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Sun May 16, 2021, 04:33 PM

No One Wants to Work [For You] Anymore: The End of Oligopsony

https://www.emptywheel.net/2021/05/16/no-one-wants-to-work-for-you-anymore-the-end-of-oligopsony/

This post highlights a very important discussion that may change the way that workers are treated in this capitalist economy. At least I hope it does.

There are few ways faster to piss me off than to say, “Slackers don’t want to work” in response to the lack of candidates for low-wage jobs.

Inside a one-mile stretch of the main thoroughfare where I live in Midwestern Suburbia, I can find 8-12 signs advertising job openings right now. I’ve lived here since the late 1970s and I’ve never seen this many postings for jobs.

Every single one of these jobs pays between $3.67 (Michigan’s minimum tipped hourly wage) and $15.00 an hour. None of them are full time, most have variable schedules, and only one place assures workers one weekend day off every week. None of them offer health care or childcare assistance of any kind. None of them offer enough hours regularly with enough compensation to pay for a one-bedroom apartment within walking distance, and likely not within a 10-mile radius.

Until the pandemic, these employers were able to tell workers what they’d pay, take it or leave it. They could act in concert without having to coordinate to set market pricing because it was simply understood by workers that hourly workers’ pay fell in this range and it was an employers’ market.

Employers have acted like a cartel, with collusion on price fixing for labor enabled by other monopolistic entities like Facebook and Google.

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Reply No One Wants to Work [For You] Anymore: The End of Oligopsony (Original post)
erronis May 16 OP
Faux pas May 16 #1
Trueblue1968 May 17 #35
UpInArms May 16 #2
reACTIONary May 16 #14
KPN May 16 #19
reACTIONary May 16 #27
UpInArms May 16 #29
reACTIONary May 16 #30
KS Toronado May 16 #3
DBoon May 16 #16
KS Toronado May 16 #28
dansolo May 17 #42
cstanleytech May 17 #39
OldBaldy1701E May 17 #46
KT2000 May 16 #4
cstanleytech May 17 #40
TygrBright May 16 #5
ShazzieB May 16 #23
TexasBushwhacker May 16 #6
RainCaster May 17 #38
TexasBushwhacker May 17 #67
tiredtoo May 16 #7
Mr.Bill May 16 #9
Hortensis May 16 #8
erronis May 16 #10
Hortensis May 16 #20
malaise May 16 #11
mountain grammy May 16 #12
dlk May 16 #13
PoliWrangler May 16 #15
Fullduplexxx May 16 #17
bucolic_frolic May 16 #18
Chainfire May 16 #21
Loki Liesmith May 17 #45
Chainfire May 17 #52
Captain Zero May 17 #50
Tink41 May 17 #51
DanieRains May 16 #22
Moostache May 17 #64
ananda May 16 #24
Bucky May 16 #25
RicROC May 17 #54
Ferrets are Cool May 16 #26
Bettie May 16 #31
ChazInAz May 16 #32
erronis May 17 #56
niyad May 16 #33
IronLionZion May 16 #34
applegrove May 17 #36
applegrove May 17 #37
erronis May 17 #55
cinematicdiversions May 17 #60
Cosmocat May 17 #41
Quanto Magnus May 17 #62
Maxheader May 17 #43
Loki Liesmith May 17 #44
Hotler May 17 #47
Marcuse May 17 #48
smirkymonkey May 17 #49
AllaN01Bear May 17 #53
Orrex May 17 #57
Kid Berwyn May 17 #59
Kid Berwyn May 17 #58
Blue Owl May 17 #61
BobTheSubgenius May 17 #63
East-A-Squared May 17 #65
Skittles May 17 #66

Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 04:35 PM

1. Kickin' with gusto!

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Response to Faux pas (Reply #1)

Mon May 17, 2021, 02:11 AM

35. TAKE THIS JOB & SHOVE IT, I DON'T WORK HERE ANYMORE .....



Johnny Paycheck performing Take This Job And Shove It


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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:11 PM

2. The "financial" markets love every type of inflation

Except for “wage” inflation ... they have some erroneous belief that prices can be whatever the “market” can bear, yet the “market” cannot bear a fair wage.

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Response to UpInArms (Reply #2)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:59 PM

14. That's not true. Wage inflation is...

... a leading indicator of across the board inflation.

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Response to reACTIONary (Reply #14)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:28 PM

19. That's one theory. In reality, there is some chicken and egg to it. We've had higher total

Inflation than total wage inflation over the past 40-plus year timeframe.

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Response to KPN (Reply #19)

Sun May 16, 2021, 07:47 PM

27. You are right...

... it's one influence in a dynamic, stochastic system.

