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  #1  
Old 08-10-2011, 02:08 PM
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Default Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

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  #2  
Old 08-10-2011, 02:57 PM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

What do you mean can they (UK riots) happen here? They are happening here already on a smaller scale. Flash mobs have occurred recently in Philly, Chicago, Milwaukee, even Denver where the purpose is to be part of the trendy mob, inflict harm to persons and/or property and (best of all) get away with free stuff.

The left's spin that this is due to austerity measures or angst with capitalism is so bankrupt, it's a result the destruction of the family, the complete absence of teaching kids self-reliance and reponsibility for their actions and of course the now ingrained belief that someone else owes them everything from food to a job to health care (coming up next, housing).

As to the UK, here's hoping the common sense of the past 24 hrs in response will take over:

"But it is more than childish destructiveness motivating the rioters. These are youngsters who are uniquely alienated from the communities in which they grew up. Nurtured in large part by the welfare state, financially, physically and educationally, socialised more by the agents of welfarism than by their own neighbours or local representatives, these youth have little moral or emotional attachment to their communities. Their rioting reveals not that Britain is in a time warp in 1981 or 1985 with politically motivated riots against the police, but that the tentacle-like spread of the welfare state into every area of people's lives has utterly zapped old social bonds, the relationship of sharing and solidarity that once existed in working-class communities. These riots suggest that the welfare state is giving rise to a generation happy to sh*t on its own doorstep.

This is not a political rebellion; it is a mollycoddled mob, a riotous expression of carelessness for one's own community. And as a left-winger I refuse to celebrate nihilistic behaviour that has a profoundly adverse affect on working people's lives. Far from being an instance of working-class action, this welfare-state mob has more in common with what Marx described as the lumpenproletariat."


Still waiting on how the far left will charcterize these rioting looters, they already used up the 'terrorist' tag to describe anyone who wants to slow the growth of public debt by 15%. No way is smashing windows, burning down businesses and looting anything close to that.

Last edited by harkin; 08-10-2011 at 02:59 PM..
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  #3  
Old 08-10-2011, 03:06 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

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Originally Posted by harkin View Post
What do you mean can they (UK riots) happen here? They are happening here already on a smaller scale. Flash mobs have occurred recently in Philly, Chicago, Milwaukee, even Denver where the purpose is to be part of the trendy mob, inflict harm to persons and/or property and (best of all) get away with free stuff.

The left's spin that this is due to austerity measures or angst with capitalism is so bankrupt, it's a result the destruction of the family, the complete absence of teaching kids self-reliance and reponsibility for their actions and of course the now ingrained belief that someone else owes them everything from food to a job to health care (coming up next, housing).

As to the UK, here's hoping the common sense of the past 24 hrs in response will take over:

"But it is more than childish destructiveness motivating the rioters. These are youngsters who are uniquely alienated from the communities in which they grew up. Nurtured in large part by the welfare state, financially, physically and educationally, socialised more by the agents of welfarism than by their own neighbours or local representatives, these youth have little moral or emotional attachment to their communities. Their rioting reveals not that Britain is in a time warp in 1981 or 1985 with politically motivated riots against the police, but that the tentacle-like spread of the welfare state into every area of people's lives has utterly zapped old social bonds, the relationship of sharing and solidarity that once existed in working-class communities. These riots suggest that the welfare state is giving rise to a generation happy to sh*t on its own doorstep.

This is not a political rebellion; it is a mollycoddled mob, a riotous expression of carelessness for one's own community. And as a left-winger I refuse to celebrate nihilistic behaviour that has a profoundly adverse affect on working people's lives. Far from being an instance of working-class action, this welfare-state mob has more in common with what Marx described as the lumpenproletariat."


Still waiting on how the far left will charcterize these rioting looters, they already used up the 'terrorist' tag to describe anyone who wants to slow the growth of public debt by 15%. No way is smashing windows, burning down businesses and looting anything close to that.
Yup, a couple of dozen kids in Philadelphia are exactly the same thing as thousands of people across multiple towns all over England; and not content with spinning silly analogies, harkin offers fact free sociological theorizing about root causes! Common sense!
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  #4  
Old 08-10-2011, 03:32 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Default Re: Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

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Originally Posted by AemJeff View Post
Yup, a couple of dozen kids in Philadelphia are exactly the same thing as thousands of people across multiple towns all over England; and not content with spinning silly analogies, harkin offers fact free sociological theorizing about root causes! Common sense!
Living here in Chicago, I must have missed the liberal theorizing that the flash mobbers were due to some deepseated social ennui and the liberal handwringing and whatnot.

