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The Labor Theory of Value Refuted: Nobody Cares How Hard You Work

October 19, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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The Labor Theory of Value Refuted: Nobody Cares How Hard You Work

October 19, 2015

Except when they do.

Self-help business writer Oliver Burkeman noted last week that customers and employers may not care how much you work.

It’s doubly hard to avoid the Effort Trap because our culture so strongly reinforces its deceptive message: Hard work is ultimately what matters. From childhood, parents and teachers drum into us the moral virtue of effort, and the importance of “doing your best”. Numerous approaches to productivity—even the best ones, like David Allen’s Getting Things Done—encourage a “cross-it-off-the-list” mindset: They’re so preoccupied with clarifying and keeping track of your to-dos, you forget to ask if they’re the right tasks to begin with.

And too many workplaces still subtly communicate to employees the idea that intense effort, usually in the form of long hours, is the best route to a promotion. In fact, though, if you can do your job brilliantly and still leave at 3 p.m. each day, a really good boss shouldn’t object. And by the same token, you shouldn’t cite all the effort you put in when making your case for a raise. Why should a results-focused boss even care?

In a situation where value is measured almost strictly in dollars (i.e., as in the case of profits measured by a large company) an employee that brings in the most revenue or a manager that oversees a profitably division will be rewarded, regardless of how many hours he works. When analysis is done with numbers, “coffee is for closers” you might say, and not for people who just put in long hours.

As Burkeman notes, American workers, like so many others, mistakenly think that work has economic value in itself, and not the product of the work.

But when value is calculated somewhere other than on a ledger, things start to get more complicated. Burkeman writes:

The behavioral economist Dan Ariely tells the story of a locksmith, who, as he got better at his work, started getting fewer tips, and more complaints about his prices. Each job took him so little time or effort that customers felt cheated—even though, pretty obviously, being …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Cop Kills Black Musician Whose Car Broke Down, Police Leave Family in the Dark About Why

October 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet

The officer is on paid leave.


31-year-old musician Corey Jones was driving home from a show when his car broke down on a Florida interstate. He called his brother to tell him he was about to call a toll truck, and that's the last thing anyone in his family heard from him, family members told CBS 12.  13 hours later Palm Beach County Sheriff officer informed them that he had been killed in an officer involved shooting.

But that's about all the family was told, CBS12 reports. 

“We don’t know where his body is, we don’t know what’s going on, all we know is someone knocked on the door and said this has happened,” Jones’ cousin, Ava Wright told CBS12. 

According to a police statement released Monday, the plainclothes officer went to investigate what he thought was an abandoned vehicle. They claim the shooting happened after the officer was confronted by an “armed subject,” but Jones' family and friends describe the musician as unlikely to start a fight with police. They told the Washington Post thathe didn't carry a gun.

A bandmate that performed with Jones that night told CBS12,I don't understand how anyone could ever perceive Corey is a threat he's the most level-headed, calm kind-hearted person.”

On the website Patheos, a man who says he's a close friend of Jones talks about the pain of seeing a loved one's name become a hashtag: 

I wasn’t ready to see someone I knew, someone I worked with, and someone I considered to be a friend in a hashtag.

When I saw his name behind a hashtag, the reality of every story of police shootings over the past year weighed down on me so heavily that all the work in the world could not distract me from the realization that someone I knew had been taken away from us by the very people deputized to protect and serve us.

The officer is on paid administrative leave.

Watch news report from CBS12 below. (h/t Raw Story)

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Europe's Lower Standard of Living Means Adults Live with Parents Longer

October 19, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Europe’s Lower Standard of Living Means Adults Live with Parents Longer

October 19, 2015

The US numbers are from the Census. (Men tend to live with their parents in much larger percentages than women, by the way.)

The percentages here swing quite a bit between 57 percent in Slovakia and Denmark at 1.4 percent.

