Work More?

by L

Should Americans Work More? To Hit 4 Percent Growth, We Would Have To

Keynes, Staff, and the 15 Hour Work Week

Should Americans work more? Whither Keynes’s 15 hour work week?

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100 thoughts on “Work More?

  1. I watch my husband and my children work tremendous hours to get the job done. I don’t know how many more hours they can work or should work. Seems to me that their employers are getting a fantastic bargain.

    Robots will be taking a lot of jobs, hence why we need to curtail low level immigration. We need to stop H1B immigration also. These people are indentured servants and serve to keep wages low.

  2. Where are all these jobs going to come from? Or is the idea that the highly skilled will work themselves to death on 70 hour workweeks and everyone else will live a life of poverty on food stamps?

  3. I think people could probably just be more efficient in most jobs, rather than increase hours worked. And um, I’ve worked in higher ed for a long time and except for certain positions, do not see that people are that busy. Now there are certainly a lot of intelligence variations (as I assume there are in any industry) to account for certain tasks taking people different amounts of time, but I think there’s a lot of goofing off.

  4. One of the problems in higher ed is simple, total inefficiency. And a lot of it is created by administrators, who love to dump new intiatives and tasks down from ahigh, without any consideration of the time the new task will take or whether it impacts thew university in any meaningful way. This is the biggest difference I see from private industry, where new projects are usually planned, with attention paid to resources (especially people) and schedules.

    An example – last year our provost decreed that all departments would write a self study. They gave us a format that was completely inscrutable, asking for numbers that didn’t even exist. For example “Highlight the ways in which your department supports the university’s mission of service and social justice”. Um, yeah, we teach poor kids to write code. As usual, the task was dumped on the faculty, on top of everything else we were doing. It took several weeks of concerted effort to write the 4 reports, one for each of our programs. The reports were about 100 pages long each.

    So this summer, I was blithely writing a research paper, and suddenly I get an email from our dean, saying that he has decided that all program directors (I am the CS program director) will write a report, according to his own inscrutable format, highlighting our programs. And it is due AUgust 3, which meant I had 3 weeks to do it. He wants enrollment figures for next year, which no one has, and number of interships for the program, which is impossible because the poor swamped faculty member who handles internships does not break out her records by program. And in addition, many of our students take paid internships, which are not even recorded by our intership person because they aren’t for academic credit. He wants me to highlight all of the year’s accomplishments. And guess what? There is a question on how we are supporting the social justice mission. I guess I will do some copy-pasting for that question. But seriously, couldn’t the dean just have read the 100 page report that we did last winter???? Why do we have to do it all over again?

    This kind of inefficiency is all over the place in higher ed. It is because there is no reporting structure, so administrators have no idea of the workload that any individual employee is shouldering.

  5. Why do we have to do it all over again?

    So he can justify his existence, have something to put on his performance review, etc?

  6. Probably some of that. I also bet, because of the absence of a chain of command, that he is blissfully unaware of the report from last year. That mandate came from a different office.

  7. Mooshi,

    I know there must be all kinds of politics involved. But with tenure, why can’t you send him a copy of the other report and and ask him if that will do?

  8. I read that article about Zappos. The whole thing sounds like the idea of “faculty governance” in academia. I bet their meetings are chaotic just like faculty meetings. And if it all pans out the way it does in academia, what will happen is either no decision will be made, or someone at the top will make the decision and not tell anyone.

  9. It is politics. We have to make the dean happy so we can get his resources flowing our way, just like we have to make the provost happy, and the student affairs director happy, and on and on.

  10. Mooshi – all that nonsense annoys me to no end. I must leave because I am literally unable to entertain even the concepts without raising my blood pressure. I hate inefficiency, and irrational behavior. HATE – like as much as I hate Hitler and Stalin. Have a great weekend everyone!

