Thursday, February 25, 2021

Higher min wage makes more (low wage) jobs? -- Cert/recert/decert as "you like"

 For states that already have $12.50 minimum wages, waiting out four years to reach a $15 federal minimum wage won't soften job impact – because not much to soften.  A 20% pay raise for a firm with typical 10%-15% labor costs could add about 2.5% to products prices (20% X 12.5%).  
For $7.25 minimum wage states, doubling pay to $15 could force firms with 25% labor costs (e.g., fast food), to jump prices 25%.  But even if that incurred 25% jobs losses, employees as a group would be only too happy to be 50% ahead in pay overall (200% X .75).

If lower 40 percentile wage earners (all who below $15 an hour) sell less stuff to the upper 60%, but for more money overall, their accordingly greater spending will in effect employ more jobholders than before – while the 60% will in effect employ fewer jobholders.  (2015, pay wall)
 * * * * * *   

We have to go back seven decades to find a federal minimum wage that is albeit a dollar higher than today’s minimum: $8.35 in 1950 (inflation adjusted)!  

We would have to go almost as far back – to the 50s and 60s -- to find a level of labor union density that could wring (as in extract) fair share for employees out of the labor (consumer) market.  

Meanwhile blue collar workers are running for the Democratic Party exits at a pace threatening to remake Republican demographics look more like Democratic demographics of the 50s and 60s.  Blue collar voters switching to Republican, last ten years: White 45% to 57%, Hispanic 23% to 30%, Black 5% to 9%.
(Meet the Press, Data Download – 2/21/21, 39:07 to 41:14)

A healthy rich country labor market being so far in their (our) rear view mirrors that nobody even guesses (remembers) what’s critically missing anymore -- unions!  Build back every bit as much labor union density as we “feel like" as quick as “we like":

A union is a business.  You should be able to open any union business you “feel like" as easily as any other business: just apply for a license for most businesses; just vote in regularly scheduled cert/recert/decert elections in all private workplaces for union businesses.

Better act in a hurry to restore these folks' sense of their own power over their own existences -- before the next would be American Mussolini turns out to be less of a buffoonish fool (who nevertheless got 74 million votes).

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Fed min wage a dollar short of 1950! -- five dollars short of 1968!

 The trouble with expecting a whole lot of social progress from raising the minimum wage is that the hourly pay cannot be pegged above what the bottom of the barrel union contract would be – above organized labor's weakest bargaining point.

Taking $15 an hour as that bottom peg for argument’s sake, that would meant almost 40% of American workers are earning less than the weakest union contract would yield them.
( -- 2015)

Check these out:    .75  8.31    1.60  12.19

Never mind any bottom of the barrel pact -- 2012’s federal minimum wage is a dollar an hour short of the 1950 federal minimum (!) – and five dollars short of the 1968 (!) -- been something like tripled per capita income since 1950 – doubled since 1968.
 * * * * * *

Why can't people just join a union if they want to -- why can't they just vote for certification freely in regularly scheduled elections?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Could card check have saved US unions?

Suppose we had card check back in the 50s – would that have reversed US labor union history – would we likely have fully representative union density today, instead of 6.2% in the private (non gov) economy?

Starting out with 35% membership in the mid 50, card check wouldn't have led to a lot more unions – simply because we could organize pretty successfully without card check back then.  Came the years of (illegal) escalating anti-union blow back, card check could not have helped holding on to unions we already had.  

Came the years of fierce (illegal) management opposition, card check wouldn’t have been any more of a magic organizing bullet than it would be now.  Easier to form a union in the 50s without card check, than to organize now with card check; impossible in most cases.

At the very most: if we had card check starting in the 50s, union density might level off at a somewhat higher level these days (starting out with a few more unions) – assuming density ever stops going down.  Might card check today send density climbing way back to 50s levels or anything like it?  Good luck.

Only one way back:
 * * * * * *

EITC transfers 2% of income while 40% of our workforce earns less that what we think the minimum wage should be ($70 billion out of $13 trillion of income — wages are 2/3 of GDP).

We cannot set a minimum wage any higher than the wage that the unionized workers with the weakest bargaining position could negotiate for themselves ($15?). (The current $7.25 federal minimum wage is at the 1956 level, inflation adjusted.)

