Saturday, December 3, 2016

Life satisfaction = paycheck satisfaction = life satisfaction -- or is it the other way around?

Re:  A Job Is More Than a Paycheck  --  Dec 2, 2016, By Noah Smith

Life satisfaction = paycheck satisfaction = life satisfaction -- or is it the other way around?

Enter Walmart: the land of $400 paychecks.  The mostly American raised employees are embarrassed to work there.

Enter McDonald's: the land of $400 paychecks.  The mostly Mexican and Indian employees are happy and vibrant -- they know they are in a tight spot but they could be doing so much worse (in Mexico or India).

Enter taxi world: my former land of $800 a week pay (cash every day) -- and the former land of happy vibrant employees.  The now world-wide raised employees are happy and vibrant -- but they know they are in a tight spot.

What happened to my Chicago taxi job?: one 30 cent rise in the mileage rate between 1981 and 1997 -- at which 1990 midpoint Chicago started building subways to both airports, opening up unlimited limos, putting on free trolleys between all the downtown hot spots -- and -- adding 40% more cabs.  Since I left San Francisco (1996-2004) the city has doubled the number of taxicabs.

Enter Chicago's south or west sides: be a good idea to wear a bullet proof vest.  100,000 out of my guess 200,000 gang age males have opted out of the $400 paycheck, straight economy.

Go back to 1970 New York.  My Teamsters local 804 had just won a contract for $800 a week (adjusted) for furniture warehouse stockmen at 60% of today's per capita income.  Today's 804 pulls down more like $1200 a week for UPS driver (occupations with similar heavy strain).  Ask Jimmy Hoffa why -- and how.

45% of the US workforce pulls down $600 a week or (a lot) less.  The 45% pull in only 10% of overall income.

The next 54% pull in 70%.  Top 1% pull 20% -- up from 10% a couple of gens back.

A unionized bottom 45% could (could) squeeze 10% of overall income out of the next 54% by raising prices at Walmart or McDonald's.  Take more radical measures for the 99% to squeeze back 10% from the top 1%.

The 99%'s unions wont think twice about resetting the 90% fed income tax on earnings over $2 million, say.  Or whatever it takes.

Overall, the money is there -- and so is so much efficiency through reform.  Less financialization, less (much less!) pharma price gouging, fewer pro-profit ed ripoffs.  Enough union density puts an reform cop on ever corner.

Come to think of it enough unions is the only thing that can clear up the last of the US crime wave: the drug wars on impoverished neighborhoods streets.

The irony that it remains undone is that the path to high union density is as simple as protecting that path from management muscling.  The American labor market is the only market we have where unfair market power operates completely unchecked (it is illegal) -- it is the only labor market in the modern, first world as far as I know where management even tries to muscle labor.

Repub Congress not going to add enforcement power to NLRB (love to see mandated elections with a finding of busting).  But -- if there were no other labor laws whatsoever -- states could certainly legislate protections of employees in their separate labor markets.  Federal preemption should not effect that power (just as states can add to the min wage but not subtract).

Just open up the path for employees to organize a collective bargaining unit if they want to (no more gauntlet) and get out of their way.

Whatever high union density does or does not accomplish in wages and benefits -- union employees will understand they have squeezed the maximum that can be squeezed out of the consumer in the free market = happy and vibrant former gang bangers stacking shelves, hopefully not in too tight a spot.

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