  11. I agree with reducing H1-B visas, or requiring workers who receive them to be paid a 90th percentile wage for their job classification. I would extend the EITC to single, childless people. I would allow people to receive unemployment if they move to a new location, based on their earnings in their old location, and with an in-person interview to discuss resources/feasibility of the move, I would even allow an advance on their total unemployment benefits to fund the move. (Interview would be similar to my interview showing that my small business was feasible. I showed tax statements for previous 3 years, and interviewer approved my reporting small business income to offset my unemployment benefits, but the total amount of unemployment I was eligible for didn’t change, it just got spread out over time.)

    I think lack of mobility combined with massive job loss in an area is a problem that can be mitigated by government. (Demand for rare metals manufactured locally went down after nuclear plants were shut down due to the earthquake in Japan. That wasn’t the fault of the local metal companies.)

    The housing subsidy problem is tough. I read an article that said people whose wages increased due to the increase in minimum wage in Seattle are requesting cuts to their hours in order to remain eligible for subsidized housing. $15/hr doesn’t support a family in Seattle. My slumlord uncle in another city, however, sees his Section 8 residents generally doing not much work at all, perhaps working a bit under the table and perhaps engaging in addictive behaviors. They also don’t engage (at least as much) in the sort of “unpaid” work that I do, see next paragraph.

    Economists see only paid work as work. This is a problem if we let economics alone guide choices. If I weren’t taking care of my children this summer, the equivalent of another person would be, and that person would be paid. I turn inexpensive ingredients into healthy, edible meals. (Delicious, especially as applied to zucchini, would be a lie, especially in the opinion of my children.) Economics also doesn’t value stability very highly, in jobs or in relationships. In economic terms, a different short-term care provider every day or every week is valued the same as a loving nanny, and a loving parent is valued at zero.

    Progressive politicians have longed seemed to see western Europe as nirvana, and I liked the article CoC posted recently. No country seems to have figured out a good long-term balance between paid work, unpaid work and leisure with the presence of a solid social safety net. As Rhett has observed, “Some people have a preference for leisure.”

  12. . No country seems to have figured out a good long-term balance between paid work, unpaid work and leisure with the presence of a solid social safety net.

    Germany seems pretty close.

  13. Merkel thinks social spending is too high. Is she right or wrong?
    Mr WCE is there now, and protections for high level workers are certainly better. His hours there are limited compared to here.

  14. Merkel thinks social spending is too high. Is she right or wrong?

    Merkel’s CDU thinks they are too high the SPD thinks they are too low – the truth is probably somewhere in between.

  15. Maybe, but Europe doesn’t usually break out statistics on how their immigrant population compares to their native population. The trend of births/employment for native Germans vs. births/employment of immigrants doesn’t bode well for the long-term.

  16. The point is it works now. When it didn’t work in the past, they passed the Hartz reforms.

    As various conditions change public policy needs to change, correct? You seem to be objecting to their policy choices on the grounds that it is not now dealing with a situation that may or may not present itself in the future.

  17. I don’t know enough about German policy to know whether it “works” or not. Both asylum seekers in Germany and illegal immigration in the United States are potential problems for the social welfare state.

    Back on the topic of the original post, what do the rest of you see as the difference between the political parties in supporting paid work? I’m content to see hours worked and inflation-adjusted federal revenues decline as people choose leisure, subsidized by food stamps and Section 8 housing, over work. I don’t know at what point public policy will adjust, and probably the main difference between the parties is their opinion about what that point should be.

  18. DH and I chose flexible careers, trading money for time, so I get it. That said, for me, work has meaning. I really do enjoy working and would feel unmoored without work. I stayed at home for 15 months when DS2 was born and I am so much happier with a job. DH, OTOH, cannot wait until he retires.

    I’m not sure our political parties have the maturity to deal with such large issues as taxes and social supports without an enormous crisis.

  19. I’m content to see hours worked and inflation-adjusted federal revenues decline as people choose leisure,

    With skills based technological change what your likely to see is federal revenue increase due to the taxes paid on the soaring incomes of the elite, while more and more of the less gifted rely on some kind of guaranteed minimum income.

  20. I’m curious about Rhett’s idea of guaranteed minimum income. How do you see this country transitioning to such a system?