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Response to reACTIONary (Reply #14)

Sun May 16, 2021, 08:10 PM

29. ...

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Response to UpInArms (Reply #29)

Sun May 16, 2021, 08:39 PM

30. ☮&💗

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:15 PM

3. The wealthy will fight tooth & nail to keep wages low, because it benefits their pocketbook.

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Response to KS Toronado (Reply #3)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:18 PM

16. and because it reinforces their self assigned status as superior to workers

The wealthy believe they should determine what other people are worth. They don't really believe in supply and demand for wages. They have a feudal sense of their own importance and what other people "deserve" to earn.

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Response to DBoon (Reply #16)

Sun May 16, 2021, 07:50 PM

28. " their self assigned " is right on target.

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Response to DBoon (Reply #16)

Mon May 17, 2021, 06:55 AM

42. I always felt that anyone who claimed to be a Libertarian

Should be in favor of unions and collective bargaining, but they rarely are. Libertarians are very selective about who should be able to take advantage of the 'free market'.

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Response to KS Toronado (Reply #3)

Mon May 17, 2021, 04:53 AM

39. Thing is though in the long run it does not as they accumulate more it takes

that money out of circulation from the economy as many of them pay little to no real taxes and that then leads to things.
Things like the infrastructure falling apart and that same infrastructure is what helps the wealthy become wealthy.

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Response to cstanleytech (Reply #39)

Mon May 17, 2021, 07:58 AM

46. HAH! Not according to them.

If you were to take some of the crap issuing from some of those oligarchs, one would believe that they tamed the wilderness by themselves with just a wooden spoon (that they themselves carved out of a tree that they cut down with their fingernails), then build an entire town alone, including firing a self-made kiln to make all of the crockery and light globes for the lamps that were filled with kero that this person created out of thin air... oh yes, it is no wonder that anything in this country is better than the best thanks to the literal 'super-powered' persons we have around here! (Until they have to pay a fair share of taxes of course, then one would have to believe that they just appeared out of the ether in a CEO position with nothing to their name...)

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:22 PM

4. Same here!

The complainers who object to people opting for making more money on unemployment do not get it. I consider myself an honest person - to a fault - but if I had a family, I would opt for the higher unemployment too. Low wage workers have been exploited beyond belief. It has to stop.

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Response to KT2000 (Reply #4)

Mon May 17, 2021, 04:57 AM

40. The mega rich are sitting on a powder keg by forcing people to live in poverty though as eventually

those workers could decide to repeat what happened in France a few hundred years ago and things did not go very well for many of the wealthy and powerful back then.
I know I for one would not shed a single tear for them if that was to happen right now.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:22 PM

5. And you can't have "Oligopsony" without... wait for it... "GOP". n/t

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #5)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:48 PM

23. Nailed it!

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:27 PM

6. Surprise surprise

2 million women have left the workforce and won't return until it's worth their while.

Baby boomers are still retiring at a rate of over 2 million per year, but last year it popped to 3.2 million. They will continue to retire over the next 8 years at a rate of 2 to 2.5 million per year. There may be some that continue to work or switch to part time, but they are a huge generation and their loss, through death or retirement, will be felt.

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Response to TexasBushwhacker (Reply #6)

Mon May 17, 2021, 04:01 AM

38. I will be retiring this year I think

The job offers I've received have been 25-33% lower than the job I was laid off from. Plus, I have to work in their office, which means relocation. I may take one of these bullshit jobs just so I can walk out when fishing season starts.

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Response to RainCaster (Reply #38)

Mon May 17, 2021, 07:47 PM

67. I'm 64 and several of my friends and former co-workers

have had no choice but to take early SS if they are eligible. I did because when I hit 62 I was squeeking by on a part time job. Now that I'm working full time again, I just put it all in the bank. I plan on working, at least part time, until I drop dead.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:30 PM

7. So many things need to be fixed

Hopefully President Biden can help us achieve our goals.

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Response to tiredtoo (Reply #7)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:45 PM

9. And almost half of the elected officials

in Washington will fight him every inch of the way.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:41 PM

8. Whether employed by capitalist owners or supervised in socialist collectives,

people are treated as they allow. No matter the system, all the same troublemakers will be there, including the greedy, the mean people, the easily suckered, those who'd prefer to fight each other than for each other.

Those who came before us here in nasty old capitalist America once fought hard and long to achieve workers' rights, good working conditions, and equitable, living wages and benefits. Some died doing it, and I'm just glad they didn't know how eagerly many a half century later threw away. Or that, critically, agents of both the right and far left for their own pernicious reasons, denied the revolution that collective workers' action combined with electing liberals to majorities in government achieved.

