Tuesday, 20 August 2013

08:09 – Jasmine started her junior year of college yesterday. When I talked to Jas over the weekend, I asked if she was looking forward to starting classes. She waffled a bit, and finally said that she was looking forward to seeing her friends again but returning to classes also meant returning to a very high stress level. It sounds like college isn’t much fun for Jas, just constant work. She doesn’t have much time or energy for parties, or even for socializing with her friends.

I ran into Kim while I was walking Colin yesterday, and we had a long talk about Jas, college, jobs, and so on. Kim expects Jas to do well in her final two years of college, but she also expects Jas to move back in with her after college because she’s afraid Jas won’t be able to find a real job. She said it’s not just Jasmine who’s stressed out and working herself to death. All of her friends are terrified about their job prospects after college, and with good reason. Something like 70% of the new real jobs that will be created over the next couple decades are going to require STEM degrees. Jasmine and her friends–all non-STEM majors–are going to be competing for that remaining 30%, and there’ll be a lot more of them seeking real jobs than there are real jobs available. Most of these kids are going to end up competing for mini-jobs, part-time and temporary minimum-wage jobs at Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and McDonalds. And most of them will be starting out under a crushing burden of student loans. Welcome to the post-employment economy.


Work on science kits continues. We need to get started on a new batch of chemistry kits this weekend. For the first half of the year, we sold about three chemistry kits for every two biology kits. That ratio has changed lately. For the last month or more, chemistry kits have been outselling biology kits about three to one.

48 thoughts on “Tuesday, 20 August 2013”

  1. Back in the Seventies a graduate in an uncompetitive discipline could get a graduate Diploma in Computer Science. One year more study, and you’d have a meal ticket. When I started as a programmer in 1980 a degree wasn’t even required. One of my pals was appointed as a CSO1 on a decent starting salary after completing his second year at college (of a three year course.)

    I’m guessing programmers aren’t in such demand now?

  2. CS degrees are still good.

    In the interests of future employability, I tried to convince Jasmine to major in (in order of preference) (a) engineering, preferably chemical, petroleum, or something similar, (b) chemistry or biology, (c) forensic science, or (d) nursing.

  3. The crucial thing is to escape college without a crushing burden of student loans. I don’t think Jasmine will wind up with a minimum wage job at McDonalds, but in the unlikely event that she does, I suspect she’s the kind of person who would wind up making more than minimum wage in fairly short order.

  4. Kim is going to do her best to pay off Jasmine’s student loans as quickly as possible, which’ll help a lot. I hope you’re right about Jas getting a decent job. She’s smart and works very hard. The problem is, in her major (business/marketing) there are going to be at least ten equally-qualified applicants for every job that’s available.

  5. I hope that she can recover from this apparent mistake. From what Lynn says chemical engineering is a good place to be. She went to a state supported school, didn’t she? That means that her tuition wouldn’t have been as crazy high as the private colleges.

  6. I remember you discussing at length a couple of years ago the shortcomings of doing a business course with a view to running your own business. I’ve always thought it best to do a base degree in whatever you want to do, such as electrical engineering, be someone’s wage slave for a while then start your own business. Perhaps do a MBA first? (Although a MBA would bore me rigid.)

  7. “…chemical engineering is a good place to be.”
    Worked out OK for me, but that was 50 years ago and using punched cards for computer programs. Mrs. graduated with a BS in Nursing and was never had a job application not accepted.

  8. You might be surprised how much state schools cost. A lot less than most private schools, certainly, but still pretty steep. UNC (University of North Carolina), for example, currently costs more than $23,000/year (including tuition, room & board, etc.) for in-state students, and twice that for out-of-state students. Jas originally wanted to go to High Point University (private), which would have cost her $40,000 for the first year and up from there. IIRC, HPU offered Jas $10K/year in assistance. I told Kim (and Jas) that they’d be nuts to accept that deal.