Perhaps, once we contemplate every other avenue to rehabilitating the US labor market to likely be unfruitful, Andrew Strom’s proposal of regularly scheduled cert/recert/decert elections at every private (non gov) workplace may finally seem as inevitable as in due course it must be.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Add life boats to labor's Titanic -- or do something real?

Wage increases at high end restaurants can cause sales drop for two reasons: (1) the obvious, prices of meals rising; (2) the less obvious, customers may have less money in their pockets to spend on high end merch after confronted across the board with price increases at their supermarkets, at Target, at Micky D’s … 
 … accompanying newly bulging labor union density's collective bargaining power or a minimum wage a lot higher than today’s 1956/2020 federal minimum, both $7.25 (inflation adjusted) -- or both. 

On average most businesses have 10-15% labor costs – outliers run from 7% for Walmart to 25% for fast food.  Ergo, average doubling labor’s wages should average add 12.5% to consumer prices.  Cab driver guess work: leading to 10% loss of original customers’ sales.  But, across the board wage hikes for bottom 40% of workforce should add a lot of sales – at businesses bottom 40% earners patronize.

All the while, average doubling (!) bottom 40% percent wages.  
  * * * * * *

When Congress first laid down the legal blueprint for organizing labor -- it could never have anticipated today's well oiled anti-union machinery stamping (stomping!) out unions until they are virtually all gone -- 6.5% in private (non gov) occupations should be seen as virtually gone.

Card check in today's toxic, 93.5% union free labor market; raising the minimum wage from the 1956 level ($7.25) to what bottom pay earners could probably collectively negotiate for themselves ($15), EITC that transfers 2% of income, while 40%* earn less than what we think the minimum wage could be -- are just adding life boats to America labor's Titanic.  We need something real – something to restore collective bargaining for real:   
 * (2015 -- gated -- but best story)

Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton never nearly fathomed (pun intended) American labor's going-down-for- the-third-time desperation – which is why Alfred E. Trump populates the White House today.  Nuff said?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

What to do for post-pandemic unemployed? Trick Answer

What to do for today's 30 million unemployed after the pandemic is over?  Half of whom, especially lowest wage workers, may not find jobs welcoming them back.  Out on the sidewalk until the labor market processes massive reshaping?

Suppose we could ease their predicament indirectly by paying employed lower wage workers – bottom 40% earners – twice as much as we paid for the same work before (“we” because ultimately we are talking consumers paying more).  Many employed and unemployed abide in the same households, families, etc.  Pre-pandemic, the bottom 40% took 10% of overall income – we should like to double the wages of this segment just in principle.

Increase fast food labor costs 50% and consumer prices rise only 12.5% -- due to 25% labor costs (Micky D's).  Double (!) more typical firms' labor costs and prices rise but 12.5% -- thanks to 10-15% labor costs (Target, Walgreen’s).  Triple (!!!) extreme lowest labor cost firms labor costs and prices could climb only 14% -- as low as 7% labor costs (Walmart).

Let’s guess that an average 12.5% increase in prices would cause 10% loss of sales -- just to have a number to work with.  If most similar businesses were raising prices at the same time there wouldn't be many places to go for cheaper.  With twice the money to burn, enough new low wage largess would work its way back into Micky D’s, Target, Walgreen’s and Walmart’s cash registers to make up for some of 10% sales losses. 

The lower 40%’s newly added income and the upper 60%'s subtracted income (lost sales) should reshuffle overall demand somewhat towards the lower end of the consumer price spectrum.  High end restaurant sales, for contrast, would not benefit from across the board low wage increases. 

Counterfactual: a historic sufficiency of American labor unions would have delivered such fairer labor costs/consumer price match-ups long since.
 * * * * * *

Click here for SEIU counsel Andrew Strom’s proposed path to adequate union membership -- with no threats and no sweat.  Adequate defined as: anyone who wants to be in a union (or does not want to be) is guaranteed the opportunity to exercise their will on the subject in cyclical balloting.

It would be cute if some would-be union members somewhere – whose election was being stolen in advance via the long ingrained union busting practices – made up some form of parody mail-in ballots for union certification election (union elections are not voted by mail but this is a parody to make a point) and sent them via USPS to their Congressional representative(s) – petitioning for regularly scheduled cert/recert/decert elections as prescribed by attorney Strom.  Be a lot cuter if every would-be union member everywhere – and every already belonging union member everywhere -- would swamp Congress with enough mock mail-in union ballots for their reps to finally take the hint how the second most precious species of elections in this country have been getting stolen for fair bargaining denied decades.