  21. I am on board with the minimum income idea. There is so much administration that goes into disability payments (and the lawyers to protest the denials, and the back pay), social security, TANF. I can’t imagine how one would roll this out – maybe start by removing the social security checks for disabled kids, TANF payments and merging them into a per-kid subsidy for everyone?

  22. I don’t know. I think there’s a strong aversion in this country to raise the taxes that will be necessary to pay for a guaranteed minimum income program. You can’t tax just the rich–you’d have to tax the middle class too.

    I also think we’re too Puritan in nature to provide European-level supports for people who don’t/can’t work.

  23. I think much of the reason that poor rural areas lean Republican is that the working people in those areas tend to do rotten work, in meat packing plants, low-wage retail jobs, etc. People like my Dad are strongly opposed to the idea that people who don’t work will have the same standard of living as the people who do those rotten, working class jobs. (Remember he spent his career in a dogwood plant, doing various maintenance and tech jobs)

  24. Houston and Hour from Nowhere,

    I think it will hinge on technology – if Google can get the self driving cars to work that would be a sure sign that technology has evolved to the point where a significant number of people won’t have the ability to add much value. As that point starts creeping up to the level of the average voter, I think both sides would compromise on a garanteed minimum income.

    To WCE’s point, I think the tipping point will come when those retail and meat packing jobs are replaced by automated warehouses*, drones, self driving trucks and lab grown meat.

    * which has already happened,

  25. The idea would be that with a guaranteed minimum income (12k/year?) your dad would get that plus what he earned at the dog food factory, and the neighbors that prefer leisure would just have the minimum. The plan, as I understand it, is that everybody gets the money, if you want more you find a job.

    In my perfect socialist utopia, you incorporate a voucher program for schools into this as well

  26. You can’t tax just the rich–you’d have to tax the middle class too.

    If income gains continue to go almost entirely to those at the top, at some point you could fund it just with taxes on the rich.

  27. As usual, wikipedia explains it better than I can. Also, I guess I mean Universal Basic Income, not Guarenteed minimum income.

    Tim Worstall, a writer and blogger, has argued that traditional welfare schemes create a disincentive to work because such schemes typically cause people to lose benefits at around the same rate that their income rises (a form of poverty trap where the marginal tax rate is 100%). He has asserted that this particular disincentive is not a property shared by basic income as the rate of increase is positive at all incomes.[12]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

  28. Germany actively prevents a significant percentage of its citizens from working: women with kids.

  29. WCE said “I think much of the reason that poor rural areas lean Republican is that the working people in those areas tend to do rotten work, in meat packing plants, low-wage retail jobs, etc. ”

    This doesn’t explain why people in eastern KY, a region with one of the highest rates of dependence on government welfare programs, votes overwhelmingly Republican.

  30. When I lived in eastern Kentucky, most households had at least one employed member. It’s possible that some people, say, cleaned houses, brewed moonshine or babysat to avoid having reportable income. I concur with Mooshi that few local jobs paid a living wage.

    Without a specific level of income in mind and allowances for additional assistance for the disabled, it’s hard to say whether I support it or not. Two examples come to mind.
    1) A formerly Mennonite family I know (6 kids) received assistance for awhile so Dad could attend nursing school. He is now an RN and able to support their family. The assistance provided to their family so Dad could transition from cabinet making to nursing is a good use of tax dollars. What would the guaranteed minimum income to their family be? Would it be greater or less than Dad’s earnings as an RN, especially accounting for the commute? (Job he found is almost an hour away, since his assistance required working in an underserved area.)
    2) My cousin’s disabled daughter, almost 9, died this month after years of medical care, physical therapy, etc. She was an only child. Her parents spent enormous amounts of time and money on her care, and her grandparents moved nearby to help even more. What happens to families with severely disabled members? I know Medicaid payments to nursing homes on behalf of the disabled elderly are significant, to illustrate another example of where I think tax dollars are reasonably well-spent.

