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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

DIRK HAYHURST » The Proletariat is Right

You would think major leaguers would be a far better option than a lawsuit against the owner. 

In my first year I was paid $800 dollars a month. After housing, taxes, dues and insurance were taken out, that was down to $360. My minor league brothers and I were oblivious because we were playing the game and chasing our dream, all suffering from the delusion that we were only weeks from the bigs and escaping the bills, and mortgages, and mouth feeding struggles we still had. But even then, as naive as we were, it was comical. We’d look at our checks and have sad, satirical chuckles, punctuated with the now tongue-in-cheek phrase, “living the dream!” Over time, however, it became much less funny.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 26, 2014 at 09:44 PM | 132 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: economics

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   101. The Good Face Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4664049)
The number of true rich kids is stunningly small, and they don't even bother competing for prestigious jobs. They coast, like you say.


Yep. Those kids aren't really competing for "careers" in the sense that most people think of the word. They "work" in creative fields doing artsy things (fashion, music, photography, etc.), for non-profits/charities, and rarely, some of the smarter and more motivated ones might do stuff like get a medical degree and join Doctors Without Borders or something like that. They're not looking to become partner at a Biglaw firm, or climb the corporate ladder to become CEO at Globalcorp (unless their family owns the business). That crap is for upper middle class strivers.

The terms of this analogy seem misplaced to me. I'd see it as chef : university president :: intern : graduate teaching assistant :: diner : student.


Nope, the chef = the university and the intern = the student. The intern is paying for their education and experience with their labor and the student is paying with fat stacks of cash money dollar bucks. But the former is exploitative labor and the latter is somehow OK. You academics should be ashamed of yourselves, enslaving poor, gullible workers like that.
   102. GregD Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4664050)
Unpaid cooks put in a lot of work and hours in kitchens and they can get really run over. I had a buddy who used to work for free at the Four Seasons and Philly and also worked at a shoe store or something to make money. He was working something like 6 days a week at the Four Seasons and putting in long hours during those days. One day somebody called out and the sous chef told him he had to stay. He told them to screw off and went to France instead and worked as illegal undocumented worker for about a year before he got deported.
The management at the Four Seasons should have been perp-walked
   103. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4664055)
Now one thing that could be done is to ban consideration of legacy status in higher education admissions.

If Harvard wants to remain tax-exempt, they should be barred from considering whether your parents or grandparents are alumni or donors.

Of course, I'd move all Universities to 100% merit admission. It should be like it was pre-WWI. There's an admissions test and the top X people get in. The whole admissions process was actually invented in order to discriminate against Jews, and keep the WASP % in the Ivies high.
   104. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4664057)
And you would have no problem with that program. No wait, you would bemoan the idea that people making more money from their employer would then get less of a wage subsidy, disincentivizing work and serving as a huge de facto tax.


Not to mention the actual tax necessary to fund the subsidies.

Isn't at least possible that PreservedFish is making a valid point? Not at BTF. Thinking fan my arse.


OTOH, here at BTF, articulating the basic principle that labor should be compensated gets ripped, while the idea that only "10% of the poor and working class kids ... are smart enough to join the professional classes" (while presumably 90% of the children of the professional classes are) gets a pass.

BTW, there's a very simple solution to PF's dilemma -- PAY the kid for a few hours of scut work every day AND allow him the privilege of a few unpaid hours of watching the master at work.
   105. PreservedFish Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4664062)
I have a friend that went to work for a couple weeks as an unpaid intern (called a "stage", rhymes with "fromage") at Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen that is often said to be the best and most influential in the entire world. They had 20-30 stages working there (in January, in Copenhagen), which is to say, possibly more unpaid employees than paid employees, and many of the stages were working 13-16 hour days. And what were they doing? Ridiculous ####, like removing the pine needles from a branch one by one using tweezers, or separating the individual microscopic strands of meat from a braised lamb breast and then reassembling them in a different shape. If you have this much free labor you can start paying a ludicrous attention to detail. But he got to eat everything on the menu, see how the kitchen worked, etc, and he absolutely loved it. Not making a point with this, exactly, just telling the story. It's not something I'd want to do, at least not for more than a day or two.
   106. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4664063)
Of course, I'd move all Universities to 100% merit admission.


For any university which accepts Federal money, sure. I like the idea that UT has, where top x% of a graduating class in your school can get in. There are a whole bunch of ideas which can be used to chip away.

But I suspect you are also right that it has always been hard to move up in class and a major problem is the inequity (amount going to the rich and no longer to the middle class and below).
   107. GregD Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4664067)
Now one thing that could be done is to ban consideration of legacy status in higher education admissions.

If Harvard wants to remain tax-exempt, they should be barred from considering whether your parents or grandparents are alumni or donors.