Come to think, dosing extra money to today’s employed could spread needed succor to today's unemployed 30 million -- supplement the supplements.  And it wouldn’t cost the treasury a thin dime.
 * * * * * *

Min wage addendum (what good is $15?)
In a" legit" labor market -- where as many employees as want to collectively bargain can do so – setting a minimum wage wouldn’t accomplish much.  It would only mark the best wage that the lowest able to pay employer could manage (e.g., fast food with 25% labor costs).  All other employed would be paid more by definition.
In America’s actual shorn of employee bargaining power labor market (6.5% unions in private economy – and going down), the federal minimum wage is $5 below 1968’s $12 an hour (adjusted), back when per capita income was half (!) of today’s.  Raising the minimum to $15 an hour in our unwell labor market would at least start wages in the general direction of what should have been realized by collective bargaining, long ago.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Up the down police presence

New York cutting its police budget (90% personnel costs) by 1/6 harkens me to the 70s when a no longer bridgeable budget gap forced laying off 1/3 of officers. 

To bolster police presence on the street back then, anti-crime units were ordered to patrol in uniform.  Our local guys patrolled in the same unmarked cars, but sitting low, hoping their uniforms wouldn't show.  Today, the City wants to disband these units all together.  One of the theories behind these units is that 10% of the cops make 90% of the felony arrests – so it's best to have the “super cops” work together, Startsky and Hutch style.

My small contribution to the lawlessness of the late 70s – I was a Bronx car service and gypsy cab driver by then – was to treat steady red lights like blinking red: stop, look both ways for a police car and go.  It got to be a disease.  I guessed at the time that assignments used up most of the patrol cars, leaving few for patrolling.
Along came the 00s – police rolls and crime had gone up and down to normal levels respectively -- crime by some measures down 3X since 70s.  And along came a mayor who thought it a good time to multiply police street stops 7X.  7 X 3 = 21 X as many stops per reported crime – mostly all dumped on minorities.  Residents of once crime ridden neighborhoods could stop looking over their shoulders for bad guys and start looking over their other shoulders for cops.  (Same mayor chipped in a billion dollars-plus on superfluous courthouses in the Bronx and Brooklyn.)

Today, reducing cops to reduce cop abuse strikes me a little bit like cutting back on doctors to reduce malpractice.  Problem: the more you cut down on cops, the more that criminals up abuse.  Follow up problem: it’s hard to make police behave in war zones -- so, you cut down on cops; criminals commit more crimes; and cops come on worse again.

The only way to make minority – and everyone else’s -- lives safe from cops and anybody else – is to get everyone on the same economic level.  That's just human nature.  Here’s the one -- and only way -- to get there from here:

Had Obama “woke” to federally ordered cert/recert/decert votes in his time, Hillary would be running for re-election today.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

EITC + min wage -- versus -- regularly scheduled union ballots

EITC shifts only 2% of income while 40% of American workers earn less that what we think the minimum wage should be -- $15/hr.

The minimum wage itself should only mark the best wage that we think firms with highest labor costs can pay* -- like fast food with 25% labor costs.  Lower labor cost businesses -- e.g., retail like Walgreens and Target with 10-15% labor costs can potentially pay north of $20/hr; Walmart with 7% labor costs, $25/hr!

That kind of income can only be squeezed out of the consumer market (meaning out of the consumer) by labor union bargaining.

Raise fast food wages from $10/hr to $15/hr and prices go up only a doable 12.5%.  Raise Walgreens, Target from $10/hr to $20/hr and prices there only go up a piddling 6.25%.  Keeping the math easy here -- I know that Walgreens and Target pay more to start but that only reinforces my argument about how much labor income is being left on the (missing) bargaining table.

Hook up Walmart with 7% labor costs with the Teamsters Union and the wage and benefit sky might be the limit!  Don't forget (everybody seems to) that as more income shifts to lower wage workers, more demand starts to come from lower wage workers -- reinforcing their job security as they spend more proportionately at lower wage firms (does not work for low wage employees of high end restaurants  -- the exception that actually proves the rule).