Sounds like maybe it's once again, 90 years later, finally getting bad enough for people to, once again, finally make it happen. Again. Sure hope so. We have Biden admin in the WH and bare liberal Democratic majorities in congress, and it's not like we don't know how to do it. Some of us even remember what it was like to be able to earn a living wage in exchange for modest-skill but full-time work.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #8)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:46 PM

10. You echo what I think. The short-term/bottom line capitalists aren't thinking about the future

They think they will provide well for their children/grands and multiple spouses.

But life isn't that clean and predictable. The upper-crust will find their futures undercut by the rest of us and our basic vital needs. Armies battling the "bonus" corps or strikers trying to get their wages will pull us down into a bloody internal war.

Wonder if that's not what some plotters want...

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Response to erronis (Reply #10)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:41 PM

20. Sure. My main point is that it will happen when people make

it happen, 330,000,000 of us against maybe 70,000 of them. Whatever the number, they take nothing we don't let them take.

They are absolutely afraid of us and, as you say, have behaved very stupidly. Imagine, during a four-fold runup of global wealth, the newly created centimillionaire and billionaire classes thought it right time to cut the incomes of half our people, against all expectations of the middle-class lives they'd always had and expected for their children.

My other point is that people want the plenty that only the capitalist engine of prosperity makes possible. We have to regulate and retool capitalism to make it work for us in all ways just as Adam Smith said we would have to back in the 18th century -- by controlling it. The same way we have to fly a plane if we don't want it to crash somewhere we never intended to go.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:48 PM

11. Great post

Rec

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:50 PM

12. It's almost beginning to feel like a general strike

and I love it! But I think there are just fewer workers. Anyway, we need to run with this. Americans need a raise!!

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 05:57 PM

13. Too many American employers are entitled

They have become accustomed to paying poverty-level wages and not offering regular schedules or benefits. This is why unions are so important. Without collective bargaining power, workers are at the mercy of employers and the "kindness of their hearts." This isn't freedom under any circumstance.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:09 PM

15. K&R nt

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:24 PM

17. Great stuff thanks

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:25 PM

18. For employers, it's worse than it appears

The pandemic lockdown merged two trends - home gigs and broadband. People had time to sample home work, webinars, home food delivery, work on their time in a casual atmosphere. Most liked it. The costs of commuting and clothing were gone. They cleaned their closets, tweaked up their entrepreneurial skills. They had family at home too, and became aware of what's really important. Most people would prefer to work at home. I suspect full time 5 day 40 hours at the office is fading fast, unless presence is required for the work itself.

Now workers have home income, and thanks to ACA, health care coverage. Corporations aren't going to get it back. It's gone.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:44 PM

21. You all are talking Socialism! How dare the workers not want to come back!

Real Americans can thrive on part time minimum wages without benefits......If they have extra money they will piss it away on fast cars and loose women. (or loose men, as the case may be) Keep a man hungry and broke, and he will come to work every day.

Living the American Dream; crashing on someone else's couch, eating Raman and staying away from health care. What more could a person ask for?

Meanwhile Bezos builds a half billion dollar yacht.....

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Response to Chainfire (Reply #21)

Mon May 17, 2021, 07:21 AM

45. What does Bezos have to do with it?

Him being rich is not the problem. You can tax him into the stone age and it wouldn’t solve the problem: lack of bargaining power for low wage workers.

At the moment they have some.

Good. I hope it forces some higher salaries before it kicks off too much inflation.

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Response to Loki Liesmith (Reply #45)

Mon May 17, 2021, 08:56 AM

52. I believe that the two issues are connected

Bezos made 17 billion dollars in one day in 2020. When one man reaps that kind of money, it is bound to leave little for the workers who harvested it for him. Assuming his warehouse employees make 40G per year, that would cover one person's salary for 425,000 years. Not bad for a day's work......

The economy is a pie. When one person eats six slices, it just doesn't leave much for the rest of the family.

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Response to Chainfire (Reply #21)

Mon May 17, 2021, 08:20 AM

50. Maybe workers still see the virus risks of going back?

And don't want to take those risks for a low wage job any longer. ?

Maybe more of these workers died or have long term virus complications from trying to work during the pandemic?

Remember the Rumpanistas were willing to let the virus run rampant when they thought it was just affecting blue states and poorer areas.