  31. My memory was that growing marijuana was a big source of income in eastern KY. I don’t know if that is still true.

  32. One of our friends shopping here for a house with a shop looked at one shop with floor-to-ceiling, south facing windows, no workbenches/storage and a few electrical outlets. He deadpanned, “Nice shop.”

  33. I would venture a guess that the reason eastern KY votes republican has something to do with the 2nd Amendment. That is certainly a big factor in rural people voting against their own interests in my southern state.

    WCE, your cousin’s story reminds me, as DH often does, that “some people have REAL problems”. I’m sorry for their loss.

  34. CoC, can you comment on that NY Times article Mooshi pointed to? I see that the biggest jump in pay is for petroleum engineers, but I had the impression that there is a glut of petroleum engineers and the schools are warning applicants that there might not be jobs waiting.

  35. WCE – You are giving thoughtful examples of the “deserving” recipients of screened govt aid. However, some reasonable people might consider that no matter how clean living, thrifty and stable the Mennonite family is, they still had 6 children on a cabinet maker’s uncertain earnings and that this is a form of financially irresponsible freely chosen behavior that the taxpayer has no reason to encourage. Other reasonable people might consider that a single mother with a beautician’s certificate and good work habits when she can find work, but with two out of wedlock children and no steady partner, has made irresponsible choices that should not be encouraged by government support. The ethnic background, religious beliefs and race of the recipients also play into how their life choices are viewed by citizens from different backgrounds, regions, and political/social views.

    As for medicaid payments to nursing homes, many people really think that the family should be responsible for the elderly, not the state, which pretty much ensures that a lot of unpaid labor traditionally performed by women is required. And if the family does not provide the care itself, whether paid by the state or by the family, it is frequently recent unskilled immigrants who provide the hands on care.

    Universal Basic income, with or without a child allowance, is attractive because everyone gets it. No bureaucracy. No judgments on who is worthy. Usually universal health care or health care vouchers, and public education or education vouchers, go along with this. Retirees would get the larger of Social Security, or UBI, at least during a phase out period. Value added (consumption) taxes are usually the means of funding a welfare state system.

  36. I suppose I’m more comfortable judging than many other people, and I remain unconvinced that the UBI proponents will allow (or should allow) children to go hungry when their addicted parents spend their income on drugs or alcohol. One of the most compelling arguments for Prohibition was the destitution of women and children whose husbands and fathers drank up the family income. My grandmother who wouldn’t eat at restaurants that served alcohol (yup, Pizza Hut serves beer) was the daughter of an alcoholic father, the seventh of eight children who was born in 1922.

    I agree that UBI isn’t realistic without an associated healthcare mechanism. I don’t think any of us want severely disabled people dying for want of care that is unaffordable on the UBI.

  37. I took an elderly person to the social security office recently and was struck that there were only a couple of people in the crowded waiting room who appeared to be over 65. I thought there’s got to be a better way than for us all to continue to pretend all of these people are disabled. Universal basic makes sense to me, but I also wonder if, since there’s good money to be made perpetuating the problem (at least one law firm in my town would go out of business entirely because all they do is disability claims), a compassionate and reasonable proposal could never get off the ground politically.

  38. Mémé’s comment also made me think of a widowed LDS colleague (no college degree, I don’t think) who was hired (or rapidly advanced) to project management technician after being hired with essentially no paid work experience.

    She was a single mother of 10 and d*mn was she a good project management technician!

  39. I make a yearly pilgrimage to SSI to help my Au Pairs get social security cards. I dare not send them alone. They are intimidating places – all in our region have armed guards, many have metal detectors, and there are often angry/psychotic people in the waiting room. Very little of it has anything to do with new babies or retirement.

  40. Disability – a number of women I have talked to have husbands who could not continue in their occupations due to back pain. They have had surgeries etc. but nothing helped and these men ended up moping around the house. They were lucky to be able to keep themselves afloat because the wife ramped up her work. A lot of people’s issues surfaced during the Great Recession, when both partners had no jobs.

  41. Ada – I accompanied my parents to the social security office. It was a typical government office, much like the DMV and the staff person was excellent.
    I wanted to write a complimentary follow up letter.

