(Tacoma, WA) In theory, we are supposed to be “on vacation” up here in the PNW this week until a week from tomorrow.
But the reality is that there is no such thing anymore, at least for 80% of Americans.
The reason is that we have stretched the rubber band of economy so tight, that it takes either coupling with anything that walks in order to make enough money to live with some modicum of comfort, or there’s a need to master multiple job-holding, or start-up entrepreneurship.
Among our kids, we have one set that will be launching a well-schooled daycare facility, Another has recently started working at a second job (in sales this time) and another will be looking for professional growth opportunities. And my son? He’s happily working two government jobs, assistant managing an apartment, and providing for emergency medical assistance at various public events. 70-hours a week allows him to save a lot to money toward whatever he will need to “buy right future.”
I hope you can see the pattern here: All of the kids are being introduced by either economic necessity or Ures truly’s cajoling, to the notion that the 40-hour workweek is terribly out of date.
The reality is – as I told you it would – is that the Mexification of America is well underway.
You see, in the real “best of times” one person working could provide for a livable wage. Can’t do that, anymore.
While it would be nice to have a higher minimum wage (and $15-bucks is about the lowest number that makes sense) the facts of economics argue that will will not work because of one condition U.S.-style capitalism doesn’t do well with, namely: Economic Depression.
No, we are not there yet. Not even with the market droop today.
But, we can use the occasion of today’s several hundred points of decline (thanks, Greece!) as a heads up on where things will eventual lead.
The problem is that America has gone through its peak of high income and low work-hours for this cycle, already.
Three major events are conspiring to collapse our former level of personal comfort and job satisfaction:
1. Robotics and its ugly first-cousin workflow automation are going to kill at MINIMUM 30% of jobs in the next 10-years, no, make that 9-years.
2. Illegal immigration from Mexico and South America will continue to lower pressure on wages – downward. The more immigration, the more lower-paid workers there will be trying to do you job for less than you. Since all labor cost reductions will tend to fall right to the corporate bottom line, you’re screwed. It’s just no one was told you that this is how financial rape works. Instead, and in lieu of Astroglide, you’re gonna find out the…er….hard way.
3. We are presently in a service job super bubble – which we will address in Wednesday’s upcoming Peoplenomics.com report (“An Answer to Deagel”).
So What Do Your Do About It?
We took the first steps a long time ago in our personal lives.
Elaine and I recognized the macro-trend back in 2003 when we decided on a cheap mobile home on 29-acres of land that could be turned into “Grow your own groceries” if occasion arose.
Look around and you’ll see it it presently arising.
The second thing we did was voluntarily began to focus on quality and reparability of everything we bought.
And we are actively teaching our kids to take this “walk lightly” path voluntarily because they will be able to avoid social shocks and upheaval if they have already mastered the new way.
The Quad Chart Teaches
It’s really simple and really important to note in the chart above (click to enlarge) that we have been in a period of relatively high wages and short hours and we are moving through the economic cycle toward lower wages and longer hours.
We recall that during the Great Depression, there was a lot of what’s called job sharing. That’s because there was so little required work and such a small services sector that it became popular for a while to share a 40-hour job among two workers. It was a fine example of how government reports could be manipulated. Sure, the average work week sucked, but more people – at least on paper – had jobs.
By the way, a lot of the jobs that were around in the Great Depression have been largely “disappeared” by progress. My father, for example, worked at a cigar store in Seattle. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but not a lot of those jobs left.
The next outbreak of job sharing came with the peaking inflation period of the late 1970s and into the 1980s:
The news media began reporting in earnest on job sharing in the 1970s and 1980s. The practice was most often described as a solution tailored for women, as one Associated Press article summarized, “a compromise between fulltime housework and full-time employment”. Job sharing became even more prevalent during the 2000s, as women have succeeded professionally in greater numbers and proportionally seek out alternative work arrangements.