Instead, our democratic mayor responded with curfews and increased police presence.
But he may have been doing what harkin says on the inside.
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  #5  
Old 08-10-2011, 03:04 PM
BornAgainDemocrat BornAgainDemocrat is offline
 
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Default Re: Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

Disclosure: I think Yglesias is the most clueless, inane pundit out there.

That said, I take issue with his statement that the days in which Americans make things are over forever and there is nothing we can do about it ("we can't turn time back"). Why do I take issue? Because a stiff tariff on low-wage imports from Asia would almost certainly rejuvenate American manufacturing. Gatt took us down. Getting rid of Gatt would take up back up. Cf. Here.

I also marvel at his cluelessness as to why wages in service industries are so low? They are low, in part, because we have outsourced all our labor-intensive manufacturing jobs overseas, forcing those who were formerly employed in those industries into the service sector. When the supply of labor goes up, the wages of labor go down. Duh?

Yglesias! How did such a talentless dufus ever rise to the top?

Last edited by BornAgainDemocrat; 08-10-2011 at 04:10 PM..
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  #6  
Old 08-10-2011, 03:48 PM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

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Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat View Post
When the supply of labor goes up, the wages of labor go down. Duh?
And when the cost of labor goes down, the cost of production goes down and goods sold on the market are cheaper. Therefore, all Americans get access to cheap goods in the United States versus the slight bit of special interest protection that your special interest industry would get.

Remember when computers were $2,000? Now, they're $500 and several thousand times faster. Only, you just take that miracle for granted.
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  #7  
Old 08-10-2011, 04:33 PM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default Re: Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

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Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post
Remember when computers were $2,000? Now, they're $500 and several thousand times faster. Only, you just take that miracle for granted.
Was labor ever a major component of hardware costs?
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  #8  
Old 08-10-2011, 04:52 PM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Zelig Edition (Matthew Yglesias & Reihan Salam)

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Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 View Post
Was labor ever a major component of hardware costs?
I don't see how it wouldn't be, despite their almost unlimited supply of slave labor. I'm sure labor cost reflected a much higher proportion of total business costs while in the United States.

Americans aren't any "poorer" in terms of standard of living. It's just that a lot of old jobs that provided people with purpose and dignity are gone. This is the heart of what people are upset about. Cheap cellphones don't make up for lost dignity, particularly because everyone you know has them. From a technical standpoint, it's amazing what we can do with our gadgets. Their ubiquity makes them uninteresting.
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Last edited by sugarkang; 08-10-2011 at 04:59 PM..
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  #9  
Old 08-10-2011, 05:11 PM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post
I don't see how it wouldn't be, despite their almost unlimited supply of slave labor. I'm sure labor cost reflected a much higher proportion of total business costs while in the United States.

Americans aren't any "poorer" in terms of standard of living. It's just that a lot of old jobs that provided people with purpose and dignity are gone. This is the heart of what people are upset about.
Not trying to be offensive here; Do you know anything about the manufacturing process for various types of computer components? I wouldn't say I have a good understanding myself, but I happen to know some about one stage in this process. Photolithography. When I extrapolate my intuitions about this one segment of computer manufacturing onto the rest of the process I estimate a situation where labor (But not just because of wages, also because of health/environmental regulations) costs are a vanishingly small part of total costs. It's all basically machines making machines with a few maintenance men and quality control guys tacked on.

I have no real data to support this, but I can't shake the feeling labor costs are really overemphasized relative to their actual importance when speaking of "Globalization"

I don't have anything to say about the rest of your post.
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  #10  
Old 08-10-2011, 05:28 PM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 View Post
I have no real data to support this, but I can't shake the feeling labor costs are really overemphasized relative to their actual importance when speaking of "Globalization"
Okay, but you're focused on the wrong question here. It doesn't matter how much labor in the United States costs. It only matters that the total product could be made cheaper somewhere else. Raw materials, commodities are going to cost the same no matter which country you're in. Variable costs are going to be real estate and labor. Infrastructure and business networks are also important. But if all these variables are more or less the same between China and the U.S.; if labor is the only really cheap variable, if you were a business, where would you do your business? When you see two different prices on eBay for the same thing, do you ever pay more for the same product?