Of course, I'd move all Universities to 100% merit admission. It should be like it was pre-WWI. There's an admissions test and the top X people get in. The whole admissions process was actually invented in order to discriminate against Jews, and keep the WASP % in the Ivies high.
I would support this (even though my kids stand to benefit from our legacy admission possibilities--not alas from our vast donations!--but it'll never happen.

My favored proposal on admissions is not yours since no one believes the tests have that kind of predictive power to the margin of error you'd need to make those distinctions. For our era, you'd be talking about are you sure that the old SATs could accurately slice a 1530 from a 1490 or a 1470 from a 1430. There's just no evidence that those differences tell you anything at all; even the test defenders think they indicate a range, and at a top school the range of "true" test scores would overlap to a degree that would make it impossible to follow your plan.

I like Stephen Carter's proposal to use GPAs and tests to establish who is qualified--cut off the bottom chunk. And then do it by lottery. His view was that randomness was a huge part of who was getting in anyway, but it was randomness masked as some kind of criteria (distinction in test scores within the margin of error, subjective preference for one writing sample, geographical diversity, other forms of diversity.) His critique of affirmative action after all is not that it destroys merit-based admissions but that it creates a false sense that everyone else got in by merit when he was sure that 5 different committees would end up with 5 quite different classes. Let everyone process that they deserved to have a shot and also that they also got in by luck.
   108. The District Attorney Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4664068)
I'm guessing this is one of our constant and unrelenting "I like mittens!" threads, but you guys do realize that trying to break in as a chef, a college kid trying to get a summer job in a field of interest, etc. basically has #### all to do with minor league baseball?
   109. The Good Face Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4664070)
Of course, I'd move all Universities to 100% merit admission. It should be like it was pre-WWI. There's an admissions test and the top X people get in. The whole admissions process was actually invented in order to discriminate against Jews, and keep the WASP % in the Ivies high.


Oh man, that would be hilarious. The student bodies at the most prestigious schools would be disproportionately (by a whole lot) asian and jewish with virtually no blacks or latinos. Gentry liberal heads would asplode, and everybody associated with the sordid exercise would be cast into the land of wind and ghosts.
   110. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4664071)
OTOH, here at BTF, articulating the basic principle that labor should be compensated gets ripped, while the idea that only "10% of the poor and working class kids ... are smart enough to join the professional classes" (while presumably 90% of the children of the professional classes are) gets a pass.

Do you dispute there is a major genetic component to intelligence? Do you dispute that environment is a major component to intelligence?

Children of the professional class are likely to be more genetically predisposed to intelligence, and raised in an environment that better fosters intellectual development, than working class kids. It would be shocking if a much, much higher % of them didn't make it to the professional class.
   111. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4664075)
Oh man, that would be hilarious. The student bodies at the most prestigious schools would be disproportionately (by a whole lot) asian and jewish with virtually no blacks or latinos. Gentry liberal heads would asplode, and everybody associated with the sordid exercise would be cast into the land of wind and ghosts.

They're already disproportionately Asian and Jewish. The student body at a place like Harvard is probably 20% Asian and 25% Jewish. If you designed the test properly, I don't thing they would skew much more.

The key is to design a test that doesn't lend itself to test prep and studying. Open form essays, long form problems, etc., that can be graded blind.

The disproportionate success of Asians and Jews is driven by a culture of academic emphasis and diligent studying, not some mythical genetic advantage. If the advantage was genetic, Israel and Japan would have much higher per capita GDPs than Switzerland or France, but they don't.
   112. BDC Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4664076)
I often wonder why more adjunct faculty don't walk off the job (à la McCoy's friend at the Four Seasons). With an MA one makes about $15/hr, with a PhD about $17, in my field and region (figuring 50-hour work weeks and 15-week semesters, which may be conservative: and those are the better salaries in the area). Not unpaid, of course; not starvation, exactly, but a working-class wage for supposedly professional labor, for sure, with no security or hope of advancement; no hope even of a raise, ever. Sections range between 24 and 42 students; just three of those students per section more than pay the instructor's entire wage in tuition alone (apart from state or county funding).

But as several here have said, it's a job people would do for free. And that's often the kind of job one has to protect the most. It's very difficult to translate a general imperative (people shouldn't work for these wages and conditions) into an individual one (I'm outta here).

   113. The Good Face Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4664077)
The disproportionate success of Asians and Jews is driven by a culture of academic emphasis and diligent studying, not some mythical genetic advantage. If the advantage was genetic, Israel and Japan would have much higher per capita GDPs than Switzerland or France, but they don't.