  9. I remember you discussing at length a couple of years ago the shortcomings of doing a business course with a view to running your own business. I’ve always thought it best to do a base degree in whatever you want to do, such as electrical engineering, be someone’s wage slave for a while then start your own business. Perhaps do a MBA first? (Although a MBA would bore me rigid.)

    Yes. Jas has always wanted to have her own business. I told her that entrepreneurs don’t major in business any more than successful writers major in writing. College business majors overwhelmingly turn into corporate employees (if they’re lucky, these days) and college creative-writing majors mostly turn into pathetic wannabe writers.

    I told Jas to choose a real, substantive major and take some business electives along the way, such as accounting. When she’s running her own business, she needs to know the basics of business operations but not the details. I told her that if she needs an accountant, she can hire one, but she’d better know how to read a balance sheet and income statement. At one point, once it was obvious she was determined to major in business, I floated the idea of skipping undergrad completely and just talking Wake Forest University Babcock School, where I got my MBA, into admitting her straight out of high school. I offered to introduce her to some of the people I know that are associated with the school, but she thought there was no way they’d admit her or, if they did, that she could succeed in an MBA program without an undergrad degree.

  10. Coincidentally, an article in the LA times this morning on the same subject, graduate employment. Article title: “Law schools shrink in soft market.”

    All schools strive for high rankings as determined by US News & World Report magazine. One of the factors is the percentage of graduates getting job offers in chosen field. When fewer get job offers, the ranking goes down and consequently law schools are accepting fewer students than in the past.

  11. I hope that she can recover from this apparent mistake. From what Lynn says chemical engineering is a good place to be. She went to a state supported school, didn’t she? That means that her tuition wouldn’t have been as crazy high as the private colleges.

    In order of starting salary:
    1. Petroleum Engineering
    2. Chemical Engineering
    3. Electrical Engineering
    4. Mechanical Engineering (me)
    5. …
    6. Civil Engineering

    Texas state universities are running about $10K per semester with living expenses. The junior colleges are way cheaper (no tenured profs). They are still heavily subsidized by the state but the legislature is pushing on them to reduce their costs. They are privatizing everything in sight which means no pensions.

  12. You know, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do at MIT’s virtual school. I’m thinking I might just do the on-line equivalent of a degree in CE. I always wanted to take a bunch of engineering courses, but I never had time. Of course, I don’t have time now, but then I never will.

  13. Report: A&M degree worth $1M more than it costs:
    http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/article/Report-A-M-degree-worth-1M-more-than-it-costs-4743639.php?cmpid=hpts

    1/4 of TAMU degrees are STEM. It shows.

    “High-quality academic programs churn out higher earners, with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranking Texas A&M as the college with the the 18th best value in the country, and the top in Texas.”

    “The top 10 schools based ranked overall for return on investment:
    Georgia Institute of Technology
    State University of New York at New Paltz
    University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Texas A&M University-College Station
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    College of William and Mary
    California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
    Massachusetts Maritime Academy
    University of Maryland-College Park
    Missouri University of Science and Technology”

  14. Schools with co-op working programs are a good deal in this era. Purdue University here in Indiana—a longtime engineering and agriculture school—has a co-op program that got one family member a good job at NASA. Not only did they hire her after the co-op arrangement, she has worked her way up to head of a major department.

    It is pretty clear to me from the experience of those around me, that continuing education while working—after the Bachelor’s—helps a lot. Another friend of the family had an average job in accounting at a regional office of a major retailer. They got an MBA, and were offered a significant promotion and lots more money at a competitor’s firm, even before the degree was physically conferred. Of course, that person (female) was out looking for a better position, and is now out-earning her spouse who is the regional manager of a restaurant chain.

    On-the-job training has always been the modus-operandi in the US, but I predicted from my time abroad that that will change, and can see it happening, as foreign money buys out US business. Foreigners value education much more than Americans have, but Americans will change.