My point is that our thinking of China as this separate country is the wrong way to think about it. That's just mixing nationalist sentiments with economic ones. In pure economic terms there is only one country: the world. Think of China as our 51st state with an unlimited amount of slaves where American law doesn't apply. These Chinese work even cheaper than African slaves worked on cotton plantations. Except, the new cotton is all of your electronics and household goods at WalMart.
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Last edited by sugarkang; 08-10-2011 at 05:32 PM..
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  #11  
Old 08-10-2011, 05:49 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post
My point is that our thinking of China as this separate country is the wrong way to think about it. That's just mixing nationalist sentiments with economic ones. In pure economic terms there is only one country: the world. Think of China as our 51st state with an unlimited amount of slaves where American law doesn't apply.
This would be more convincing if China had the same currency we have, or at the very least hadn't artificially manipulated their currency to make their products more competitive.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:01 PM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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This would be more convincing if China had the same currency we have, or at the very least hadn't artificially manipulated their currency to make their products more competitive.
Okay, let's parse out what's actually happening. If they weaken their currency against ours, that means our dollars buy more yuan / renminbi. That means all imports become even cheaper. Yes, that means they become more competitive in certain jobs. It also means even cheaper imports for all Americans. This is the most efficient way to raise the standard of living for the poorest Americans.

Remember when computers were so expensive that only a small percentage of Americans could afford them? Now, if I work a minimum job for a week, I can buy a computer. The solution is to create new businesses, but America just wants to tax the haves. You know I'm fine with a bit of redistribution. But if we don't get back America's capitalist spirit, we are screwed.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:05 PM
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post
Okay, let's parse out what's actually happening. If they weaken their currency against ours, that means our dollars buy more yuan / renminbi. That means all imports become even cheaper. Yes, that means they become more competitive in certain jobs. It also means even cheaper imports for all Americans. This is the most efficient way to raise the standard of living for the poorest Americans.

Remember when computers were so expensive that only a small percentage of Americans could afford them? Now, if I work a minimum job for a week, I can buy a computer. The solution is to create new businesses, but America just wants to tax the haves. You know I'm fine with a bit of redistribution. But if we don't get back America's capitalist spirit, we are screwed.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:08 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post
Okay, let's parse out what's actually happening. If they weaken their currency against ours, that means our dollars buy more yuan / renminbi. That means all imports become even cheaper. Yes, that means they become more competitive in certain jobs. It also means even cheaper imports for all Americans. This is the most efficient way to raise the standard of living for the poorest Americans.
Possibly. That assumes that the downward pressure on prices is a net gain for poor americans, relative to the downward pressure on wages and benefits.

And, yes, they've kept their currency weak against ours on purpose for the reason you cite.
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Old 08-10-2011, 08:15 PM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Possibly. That assumes that the downward pressure on prices is a net gain for poor americans, relative to the downward pressure on wages and benefits.

And, yes, they've kept their currency weak against ours on purpose for the reason you cite.
I don't know what to tell you. You can believe that free trade doesn't work or you can trust the majority of Australian economists. Though, I do understand the disinclination to trust those damn Aussies.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:45 PM
rcocean rcocean is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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I don't know what to tell you. You can believe that free trade doesn't work or you can trust the majority of Australian economists.
Haha. I always knew you were pulling our leg SK, good one.

Last edited by rcocean; 08-10-2011 at 09:48 PM..
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  #17  
Old 08-10-2011, 10:34 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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I don't know what to tell you. You can believe that free trade doesn't work or you can trust the majority of Australian economists. Though, I do understand the disinclination to trust those damn Aussies.
I have no idea how heavily the Aussie economists are weighting declining wages for the working class, or for that matter, the trade starting point in Australia.

I am saying that the import system you endorse has an upside for the poor (cheaper goods) and a downside for the poor (downward pressure on wages). You seem very certain that the one outweighs the other, and I am not so sure, and the fact that a bunch of Australian economists endorse a very general statement about trade that doesn't speak to this issue in the least doesn't convince me that this trade-off works the way you think it does. It's possible. I just don't see how their general opinion on trade in general is in any way helpful in ascertaining whether it does or not.
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:01 AM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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I am saying that the import system you endorse has an upside for the poor (cheaper goods) and a downside for the poor (downward pressure on wages).
Those pressures exist, but the gains for all Americans in lower import prices is much larger than the lost jobs. It's just easier to see who is directly affected by the "shipped jobs" because of the sad newspaper stories and it ends up having the effect of looking like we're being screwed.

