Work

Would You Pay More if Amazon Hired Union Workers?


Whenever anything related to Amazon comes up, I feel like commenting on it after I tell you that:

1. I publish crappy short stories on Amazon as a wannabe author

2. I use Amazon extensively to entertain the family

3. I buy things cheap from Amazon on a regular basis

Having said that, would I pay more if Amazon hired union workers?

Absolutely. I would pay more. And so, adding 1,000 jobs to Baltimore's work force will improve the lives of a lot of people even if these jobs aren't union jobs (don't laugh because this is not Germany and nobody forms a union here and survives). You'd have to be a braying jackass to make it about yourself and bemoan 1,000 jobs in the economically depressed Southeastern part of Baltimore. Whatever they are going to pay those folks just isn't enough, but at least it is something.

If someone were to stumble across this crappy blog, they would know one thing--Amazon's stuff is dirt cheap because they don't pay their people enough. If they charged just a little more for their stuff, I would still buy things from Amazon.

Really, this isn't hard to understand.

What is the Alternative to College?


This is a great story about why there is something broken with the system that educates people in this country:
Just 11 percent of low-income students who are the first in their family to attend college will have a college degree within six years of enrolling in school. This stems from many issues. Students from low-income backgrounds often attend high schools without rigorous college-prep tracks, meaning their access to good information on higher education may be inadequate. Many of them are also significantly behind academically, which stymies them from applying or being accepted to certain schools. And to make matters worse, thousands of colleges across the country lack resources or programs earmarked for low-income or first generation students. That means that, while many schools enroll these students, few are equipped to actually graduate them.
The European method of getting around this is to legitimize the idea of a vocational education. In America, we are telling kids that they're special and that they have to get a college degree or they'll end up in a filthy, despicable union job. In Germany, for example, they segregate kids in high school based on how smart they are and they provide a union job and training so that the work force can be professionalized and trained.

We can't follow the European model because that would mean that someone's kid, who has pulled C's for years, is a dumbass and will only be a sad and lowly plumber. Never mind the fact that a certified and trained union plumber can made damned good money--America is the land of the middle manager who barely graduated after six years in a state school.

I think it has something to do with the fact that Americans have been conditioned to hate actual skills and competence in another person and that union membership is akin to being in a child molestation ring, but that's shrill and unfair to put into print.

There's a racket and a scam behind charging people $150,000 for an education that will allow someone to get a job making $30K per year--the educator is making money and the employer is saving money. The bankrupt, uneducated person stuck with the bill is of no consideration to anyone.

Wal-Mart Gives Itself a Tax Cut


Did you know that Wal-Mart can give itself a tax cut?

The act of dropping health care coverage for 30,000 workers amounts to a savings of $500 million dollars per year. I think that that number is low because Wal-Mart is going to make a whole lot more of their employees fall into that category in order to boost their savings (which are not needed, of course, because Wal-Mart is an insanely profitable business).

Your taxes will have to cover that difference because those workers will now have to rely on government benefits or emergency room services or some other form of funding for their health care costs. In many cases, they'll just pay more out of pocket, thereby receiving a pay cut on top of the tax increase you'll get in order to help make up the difference.

Wal-Mart takes the savings and passes them on to you. Only you're not making more money, either.

What I don't understand is, how much longer can we continue to pretend that Wal-Mart has been good for America in any way, shape or form? We're now addicted to cheap consumer goods made elsewhere. We're used to covering the costs of feeding and sheltering people who work for Wal-Mart and receive low pay and can't make ends meet. Now we're going to be handed another segment of the gainfully-employed population that will require health care coverage.

It's awful.

And, what's more, Wal-Mart managers are going to be under pressure to arbitrarily and unfairly cut hours and put more people in the cohort that is losing health care coverage. They'll do that by quietly reducing hours for people who are already on the bubble. Shopping there is already more of a nightmare than it was twenty years ago precisely because they cut the hours of the very same people who are there to help customers and get them through the check stands. The very definition of hell is Wal-Mart on a Friday night at 10:30.

The margins are incredibly thin now--disaster awaits anyone who is unlucky enough to lose a few hours a week or a little bit of insurance.

A one billion dollar a year tax increase on Wal-Mart would be welcome. Good luck ever seeing that in your lifetime.