Add in sector wide labor agreements and watch Germany appear on this side of the Atlantic overnight.
 * * * * * *

If Republicans held the House in the last (115th) Congress they would have passed HR2723-Employee Rights Act -- mandating new union recertification/decertification paper ballots in any bargaining unit that has had experienced "turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit" by the date of the enactment -- and for all time from thereafter.  Trump would have signed it and virtually every union in the country would have experienced mandated recert/decert votes in every bargaining unit.

Democrats can make the most obvious point about what was lacking in the Republican bill by pretending to be for a cert/recert bill that mandates union ballots only at places where there is no union now.  Republicans jumping up and down can scream the point for us that there is no reason to have ballots in non union places and not in unionized workplaces -- and vice versa. 
 * * * * * *

Biggest problem advocating the vastly attractive and all healing proposal of federally mandated cert/recert/decert elections seems to be that nobody will discuss it as long as nobody else discusses it -- some kind of innate social behavior I think, from deep in our (pea sized) midbrains.  How else can you explain the perfect pitch's neglect.  I suspect that if I waved a $100 bill in front of a bunch of progressives and offered it to the first one would say the words out loud: "Regularly scheduled union elections are the only way to restore shared prosperity and political fairness to America", that I might not get one taker.  FWIW.

Another big problem when I try to talk to workers about this on the street -- just to get a reaction -- is that more than half have no idea in the world what unions are all about.  Those who do understand, think the idea so sensible they often think action must be pending.

Here is Andrew Strom's take:

*1968 federal minimum was $12/hr – indicating that consumer support was there at half today's per capita income.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Could America be saved financially/socially even if not all medically by $1 a piece masks

Wouldn’t we be much less anxious about going about reopening consumer markets (department stores, computer repair, jewelry etc.) if ourselves and everyone else were wearing N95 masks?  Ttalking theoretically -- understand numbers unavailable.

Could the US corona transmission rate drop below 1 if we all could wear N95s all the time -- lock downs or no?

We would for sure feel safer (even safe?) on airliners if all aboard wore N95s.  Virologist and NBC contributor Joseph Fair opines he caught the bug on the airplane even though he was wearing the best breathing protection because the virus entered his eyes. Of course if his fellow passengers had all been wearing his (presumably N95) level of protection the viral load of the air in the passenger cabin should have been negligible.

"To get technical, airplanes deliver 10 to 12 air changes per hour. ... Airplanes also use the same air filter — a HEPA filter — recommended by the CDC for isolation rooms with recirculated air. Such filters capture 99.97 percent of airborne particles."

Could America be saved financially/socially even if not all medically by $1 a piece masks -- flattening the curve in most non-restaurant style businesses all by themselves?  Could the airline industry be saved for $1 a passenger.  If so, time to stop talking theory and start manufacturing tens of billions of N95 masks?

(See also)

PS. The model of N95 with an exhaust valve on the front does not protect others from our viruses.

Friday, April 24, 2020

No rational relationship to a valid state interest: locking down driving

No rational relationship to a valid state interest: prohibiting driving around just for the sake of driving around.  In my case I come out of my gated garage to roam in my germ proof Toyota bubble.

I can walk in the park, I can bicycle, I can shop for groceries -- but I can't roll around in my private sealed bubble?

And getting out and around just for the sake of getting out and around IS essential.  Man and woman do not live by bread alone.

PS  Book stores are First Amendment protected -- period.  We can't close publishers -- we can't close retailers.  Suppose there were no Amazon; suppose this situation were going to go on for years.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Indisputable proof of global warming -- in three sentences :-O

Earth’s atmospheric temperature is already high enough to melt the permafrost (part of year freezing, part melting, more melting than freezing). The permafrost (I’m not exactly sure what that is) reportedly contains twice as much carbon as there is in the atmosphere now (may not be all in gas form but believe will all end up in gas form eventually: one and a trillion tons to add to 750 billion tons now). The more it melts, the more carbon dioxide is released, the hotter it gets, the more it melts, etc.: more than enough to eventually turn the earth into a pole to pole swamp — the normal condition of the earth for the majority of the last 500 million years (see video).  Indisputable — without any additional human help.

At first (last year) I thought the only way out was for all electric output to go nuclear — that was the physics of course; not the politics, good luck. My reasoning was that in 100 years the human population would need 10X more electricity — and I couldn’t see doing all that with windmills and photovoltaic).