It's reasonable to accept that cultural factors may be at play here. Clearly, living at home with one's parents appears to be frowned upon more in Scandinavia than in other rich countries of similar median income levels.

Nevertheless, if we do plot the living-at-home numbers against median disposable income, we do see a pretty clear correlation:

The countries where the median household has more purchasing power have fewer cases of adult children living with parents. Few should be surprised to find Greece and Portugal up in the top left of graph, for example. Almost all countries with median incomes above $20,000 have living-at-home percentages below 20 percent, while almost all countries with median income below $30,000 have living-at-home levels above 30 percent. (See here for an explanation of the median income numbers.)

While it's not a perfect proxy for household purchasing power, the percentage of adults that continue to live at home in the prime family formation years does give us some insight into the real-world implications of the fact that real disposable income is lower in most European countries than it is in the United States.

A note on the data: This is all 2013 data, except for Turkey, which is 2007 (the most recent available.) The US data matches up with the Euro data on the age of the adults measured (i.e., 25-34), although in the case of the Euro data, it includes married or cohabiting adults children living with parents. These people are excluded in the US data. Fortunately for us, though, the percentage of people living at home who were also married or cohabiting is under 5 percent.

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Syria's Going to Get Even Worse If the US and Other Powers Don't Start Negotiating

October 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Jo Comerford, Mattea Kramer, TomDispatch

Arming various rebel factions against Assad is going to provoke even more chaos.


As war between President Bashar al-Assad and various rebel forces raged across Syria, as the Obama administration and the CIA armed rebel factions of their liking while continuing an air campaign against the militants of the Islamic State (ISIS), as Russia entered the quagmire with its own airstrikes, and as millions of Syrians fled for their lives amid untold violence, a Connecticut congressman decided to do something.

At the end of September, Connecticut Representative Jim Himes, a House Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, corralled 54 of his colleagues intosending a letter to President Obama calling for the start of international negotiations that would include Iran and Russia and be aimed at ending the Syrian civil war. President Obama is reportedly listening.

This could prove to be a critical turning point in a brutal conflict that has, until now, seemed without end — not because Himes has a quick, sure-to-succeed solution, but because every other course of action is overwhelmingly likely to fail. To understand why, it’s necessary to take a brief look backward.

Pouring Gasoline on Syria’s Fire

More than four years ago, in 2011, passionate Arab Spring protesters rose up to overthrow despised leaders from Tunisia to Libya, Egypt to Yemen. In Syria, citizens filled the streets, voicing their opposition to the murderous regime of President Bashar al-Assad. His government responded by unleashing its military on the protesters. Some of them, along with soldiers from Assad’s forces, went on to form the Free Syrian Army (FSA), thanks, in part, to financing from the CIA and the Saudis, and a civil war began. As months of fighting turned into years, hundreds of thousands of civilians died, and millions more were uprooted.

In the process, more extreme factions among the rebels, including the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Nusra Front, gained ever greater traction, while ISIS spread across parts of Syria and Iraq, proclaiming a “caliphate” and drawing foreign volunteers by the thousands. ISIS had grown and prospered within the mayhem and power vacuum created by the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Is the Mighty McDonald's Empire Facing Its Final Days?

October 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Doug Bolton, The Independent

The McDonald's 'turnaround plan' seems to be making life difficult for the franchise owners.


McDonald's is facing a “deep depression” and could be in its “final days,” according to some US franchise owners who were surveyed about the restaurant chain's recent performance.

In an attempt to shore up a slump, McDonald's introduced all-day breakfasts in its US stores, part of CEO Steve Easterbrook's 'turnaround plan' which also included digital ordering kiosks and other new menu items.

However, it seems like the new initiatives have simply caused headaches for restaurant operators, as they said in a survey conducted by analyst Mark Kalinowski.

“We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing,” wrote one franchisee.

“The CEO is sowing the seeds of our demise. We are a quick-serve fast-food restaurant, not a fast casual like Five Guys or Chipotle. The system may be facing its final days,” said another.