  42. But RMS, you can disapprove of her choices without affecting her, because she financially supported herself and her children.

    The beauty of Mémé’s post is that it recognizes that in a diverse, pluralistic society, we’re going to have different views about, say, the morality of contraception- and that when contraception (or euthanasia) becomes legal, pressures and choices around its use change.

  43. I highly doubt she supported 10 children on a project manager’s salary. If she’s LDS, there was family money involved. And the beauty of Mémé’s post is that she so very gently points out that it’s useless to distinguish between the deserving and undeserving poor. Cue Alfie Doolittle. As you know, we are all so steeped in sin that we cannot possibly get out on our own. Judging between the deserving and undeserving poor is not something we can undertake as Christians.

  44. What Meme said.

    Also, one might take the (albeit) large next step and say that it is hard to distinguish between the deserving disabled and the undeserving disabled. I have met many people who were able to shop at the mall, fix roofs, drive a car, text well and maintain excellent grooming standards but had SSI/disability. There are a tremendous number of people recieving monthly checks for mental illness, back pain and fibromyalgia – all conditions with little subjective evidence.

    Also, last I heard, if you are denied SSI, and then appeal it, you will get “back pay” for the entire time you could have recieved payments. I had a cousin who applied (carpal tunnel with a dash of neck pain) and was denied 4 times. She finally got it (with the assistance of an attorney working for a 30% cut) and had a tremendous payday. I believe there was a new travel trailer involved. Of course, she could never recover and work again – that would put her benefit at risk.

    Instead of trying to root out the undeservedly “disabled” – why not give her a base income and the ability to earn more if she is able?

  45. Today’s discussion has definitely made me think about how concern for the disabled has transitioned largely to a government problem. My former large employer used to employ developmentally disabled people to deliver the mail, but that became too expensive/risky. My Dad’s large employer used to employ disabled people to drop coupons in dog food bags or put stickers on, because it wasn’t important if they made a mistake. I used to ride the city bus home with them, because they lived by my house. I don’t see companies attempting to include the developmentally disabled in their workforces very much, at least here.

  46. Are we talking “base income” like EITC/Alaska Permanent fund supplement level, or are we talking about significantly more? If more, how is it funded?

  47. To summarize, our proposed funding for the UBI comes from these three sources:
    -Eliminating most existing means-tested welfare programs—Temporary Aid to Needy Families, SNAP (food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit everything else other than Medicare and CHIP would raise about $500 billion per year.
    -Eliminating middle-class tax expenditures and the personal exemption would add another $635 billion in funding
    -Giving Social Security beneficiaries of all ages the choice between the benefits to which they are presently entitled, or the UBI, but not both, would add about $18 billion in funding and reduce the number of UBI claimants by about 57 million.

    Those three sources of funding would be sufficient to provide a UBI grant of about $4,452 per person, or 17,800 for a family of four, which is about 75 percent of the official poverty income for such a family.

    http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2014/01/13/could-we-afford-a-universal-basic-income/#sthash.tYqxceEi.dpuf

  48. It’s a good summary.

    The ambiguity of whether the author is retaining or eliminating Medicaid, particularly regarding elderly nursing home residents, is probably the biggest “government” factor affecting the author’s numbers.

    I disagree that total income would be unaffected. The elimination of housing vouchers would force lots of people either onto the streets, to move in with family members or to move to dying rural areas with cheap housing, for example. I don’t have any particular problems with eliminating the mortgage interest or personal exemption, but that would affect housing prices dramatically, I think.

  49. @WCE – here I see developmentally disabled people working in grocery stores. The Onion article that someone had posted about the Burger King employee hit home because I can count on seeing certain employees when I grocery shop on specific days which coincide with their shifts.
    I can’t see the back rooms of big retailers, fast food joints or other businesses (which are not direct customer facing roles), so I don’t know if they employ the developmentally disabled or not.

  50. “CoC, can you comment on that NY Times article Mooshi pointed to? I see that the biggest jump in pay is for petroleum engineers, but I had the impression that there is a glut of petroleum engineers and the schools are warning applicants that there might not be jobs waiting.”

