Category Archives: Labor

Commodus Americanus, by The Zman

The U.S. government (I don’t say “our government” anymore) is filled with people who have only had jobs in politics, law, academia, media, and lobbying. They’ve never held a real job and have never had to deal with the routine concerns of middle-class life. From The Zman at thezman.com:

There is an old expression, “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”, that has haunted powerful people since forever. A variation on this is “The first generation makes it. The second generation maintains it and the third generation blows it”. While not an iron law of the universe, it is an observation that has held up over time. Whether it is business empires or political empires, the work of the great man somehow turns into a curse that plagues the lives of his descendents.

The funny thing about this bit of reality is that it is well known and many very smart people have tried to come up with a solution, but the problem remains. In the business world, expert planners work with business owners to help them mitigate this disaster, but only about 10% of family business make it to the grandchildren. The trust system was designed with this in mind. The grandchildren will never amount to much, but at least they will have an allowance to sustain them.

It is fair to say that popular forms of government were invented to address the problem of private rule going sour by the third generation. Caesar Augustus was the great founder of the empire. Tiberius Caesar Augustus was solid, but he suffered from the predictable maladies of every second generation ruler. Caligula is arguably Rome’s most famous lunatic. Of course, we have Claudius, an interregnum of sorts, before we get to Nero, who was literally the end of the line.

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The Real Revolution Is Underway But Nobody Recognizes It, by Charles Hugh Smith

Are the employees exercising the Johnny Paycheck option (Take This Job And Shove It) the vanguard of a revolution? From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Revolutions have a funny characteristic: they’re unpredictable.

The general assumption is that revolutions are political. The revolution some foresee in the U.S. is the classic armed insurrection, or a coup or the fragmentation of the nation as states or regions declare their independence from the federal government.

By focusing on the compelling drama of political upheaval we’re missing the real revolution, which is social and economic: the Great Resignation, a global movement which in the U.S. has largely unrecognized American characteristics.

The Great Resignation is the real revolution which few if any recognize. The status quo is going to great lengths to dismiss it, for example, The Great Resignation: Historical Data and a Deeper Analysis Show It’s Not as Great as Screaming Headlines Suggest, because this revolution is not controllable with force and is therefore unstoppable.

The sources of the revolution are in plain sight: you rig the economy to enrich the already-rich top 10% and super-size the already bloated wealth of the top 0.1%, and then you wonder why the bottom 90% are indebted, broke, burned out and disgruntled? The hubris of the ruling elites and their lackeys is off the scale, as this structural exploitation is presumed to be not just acceptable but delightful to the bottom 90%.

Alternatively, the more cynical view of those at the top looking down is: they have to work at the wages we pay in inhuman conditions because they have to: all the debt-serfs and tax donkeys must accept our pay and conditions or starve.

This is neoliberal neofeudalism with the kid gloves of PR removed.

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Workers See Their New Power, Quit in Record Numbers to Get Better Jobs at Companies Struggling to Fill 10.6 Million Openings, by Wolf Richter

Workers are in a classic sellers’ market. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Workers come out ahead, a phenomenon not seen in many decades, as desperate employers poach workers from each other amid widespread labor shortages.

The number of workers who quit jobs to work for another company, or to stay home and fix up the house or take care of the kids or who feel like they don’t have to work anymore after booking big gains in their stocks or cryptos, or whatever, spiked in November to a record of 4.53 million (seasonally adjusted).

In the private sector, “quits” spiked to a record of 4.31 million, 30.6% higher than in November 2019, a year when the job market had also been hot and the number of quits had reached record levels. Private sector quits accounted for over 95% of total quits. Only about 216,000 folks quit jobs at federal, state, and local government agencies.

This is not based on online job postings that can be all over the place, but on a survey of the payroll departments of 21,000 nonfarm businesses and government entities by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released today in its JOLTS report.

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Lessons From An Underground Economy, by J.G. Martinez

You have to wonder how big the black market economy is right now in the U.S. One thing’s for sure—it’s going to get a lot bigger. Just think of all the people who won’t get vaxxed. They’ve got to eat. From J.G. Martinez at theorganicprepper.com:

How is it possible to survive a nation with inflation rates of 20%/month and 1700%/year? The answer? The underground economy. This is the level of hyperinflation we have found ourselves with here in Venezuela, and considering the spread of inflation worldwide, it would be well worth the prepper’s time to glean what we can learn here.

Virtually everything you read dictates inflation on this scale necessitates civil war.

Yet Venezuela hasn’t seen this. Why not? Why are the streets not being taken by armed civilians?