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Response to Chainfire (Reply #21)

Mon May 17, 2021, 08:39 AM

51. Interesting phrase that resonates

"Keep a man hungry and broke, and he will come to work every day." In my field it was fairly normal 30 yrs ago to see that put into practice. For some in the field that were not married, no kids they would show up when they wanted. It's always been"no work, no pay" we havent ever had vacation time, sick days. It wasn't the case for myself as I had those commitments but I was impressed
amused, at the chutzpah. We are and have been paid well enough with fantastic benefits that you could decide when you were working or not and live comfortably.
The newbies in my field need to think about that phrase and how it applies to them. I'm not sure when things changed but it does seem like Reaganomics have a role to play. There is a definite time marker and I've yet to put a finger on it.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:47 PM

22. Hate To Say It But I Own A Business Because No One Could / Would Pay Me

What I need to make.

I have had jobs before, but never made enough. Always had side gigs. Turned obsession in tech into a business.

As an employer though it's tough paying a good wage to folks who have around 50% efficiency. Between smokes, texts, calls, and surfing. And bsing.

Good workers are tough to find. People who give it 50% think they deserve $80k.

Welcome to Seattle.

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Response to DanieRains (Reply #22)

Mon May 17, 2021, 02:48 PM

64. I don't know you or your business, but I've turned more laps than I like to admit now...

I have seen more often than not that being an 80-90% efficiency employee only gets you 125% expectations and no greater share in the profits or success of the company; meanwhile the slugs seem to get away with it by their continued presence, the boss pulls up in a new Mercedes-Benz after a 3 week safari, and resentment, burn-out and negativity builds.

I do not wish to impugn you or your exact situation...like I said I know neither...I am just trying to offer a glimpse at the common frustrations on the other side of this situation.

As the owner, set the standards and enforce them equitably and without prejudice or malice.
If the standard is not met, it is imperative that consequences follow; otherwise, you have created negative inertia.
If you set a high bar though, and someone attains or surpasses it? How do you reward that?

A bonus check that is insultingly low? Been there...steward of a project with $42M in NET profit impact for the year. Reward? $1,000 one-time bonus and a 2% COLA with a 5% rise in employee-contribution to the health plan for that year. In the end? I LOST purchasing power and overall compensation...how motivated does anyone feel after that?

A 'raise' that nets them an extra $20 a month? Nothing at all?
Just an exhortation that they covered for the lower performers yet again? Not fucking likely to happen again.

In this country, we love to say that small businesses are the engine of the economy, yet there is a widespread tendency to use the lowest octane gas, the cheapest oil and the most threadbare tires available to drive those engines. If the owners are pulling 100-hour work weeks, and busting themselves on the rocks alongside their employees; that is one thing that can inspire loyalty and understanding...if said owner is in the shop 4 hours a month, ruling remotely from a satellite office or simply NEVER around? That is something else entirely...and only the individuals in those positions themselves can truly KNOW which kind they are (or wish to become).

Ferrari performance does not come from 20-year old Pontiac Firebird vehicles - nor does it come from uninspired, undisciplined staffs - it comes from highest quality parts and workmanship and expectations and commitment to maintaining excellence above all else. Long-term profits and reputation invariably follow dedication. Dedication is cultivated, not bought at a discount.

Pay a person just enough to not starve and they will work just enough to not be fired.
Pay them LESS than a living wage and they will find ways to steal from you through lack of effort, no dedication or outright sloth.

Pay them based on the value they add to the business, and as a FAIR portion of the profits? I say try it and see - 40+ years of 'trickle down' thinking is an abject failure in my eyes...but my bet would be on the ingenuity and drive of a motivated, well-paid staff of 10 to run circles around a tired, depressed, unmotivated and under-paid group of 50 or more. The question is does an owner see more value in shared profits and longer-term stability or a much bigger share of the short-term and a plan to parachute out and abandon the workers anyway?

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 06:53 PM

24. Very good article.

And necessary.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 07:32 PM

25. As an economics teacher, I'm so happy to see "Oligopsony" being used"

It's the main reason Democrats have always supported small businesses

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Response to Bucky (Reply #25)

Mon May 17, 2021, 10:07 AM

54. The word 'Business' is way over-worked and misleading....

Dems need to talk and differentiate between Small Business vs. Large Corporate Business/International conglomerates.

That's why I like the name of the MN Dem party, DFL: Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

I'll bet the owners of small business pay more %age-wise, than the directors of Big Business, despite what Mitt Romney stated, 'Corporations are people, my friends'


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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 07:41 PM

26. K and R

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 08:52 PM

31. And don't forget, most of those

low wage, part-time jobs require on-call availability, so that their underpaid employees can't get a second job.

