Monday, July 07, 2008

The future of white collar jobs:

Dean Baker wrote, in a piece critical of a New York Times story:
The Shortage of Low-Paid Journalists

There are not enough well-qualified journalists willing to work for $8 an hour. We know this because there are very few (if any) experienced journalists working for this wage. The New York Times and other newspapers deal with this shortage by paying journalists considerably more than $8 an hour.

By contrast, the NYT tells us that many employers want to relax laws penalizing them for hiring undocumented workers because "they grappled, even in an economic downturn, with shortages of low-wage labor."

In a market economy, the response to shortages is higher prices, or in this case higher wages. While it is understandable that employers do not want to pay higher wages, just like most of us do not want to pay higher gas prices, that is the way a market works. If they cannot afford to pay higher wages, then in a market economy, they go out of business, just as tens of millions of inefficient businesses have gone out of business as the economy has grown over the last century.

It would be helpful if the NYT would apply some basic economics to its discussion of this economic issue.
Baker is saying that when there is a shortage of low-wage labor, like a shortage of low-wage journalists, then employers have to pay more - and sympathy for businesses facing such a shortage is unwarranted in a market economy.

Up until now, the New York Times has had to "suffer" the consequences and pay their journalists "considerably more than $8 an hour". But maybe not for much longer.

In a run-of-the mill Reuters story, GM mulling thousands of job cuts, sale of brands: report, we read at the end:
(Reporting by Pratish Narayanan in Bangalore; Editing by Kim Coghill)
That's the kind of free-trade, borderless economy that will help American white-collar workers. It's what John McCain advocates. And also the devil-incarnate Brad DeLong. C'mon Brad, admit that free trade is bad for domestic workers. It's great for professors who like cheap consumer goods, but not for the rest of us. Admit it!


The white collars thought it was funny when all the blue collar jobs were shipped overseas. Cheaper goods, fewer hillcretins at Disney, the absurd situation of a ninth-grade dropout making more money...all gone. Sounded good, until the wealthy figured out that all the work could be done far cheaper if outsourced. Guess what geniuses, the rich have always been about stealing your lunch (read George Washington's rant about mechaniks) and they really and truly want a favela society.

Vote your economic interests! Yes, you'll pay taxes. But you won't live in a box, your kids get college, and your jobs stay here.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/08/2008 1:42 PM  

Back in the early 1950s in law school, one of the required courses was "Personal Property" in the course of which I learned of the word "fungible" in the context of grain of farmer A being added to a silo that also included grain contributed by farmers B through Z. No farmer could reclaim his contribution specifically. Since the grain was fungible, i.e., each morsel identical, a farmer could retrieve the quantity he had contributed, e.g., 10 bushels of grain.

I guess that jobs, all jobs, will become fungible in due course.

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 7/09/2008 3:21 AM  

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