  15. Looks like secession is getting closer and closer. It’s actually on the November ballot in northern Colorado now.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/north-colorado-51st-state_n_3781503.html

    I recently heard a European on BBC Biz Daily (sorry, can’t remember who it was) say that the only remedy for what is happening now in the US and Euroland, is direct democracy. Representatives don’t give a hoot about what the electorate wants, and will lie through their teeth to get elected, then do the opposite of what they KNOW the electorate wants. Apparently, gun restrictions in Colorado were the fireworks that pushed their initiative forward.

  16. As most people reading here know, I have indicated over the years that the so-called ‘free’ West has just as heavy-handed and corrupt government as it was imagined the USSR did in my childhood. Now comes this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/guardian-hard-drives_n_3782382.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

    UK government operatives smashed the hard drives and computers at The Guardian related to the Snowden affair. Justice is done, with no expense spared on a trial, it seems. Of course, China is the bad guy to governments these days, instead of Russia. There always has to be a bad guy.

  17. UK government operatives smashed the hard drives and computers at The Guardian related to the Snowden affair. Justice is done, with no expense spared on a trial, it seems.

    There is a crucial and important distinction between the heavy-handedness of the UK and the US and the of the Russians and Chinese. Yes, our governments are nowhere near as noble as they pretend to be. We know who Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are. Nobody has a clue what happened to the guy in front of the tank in Tianamen Square or who he was. When Snowden or Assange wind up dead like Alexander Litvinenko, then I will concede Chuck is correct.

    And as the video that Chuck links to pointed out, the Brits accomplished very little by destroying the hard drives and computers. Does anyone think that the data on the hard drives wasn’t already copied to servers outside England before the hard drives were destroyed?

  18. Well, I didn’t attend one of the top ten currently ranked as noted above. However, this was also true decades ago: “Schools with co-op working programs are a good deal in this era.”
    Without the c0-0p program at the university that I attended, I would not have been economically able to finish.

  19. What Dave B. said; we’ve got a lotta bad shit going down with the State in this country right now but they haven’t started loading us into boxcars yet and we don’t have bully-boy thugs beating people in the streets and making them clean the gutters with their tongues while their storefronts are busted out. Plus we have millions of very angry citizens who are starting to get uppity about things, and some of them are on the razor’s edge right now of committing serious acts. Of course I’ve been reading two biographies of Stalin and masses of people in the old Russia after the revolution were angry, too, and getting uppity and they got massacred. To do that here would mean the armed forces and police turning on their fellow citizens en-masse and imprisoning, torturing and murdering them. Ukrainian kulaks didn’t have AR’s and AK’s and Lord knows what else is out there right now, nor did they have a multi-century tradition of independence and fighting back.

    We shall see what we shall see; my most optimistic scenario has us muddling along without too much terrible hardship for most people, and then breaking up into a confederacy of like-minded states and regions; I mentioned the possibility of a new Constitutional convention on another board recently and the prevailing opinion was that if our current birdcage liner is ignored, what makes me think new birdcage liner will work? So a few states attempting secede, maybe a couple of them successfully at some point; some more flash mob-type activity of people marching through downtowns with open-carry; and massive non-cooperation with State mandates and a growing “black” market.

    ” would bore me rigid…”

    Here we say “…would bore me stiff.” Same thing, I guess, but interesting choices of words. I kinda like “rigid” bettuh.

  20. There is a crucial and important distinction between the heavy-handedness of the UK and the US and the of the Russians and Chinese. Yes, our governments are nowhere near as noble as they pretend to be. We know who Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are. Nobody has a clue what happened to the guy in front of the tank in Tianamen Square or who he was. When Snowden or Assange wind up dead like Alexander Litvinenko, then I will concede Chuck is correct.

    It’s the old Catch 22: when that happens, it will be too late—just like the old adage about coming after everyone around me, and when they finally came for me, there was no one to be my advocate. Personally, I do not believe the types of transgressions that happen(ed) in the USSR and China do not happen here. They do. They are just covered up better because they are done more surreptitiously, as a show of bully force seems to be used as mass intimidation more in Eastern cultures than in Western.

