The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Ten Days Was Probably A Record Anyway

Aaron Haspel prompted one of my Januaryween resolutions: to stop making fun of morons who write letters to the editor. Then I saw today's batch of letters, on the subject of economics. I was doing fine until I came to this line:

It may be time to re-examine the so-called ``guaranteed annual wage,'' even if that really doesn't work.

This is obviously a sign that I should make fun of these idiots. Even if that doesn't really work.

Besides, I stopped myself from eating chocolate for breakfast this morning, so I'm batting .500 for the day.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: The San Jose Mercury News letters page!

I read with great interest the Mercury News roundtable with Silicon Valley industrialists (Opinion, Dec. 28) and was impressed by their insight. Research and development, innovation, retraining, stock options and new markets would create jobs for Americans. Of course, they urged government and unions to stay out of the way.

The game plan sounds feasible, but the ``new markets'' part of it worries me. What happens to the American worker when jobs go overseas and those new innovative products are made and sold in India and China? Corporations would still make big profits, and the economy would look good. But the unemployment rate would go off the charts.

"I'm worried by new markets." How can it be bad to have hundreds of millions of new customers? Even granting that jobs going overseas is a problem, what does that have to do with "new markets"?

We seem to have forgotten the lesson of Henry Ford: Pay workers enough so they can buy the product. For 75 years, labor unions and the federal government have made sure that business would protect working people with decent pay, retirement, and health benefits. Who is going to do it now?

Jack Hasling

Imagining that you can increase your customer base by paying your workers more is the economic equivalent of perpetual motion. (Isn't there just a tiny public good problem there? If Ford pays workers so much that they can easily afford cars, then don't Chrysler and GM also benefit, without having to pay large salaries?)

If we have forgotten this idiot myth, that is a good thing.

Discussions about globalization and the business climate have addressed the issue of jobs losses. That may be good fodder for political rhetoric, but the real issue arises from the jobs evaporation due to increased productivity, which has given us the so-called ``jobless recovery.''

It's terrible when productivity increases. Just the other day I saw some guys digging a ditch for cable wire with big machines. Break out the shovels!

And how "jobless" can the recovery be when unemployment is at 5.9%?

Since this reality is with us to stay, will it not worsen the rich-poor divide begun by President Reagan and propelled by current President Bush? We need to acknowledge that we are now reaping the benefits (?) of monopolization, merger and robotization.


How do we support our economy of consumerism when ever fewer people can afford to live here?

"I refuse to answer questions containing two or more unwarranted assumptions" -- Nero Wolfe. "Economy of consumerism" sounds suitably indignant, but doesn't America just have ... an economy? What would an "economy of non-consumerism" look like? You would go into stores and pay them not to give you things?

And how can you say that "fewer people can afford to live here" with a straight face? Is there anyone leaving the US because it's too expensive? I mean, I know Alec Baldwin threatened to leave if Bush got elected, but I don't think he had any monetary concerns.

It may be time to re-examine the so-called ``guaranteed annual wage,'' even if that really doesn't work. How about guaranteed profit-sharing and options for everyone in this evolving, monopolistic, fully-automated, greed-driven society?

Robert Daley

We must guarantee profits for everyone! THE ROBOT OVERLORDS ARE BUILT WITH GREED CIRCUITS!

Recent letters have expressed dismay at the accelerating flow of skilled jobs overseas. Since it is the economists who have asserted that everyone benefits when production occurs where it can be done most cheaply, why not take them at their word and export the teaching of economics to India, China, Russia or wherever else large numbers of highly trained, underpaid knowledge workers reside?

[Two paragraphs of similar juvenile nonsense deleted.]

Edward P. French
Santa Cruz

Since it is doctors who assert that eating fatty food is bad for you, why not take them at their word and make them eat only lettuce?

The global economy has made national sovereignty obsolete.


It allows corporations to relocate to the ``highest bidder.''


Governments create laws that make it easier to attract corporations -- at the expense of the competition.


But all good things have to come to an end. It's time for the commie mewling:

As corporations hop all over the world, always maximizing profits by decreasing human costs, eventually they will run out of countries with a lower standard of living to exploit. But continued automation will make it possible to reduce employment to a bare minimum -- wherever they may locate.

My wife is from China. Twenty-five years ago the Chinese decided they had had enough of communism, and allowed themselves to be "exploited" by foreign corporations. Now it is possible for people to have a Western lifestyle, with plenty to eat, a nice place to live, and appliances and electronics for convenience and entertainment.

When my wife was a child, before all of this "exploitation," she had a pound of meat per month and no toys.

What happens when there simply aren't enough jobs for everyone? The ``wisdom'' is that people must constantly retrain for different jobs. What happens when the jobs aren't there? Or at an unlivable wage? That is the experience many find in Silicon Valley today.

Jim Bridges

A century ago, a huge proportion of employment was agricultural. Now only a very small proportion of American labor, 1 or 2%, is farm-based.

From the point of view of a farmer in the year 1900, there are "not enough jobs for everyone". Are we all starving to death? Hardly.



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