    Since the glut of engineers only occurred within the last year and that chart only goes to 2014, it has probably not caught up with the latest reality. The oil business boom and bust cycles typically move at breakneck speeds.

  51. “here I see developmentally disabled people working in grocery stores. ”

    Same here.

  52. Yeah, we have developmentally disabled people working in the grocery stores here, too.

    If there were a universal guaranteed income, why wouldn’t that just result in comparable inflation? So now if you have an apartment to rent out, you just set the rent $1K a month higher to weed out the people who don’t work?

  53. Completely off topic – textbooks that kid will get from school are supposed to be covered but not with contact paper.
    What sort of paper/covering material is to be used ? In the home country we used to get sheets of thick brown paper to cover books. I don’t see that here.

  54. Louise, I always used cut-up brown paper grocery sacks to cover my textbooks, as did everyone else. It may depend on your school what is the socially appropriate way to cover.

  55. On the hiring of the disabled, one thing that makes me proud of my employer is the decision to use as a major outsource vendor for warehousing activities a California company that employs the developmentally disabled. It is a pretty good sized operation providing steady employment for a number of people.

    On the UBI – thanks for the links. I don’t know much about it but find it interesting to consider.

  56. I like those multi-colored book covers though, because you can easily tell one text from another.

    Although why you have to put a cover on something that you personally have purchased and own outright, I have no idea.

  57. Louise – I think I used to get book covers (with something printed on them) at the drug store when I was in school, and I think I found something similar when my kids first started needing them, but I moved on to grocery bags when they “outgrew” the designs.

  58. From when I was a kid, I recall four categories of book covers:

    -Brown paper bags (usually turned inside out).
    -Wrapping paper (often reused).
    -Commercial book covers.
    -Sunday comics.

    The wrapping paper and Sunday comics typically didn’t last long, although some current wrapping papers that can resist damage due to the combination of moisture and rubbing (e.g., from being carried) might do well. I’m thinking of some of the shiny papers that have a base other than paper, perhaps mylar.

    The commercial book covers, often bought at college bookstores, usually had a plastic layer that protected them from moisture and lasted the longest.

    In my day, book bags were not universal, and a lot of books were just carried in a stack against the sides of bodies (boys) or up against the fronts of bodies (girls).

  59. Louise, did you purchase the books in question? I’m wondering if RMS’ assumption is valid; when I was a kid, the books belonged to the school and needed to be turned in at the end of the year.

    One of the first things most kids when they got their books at the beginning of the school year was to look inside the front cover and see who had used those books in previous years.

  60. “I remain unconvinced that the UBI proponents will allow (or should allow) children to go hungry when their addicted parents spend their income on drugs or alcohol.”

    Whether or not I support UBI (IMO, there’s a lot to be said for replacing many current programs with it), I would like to see something done to keep such kids from going hungry. My thought is that school lunches and breakfasts should be free to all kids. I know that doesn’t take care of weekends, holidays, and vacations, but it would go a long way toward keeping kids from starving, in addition to making the juggle a lot easier for parents.

    Perhaps school cafeterias could be kept open through school breaks as well.

    Doing this could also help keep UBI at a given level regardless of whether there are school-age kids involved. Pre-school age kids is a different can of worms.

    I have no problem letting adults, who’ve been provided the means to feed themselves, go hungry.

  61. “I thought there’s got to be a better way than for us all to continue to pretend all of these people are disabled.”

    I heard on the radio a couple days ago that SS disability is on track to run out of money very soon. A lot of people want to move money from the general SS fund into the disability fund; one person advocating that on PR called it a “common-sense solution.”

    I thought it might make more sense to let it get closer to running out of money, creating a crisis that might lead to some changes away from, as HfN puts it, “pretending these people are disabled.” What I’ve heard is that many people who are considered disabled are approaching retirement age, lost their jobs, are unable to find jobs, and are using disability as a bridge to retirement. If that’s the case, then that issue should be confronted directly, and letting the SS disability fund run out of money, or approach that, might be the impetus to do that.