    Here’s an Indy story that happened last year and has been revived because the cover-up continues.

    http://www.wishtv.com/news/local/wish-files-complaint-over-not-getting-officers-file

    And the video from last year when the incident first occurred.

    http://www.wishtv.com/news/i-team-8/video-of-arrest-prompts-investigation

  21. And then there is the San Francisco Fire Chief’s banning of helmet cameras because one showed conclusively the Chinese girl being run over by a fire truck at the San Francisco air crash a few weeks ago.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/18/fire-chief-bans-helmet-cameras_n_3776897.html

    The Fire Chief had already banned in-truck cameras a few years back. Let’s not make truth the imperative in this country; let’s make government agency cover-up easy, instead. And we have.

    Remember Kent State?

    No, this super-repressive stuff goes on as surely here in the US as in Eastern countries. Americans just refuse to believe it can happen here. True, there is probably a lot more one-on-one stuff going on here than massive army interventions, like Tiananmen Square. But in the final analysis, we have no more protection against despotic acts than they do.

  22. I mentioned the possibility of a new Constitutional convention on another board recently and the prevailing opinion was that if our current birdcage liner is ignored, what makes me think new birdcage liner will work?

    The minute I saw Mark Levin’s new book, _The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic_, that is what I thought. They are ignoring the Constitution and Bill of Rights right now, just adding a few more amendments will not help anything.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Liberty-Amendments-Restoring-American/dp/1451606273/

    “Levin’s amendments include:
    1. Term limits, including for justices.
    2. Repealing Amendment 17 and returning the election of senators to state legislatures
    3. A congressional supermajority to override Supreme Court decisions (overruling what could be a stacked court)
    4. Spending limit based on GDP
    5. Taxation capped at 15%
    6. Limiting the commerce clause, and strengthening private property rights
    7. Power of states to override a federal statute by a three-fifths vote.”

  23. …but I never had time. Of course, I don’t have time now, but then I never will.

    That was largely my reasoning when I went to law school — while still working full-time. My schedule will probably never get better and I’ll only be getting older, so I might as well give it a shot.

    As it happens, the load was too heavy. It about broke my back, working and going to school and being a part-time single parent all at the same time. The work I was being paid for suffered and I was rightfully sacked from a contract. (In my defense, I’d been hired by a consulting company for my expertise in one thing and then immediately put on a contract doing something where my skills were at the “I can sort of muddle along” level. Still, I could have put more time and energy into learning about the new stuff if I hadn’t been spending 40+ hours per week with my nose in law texts.) I finished first year of law school and dropped out. It was OK; I hadn’t planned to be a lawyer anyway, I was feeling contaminated from exposure to the self-professed best-and-brightest classmates, and first year covered most of what I’d wanted to learn for my own personal and business protection. The civil procedure class was the only second-year course I really wanted to take.

  24. Plus we have millions of very angry citizens who are starting to get uppity about things, and some of them are on the razor’s edge right now of committing serious acts.

    Most of these folks live in the rural areas. A few live in the suburbs. And we know that the urban / suburban areas are 79% of the USA population. Not many folks to overturn the current way of life in the USA.

    Unless we get the double dip. If the economy suddenly heads south then folks are going to correctly blame that on Obamacare and Global Warming prevention and …

    Saw that the UN is going to double down on global warming in September:
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/19/global-waring-ipcc-ar5-report
    http://www.wunderground.com/news/95-percent-certain-humans-are-causing-global-warming-report-20130819

    “A rise in the ocean levels of 3 ft by 2100”. Run for the hills!

  25. Unless we get the double dip.

    We did. The dip was reelected. Or wasn’t that what you meant?