I’m figuring thermonuclear to come along in about 50 years — for however that feeds into all of this. The technological way is well charted but it will take tremendous R&D working out. (see The Future of Fusion Energy by Ian Kershaw — must be good; I could only read about half of it).

Then, I came upon carbon capture technology. 

Carbon capture technology: practicably end global warming – even reverse it — for 5% of GDP with a reasonably lo-tech process – once the price to gets down to $100 a ton?

According to a Businessweek article, worldwide we add 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. Said article says Squamish Engineering, in B.C., Canada expects to launch a plant that will remove a million tons a year, located somewhere in the Permian Basin in Texas. Squamish says it can do this for $200 a ton. 

My back-of-the-envelope calculates that, when the price reaches $100 a ton, then, worldwide we can keep cool for $3.4 trillion a year – less than 5% of world GDP. US kick-in about one trillion – out of $20 trillion GDP. That figure would grow as US economy grows – but: for every trillion of growth only additional $50 billion would go for removal, leaving us $950 billion ahead: set for the life of the planet.  (closest link I could find)

Snag: where to put all the carbon we capture.

If we are putting 34 billion tons or carbon in the air now — could we be doing 340 billion tons a year 100 years from now — if we don’t replace carbon with thermonuclear? 100 years from now hopefully earth will be rich enough to go completely thermo. And here comes 1.5 trillion tons from the permafrost.

Better get busy finding room to hide lots of carbon. Did somebody say: The Green New Deal … is not remotely sufficient to stabilize global warming at a non-catastrophic level?


Where to find or create enough storage space for 15 trillion of tons of dry ice (captured CO2 -- in the form of a supercritical liquid, but because most don't know what that is and both take up the same space I say "dry ice") while the world awaits totally nuclear, thermonuclear and renewable energy:

At 100 pounds per cubic foot of dry ice (frozen CO2), a 100 foot X 100 foot X 100 foot block would contain a 100 million pounds, or 50,000 tons. At a cost of $100 a ton to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, it would cost 5 million dollars to capture enough to fill one cube.

15 trillion tons of dry ice would take up the volume of 300,000,000 such cubes (15,000,000,000,000/50,000).  At 50 blocks per mile -- both width and length -- that would come to 120,000 square miles of frozen CO2 (300,000,000/2500).  That would fit into a space 3000 miles long and 40 miles wide.

5% of GDP to capture, 5% of GDP to contain = 10% of GDP to keep C02 from turning our world from turning into Venus -- while awaiting a completely non-carbon fueled civilization.  May have to contain the stuff forever, but shouldn't cost much.

Possible design feature: storing dry ice containers at the bottom of the oceans could utilize the massive pressures at that level to hold the containers intact. 