The banking, insurance, teaching and library professions are cited as more commonly using job sharing. Some companies that use job sharing include New York Life Insurance Company, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, and Walgreens drugstores.
In the current iteration of job sharing, we’re being set up for corporations to win even more give-backs from Labor. You can already see how this is playing out, as corporations tout the idea that flex-time means more “employee freedom” to work, or not.
The BIG LIE is that it’s not freedom, at all. It’s that employers are now touting part-time jobs because that gets them of the hook on Obamacare. And, by fighting the move to increase wages to $15-dollars an hour, employers will have all that glorious cash – from wages being low and benefits being non-existent – dribbling down to the bottom line.
The real change that happens in Economic Depressions is all the chickens come home to roost. The decades of crooked accounting all get scrubbed, bad debt is liquidated, and much as the bond people hate it, they actually will end up losing a lot, too. There is no such thing as free money.
It’s not that the corporate form is a bad thing, it’s just that I believe once a corporation is past a certain size, much as radio and television stations have their feet held to the fire to meet the public need, interest, and concern (through the community ascertainment process), so too should corporations be held to a social accounting benchmark.
Let me share two corporations with you: Newman’s Own, which makes great organic products, turns a good profit, AND gives a very good share to “doing good.” There should be more corporations around like this one, but the Tax Code can be twisted and used for exactly the opposite ends.
I would contrast this means of running a large company with, oh, Monsanto or British American Tobacco.
I won’t use terms like “death merchants” because that would be an emotional approach. What I will say is that evidence that smoking kills is pretty substantial and the dangers of genetically modified crops are only now becoming widely understood. So why would the Tax Code be applied “evenly” to these two companies compared to a Newsman’s Own?
There’s a certain view of economic history that suggests that in addition to unwinding a lot of bad debt, there is an unwinding of delusions that takes place in Depressions.
Oh, sure, there are no doubt some upsides to Monsanto and British American: Patenting unique combinations of life, however, or passing increased cancer rates around just doesn’t happen to be our cup of tea.
but, maybe we are looking at this all wrong: Maybe there is some marvelous next-gen-human just waiting to be born of parents ingesting the right jellyfish-laced vegetable and maybe those higher cancer rates will – in the very long term – increase competition for jobs, and thus will support higher wages down the road 50-years. I just can’t say.
But we can make choices so we don’t buy defense contractors, GMO stocks, or tobacco products companies. Period.
We do, on the other hand, go out of our way to buy Newman’s Own every chance we get. We allow the menu to tilt in their direction.
So What’s the Family Action Plan?
Step 1 is education. We are trying to push our kids to prepare for a massive shift in economic life – as hard, and fast, as we can because as Jimi Hendrix advised “The hour’s getting late.”
We are trying to share a mind-set with the kids. Because in today’s selfie-ridden world, there’s not what you’d call an excess of independent, clear-headed thinking out there.
Step 2 is practice: Find the jobs that will be around for a long time to come. Food, clothing, shelter, and basic services like water, sewer, heat, light, and so forth.
One of the reasons the Ure family did so well during the last Depression was that Grandpa Ure was fortunate enough to have landed a job for a local power company and he spent his time working as a Teamster driving a Dodge Power Wagon around the Northwest installing power poles and such.
We will likely see a major increase in that kind of infrastructure updating to come, though it may be fiber-splicing instead.
Step 3 is managing the process: Looking at the future and always asking “Where are we (the world) going to be and how do I position myself and family to benefit if option A happens, and how about option B?”
Admittedly, doing quad charts for a family gathering, teaching all of our kids sales and entrepreneurial skills may sound obvious.
But they are not – at least to today’s generation: People who have never heard such simple truths about the Country such as “Nothing happens until someone buys something…” can make a difference, I believe.
So it’s time the kids learn what’s important today and how to calculate what will be important tomorrow.
Before things really go to “Hellenic Hand Basket.”
Write when you break-even