  26. John Perkins’ book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” took a lot of criticism as unprovable fiction when it came out. But—just like people coming out of the woodwork to aid Snowden in saying his revelations are just the tip of an iceberg, a whole book was written by those who confirmed Perkins’ positions.

    Now, his book takes on renewed importance, as newly declassified CIA documents make clear the CIA’s involvement in the Iran coup of 1953, which for eons had been denied.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23762970

    One by one, facts are surfacing that support Perkins’ account of things. Wake up and smell the coffee. The fact that our government is only 80% as ruthless as others that we deem despotic, therefore makes us more noble and protected than them?

    Hmm.

    The fact is that Western governments are daily showing quite clearly that the ethics of their institutions stink. Instead of killing our own people with poverty, we just do it by enforcing poverty on others in remote lands we invade economically. Fortunately, many of them are finally breaking themselves free of that Western influence, which replaced colonialism.

  27. OFD says:
    Plus we have millions of very angry citizens who are starting to get uppity about things, and some of them are on the razor’s edge right now of committing serious acts.

    Lynn McGuire says:
    Most of these folks live in the rural areas.

    Exactly. And that is precisely the situation in Colorado. The cities adopt what the rural dwellers in northern Colorado do not want, and the rurals want out. Will numbers make a difference in whether they can prevail? I guess we will see.

  28. The urban dwellers tend not to be anywhere near as well-armed as the rural people, nor have among them as large a proportion of veterans; they expect the State’s armed thugs to protect them when all hell breaks loose. But any honest street cop will tell you they have zero obligation to protect us, period. And they’ll do the State’s bidding so long as they get paid; if the economy goes down the toilet and/or we have the Great Default, which conventional-wisdom economists are blowing off now, then those pay checks are in serious doubt. Especially when we see the domino effect of cities, counties and states filing bankruptcies because they can’t or won’t pay those chickens-come-home-to-roost retirement pensions. It’s a huge house of cards, but again, conventional, academic economists tell me the country just has tons and tons of cash and resources and we can rule the world forever.

    I say the whole thing is increasingly vulnerable to a host of possible major catastrophes, and any one or two of them can accelerate the crash drastically. Couple that with an increasingly incompetent and criminal regime minding the store and we have a recipe for disaster:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bw1L8iXdGI

  29. Ah, here’s another one those of you who rave about private enterprise being more important than state-funded enterprises will not like:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/32ba9b92-efd4-11e2-a237-00144feabdc0.html

    Review of a new book which posits that the most innovative advancements in all areas of life come from research funded by the state, because private enterprise deems such research too risky to fund. From the review:

    ““75 per cent of the new molecular entities [approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1993 and 2004] trace their research … to publicly funded National Institutes of Health (NIH) labs in the US”. The UK’s Medical Research Council discovered monoclonal antibodies, which are the foundation of biotechnology.”

    “Early funding for Apple came from the US government’s Small Business Investment Company. Moreover, “All the technologies which make the iPhone ‘smart’ are also state-funded … the internet, wireless networks, the global positioning system, microelectronics, touchscreen displays and the latest voice-activated SIRI personal assistant.” Apple put this together, brilliantly. But it was gathering the fruit of seven decades of state-supported innovation.”

    “Indeed, the more competitive and finance-driven the economy, the less the private sector will be willing to bear such [R&D] risks. Buying back shares is apparently a far more attractive way of using surplus cash than spending on fundamental innovation.”

    Very interesting piece of contrarian research by a British woman economist.

  30. And I’ll stop stirring the pot tonight with the observation that my relatives in Houston say that mass transit is slowly but surely becoming a ‘won’t go away’ topic. Same thing happening in Indiana. Discussions are occurring of building a passenger line from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago O’Hare through Ft. Wayne and the north of the state. With wages of the younger generation increasingly not able to support personal transportation (cars), changes are coming.

    Won’t happen soon enough or as pervasively for me to benefit as I did while living in Europe, but it is coming.