What happened next startled the team. After about a year and a half, the pump inside a monitoring well kept breaking down. Frustrated, engineers hauled up the pump and found that it was coated with white and green scale. Tests identified it as calcite, bearing the heavy carbon tracer that marked it as a product of carbonation. * * * * * Measurements of dissolved carbon in the groundwater suggested that more than 95% of the injected carbon had already been converted into calcite and other minerals. “It was a huge surprise that the carbonation happened so fast,”
Among geological storage techniques, CO2 injection into deep saline aquifers, or its reinjection into depleted oil and gas reservoirs, has potentially large storage capacity and geographic ubiquity (6–10).
Two years later, almost all of the CO2 had morphed into carbonate minerals. * * * * * The team’s breakthrough, reported in the journal Science in 2016, led to the scaling up of the CarbFix project – fixing CO2 into rock, literally – at the Hellisheidi geothermal power station * * * * * The process does, however, require large amounts of desalinated water – about 25 tonnes of water per tonne of stored CO2 – so they are working on adapting it to saltwater.
Climate researchers have long recognized that highly reactive basaltic rocks could be a solution to the carbon storage problem. In addition to being common around the world, basalts contain high concentrations of calcium and magnesium ions that chemically react with CO2 to make calcite, dolomite, and magnesite. Moreover, dissolving the CO2 in water above ground and then injecting it into subsurface basalts bypasses the slower and less secure stages of conventional carbon storage. * * * * * The team found that over 90% of the injected CO2 had been converted into minerals within 2 years of injection. * * * * * “But also the way that we inject is that we dissolve the CO2 in water prior to or during injection. This means increased security as well, because by dissolving the CO2 we’re killing the buoyancy of the CO2. The CO2-charged fluid is heavier than the groundwater in the formation where we are injecting, so it has the tendency to sink rather than to rise up. This increased storage security.” * * * * * Mineral carbonation has been gaining interest in recent years, Snæbjörnsdóttir said. “People often believe that this can only be done if you have geothermal [heat], but that’s not the case,” she said. “The things that you need for this to work are just a source of CO2, [water], and reactive rocks.” * * * * * “We know that basalts like we have here in Iceland are perfect for this method,” she said, “but there might be rock types that are less reactive but still reactive enough. If some of those rock types are feasible to use for this method, we could broaden the applicability even more.” * * * * * The team is also looking into how well offshore injections using seawater might work.
We need to understand more about saline aquifer storage, but current research shows that several trapping mechanisms immobilise the CO2 underground, reducing the risk of leakage. The IPCC says that for well-selected, designed and managed geological storage sites, CO2 could be trapped for millions of years, retaining over 99 per cent of the injected CO2 over 1000 years.
The scaling up of this basaltic carbon storage method requires substantial quantities of water and porous basaltic rocks (9). Both are widely available on the continental margins, such as off the coast of the Pacific Northwest of the United States (12).
Around 25 tonnes of water are needed for each tonne of carbon dioxide injected. * * * * * “That is the Achilles’ heel of this method,” says Snaebjornsdottir. * * * * * “I agree that the process uses a lot of water, but we gain a lot by permanently getting rid of CO2 that otherwise would be floating around the atmosphere,” says Aradottir. * * * * * Experiments are currently under way to adapt the method to saltwater.

Geothermal energy is poised for a big breakout
“An engineering problem that, when solved, solves energy.”
By David Roberts @drvox

Saturday, March 21, 2020

We may freely roam in our private car bubbles

It occurs to me that you can freely roam in your private car bubble during a shelter-in-place order.  That sounds indistinguishable to me from taking a stroll or a bike ride.  For a lot of people -- the elderly in particular -- it may be the only way they can get out and about just for the sake of getting out.  If you may drive to a park to take a walk, why may you not drive back and forth to a park just for the ride?

I may be just getting over a pretty mild case of the virus myself.

I had planned to come out of my gated garage in Chicago to utilize the McDonald's drive thru across the street for lunch everyday (my usual lunch).  But instead I always find myself taking a short jaunt to a McDonald's a mile away -- a nice relief.  Getting around a bit in our closed car bubbles may be just the thing to help us tolerate movement restrictions as this thing drags out -- to avoid temptation to break the "prohibition."

You can take your whole family out for the same old Sunday ride around as long as they live with you -- and stay buttoned up.
 * * * * * *

There should be strict work rules in place to protect workers who have to handle money and credit cards all day.  Hand washing facilities should be placed right at the work spot so they can sanitize immediately when they leave the work place.  I'm worried about the kid in the McDonald’s drive thru window. I was thinking about sanitizing my credit card but I am guessing he of she is going to do 50+ an hour X 8 hour shift.
 * * * * * *

Another common sense thing would be some mechanism to allow people who have passed through the illness and are beyond the transmission to others phase to be returned to circulation so to speak -- if there is some scientific/bureaucratic way to do it.  Might possibly get things rolling back to normal a hell of a lot sooner -- and more smoothly transitioned.  Make everyone feel a lot better to watch the world coming back -- start tomorrow.  I know there is some process by which you can tell whether someone has achieved immunity -- may be just a question if possible to manufacture enough I guess.

This latter could be done at the local level -- prodding the federal to get moving.  Bring the economy back for the price of some ID badges?  Use the state driver's license facility?  Got nothing else to do.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

$15 minimum wage = what unionized market would pay at very bottom

Were the US labor market fully unionized, the lowest negotiated hourly wage would probably clock in at around $15. *   Setting same as the minimum wage in that fair and balanced market would not make a lot of difference.
In the case of a no minimum wage and no unions at all market, labor would be subject to subsistence-plus pricing -- each bit of extra employee ability is rewarded with a bit more pay – w/o reference to how much consumers might actually fork over.
In today’s actual US labor market the federal minimum pays about half what my theoretical unionized market above pays at bottom -- $7.25 – with next-to-no unionized private firms, compared to other rich economies – 6.2% (and dropping).  Simply raising the federal minimum wage to $15 would mostly subject labor to $15-plus pricing – would mostly not provide labor across-the-board with the mechanisms to collectively extract the max the consumer market would be willing to pay.