While the main reason revolves around 20 years of disarmament and anti-self-defense teachings, I would argue that there is a second reason we haven’t delved into full on anarchy as well: our underground economy.

Underground economies keep people fed.

I’ve lived in four different and fallen South American countries, and it’s been the underground economy which has kept people going in each case.

When I used to work in the Venezuelan oil industry, our salary was taxed heavily just like everyone else’s. As expected, these taxes can quickly make it hard for a family to pay its bills.

But the underground economy? It’s completely unregulated.

I know guys with a hot dog cart who make much more money than engineers down here. And this isn’t new – our world has been like this for many years now. The guy working with the hot dog cart doesn’t pay taxes. He doesn’t pay rent. And usually, (and this is a now an “accepted” practice) these street vendors will run a wire from some nearby pole for their music and lights.

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Facebook Admits its “Fact Checks” are just opinions, by Simon Black

Simon Black’s weekly collection of the absurd, at sovereignman.com:

Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, risks to your prosperity… and on occasion, inspiring poetic justice.

Injured on the Commute… While Working From Home?

One major perk of working from home is having no commute.

Well, a shorter commute. You still have to walk from your bed to your desk. And that can be quite dangerous.

A German man was commuting to his downstairs home office when he fell down the stairs, and broke his back.

He said that because he was on his way to work, he was entitled to workplace accident insurance.

His employer’s insurance company refused to pay the claim, and it went to court.

Now the court has ruled that the man is in fact entitled to compensation, because the walk downstairs was no different than his commute to work.

Click here to read the full story.

Facebook Admits Fact Checks are Opinion, Not Truth

Journalist John Stossel posted a video on Facebook which suggested that government mismanagement of forests was a bigger cause of California’s wildfires than climate change.

But Facebook’s fact checkers labeled the video “misinformation” because they viewed Stossel’s report as a denial of climate change.

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Led by Jeremy Corbyn, the British Left Opposes Vaccine Mandates as Anti-Worker and Repressive, by Glenn Greenwald

In the U.S., you used to be able to say about liberals and leftists that they defended civil liberties. That’s no longer true in the U.S., but it’s still apparently true in Great Britain. From Glenn Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

The term “anti-vax” has expanded so widely that even vaccine advocates, such as Corbyn and trade unions, are now included by virtue of defending bodily autonomy.

Former UK Labour Party Leader and current independent MP Jeremy Corbyn argues against vaccine mandates for health care workers and vaccine passports for all citizens, Dec. 13, 2021

The shorthand label “anti-vax” once had a clear and concise meaning: namely, those who reject the prevailing western scientific orthodoxy that vaccines are a safe and effective means of protecting humans against infectious diseases by training the immune system to combat a pathogen in advance. As vaccines become more prevalent against an increasingly wide range of diseases — measles, mumps, polio, chickenpox — a dissenting political and scientific movement has emerged which rejects the scientific premises of vaccines and attempts to persuade others not to vaccinate themselves or their children on the ground that they are ineffective, dangerous and/or motivated by corporate profit rather than legitimate concerns about public health.

But exactly as we have seen with so many other political labels — terrorist, racist, fascist, white nationalist, anti-Semite — this once-descriptive, precise and useful phrase has metamorphized far beyond its original meaning into something barely recognizable or cogent. That transformation has been deliberate, with a clear motive: to weaponize the term into a potent political insult designed to compel submission to decrees from institutions of authority and stigmatize dissenters, threatening them with reputation destruction. The rapid expansion of the term “anti-vax” into a coercive political weapon has been years in the making, but the COVID pandemic was the steroid it needed to blossom into one of the most reputation-crippling labels one can affix to a political target.

Just as is true of accusing people of being terrorists, white nationalists, fascists or anti-Semites not because one espouses views traditionally designated by those terms but as punishment for any sort of dissent, the destructive power of the COVID iteration of “anti-vax” resides precisely in its vagueness, its lack of precise contours, its emptiness and meaninglessness. A term that means nothing can, by definition and by design, encompass anyone and everyone depending solely on the needs of the moment.

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Have Professional Athletes Become the Canary in the Covid Coalmine? By Robert Bridge

Nobody can explain all the athletes that collapse during workout or die, although vaccines seem the logical candidate. From Robert Bridge at strategic-culture.org:

The sudden spate of on-field emergencies has raised questions among several seasoned veterans of the game, Robert Bridge writes.

Amid studies showing a link between some vaccines and heart problems, professional athletes appear to be collapsing on the field of dreams like never before. Are these incidences normal occurrences, coincidences or symptomatic of mandatory vaccine programs?