Quote:
You seem very certain that the one outweighs the other, and I am not so sure, and the fact that a bunch of Australian economists endorse a very general statement about trade that doesn't speak to this issue in the least doesn't convince me that this trade-off works the way you think it does. It's possible.
Well, I'm not certain that free trade works. But, I am certain about what most economists think about it. US economists support free trade in similar numbers, btw. It's really not a question of whether or not one supports free trade, but whether we have mechanisms to transition the newly jobless into other employment.

Quote:
I just don't see how their general opinion on trade in general is in any way helpful in ascertaining whether it does or not.
Well, I assume that because they probably learn the same economics we learn here (but you never know!), they are a highly developed country with a robust economy that the trade rules affect them the way it affects ours. Most economists think we'd be better off. Look at countries that haven't traded. Cuba and North Korea have so very little in comparison to free trading nations.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:15 AM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by miceelf View Post
I am saying that the import system you endorse has an upside for the poor (cheaper goods) and a downside for the poor (downward pressure on wages).
The labor movement has long felt that way about trade. They used to correctly feel that about illegal immigration. If they abandon the economic logic of the latter, can't see what reason there is to preserve their views on the former.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:32 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator View Post
The labor movement has long felt that way about trade. They used to correctly feel that about illegal immigration. If they abandon the economic logic of the latter, can't see what reason there is to preserve their views on the former.
Shouldn't you say that if they are wrong to abandon their views on the latter -- if we think immigration is bad for the country, rather than leading to more specialization, efficiency, competition, so on -- maybe they are still right on the former?

Libertarians are consistent on this question (real libertarians, I mean, not those who are willing to use complaints about "illegal immigrants" in order to drum up support for other issues). Others, like rcocean and BornAgain, if memory serves, tend to be consistent the other way. Personally, I'm sufficiently uncertain that I'd be happy to have those who feel strongly and are sure they are correct debate it.
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:44 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Shouldn't you say that if they are wrong to abandon their views on the latter -- if we think immigration is bad for the country, rather than leading to more specialization, efficiency, competition, so on -- maybe they are still right on the former?
I think the questions of immigration (And when we speak of this, we're speaking of illegal immigration) being bad for the country and being bad for big labor are separate. Objecting to free trade recognizes that closed markets are a competitive advantage for domestic production. Closed markets for goods are the same formula as closed markets for labor. An American T-shirt that costs $20 can't compete with a Chinese T-shirt that costs $8, anymore than an American worker that costs $24 an hour can compete with an illegal immigrant who costs $10.
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:52 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator View Post
The labor movement has long felt that way about trade. They used to correctly feel that about illegal immigration. If they abandon the economic logic of the latter, can't see what reason there is to preserve their views on the former.
i agree.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:27 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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I am saying that the import system you endorse has an upside for the poor (cheaper goods) and a downside for the poor (downward pressure on wages).
I'd modify this to "upside for the country as a whole (cheaper goods) and a downside for those involved in the relevant industries and the working class in general (lost jobs and downward pressure on wages)." The reason is not just to be nitpicky, but the jobs in question weren't generally worked by the poor, they were an important source of employment for the middle class, and why it used to be a lot more possible to be middle class without going to college.

Quote:
You seem very certain that the one outweighs the other, and I am not so sure, and the fact that a bunch of Australian economists endorse a very general statement about trade that doesn't speak to this issue in the least doesn't convince me that this trade-off works the way you think it does. It's possible. I just don't see how their general opinion on trade in general is in any way helpful in ascertaining whether it does or not.
Right. It also doesn't respond to BornAgain's argument. Now, I think BornAgain needs to expand on his argument in order to be convincing, but so far we haven't had any kind of debate and the citation of the economists is not a counterargument. I'd be kind of interested in a real debate on this question, so that's too bad.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
I'd modify this to "upside for the country as a whole (cheaper goods) and a downside for those involved in the relevant industries and the working class in general (lost jobs and downward pressure on wages)." The reason is not just to be nitpicky, but the jobs in question weren't generally worked by the poor, they were an important source of employment for the middle class, and why it used to be a lot more possible to be middle class without going to college.



