product of the United States was 16.77 trillion dollars. That's roughly $140,000 per each employed person in our country. Yet most people only see a small percentage of this in their wages. The median wage in the United States was $27,851 in 2013 (median wage is a better measure of how the average American is doing because a few extremely wealthy people at the top skew the average). This means 50% of working adults make $27,851 or less each year.

Why do so many jobs pay so little? The logic of the market is not to pay people what they deserve. It's not to pay people what would make a better life for them. It's to pay the absolute minimum that you can get away with. (2/16/2015 article by David Akadjian).

The bottom line here is that we don't need an "magic industriousness pill", as Americans already work harder than workers all other workers.

Americans Work More Than Anyone (ABC News article excerpt) Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese. And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released last year, more than 25 million Americans - 20.5 percent of the total workforce — reported they worked at least 49 hours a week in 1999. Eleven million of those said they worked more than 59 hours a week. Who are these people? [Author of the book The White-Collar Sweatshop, Jill Andresky Fraser] concludes they are white-collar workers, who do not punch a clock and whose hours therefore are the most difficult to track. (5/1/2015 article by Dean Schabner).

As for lower wage employees working fewer hours, those figures (from Willis' Heritage chart) include retired folks, students and other part-timers.

The overall figures for how many hours a week the average American works have been held down by the increasing number of part-time service and retail jobs in the economy. But since many of the part-time jobs have been filled by the increasing number of women in the workforce, and many of these women had previously been housewives, there are fewer hours when anyone is taking care of household chores. (Americans Work More Than Anyone).

Further proof that Willis, who apparently agrees with Jeb Bush here, is totally surface-thinking this issue. His (and Heritage's) strawman is a simplistic "work more hours, make more money", when the explanation isn't that Americans aren't working hard (they are) but that Corporate America is ripping them off. To bad there isn't a "magic anti-greediness pill" that could be forcibly administered.

Proof that corporate greed is at play here.

Jill Andresky Fraser (in her book The White-Collar Sweatshop, says "corporate greed and mismanagement ate the American dream". (excerpt from the Amazon blurb) In the 1990s, before the bubble of the "miracle economy" burst, corporate America grew fat on the miseries of the American worker. ...for those millions of Americans... life at the office has become a nightmare: seven-day-a-week workloads; reduced salaries, pensions, and benefits; virtual enslavement to technology; and a pervasive fear about job security.

The Publishers Weekly review (from Amazon) adds that Fraser "calls for workers to restore balance in the workplace by lobbying for reduced workweeks, reasonable productivity goals and limits on the use of contingent labor". We need to get LESS "industrious", in other words. Because "working hard and working long hours is associated with poorer health and burnout" [2].

There is also the fact that CEOs make approximately 373 times more than the average US worker [3+4]. And, despite what Willis says concerning "one person getting wealthier meaning another person has to get poorer [because] the economy is some sort of fixed pie and we all have to scrable to get our scraps" (this is a "brain diseased notion" he sez). But when CEOs steal SO MUCH from workers, these workers absolutely ARE getting "poorer" as a result.

Yes, I would agree that the economy isn't a "fixed pie" in that economies grow (or, over the long term our's has), but what we're talking about is people taking more than their fair share of that growth. I say the "brain disease" is afflicting Willis, in that he (being a TOTAL stooge) buys into every distortion and lie put forth by Corporate "think tanks" (propaganda machines) like Heritage (whose only reason for existing is to shill for the plutocrats).

The lie here being (in summary of my commentary) that 1 workers who earn more do so because they are "more industrious" (when in truth they work longer hours because they are salaried) and 2 people who earn less work fewer hours because they are lazy (when the truth is that they are hourly and can only work the hours their employer allows them to), and 3 the Heritage chart shows that if some people (the lazy ones) were "more industrious" they could earn more too (when the truth is that the the figures are skewed due to the fact that some low wage jobs are held by part time workers who, if the primary breadwinner of the household were being paid fairly, would not be working at all).

In regards to that last point, Heritage produces a (pointless) chart on their website that shows what the income distribution in the US would be if all workers worked the same hours (chart 3), which is their way of saying that, if some workers were not so lazy, income inequality would be significantly less. But this argument is totally bogus because... well, I already explained why, and if you don't get it, then I say (in agreement with Willis logic), "if you can't see the difference you're not worth the explanation".

BTW, in regards to the "fixed pie" that is our GDP - it grows or shrinks each year depending on whether or not we are in a recession or recovery - and depending on the rate of growth (or shrinkage). But whatever it is, that is what it is "fixed" at (for that year).

Also, in regards to that pie, as the Wall Street Journal notes, The 1% Captures Most Growth From Recovery. According to this article, "in 2009 and 2010, the first year of the current recovery, the one percent captured 93% of the income growth".

So, everyone got poorer due to the bush recession, and now the wealthy have captured 93 f*cking percent of the "recovery pie". But the Hartster is too brain-diseased to acknowledge this fact. I doubt even a "magic anti-stooge pill" would cure him! Instead he buys into Heritage/Jeb! lies that demonize lower wage workers as lazy. F*ck him.

[1] Re Jim DeMint's climate change denying, prior to the 2010 midterms (when DeMint was still in the House), "an analysis of campaign finance by Climate Action Network Europe found nearly 80% of campaign donations [over $240k] from a number of major European firms were directed toward senators who blocked action on climate change [including] incumbents who have been embraced by the Tea Party such as Jim DeMint... and the notorious climate change denier James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma. (Tea Party climate change deniers funded by BP and other major polluters by Suzanne Goldenberg. The Guardian 10/24/2010).
[2] We ask the experts: are we working too hard? Article from the University of Cambridge website. Quote is from Dr Brendan Burchell, a Cambridge University researcher in the Department of Sociology.
[3] Why corporate CEO pay is so high, and going higher (excerpt) The numbers are in on 2014 CEO compensation, and [what the figures show is that] the average S&P 500 company CEO made 373 times the salary of the average production and non-supervisory worker in 2014, up from 331 times in 2013. The average pay package last year was $22.6 million, up from $20.7 million in 2013... The average gain in total compensation for the 200 highest-paid U.S. CEOs worked out to 9.1 percent last year. That handily thrashed the 2.4 percent economic growth and meager increase in personal income that other Americans enjoyed. (5/18/2015 CNBC article by Tim Mullaney).
[4] The pay gap between CEOs and workers is much worse than you realize (exerpt) [As of 2013] The average Fortune 500 CEO in the US makes more than $12 million per year, which is nearly 5 million dollars more than the amount for top CEOs in Switzerland, where the second highest paid CEOs live, more than twice that for those in Germany, where the 3rd highest paid CEOs live, and more than 21 times that for those in Poland. (9/25/2014 WP article by Roberto A. Ferdman).

Image: Heritage Foundation, Chart 12.

OST #115

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