  62. “If there were a universal guaranteed income, why wouldn’t that just result in comparable inflation?”

    One of the arguments against this is that this money is already in the economy, funding all those suspicious permanent disability cases as well as the myriad of other govt. programs.  Here’s an extensive discussion on inflation, courtesy of Reddit Basic Income.

    Wouldn’t basic income just cause inflation?

    … Assuming the BI is funded via taxes, and not monetary policy (printing money), the inflationary impact should be short-term and limited to where supply is sticky.

    I’m not completely sold on the idea because we don’t truly know the consequences, but it does seem that it couldn’t be much worse than the status quo.

  63. Finn – I think the textbooks belong to the school and would have to be turned in. I will rent/buy another set to keep at home per the Totebag suggestion.
    Yesterday, Target was already attracting new college students and excited kindergarteners. All the other students not so much :-).

  64. If inability to find employment is a problem for some workers near retirement, and I agree that it is, perhaps government should be the employer of last resort both in the sense of providing money and providing work. When I was in Japan, I saw four people directing traffic at an intersection where the US would have one person. Our schools could definitely use people to read with struggling readers. If you can drive, you can deliver meals on wheels. In Japan, the old are taking care of the old-old, a concept that might mean we allow social security early for people who are caring for an elderly dependent or who do CNA-type work at a nursing home. Perhaps remote work can be developed for people with weakened immune systems, like my FIL who didn’t make it through the social security disability appeal process before he died.

    If we had a checklist of “things you can do” and a bureaucracy (more jobs!) to match people with jobs, maybe we can both receive social benefits and keep people of limited employability active in their communities. One of the reasons I disagreed with Charles Murray’s $10,000/person proposal when I first read it is that even though I agree that I can’t judge perfectly, I believe that a quadriplegic or elderly person with Alzheimer’s is more deserving of public resources than the average person. I also suspect UBI would be inflationary and/or discourage work due to the tax rates necessary to fund it, because it would wind up being “in addition” to at least some public support programs.
    http://www.cato-unbound.org/2014/08/08/jim-manzi/when-basic-income-guarantee-meets-political-process

    Two of my colleagues are married to nurses, and like Ada, I think they see abuse of the disability system. I heard my colleagues discussing two unemployed, twenty-something men with medical marijuana prescriptions and disability because they suffered from depression and irritable bowel syndrome. I’d rather fund the elderly nursing home resident and quadriplegic at a higher level.

  65. And yet, the homeless guy at church who was hit by a car and thrown a long ways, spent months in a coma, has traumatic brain injury (and trust me, when you talk to him, you see he’s brain injured), and a shattered right leg that probably should have been amputated and doesn’t allow him to stand or walk for any length of time, can’t get disability. Between WCE’s acquaintances and mine, I think I see an even stronger case for the guaranteed income.

  66. “If inability to find employment is a problem for some workers near retirement, and I agree that it is, perhaps government should be the employer of last resort both in the sense of providing money and providing work.”

    Absolutely, that’s a better solution. Keep them off disability, which provides an incentive to not work, and keep them in the employment pool and get something out of them. Let’s address the real problem, not sweep them under the rug of pretending they are disabled.

    “the old are taking care of the old-old, a concept that might mean we allow social security early for people who are caring for an elderly dependent or who do CNA-type work at a nursing home. ”

    Or it could be a government job, or government-subsidized job, for those nearing retirement otherwise unable to find employment.

    OTOH, I still suspect that a significant number of people “unable to find employment” aren’t looking very hard, or turn down jobs they could do.

  67. I’m weirdly fascinated by this story of the Jupiter, FL 14-year-olds missing at sea. They’re rich–one is a neighbor of Joe Namath, and a mother, defending his experience on the water, said that this was his FOURTH boat–and the story relates to many of our discussions about protecting kids vs. allowing independence.

  68. @Milo – I found this in the comments. Is this true ?