The all-day breakfast has reportedly thrown a spanner in the works of the kitchens, with an extra range of menu items resulting in more pressure on the staff and a higher chance of mistakes.

Other new ideas from head office currently in place in the US is the 'Create Your Taste' option, which allows customers to create their own burger from 30 different ingredients – obviously a big change for a restaurant chain more accustomed to dishing out a few staples at fast pace.

 Other initiatives, some of which have been restricted to a few locations, include 'healthier' menu items like the kale breakfast bowl, and a gritty reboot of the chain's beloved Hamburglar character.It's part of McDonald's plans to reverse an almost two-year decline in sales in the US, but some restaurant operators aren't impressed.

“The system is very lost at the moment. Our menu boards are still bloated, and we are still trying to be too many things to too many people.”

“Things are broken from the franchisee perspective,” one wrote.

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AlterNet Comics: Brian McFadden on How to Fix the Democratic Debates

October 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Brian McFadden, AlterNet

The DNC is full of ideas.


Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Robert Reich: Working Full Time and Living in Abject Poverty – That's What Today's Minimum Wage Will Get You

October 19, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, RobertReich.org

$15 an hour is a moral wage.


Have you noticed how often conservatives who disagree with a policy proposal call it a “job killer?”

They’re especially incensed about proposals to raise the federal minimum wage. They claim it will force employers to lay off workers worth hiring at the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour but not at a higher minimum.

But as Princeton University economist Alan Krueger pointed outrecently in the New York Times, “research suggests that a minimum wage set as high as $12 an hour will do more good than harm for low-wage workers.”

That’s because a higher minimum puts more money into the pockets of people who will spend it, mostly in the local economy. That spending encourages businesses to hire more workers.

Which is why many economists, like Krueger, support raising the federal minimum to $12 an hour.

What about $15 an hour? 

Across America, workers at fast-food and big-box retail establishments are striking for $15. Some cities are already moving toward this goal. Bernie Sanders is advocating it. A national movement is growing for a $15 an hour minimum.

Yet economists are nervous. Krueger says a $15 an hour minimum would “put us in uncharted waters, and risk undesirable and unintended consequences” of job loss.

Yet maybe some jobs are worth risking if a strong moral case can be made for a $15 minimum.

That moral case is that no one should be working full time and still remain in poverty.

People who work full time are fulfilling their most basic social responsibility. As such, they should earn enough to live on.

A full-time worker with two kids needs at least $30,135 this yearto be safely out of poverty. That’s $15 an hour for a forty-hour workweek. 

Any amount below this usually requires government make up the shortfall – using tax payments from the rest of us to finance food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, and other kinds of help.

What about the risk of job loss? Historically, such a risk hasn’t deterred us from setting minimum work standards based on public morality. 

The original child labor laws that went into effect in many states at turn …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Will the Next House Speaker Crack Down on the NSA?

October 19, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

Fights over economic policy and House procedure have been at the center of the revolt by the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) against Speaker John Boehner. But another key issue is lurking in the background—a desire by many HFC and other GOP members to truly curb warrantless mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

One of the ring leaders of Boehner’s ouster, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, has been a vocal critic of existing NSA surveillance programs and has been successful two years in a row in securing House passage of surveillance-related warrantless search bans as appropriations riders. But the 2014 amendment was stripped out of the 2014 omnibus appropriations bill in a backdoor maneuver, orchestrated by Boehner and others in the House leadership who have consistently blocked efforts to rollback the programs exposed by Edward Snowden over two years ago. The same amendment passed again this year, with support from groups across the political spectrum. It might well have met the same fate again this year if not for the fall of Boehner and McCarthy.

Indeed, in less than two years, backers of the vast post-9/11 surveillance apparatus have lost two of their biggest champions in the House. The first was then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was defeated in the 2014 Virginia GOP primary by newcomer and warrantless surveillance opponent David Brat.

