Futility

Thing I Know #94. There are a lot of people walking around who put lots of energy into telling others that something can’t be done.

Gregory Clark, a perfesser of Economics at UCal/Davis, seems to think success is something our modern society cannot afford:

With the march of technology, the size of a future American underclass dependent on public support for part of its livelihood is hard to predict: 10 million, 20 million, 100 million? We could imagine cities where entire neighborhoods are populated by people on state support. In France, generous welfare has already produced huge suburban housing estates, les banlieues, populated with a substantially unemployed and immigrant population, parts of which have periodically burst into violent protest.

So, how do we operate a society in which a large share of the population is socially needy but economically redundant? There is only one answer. You tax the winners — those with the still uniquely human skills, and those owning the capital and land — to provide for the losers.

The old “The loot can’t come from anywhere else” argument. And yet…those who advance it, never seem content to wait for the crisis. Better get ready to cut the capitalists off at the knees, now, before we have to. Kind of like cannibalizing your hiking buddy’s body, one limb at a time, before those hunger pangs set in. Since it’s just a matter of time after all.

Related: We’ve already put some effort into cannibalizing achievement, just this summer. How’s that worked out for us?

Remember that the labor demographic most likely to make the minimum wage is teenagers, who are often working part-time jobs, summer jobs or after-school jobs. Since 2007 we’ve seen 2 $0.70/hour hikes in the minimum wage, with a third $0.70/hour hike hitting at the end of July. Given that 1/4 of the people who lost their jobs in July were teenagers, it’s likely that business owners were shedding entry-level, low-skill jobs before the minimum wage hike hit:

Another factor that will boost the unemployment rate in future months will be the fate of teenage workers. Teens accounted for a quarter of the decline in the labor force last month. July’s jobs report was conducted before the minimum wage took effect. Therefore, it is likely that the job market for teenagers will be further weakened by the minimum wage increase. Teenagers already have the highest unemployment rate at 23.8 percent, which is more than double the national average. [emphasis in original]

The pattern remains consistent. We thirst for poverty, and we get it.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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