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Holy crap! 450 comments in less than 3 hours!

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  • Dude!
  • I almost posted it as a JE, but I'm demotivated these days...

    Glad the editors gave exposure. ..

    • I think we're all demotivated nowadays. It's statistics like this [blogspot.com] - that not only have inflation-adjusted wages not increased in 40 years, but (further down) productivity has doubled during those 40 years ... the pie is not being sliced anywhere near equitably.

      40 years ago, one worker could support a family, buy a house, own a car, take an annual trip, put the kids through school, and put away a little something for a rainy day.

      So, with double the productivity, shouldn't that worker be earning, after i

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Let me play devil's advocate: wages were artificially inflated post-WWII by the need to modernize and rebuild much of the world. What we are seeing today is just a return to a more historical mean.

        • That still doesn't explain the fact that two people, each producing twice as much, only earns slightly less combined than an individual worker did a generation ago, after accounting for inflation. How come workers aren't sharing in the increases, since they're an essential part of the equation? And how long is the current trend sustainable before nobody has "excess income" to spend buying the products that drive the economy?

          People are insecure, so they work excess hours, depriving others of a job. Then

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            Because the Europeans brought an economy online. The Americans and Canadians had more competition, so had to lower margins. Then the Japanese showed up, forcing down the Americans, Canadians, and Europeans. Then China, Hong Kong, etc, etc.

            Inflation is a shitty measure. What version are you using? What does it leave out? What unemployment figures? Which unemployed is it ignoring?

            • For inflation, I'm using what I paid for things in the past, compared to today. True inflation is a lot higher than the official figures. A gallon/litre of gas, a quart/litre of milk, and a loaf of bread are all a lot more expensive than the inflation numbers would have you believe. You might buy a TV once a decade, but you have to eat a lot more often than that - and our CPI doesn't take that into account - just like it doesn't take into account that eating isn't a discretionary budget item.

              For unempl

        • That would be an explanation for why growth rates were artificially inflated during that period -- if they were. From the graphs I've seen, US growth picked up a bit during that period, but not radically. Economic growth picked up almost everywhere -- one of the fucked up things about capitalism is that it chokes on its own wealth periodically, and the cure is to destroy a whole lot of wealth -- i.e., the Great Depression was ended by wasteful war production and by obliterating much of the productive capaci

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            That would be an explanation for why growth rates were artificially inflated during that period -- if they were. From the graphs I've seen, US growth picked up a bit during that period, but not radically.

            What period? The mythical 1945-1970 period when worker wages and standard of living was out of sync, or 1970-present when things started returning to normal?

            The problem is that historically, median income has increased as a function of productivity. The increased wealth from increased production has never been shared equally, but generally, workers have seen increasing shares of wealth as productivity has gone up. But every time I've seen a chart of income versus productivity, it's clear that this stops abruptly in the early 1970s.

            Citation needed. Your numbers and the charts that you could be referring to do not contain enough data to definitively draw these conclusions. There are many confounding variables that are not factored in. (Globalization, immigration, integration, mechanization, automation, etc, etc.)

            But the impression I get from a lot of anecdotes is that things abruptly stopped getting better in the 1970s.

            The plural of anecdote is not 'data'.

            Some commodities and luxuries have become cheaper, but a lot of necessities have become more expensive. I look at my extended family, and I see the general trend is that we have more formal education, more skills, that we work longer hours, but have fewer vacations, carry more debt, and own less real property.

            And better/safer cars, 24/7/365 c

            • by Bill Dog (726542)

              while you may have more formal education, I'll generally give the category of 'more skills' to plenty of my ancestors.

              And how. I'm more educated than my grandparents, but only in specialization. Basically I know how to do one thing, really well, but it's only one thing, which makes it harder for me to get by than they, who had multiple handy real-world skills.

              I have a fraction of my dad's knowledge and experience in DIY home repair and gardening. And he was an accountant by profession. His dad knew most of

              • by gmhowell (26755)

                Substitute doctor for accountant, and you've written my story. Except that I *do* have a son. Sadly, part time, which makes it rather difficult to pass on some important skills. Sigh. At least he gets a new one this week.

            • That would be an explanation for why growth rates were artificially inflated during that period -- if they were. From the graphs I've seen, US growth picked up a bit during that period, but not radically.

              What period? The mythical 1945-1970 period when worker wages and standard of living was out of sync, or 1970-present when things started returning to normal?

              From this chart [visualizingeconomics.com], there's only a small bump in per capita productivity in the US above the trend line from 1940-45, which is actually much less of a bump in productivity than I would have expected. In this and the other charts of GDP, the only noticeable deviations from the exponential upward trend are the Great Depression, and a dip in 2009 -- which also shows up here [usgovernmentspending.com].

              I haven't been able to find a chart of median wages going back before 1940 -- though every one I've seen indicates median incomes in the US

              • by gmhowell (26755)

                Nobody (or at least, not me) is arguing that wages have been stagnant since the early 70's. I'm just saying there are other explanations for it.

                • Okay, so honestly, I need to work out what the actual long term trends are for real median wages in the US, and if possible around the world, bearing in mind that the farther back you go historically, the more dodgy calculating real wages becomes. Among other things, that's necessary to conclude whether the stagnation of wages since the 1970s is really as aberrant as I think it is. Suggesting that it's really the period of 1940-1970 that's aberrant, and that we're seeing now is a "correction", is consistent

                  • by gmhowell (26755)

                    FWIW, I generally agree with your take, and wanted to argue the other side of it for a change.

                    What happened in the 1970's? If you believe the Austrian school types, the big change is when Nixon took the US off the gold standard [wikipedia.org].

                    My biggest problem with arguing either side is that there are so many changes from the late 1800's up through the current that a definitive answer will never arise. For example, while I agree with most of your conclusions, I'm not so sure that the change in wages, globalization, or w

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