There are two possible alternative candidates for speaker who have far better records on surveillance reform than Boehner.”

The latest casualty is Boehner, a long-time supporter of NSA mass surveillance programs. Boehner alleged in January 2015 that existing surveillance programs uncovered a plot to attack the Capitol. (In fact, the suspect in the plot was given up by an informant seeking to cut a deal on an unrelated criminal charge, according to the federal criminal complaint filed against alleged bomber Christopher Cornell.)

Two of the alternative candidates for Speaker either in the race or considering it—Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Darrel Issa of California—have far better records on surveillance reform than Boehner or the now out-of-the-running Kevin McCarthy of California, according to a surveillance legislation scorecard from DecideTheFuture.org. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the current GOP establishment choice to replace Boehner, rated a C- minus on DecideTheFuture.org’s surveillance reform scorecard. And whether he would agree to keeping Massie’s surveillance reform appropriations amendments in any final omnibus appropriations bill …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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U.S.–South Africa Chicken Dispute Highlights the Need for Global Reform

October 19, 2015 in Economics

Fifteen years ago, South African authorities, in response to domestic industry claims that American poultry farmers were “dumping” chicken meat in South Africa by selling at unfairly low prices, imposed antidumping tariffs on chicken from the United States. An agreement reached in June 2015 has now settled the dispute by establishing an import quota that enables U.S. producers to sell a set amount of chicken in South Africa without paying the antidumping duties.  In a new bulletin, Cato scholar K. William Watson says the dispute aptly demonstrates the need for new international rules to rein in abusive antidumping practices.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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King v. Burwell Helps Repeal ObamaCare

October 19, 2015 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon, Paul Winfree

Michael F. Cannon and Paul Winfree

Public opposition to ObamaCare has lasted far longer than its authors imagined. Unsubsidized consumers avoid ObamaCare coverage. Twenty states have rejected its Medicaid expansion. Congress wants to repeal it. President Obama and the Supreme Court have repeatedly amended and expanded it, transforming the statute Congress enacted into an illegitimate law that no Congress ever had the votes to pass, and making repeal not just an economic imperative but necessary to restore the Constitution’s system of checks and balances.

This week, the House will approve a reconciliation bill that repeals only parts of ObamaCare, leaving many of its taxes in place. Not only do more Americans oppose that approach than oppose ObamaCare itself, but the Supreme Court’s recent King v. Burwell ruling shows why a full-repeal bill is more likely to reach the president’s desk. Indeed, unlike partial repeal, Senate leaders can all but guarantee that full repeal can pass the Senate with just 51 votes.

Repeal enjoys majority support in both the House and Senate, yet lacks the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Senate filibuster. Senate leaders have therefore vowed to use the budget reconciliation process—which allows legislation to clear the Senate with just 51 votes—to repeal ObamaCare, just as Congress used reconciliation to ensure ObamaCare’s final passage.

If Congress establishes this year that it can fully repeal ObamaCare via reconciliation, and the next president is willing, Congress could repeal ObamaCare for good in 2017.”

House leaders shied away from full repeal, however, partially out of fear that the Senate cannot deliver. Under Senate rules, a reconciliation bill can only contain budgetary provisions. For instance, if the parliamentarian rules a provision’s budgetary effect would only be incidental to its primary effect, the provision needs 60 votes to pass the Senate.

Ironically, the House’s partial-repeal approach—which repeals the individual and employer mandates in isolation, and reduces net spending by just $276 billion over 10 years—is more likely to run afoul of Senate rules than full repeal. Direct cuts account for just $13 billion of that bill’s net spending reduction. The other 95 percent comes from indirect (read: incidental) behavioral effects of repealing those mandates.

A full-repeal bill, by contrast, would recognize that ObamaCare creates a single, integrated program of taxes and subsidies that work in concert to expand coverage, and would eliminate that entire program as a whole. Its primary effect would be budgetary. According to the Congressional Budget Office …read more

Source: OP-EDS