  31. With wages of the younger generation increasingly not able to support personal transportation (cars), changes are coming.

    Cars are expensive now! And insurance and gasoline are also expensive. And Lord forbid that you need a new tranny. I’m driving a 2005 Expedition that gets 13 to 18 mpg with 129K miles on it. And it needs a new set of tires ($900 at Sam’s Club) and its second brake job ($800).

    That mass transit in Houston is a joke. Everyone here knows that Houston floods, right? Well, the new light rail has to shutdown when it gets 1/4 inch of water on the tracks. If Houston every goes back to being subtropical, the train will never run. Plus they are coming up on the 200th car-train wreck since the morons run it down the streets instead of elevated as they promised us in the vote (actually used pictures of Disney’s monorail in the advertising).

  32. But… but… but government projects are always for the best! And they’re better than private moneygrubbing capitalist projects! All the best minds say so, some even on this forum!

  33. I can think of a few gummint projects and innovations that didn’t work out so great. Then we (anti-State or pro-extremely minimalist State) get asked “But who will build the roads?” It’s become a meme now on the pro-liberatarian net. And Professor Walter Block at Loyola wrote a book about this very subject.

    “…they can reach their guitars over their bellies.”

    Agreed; longer straps. And Mrs. OFD has opined that older male rock guys should never wear tank tops; Jeff Beck can get away with it; that bugger still looks the same now as he did when he was with the Yardbirds. But very few others. Agreed on the original lead singer; a one-hit-wonder band.

    As we all know here, I do not share Lynn’s or Chuck’s optimism about most matters in this country; I sincerely hope they’re right and I’m wrong. We shall see.

  34. As we all know here, I do not share Lynn’s or Chuck’s optimism about most matters in this country; I sincerely hope they’re right and I’m wrong. We shall see.

    When was I optimistic? The country is definitely going to the dogs. I just don’t think that there will be a cliff, rather that we will muddle our way down. Unless all these new government regs kill us off by making it so expensive to hire someone or make it so expensive to live (new global warming taxes, etc).

    I see no great default in the next 20+ years. Just the Feddies holding the rates down so they don’t have to borrow to pay interest. Oh wait, they are already doing that, oops.

  35. Something like 70% of the new real jobs that will be created over the next couple decades are going to require STEM degrees. Jasmine and her friends–all non-STEM majors–are going to be competing for that remaining 30%, and there’ll be a lot more of them seeking real jobs than there are real jobs available.

    You know, this is a very true statement. How do I know? Because today’s graduates are competing for that 30% right now. And the STEM graduates are being fawned over and given high salaries and lots of bennies. Lots and lots of bennies. Health insurance, house loans, special savings plans, etc, etc, etc. I cannot believe what is going on out there for the select few.

    Whereas Jasmine and her friends will end up running a McDonalds or a tire store. Or a Chikfila if they are lucky. They still get to work 60 hours per week but they do have good bennies. I just hope that Jasmine and her friends do not graduate with big debts. There is nothing like having $50K debt and a degree in History when you are starting your career.

  36. I am almost as troubled as Chuck is by the blatant authoritarianism of our government. I’m not saying it’s not a problem. It is a very real problem. The only solution I can see is reducing the size and scope of the United States Government.

  37. I have been in agreement with the “optimists” here who think there will be a slow gradual decline. This may be wrong. It seems there is a potentially serious movement to increase the minimum wage to $15. Given my one semester of economics in college, I understand that there are two giant problems with the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. First, in much of the country, it is very difficult to live on that wage. Second, for those without job experience, particularly those in the inner cities, it is very difficult to find a job at that wage. That’s why unemployment among 16 to 24 year olds is so high in inner city areas.

    One of my wife’s friends happens to live in Tiny Town. Somehow, her husband happens to have a decent job, but she quit her just above minimum wage job and can’t find another one. Increasing the minimum wage will not help them.