Today’s US labor market 40 percentile wage is about $15.  Raising the minimum wage to $15 would only assure 40 percent of earners what a thoroughly unionized market might pay at very bottom -- not accomplishing much if we are serious about building (rebuilding) a fair and balanced US labor market.  

Should Republicans win back the house while holding on to the senate and white house they must certainly foist a ratchet down labor law – like the one they had in the hopper last congress, requiring union recert/decert elections at every private (non-gov) workplace where union membership has rolled over 50% since last certification.

Assuming the Democrats take back the senate next year, why (oh why?) shouldn’t they enact a ratchet up/ratchet down labor law – requiring periodic union cert/recert/decert elections at every private workplace as SEIU lawyer Andrew Strom has put forth?

* A fairly robust guesstimate: 1968 federal minimum was $12 – at half today’s per capita income -- meaning consumer support was there.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Carbon capture tech: can 5% of GDP cool the world?

Carbon capture technology: practicably end global warming – even reverse it -- for 5% of GDP with a reasonably lo-tech process – once the price to gets down to $100 a ton?

According to a Businessweek article, worldwide we add 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year.  Said article says Squamish Engineering, in B.C., Canada expects to launch a plant that will remove a million tons a year, located somewhere in the Permian Basin in Texas.   Squamish says it can do this for $200 a ton. 

My back-of-the-envelope calculates that, when the price reaches $100 a ton, then, worldwide we can keep cool for $3.4 trillion a year – less than 5% of world GDP.  US kick-in about one trillion – out of $20 trillion GDP.  That figure would grow as US economy grows – but: for every trillion of growth only additional $50 billion would go for removal, leaving us $950 billion ahead: set for the life of the planet.
(closest link I could find)

Even if we could switch worldwide to 50% renewables today, that might only be fulfill 5% of needs 100 years from now when growing prosperity and populations might require 10X more.  Can we really expect to do that much with sun and wind?

The latter is why I thought at first that mostly nuclear was the only way to go – the physics anyway; wouldn’t want to think about the economic and  (mostly?) political barriers.  Then, I read there may not be enough water available in the whole world for the massive hydro needs of reactors – and that is only at 2020’s level of power needs.

Thermonuclear?  50 years from now?  Same econ and pol barriers?

“For two potentially powerful NETs—direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture—it’s not enough just to capture CO2. The substance must also be stored. … deep geological formations with the necessary rock characteristics are sprinkled around the globe. In total, they could hold more than 2 trillion t of CO2 … ”  That’s about enough room for 60 years of CO2 output at today’s level.  I would assume less than ideal rock will be available or be discovered – plenty of time.

Can we essentially pull all the entire atmosphere through carbon capture plants?  Plausible.  Another Businessweek article depicts species of tree that grows fully in 10 years and can remove 103 tons of carbon per acre per year.   My calculation that amounts to half a million square miles of planting to remove today's carbon creation.  Carbon capture plants should be able to interface the same volume of air I would think.

Thing is: no impossible (?) political hassles trying to get everyone to switch over to renewable/nuclear -- no radical disruption of econ/pol fabric needed.  Assuming capture can work, just develop technology as fast as possible and put it to work as fast as it finally gets through to all that we don’t want 120 degrees in the shade in the winter in Chicago – no longer any motivational deficits when we reach some point along the Celsius/Fahrenheit scales.  And assuming it works, we can potentially even dial the temperature back, if we want to badly enough.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Workable way to implement Bernies plan to wipe out a trillion in student debt

A way to implement Bernie’s plan for the federal government to wipe out all student debt. How to transition to a European like college loan system: 25 years to pay off — income based — then, forgive for any amount left. The kind of system we should have had in the first place.

Simple: fed gov offers to pay off any college loan amount that you owe — in exchange you agree to take on the European style loan setup. For people just out of school the exchange would be simple — straight forward trade of debt. How to handle people, say, twelve years out of school, who have of have not kept up their original payments, it will take a national conversation to sort out different situations.

The loan switching scheme avoids some of the problems with graduates who have kept up their payments objecting to simple loan wipe out for graduates who have not.