Right. It also doesn't respond to BornAgain's argument. Now, I think BornAgain needs to expand on his argument in order to be convincing, but so far we haven't had any kind of debate and the citation of the economists is not a counterargument. I'd be kind of interested in a real debate on this question, so that's too bad.
Important distinction. The impending terror is over the specter that many in the middle class may become part of 'the poor.'
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:32 PM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by look View Post
Important distinction. The impending terror is over the specter that many in the middle class may become part of 'the poor.'
Agreed. Economists care about raising your standard of living, but they don't care about raising your social status. I'd rather be in the 40th percentile of wage earners in year 2011 than the 60th percentile in year 1991. My life is so much richer now, I think. Though, this is because the internet is so important to me. People who don't value the internet as much might want to live in 1991.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:18 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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People who don't value the internet as much might want to live in 1991.
I didn't have any gray hair in 1991.
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Old 08-11-2011, 11:20 PM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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I didn't have any gray hair in 1991.
Just another reason to stay in the present year and support free trade.
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Old 08-12-2011, 05:34 PM
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Agreed. Economists care about raising your standard of living, but they don't care about raising your social status. I'd rather be in the 40th percentile of wage earners in year 2011 than the 60th percentile in year 1991. My life is so much richer now, I think. Though, this is because the internet is so important to me. People who don't value the internet as much might want to live in 1991.
Yes, being poor in America today is not the same as being poor in Dickensian England.

As PJ O'Rourke said: My own family was poor when I was a kid, though I didn't know it; I just thought we were broke.

Of course the problem with being hard-scrabble poor, whether on welfare or not, is the shame of not having what others have.
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:58 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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The reason is not just to be nitpicky, but the jobs in question weren't generally worked by the poor, they were an important source of employment for the middle class, and why it used to be a lot more possible to be middle class without going to college.
what do you consider "middle class"?

I thought it was a class in between "working class" and "rich", but it seems that most people use it nowadays to mean neither poor nor rich. is a barber middle class? a plumber? is there no class distinction between say a guy hanging drywall and a lawyer?

*I'd welcome anybodies responses to this question. It seems like a really amorphous term and i'm interested in how everybody else thinks about it.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:26 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
what do you consider "middle class"?

I thought it was a class in between "working class" and "rich", but it seems that most people use it nowadays to mean neither poor nor rich. is a barber middle class? a plumber? is there no class distinction between say a guy hanging drywall and a lawyer?

*I'd welcome anybodies responses to this question. It seems like a really amorphous term and i'm interested in how everybody else thinks about it.
OK. I think I'd say that there is a difference between white collar and blue collar. Also I think there's a difference between upper middle class and lower middle class and of course, middle middle class.

I would say that the barber is blue collar and middle middle class because he works at a skilled trade. Also, I think with the trades, there is probably a ceiling to the amount of money he makes.

I think that a lawyer expects that he will make more money than his barber. This is probably due, among other things, to the education he had to have prior to being able to practice law.

Professionals like doctors and lawyers have probably always had a higher status than a barber but I think today, for various reasons, expects to make more money and have a higher living standard than those who practiced those professions in the past. However, I bet the barber is probably in the same class that a barber has always been but has a higher living standard that barbers had in the past.

I would say that the unskilled worker is probably in the lower middle class. Of course, there are many low level office workers who are in this class.

So in conclusion, I would say that the living standard of all of the middle classes has risen. But some have risen more than others.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:43 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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OK. I think I'd say that there is a difference between white collar and blue collar...
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I would say that the barber is...middle class
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Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
I would say that the unskilled worker is probably in the ... middle class.

so middle class to you means everyone from unskilled laborer to a successful lawyer (absent modifiers on "middle class" such as upper/lower etc.). Thanks for your input.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:53 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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so middle class to you means everyone from unskilled laborer to a successful lawyer (absent modifiers on "middle class" such as upper/lower etc.). Thanks for your input.
I hope you are not mocking my efforts or I'll never participate in one of your surveys again.

But yes, that is my understanding. However I do think the modifiers are absolutely necessary.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:56 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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I hope you are not mocking my efforts or I'll never participate in one of your surveys again.

But yes, that is my understanding. However I do think the modifiers are absolutely necessary.
no, i wasn't mocking you, just boiling off the extraneous verbiage to get at what i was interested in.

I hear you on the modifiers, but most political discourse just references the "middle class", so i was interested in how people interpret that without any modifiers.

too bad nobody else wanted to play. I suspect that there is some interesting variation in the mental picture that phrase conjures up for different people.
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Old 08-17-2011, 05:26 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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no, i wasn't mocking you, just boiling off the extraneous verbiage to get at what i was interested in.