    Increasing the minimum wage significantly will accomplish one or more of the following:

    1. Cause employers to pass the price increase on to the consumers.
    2. Cause employers to employ fewer people.
    3. Cause employers to lose money and go out of business.

    The real problem is we have kids with college degrees that have no relevance to employable job skills and crushing student loan debt to pay for those degrees. These kids have no alternative to living at home with mom and dad and working minimum wage jobs just so they can make their student loan payments. They’re holding down wages and pushing less qualified workers out of the entry level jobs.

  38. Tiny Town has no jobs—except McDonald’s and there are not many there. However, the turnover at Mickey D’s is terrific, so everybody gets a chance at rotation.

    The Mitt Romneys of the world disconnected the link between cost of living and the minimum wage back in 1979. If that link still existed, it would be $16/hr. Had that been in place continuously, business could have coped. Raising it in one swell foop is going to cause problems, without a doubt.

    I am really seething these days when restaurant chains that used to advertise ‘no tipping’ now ask you to tip the wait staff generously to show your appreciation. What they don’t tell you is that they cut the wait staff’s wages yet again. They want YOU and ME to pay the salaries of their staff, instead of them, while they pocket OUR tips in savings to their bottom line.

    Funny that in Europe, waiters are paid a competitive wage and restaurants are somehow able to deliver food for about the equivalent prices US ones do. And in Berlin, tips were €1/person—a reasonable amount, which is what I pay here ($1/person I am paying for). If I don’t get good service at that level, I don’t go back.

  39. As an Aussie, tipping is a habit I find absolutely disgusting. To be forced to tip regardless of quality of service offends me, although I sometimes tip here in Oz, where it isn’t generally expected, when I get good service from a taxi driver. If they can drive me where I want to go without talking incessantly, bombarding me with questions like a prosecutor or make me nauseated then I usually tip about 15%. I tip the lady who cuts my hair – she’s been my hairdresser for 25 years. But I almost never tip in restaurants even if the food and service are good. It’s the restaurant’s responsibility to pay their staff, not mine.

    When I’m in the US I tip appropriately because I know the situation with low wages, but I absolutely detest the necessity. I’d much rather that restaurant/whatever staff be paid appropriately and that could be factored in to the bill.

  40. The Mitt Romneys of the world disconnected the link between cost of living and the minimum wage back in 1979. If that link still existed, it would be $16/hr. Had that been in place continuously, business could have coped

    What? Mitt Romney is the least of our problems in the USA. He is a guy who actually puts things together and makes a product that people will buy. He bought companies in the ditch and recapitalized them while bringing in new management (and firing the old management who ran them into the ditch).

    Arbitrarily raising the minimum wage to $9/hr, $15/hr or $16/hr will just get more low end people fired. I would ask you to read a book on price and demand but I doubt that you would. There is the constant rumor that McDonalds will totally automate it’s kitchen at $10/hr or some number like that.

    Now, I am seeing quite the opposite problem in engineering jobs. Highly skilled engineers in the oil and gas world are getting 30% per year raises right now with significant bennies increases. These people mostly work in the field and are on platforms in the Gulf of Mexico or in the middle of North Dakota.

  41. Hope that comment on the minimum wage front is not directed at me. As I stated above, raising it substantially overnight is going to be problematic and I did not support that. But no way is it arbitrary. It was arbitrary to break its link with the cost of living back in ‘79. But just keep finding ways to make and keep Americans poor, and we WILL have an Armageddon on our hands.

    Mitt Romney a saint? Quite the contrary, he is a guy, who—along with his wife—are so out-of-touch with ordinary middle-class Americans, they cannot relate. Contrary to job creation, which the campaign pretty much showed Romney’s claims to be myth, he bought and progressively disassembled several profitable and successful Indiana companies, firing workers and offering their jobs back at significantly lower wages, then ultimately (and fairly promptly) closing those businesses completely, sending the jobs overseas and the companies to the trash bin of history when there was positively no such need. He and Icahn are beyond jerks, they are just like destructive, selfish, bullying little kids in a kindergarten, breaking toys and bashing companies that have been not only useful to others but both profitable and paying good salaries to workers until Bain came along. A couple of those companies were in the Indiana town Mrs. OFD did not care for—Marion, Indiana (thank Mitt for not helping Marion). Other manufacturing in Ft. Wayne was involved, too, but Ft. Wayne has survived better than Marion.

