They really don’t get it

I was hanging with some friends this weekend who just don’t get why their ideology is doomed. One was the usual “He’s a Muslim because his dad was a Muslim and so …” where so is never filled in. More detailed was an exec friend who was bummed because his entry-level employees are unmotivated to try for a bonus he devised because “They’re all moochers who worry they won’t qualify for WIC or food stamps if they make any more money”. The bonus was an extra fifty cents to a dollar on top of the nine dollars an hour they make. Now, he’s a got a point: if only there were no food stamps or WIC he would have even more power over his employees miserable lives because they would have even fewer options on how they manage their bleak, endless poverty. [Read more…]

I will quit, eventually

It’s Thanksgiving Week. I’ll try to ignore the seemingly intractable violence in the Middle East, Cranky Old Man McCain who thinks an under secretary of state should be releasing raw intel on Al Qaeda on Meet the Press or face a Watergate style tea bagger inquisition, and some AS symptoms that are making idle TV watching and world-changing blogging difficult even though they are tangentially related to my plight, not to mention the many, many issues more important than me and my day job such as it is.

In one year and one month and a week and three days, there will be healthcare for all. Until that day I can’t seriously think about going freelance. Just getting another job and waiting out the three months until I qualify for healthcare benefits, plus the month or two it takes for it to get set up, get in front of docs, and get my medicine is a risk. I have a serious chronic health condition that virtually disappears when treated but returns and rules my every waking moment when it’s not. [Read more…]

I won employee of the year

At my very first job decades ago in a long since vanished barbecue joint making $2.50/hour, I learned a valuable lesson that served me for three decades: stamina. I found out on the first day of my very first job, I could work my peers into the ground, hell I could work my bosses into the ground! I don’t know where it came from, it was innate and I was blessed — for lack of a better word — to have it. For years that one characteristic was all that was required for me to make a decent living. If I was smarter here and there or had some latent talent in a random situation, it was just icing really. Stamina and stamina alone was all it took for me to succeed at every entry level job held and move up, fast. Stamina, along with its kissing cousin persistence, even went on to define my personal life as an athlete in high school and college, a dedicated rock climber as a yuppy, and now as a middle-aged guy getting into serious physical shape after three-year lapse on the heels of a life changing health issue.

Now I’m forced to face a new reality, one I may be unequipped to survive in: stamina and persistence don’t matter much any more. [Read more…]

I have a message for CEO’s and small business owners

If you survived the Great Recession then you’ve obviously done some things right. Well done, and grats! I bet one of the things you did right was keeping a lid on labor costs and focusing on business and customers that paid off. In a brutal recession, you are in driver’s seat in terms of labor. You can pick and choose among the cream of the crop for rock-bottom, bargain wages. The question is how will you survive and thrive as the recession comes to an end?

Because my guess is around half of you are at risk of fucking that up royally. One of the ways you might fuck it up is by not adjusting to the reality of fuller employment. It makes sense ethically to reward those employees who stuck with you through the darkest days. It makes business sense to pony up to retain and/or attract the higher performing employees who can carry your business to ever greater profitability in the expanding earnings environment ahead. And the companies that do the latter first will be able to pick and choose among the best and brightest in their respective fields at reasonable wages. The companies that drag their feet might end up fighting over the scraps left behind for premium pay. How you act now may well determine which group you fall into next quarter and next year.


The election all comes down to the break

If the election were held yesterday, Nate Silver is giving Team Obama roughly an 80% chance of winning with Romney about 20%. It all depends on turnout and which way things break. Turnout is the campaigns’ problem, which way it will break, or if it breaks one way or the other at all, is totally unpredictable. But good economic news doesn’t hurt the incumbant: [Read more…]

THIS time the conservatives are REALLY gonna do it!

Yes, we’re right back to that old saw. Elect Mr Romney and he will singlehandedly — along with Ryan and the America people — slash taxes, slash regulations, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, bolster defense, balance the budget,and pay down the deficit. Like any snake oil pitch, this one begins with a tiny element of truth, a teensy-weensy admission that’s supposed to make us think, hey, maybe they’re finally coming around to reality: [Read more…]

Macro economics for dummies

A buddy of mine really freaked me out the other day when he demonstrated he’d bought into the Austerians hook, line, and sinker. I. e., that the way out of a recession is gut government spending. During the discussion he threw out “I took macro economics, I know how it works.” I didn’t argue with him because, one, I love the guy to death, he and his wife are some of the most decent compassionate people I’ve ever known, and two, I judged it would have been pointless. But if I was going to try to argue on those terms, here’s how it might go … [Read more…]