Low Wages and Unemployment are an Existential Crisis for Millions

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Guest Post by Jeff W, a contributor to the Charles Hugh Smith blog.  5/26/2015

Median Wages

A Note from Daniel Drew of Dark Bid:
This post is a response to The End of Meaningful Work: A World of Machines and Social Alienation, an article I posted earlier. It is conducted in an interview style.

Jeff W:

There is a huge and growing problem of low wages and unemployment. It is an existential crisis for millions. If millions of young Americans don't start earning more money, they can't afford to have children, or take care of them properly, and that is the end of us as a nation. Even though I deplore government interference in the marketplace, the problem is so severe that it demands government action.

Getting a Job at McDonald's Harder Than Getting Accepted to the Ivy League

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Daniel Drew,  5/12/2015

Ronald McDonald

In society, exclusivity creates desirability. Whether it's that special country club or elite college, privilege is defined by the rejection rate. In the previous era, the Ivy League was one of those prized organizations, and McDonald's was the exact opposite. Now, the New Normal has seized our social convention and turned it on its head.

It Ain't Over Till The Fat Lady Sings: $50 Million For Obese Portrait

Daniel Drew,  5/10/2015

$50 million doesn't go as far as it used to.

You used to be able to do a lot with $50 million. Now you can't even buy Demi Moore's apartment. And $50 million won't get you a decent portrait nowadays. All that's left is this.

It's called Benefits Supervisor Sleeping and is considered Lucien Freud's masterpiece. Christie's is hoping to sell this portrait for a hefty $50 million. What I'm still trying to figure out is if I can buy it by the pound or if I have to buy the whole thing.

Consider it a metaphor for the bloated capital markets. Perhaps it should be renamed "ZIRP Overdose." If this is $50 million, imagine how much the Margot Robbie portrait must be.

A New Dark Age: When College Doesn't Pay

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Daniel Drew,  4/20/2015

Bachelor Degree Labor Force Participation

If you're so smart, why aren't you rich? One day, as ignorance becomes an ideal to strive for, that question might be replaced with, "If you're so dumb, why aren't you rich?"

The possibility that evolution might take a wrong turn and transform us into a society of imbeciles was dramatized in the movie Idiocracy. That process is beginning today as education is no longer rewarded. A look at the labor force participation rate for college graduates shows a steady decline since the data was first tracked. Getting a college degree used to mean a ticket on the upward trajectory of this thing they once called a "career." Now, your college degree guarantees you a place behind the bar counter in the McJob recovery. As more college graduates become unemployed, the more the federal government picks up the tab.

Cop Sues NYPD Over Quotas And Slams The Racketeering Culture

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Daniel Drew,  4/15/2015

To Protect And To Serve

To Protect And To Serve. But they never said they were protecting you.

In the NYPD, it's clear that the police are protecting and serving themselves at your expense. The boys in blue are indistinguishable from the Crips or any other street gang in their extortion activities.

Officer Adhyl Polanco is suing the NYPD. He secretly recorded conversations in the Bronx. A sergeant said in the recording, "Next week, it could be 25 and 1. It could be 35 and 1. Until you decide you're going to quit this job and become a Pizza Hut delivery man, this is what you're going to be doing until then." 35 and 1 means 35 tickets and 1 arrest.

The End of Meaningful Work:
A World of Machines and Social Alienation

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Listed in The Reformed Broker

Daniel Drew,  5/18/2015

Robot Receptionist

Many activists are clamoring for a higher minimum wage. That's an admirable goal, but is that where the worst problem is? Even at the abysmally low wages of the present moment, we still have 938,000 people being turned away from McDonald's because there aren't enough McJobs. The real problem is the lack of meaningful work. In a world of machines and social alienation, meaningful work is as scarce as water in the drought-stricken California Central Valley.

Free Trade is Plutocratic Propaganda

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Daniel Drew,  5/10/2015

Manufacturing Employees

With the looming Trans-Pacific Partnership dominating the headlines, now is a good time to revisit an old scam called "free trade."

In 2003, Kevin Flanagan was an information technology employee at Bank of America. They told him he was being replaced with foreign labor, and he was ordered to train his replacement. After he completed his assignment, he was laid off. Then he went to the parking lot and shot himself.

That's "free trade."

The Efficient Market: Yelp Call Options Up 64,000%

Daniel Drew,  5/7/2015

Because nothing says "efficient markets" like a 64,000% gain in one day.

And all this for a company whose business model is based on extortion. Considering how even police revenue depends on extortion, it should be no surprise that an extortion derivative goes up to the stratosphere on a day when unsubstantiated buyout rumors pervade the offices at The Wall Street Journal.
The WSJ said, "A deal isn't imminent, one of the people cautioned, and may not happen at all."
It's just another day in the rigged marketplace.

The End of Youthful Opportunity Signals the Death of a Nation

Daniel Drew,  4/21/2015

For those of you who had the privilege of working as a teenager, you may look back on those times with a sense of appreciation for the basic skills that first job taught you. All those stupid mistakes you made early on helped prevent you from making a total fool out of yourself later in your career. Now, many teenagers no longer have that opportunity. With a bloated supply of labor, those burger flipping jobs and retail positions are being filled by aging baby boomers who found out social security wasn't that secure after all. Instead of a bright young face greeting you at Walmart, an old man greets you with a pained expression that reveals a lifetime of dashed dreams.

CEO Dan Price Cuts His Million Dollar Salary by 93%, Raises Minimum Wage to $70,000

Daniel Drew,  4/19/2015

Greed is definitely not good at Gravity Payments.

In a stunning move, CEO Dan Price announced that he will cut his million dollar salary to $70,000, and he will raise the lowest salary at the firm to $70,000 over the next 3 years. His actions would create a relatively flat compensation structure and function as a criticism of the mind-boggling wage inequality chasm in the United States, where the average CEO makes 200-300 times as much as the average worker. Famous financier J. Pierpont Morgan recommended the ratio should be no higher than 20-to-1.

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