    STAY WITH THE BOAT!!!..It can be seen for miles and with modern construction will not sink. I lost 4 friends in the Gulf when their boat capsized.. The ONE that lived.. STAYED WITH THE BOAT.

  69. I just saw both mothers on TV, steadfastly asserting their belief that their sons were ok and are “strong” boys. Yeah, sounds more like free ranging parenting.

  70. Louise – I would think so. I’m not so sure about “will never sink,” but stay with it as long as it’s floating. It’s definitely more visible, and it gives you something to sit on or at least cling to.

    CoC – Apparently they were supposed to stay in the inlet, which I don’t think is unreasonable for kids their age. If they were striking out for the Bahamas, (and based on the location of the capsized boat, that appears likely) that’s on them.

  71. Milo,

    What do you think happened? I’m wondering if they hit a submerged shipping container or some such and that capsized the boat? Or, they actually ran away and are someplace else?

  72. I generally oppose the government creating jobs simply to keep people employed. The costs of these jobs has typically been many times the income created. This is a particularly egregious example, but so far a NY’s latest job creation program has cost taxpayers “$28 million and generated seventy-six jobs”.

  73. I heard they found the boat, so I guess the kids did not stay with it. Personally I think kids who are too young for a drivers license are too young to be sailing by themselves in open seas. Very sad.

  74. CofC,

    I agree. If the guy needs 30k a year to get from 58 to 63 then give him the money vs. spending 60k or 90k on some complex bureaucracy to create busy work jobs.

  75. Letting 14 yos out alone in the inlet is probably comparable to letting kids bike and walk within a few miles of their home, so it seems reasonable.

  76. The latest home show I caught this weekend was Island Hunters, where families searched for homes on rather remote islands. I can see where that lifestyle would have younger teens navigating their own boats.

  77. Apparently they were supposed to stay in the inlet, which I don’t think is unreasonable for kids their age. If they were striking out for the Bahamas, (and based on the location of the capsized boat, that appears likely) that’s on them.

    I’m wondering if the situation was sort of like a kid getting over his or her head at a party and being afraid to call for a ride for fear of getting in trouble. They knew they would get in trouble if their parents found out they were going to the Bahamas, so as the situation went south they held off on calling for help until it was too late.

  78. DS is being taken by his camp on local area road trips. They do fun things like hike, go tubing, canoeing etc. All the kids wear life vests while on water plus the kids are all swim tested. DH, the not so free range parent grilled me with questions about all these activities. I am not a happy camper. I have suggested that DH chaperone all our kids’ upcoming school trips. DH, I am sure will want to move to wherever our kids end up going to college.

  79. Rhett – that seems plausible. From the articles, I gathered that the nearest island of the Bahamas is only about 85 nm east of Jupiter, so, ideally, you should never be more than 40 nm from land. When my boss goes fishing from his similarly sized boat off the Outer Banks, he’s taking it at least that far out.

  80. Louise – if my DH starts with questions like that I usually respond that he is welcome to call the camp HIMSELF to get info. :)

  81. Waters were very rough this weekend. DH and I – very experienced boaters – got in such a bind with rough waves our boat almost flipped. We were in a completely “easy” boating place and had a freak event – our bow anchor chain snapped. I actually put on a life jacket because it was so rough – and we were within easy distance to shore. I am sick over these young boys. Truly around boating communities, 14 is not too young to be out, it’s just that sometimes shit happens.

  82. L – for some trips, teachers have emailed parents estimated time of arrival (if it’s later than stated). Now DH expects a live blog of events. I can’t fathom this concern now, as our kids have been in care of other adults starting with daycare.

  83. This is a particularly egregious example, but so far a NY’s latest job creation program has cost taxpayers “$28 million and generated seventy-six jobs”.

    CoC – I of course know exactly of what you speak. I think that program may be successful over time. The $28M is the initial awareness and recruitment expense. The tax-free portion to the new enterprises should drive more job creation.

  84. Rhett – the boat was found with the engine cover missing, which I’d interpret as they had engine trouble and were trying to get it restarted. If they were dead in the water during a sudden storm, then swells could have come over the side.

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