I hear you on the modifiers, but most political discourse just references the "middle class", so i was interested in how people interpret that without any modifiers.

too bad nobody else wanted to play. I suspect that there is some interesting variation in the mental picture that phrase conjures up for different people.
I really do think that it's simply that nearly everyone thinks of themselves as "middle class" and then adjusts accordingly. My family or origin, who I can remember not having running water or electricity when everyone else in the community did, considers themselves middle class and always did. My inlaws, who had a pool and servants, also thought of themselves as middle class. Literally everyone I know thinks of themselves as middle class, and I know a pretty diverse (economically) group.
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Old 08-17-2011, 05:33 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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too bad nobody else wanted to play. I suspect that there is some interesting variation in the mental picture that phrase conjures up for different people.
Do you have me filtered, or are you asking for a more specific answer?
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Old 08-17-2011, 06:27 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Do you have me filtered, or are you asking for a more specific answer?
sorry steph! saw your post after i replied to badhat.

sounds like the consensus is that middle class means everybody but maybe the top 2% and bottom 5-10% of incomes.

i think there is a problem there similar to the way that under bush something like 40% of republicans thought they were in the top 5% that was benefiting from his policies. I suspect that when people in Washington use that term they are referring to people with quite a lot more money than the common understanding of the word, but they give the illusion that they are talking about "you" because of this disconnect in definitions.
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  #37  
Old 08-17-2011, 07:30 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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i think there is a problem there similar to the way that under bush something like 40% of republicans thought they were in the top 5% that was benefiting from his policies. I suspect that when people in Washington use that term they are referring to people with quite a lot more money than the common understanding of the word, but they give the illusion that they are talking about "you" because of this disconnect in definitions.
I agree, and think this is related to the bizarre argument the Republicans have been making lately about how half of all Americans don't pay taxes. A good amount of the people cheering that argument have to be in that group, but of course most of the people who count for this group assume they pay taxes and probably even feel overtaxed, because when you fill out your 1040 you don't necessarily get the distinction between taxes which count and FICA.

So there ends up being this suspicion that there are all these other people who you (hypothetical Republican-leaning voter) are supporting, when you (in many cases) are considered undertaxed in this argument.
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  #38  
Old 08-19-2011, 02:08 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
sorry steph! saw your post after i replied to badhat.

sounds like the consensus is that middle class means everybody but maybe the top 2% and bottom 5-10% of incomes.

i think there is a problem there similar to the way that under bush something like 40% of republicans thought they were in the top 5% that was benefiting from his policies. I suspect that when people in Washington use that term they are referring to people with quite a lot more money than the common understanding of the word, but they give the illusion that they are talking about "you" because of this disconnect in definitions.
pk --

I was recently reminded of this idiotic update of the ant/grasshopper story which is a good demonstration of the RW framing. I think this is a narrative that a lot of people buy into, and they see themselves as the ants, which is basically what you are saying.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:23 PM
chiwhisoxx chiwhisoxx is offline
 
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Default Re: Labor costs & computers

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Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
what do you consider "middle class"?

I thought it was a class in between "working class" and "rich", but it seems that most people use it nowadays to mean neither poor nor rich. is a barber middle class? a plumber? is there no class distinction between say a guy hanging drywall and a lawyer?

*I'd welcome anybodies responses to this question. It seems like a really amorphous term and i'm interested in how everybody else thinks about it.
it's an essentially meaningless term created by politicians. they wanted to thread the needle by trying to sound like they're talking to ordinary americans who aren't rich, but they don't say working class because they're trying to target people likely to vote.
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:08 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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it's an essentially meaningless term created by politicians. they wanted to thread the needle by trying to sound like they're talking to ordinary americans who aren't rich, but they don't say working class because they're trying to target people likely to vote.
I don't think this term has been created by politicians. I knew as a kid that I was middle class and it wasn't a politician that told me so. According to this it goes back as far as 1911.

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The modern sociological usage of the term "middle class", however, dates to the 1911 UK Registrar-General's report, in which the statistician T.H.C. Stevenson identified the middle class as that falling between the upper class and the working class
But boy, according to this, my off the cuff definition was way off. It's kind of deceiving though because surely in 1911 England a barrister wouldn't have been considered upper class, but maybe is today?
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