    Here is a short description of a couple Indiana companies on Romney’s hit list.

    http://underthemountainbunker.com/tag/marion-indiana/

    Romney never fixed anything but the lining in his own pocketbook.

  42. I’m kinda sympathetic in the Marion cases, but why couldn’t the workers just start a rival company, union owned or managed?

  43. http://underthemountainbunker.com/tag/marion-indiana/

    Wow, what a piece of drivel!

    “Thirty years ago, the U.S. underwent a shift — from an economy that grew in a way that lifted all segments of society, to an economy that gives heavy preference to the wealthy. That’s the broad story of the last three decades, but as Krueger pointed out, policy has a role to play. The trend abated temporarily in the 1990s, when the country returned to an era of fairly uniform income growth distribution.”

    What started happening 30 years ago? Foreign competition as USA wages exceeded the cost of foreign imports. EPA, Japan, NAFTA, China. These four words have done more damage to the USA economy than anything else. You cannot build a steel mill that will meet any clean air regulations much less those in force today for a reasonable amount. That is just one reason why all the bulk steel mills moved to South Korea and China. The only steel mills left in the USA are recycling and precision (battle steel, etc). Japan is a fierce competitor on building stuff and does not let 40 hour workweeks stop their goals. China’s incredibly cheap labor of building anything that does not need precision kills the market for other builders. South Korea has built enormous steel mills and exports that in the form of ships.

    You cannot just mandate wages without a corresponding protection of those wages. Germany has stiff import duties for everything. We have almost zero import duties into the USA since China ships most of their stuff through Mexico. Don’t blame the players of the game for the rules of the game. The government makes the rules and everyone, especially the capitalists, respond to them.

  44. Oh, but we were told relentlessly that NAFTA and GATT were “no-brainers” and we’d be fools and probably traitors to oppose them or express any misgivings at all. When Buchanan criticized that stuff along with the extremely un-level playing field set up for us with imports and exports, he was excoriated as some kind of nativist, xenophobic fascist. And of course, isolationist.

    So now we have what we have, latest news being the UPS cut-off of bennies to non-union employees; what, no one saw that coming???

    And the number of states where UI bennies exceed the minimum wage.

    Why work? Ideal thing for someone like me now is to collect UI until it expires and then work p.t. gigs “under the table” and get heavy into alternative, or “black” market enterprises. Or, if no self-respect left at all, simply lie back in front of the tee-vee and collect free food, meds and dope from the State’s coffers, filled by actual productive citizens, who are then vilified and punished for their enforced generosity.

  45. So now we have what we have, latest news being the UPS cut-off of bennies to non-union employees; what, no one saw that coming???

    Not entirely what it seems on the surface. If a worker has a spouse working for another company and that other company offers health insurance, then the spouse is dropped from UPS insurance. UPS wants the other company to cover the cost of the insurance.

    If a UPS worker has a spouse that does not work or a spouse that cannot get coverage at their place of employment, then they stay on the UPS health insurance rolls.

  46. BTW, to give you the case for import duties, consider this. What is the number one selling vehicle in the USA? Pickups. Ford, GM, Chrysler, their #1 sales vehicle are pickups:
    http://wap.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html

    Where are these pickups made? Here in the USA and in Mexico. Why? Because there is a 25% import duty on pickups made outside the USA or a NAFTA country:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tax

    Of course, it was reputedly the Smoot-Hawley tariff on imports to the USA that contributed to WWII back in 1930?

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