As more countries make vaccinations mandatory requirements for participating in many aspects of life, including that of sporting events, stadiums around the world have become something of testing grounds for determining the efficacy of the rollout. Thus far the results do not look particularly promising.

Last month, the world of female rugby was rocked by the news that Scottish sensation Siobhan Cattigan, 26, died suddenly “in non-suspicious circumstances,” as the Daily Mail reported. Yet anytime a young person – not least of all a healthy star athlete – dies unexpectedly there is some inherent element of ‘suspicion’ involved. Perhaps not in the criminal sense, but certainly from a medical point of view.

Moreover, had Cattigan’s premature death, the cause of which has not been disclosed, been an isolated event then it could be chalked up as something of a tragic ‘fluke.’ It appears, however, that Cattigan’s sudden death was not an isolated event, but rather part of a disturbing trend in the world of sports.

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Labor Shortages Worsen, Companies Poach Workers from Each Other amid Massive Churn, by Wolf Richter

Wages are headed up along with most other prices and it’s a sellers’ market for labor. There are more positions than workers who want to fill them. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Job arbitrage in a labor market where workers have a lot more power than before.

Total Job Openings in October rose again, to 11.03 million (seasonally adjusted), up by 50% or by 3.7 million from October two years ago, after slightly dipping in September and August, to nearly match the blistering record set in June, a testimony to the massive labor shortages still dogging many industries across the US.

These job openings are not based on job postings, but on a survey of 21,000 nonfarm business establishments and government entities by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released today in its JOLTS report.

Hiring was also very strong – by far the best October ever – as companies filled job openings by poaching each other’s employees, offering higher pay, bonuses, and better benefits, leading to both, a large number of “hires” and a large number of “quits,” as people quit their old jobs to take up those better job offers, creating large-scale churn – a form of job arbitrage in a labor market where labor has a lot more power than before.

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The Long Cycles Have All Turned: Look Out Below, by Charles Hugh Smith

What would happen if all the long cycles were to turn simultaneously? From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

But alas, humans do not possess god-like powers, they only possess hubris, and so all bubbles pop: the more extreme the bubble, the more devastating the pop.

Long cycles operate at such a glacial pace they’re easily dismissed as either figments of fevered imagination or this time it’s different.

But since Nature and human nature remain stubbornly grounded by the same old dynamics, cycles eventually turn and the world changes dramatically. Nobody thinks the cyclical turn is possible until it’s already well underway.

Multiple long cycles are turning in unison:

1. The cycle of interest rates: down for 40+ years (last turn, 1981), now up for an unknown but consequential period of time.

2. The cycle of inflation / deflation: the 40-year period of low real-world inflation and rip-roaring speculative debt-asset inflation has ended and now an era of scarcity, real-world inflation and speculative debt-asset deflation begins.

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Why Inflation Is a Runaway Freight Train, by Charles Hugh Smith

Dramatically higher labor costs look like a sure thing. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The value of these super-abundant follies will trend rapidly to zero once margin calls and other bits of reality drastically reduce demand.

Inflation, deflation, stagflation–they’ve all got proponents. But who’s going to be right? The difficulty here is that supply and demand are dynamic and so there are always things going up in price that haven’t changed materially (and are therefore not worth the higher cost) and other things dropping in price even though they haven’t changed materially.

So proponents of inflation and deflation can always offer examples supporting their case. The stagflationist camp is delighted to offer a compromise case: yes, there are both deflationary and inflationary dynamics, and what we have is the worst of both worlds: stagnant growth and declining purchasing power.

What’s missing in most of these debates is a comparison of scale: deflationists point to things like big-screen TV prices dropping. OK, fine: we save $300 on a TV that we might buy once every two or three years. So we save $100 a year thanks to this deflation.

Meanwhile, on the inflationary side, healthcare insurance went up $3,000 a year, childcare went up $3,000 a year, rent (or property taxes) went up $3,000 a year and care for an elderly parent went up $3,000 a year: that’s $12,000. Now how many big-screen TVs, shoddy jeans, etc. that dropped a bit in price will we have to buy to offset $12,000 in higher costs?

This is the problem with abstractions like statistics: TVs dropped 20% in cost, while healthcare, childcare, assisted living and rent all went up 20%–so these all balance out, right?

There are two glaring omissions in all the back-and-forth on inflation and deflation:

1. Price is set on the margins.

2. Enterprises cannot lose money for very long and so they close down.

Let’s start with an observation about the dynamics of price/cost: supply and demand. As a general rule, things that are scarce and in high demand will go up in price, and things that are abundant and in low demand will drop in price.

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