I also wonder how many dual income families realized that they really can get by on one income because after the cost of clothes, eating out more, child care, and other work-related expenses, they weren't actually making more money.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 09:18 PM

32. The actual birth of the labor movement

Was in the latter half of the Fourteenth Century, IMHO.
The Black Death had burned through Europe, halving the population of serfs and peasants. The survivors found themselves in a position of strength when the nobles and royals needed workers to rebuild their shattered fiefdoms.
"And just how much are you going to pay me to dig that ditch, boss-man?"

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Response to ChazInAz (Reply #32)

Mon May 17, 2021, 10:38 AM

56. Good point, also as mentioned below.

I also think the lingering fear of a return of this virus, or another disease, will make many of us peasants hesitant to risk our lives for minimum wage or less.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 10:43 PM

33. KNR

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun May 16, 2021, 11:57 PM

34. GOP loves it when people are desperate enough to take whatever they can

and then blame foreigners or lazy entitled millennials or whoever else is killing the world today.

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Response to erronis (Original post)


Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 02:15 AM

37. Didn't the plague end cerfdom and usher in the middle class in Europe? n/t

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Response to applegrove (Reply #37)

Mon May 17, 2021, 10:31 AM

55. That's an interesting idea. Too bad it takes such a drastic event to cause change.

Pandemics, famines, 100 year wars.

One would hope that homo-sapiens were getting a bit smarter on how to deal with disasters.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #37)

Mon May 17, 2021, 01:03 PM

60. Yes. . Yes it did. Nt

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 05:59 AM

41. Had a discussion w our county sheriff

It isnt a job you get rich off, but its a living wage w benefits including a county pension. He used to get at least a dozen applicants for an opening. Has seven open spots, had a couple dozen applicants and most didn't show for the interviews.

There is something else going on.

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Response to Cosmocat (Reply #41)

Mon May 17, 2021, 01:49 PM

62. I don't think...

that it just a money thing for the Sheriff's dept. At least in my area, most police and sheriff jobs are 6 figure positions.

Police have caused themselves a self inflicted wound with all of the shootings. It's probably turning off a lot of people who might otherwise want the job.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 07:04 AM

43. ok, I understand the fucked up schedules...


Getting geared back up after shutting down...

But the companies human resources can work

back and forth to keep people employed. They

have resumes to share....

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 07:15 AM

44. Beginning of an inflationary spiral?

One hopes not.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 07:59 AM

47. It's a workers market now and it's time to drive up wages. nt.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 08:02 AM

48. Slackers didn't want to work.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 08:10 AM

49. It's about time...

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 09:15 AM

53. slave wages .

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 10:55 AM

57. Show of hands, please:

Last edited Mon May 17, 2021, 10:23 PM - Edit history (1)

Prior to this article, how many here could honestly define the word "oligopsony?"

I'm not entirely uneducated, and I'm reasonably well-read, but I never encountered that term until seeing it in the OP's subject line.


You learn something new every day.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #57)

Mon May 17, 2021, 11:32 AM

59. HAND. It's got "GOP" in it.

So, it can’t be good.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 11:25 AM

58. Make the rich work, too, then.

The ownership class, for the most part, inherited what they own. They’ve never had to work a day in their lives. Trust fund babies and coupon clippers alike, put all the rich to work on the assembly line, digging ditches, lugging lettuce...they’ll become generous PDQ.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 01:18 PM

61. Take this GOP and shove it!

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 01:56 PM

63. I remember when $15/hr was a handsome wage.

That was a long time ago, and things have changed drastically...except wages. Sure, they have risen, but at nowhere near the rate as prices, or - very importantly - their own productivity. It used to be that wages rose more or less concurrently with productivity increases.

Back when I was in the labour market - mid-to-late 70s to late 80s, I had a list of bennies as long as my arm, and, in the first 5 years of my employment, rose DRAMATICALLY. Our contract mandated a 5% raise every 6 months, until you were eligible to write the technology exam that you had been getting more or less on-the-job training for for 4 /12 years. In addition, the top rate towards which were advancing rose as well, depending on the current contract.

I got my certification first time (by NO means a given), so, at the end of my first 5 years in that job, my wages literally tripled. Try to find that deal these days. I saved a decent downpayment for a house without trying. That sounds absurd now, but before this job, I was used to being a college student and having NO money. Decent money was more money than I knew what to do with.

My final wage in 1988 was what would be considered "above starvation" now, but by no means lavish. Back then, $20/hr plus a big benefit package was more than decent. I have no idea what kind of unrelenting pressure people that don't make even a living wage must be under.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 05:26 PM

65. Also, many people would rather do Uber or Lyft than work

fast food or 7-11. Uber drivers can set their own hours and can throw out unruly customers.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Mon May 17, 2021, 05:43 PM

66. I absolutely hear them

I often overtip because I know the workers need it but WTF, they should be EARNING MORE

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