Don't you think there might be other components to GDP than the average IQ of the population? Or, alternatively, the couple of points that separate Switzerland and France from Japan and Israel aren't enough to move the needle?
   114. TDF, situational idiot Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4664079)
Do you dispute there is a major genetic component to intelligence?
No.
Do you dispute that environment is a major component to intelligence?
Yes. What you're describing as "intelligence" in this 2nd statement I'd call something else - "smartness"?

See if this makes sense: My sister did very well in school - straight A's, went to a good college and graduated near the top of her class in her field. But when her teen-aged son needed help with algebra, she was lost - she knew it well long enough to ace the tests, but it never stuck. That, to me, is not "intelligence". She still seems very smart in the narrow dictates of her career, but if she strays even a little, she isn't.
   115. GregD Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4664080)
One thing that would happen with a pure test-driven admissions process is that schools that draw from the 70th-90th percentile would become even more female-dominated than they are now.
   116. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4664081)
Do you dispute that environment is a major component to intelligence?


First of all, my problem with your statement was the quantitative aspect. I suspect that we've all worked with more than a few successful members of the professional classes who grew up in working class families. And on the flip side, more than a few children of privilege who aren't anywhere near qualified for professional careers on merit alone. I have four siblings. We are most definitely all children of the working class. Four of us somehow managed to make it to the rarefied air of the professional classes. I had an uncle who was a Ph.D. chemist and co-founder of a successful company. His kids pissed away all of his money and now have working class jobs.

To the extent that environment is a major component in determining job qualifications, society would seem to have a strong interest in mitigating the environmental differences that contribute to determining those differences. You know, by doing things like making sure that children get adequate nutrition, adequately funding primary and secondary education, and eliminating class-based preferences in higher education.
   117. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4664084)
Don't you think there might be other components to GDP than the average IQ of the population? Or, alternatively, the couple of points that separate Switzerland and France from Japan and Israel aren't enough to move the needle?

Not if the average intelligence of the populations were anything like the skew you see in higher education. If the average Jew or Asian was in fact 1 full SD smarter than the average gentile European, the economic advantage would be massive.

Japan and Germany started from basically the same place in 1945, and have arrived basically at the same place. If one population was massively more intelligent, that wouldn't happen.
   118. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4664088)
First of all, my problem with your statement was the quantitative aspect. I suspect that we've all worked with more than a few successful members of the professional classes who grew up in working class families. And on the flip side, more than a few children of privilege who aren't anywhere near qualified for professional careers on merit alone. I have four siblings. We are most definitely all children of the working class. Four of us somehow managed to make it to the rarefied air of the professional classes. I had an uncle who was a Ph.D. chemist and co-founder of a successful company. His kids pissed away all of his money and now have working class jobs.

You came from a working class family that had high native intelligence. Most of our families made that leap at some point For my family it was my parents' generation. My family went for High School dropouts to PhDs in one generation.

There will always be some of those families. But, as those people move up to the middle class and beyond, in each generation there should be fewer of those families. Even imperfect meritocracy will tend to stratify society over time.

There is also reversion to the mean. The children of two geniuses will on average be less smart.
   119. The Good Face Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4664110)
Not if the average intelligence of the populations were anything like the skew you see in higher education. If the average Jew or Asian was in fact 1 full SD smarter than the average gentile European, the economic advantage would be massive.

Japan and Germany started from basically the same place in 1945, and have arrived basically at the same place. If one population was massively more intelligent, that wouldn't happen.


I haven't really seen any evidence that such a massive gap exists between Europeans and east Asians/Israelis. Ashkenazi Jews IN AMERICA have an IQ almost a full SD above average (might help explain why 25% of American billionaires are Jewish despite Jews making up, what, 2-3% of the population?), but the average Israeli IQ is just a few points above average IIRC. Japan's average IQ is only a couple of points higher than Germany's.

In short, one population isn't massively more intelligent; at least not when comparing countries like Japan/Germany/Israel.
   120. BrianBrianson Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4664131)
I often wonder why more adjunct faculty don't walk off the job


Ever tried applying for a construction job with a Ph.D.? Once you have the Ph.D., you can really only do work that requires it, or the absolute worst grunt work (the kind where you can leave it off your CV, and imply the six year blank is from having been in prison). Places are super-reluctant to hire people they think are overqualified, because they think they'll spend time/money training you, and then you'll leave for greener pastures.
   121. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4664134)
I must have missed the part in "12 Years a Slave" where Chiwetel Ejiofor applied for his competitive slave posting, after discussing with his professors the most valuable place to toil the fields.


Attention must be paid to a post that offends so many, many people yet contributes nothing to the discussion at hand.
   122. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4664153)
I haven't really seen any evidence that such a massive gap exists between Europeans and east Asians/Israelis. Ashkenazi Jews IN AMERICA have an IQ almost a full SD above average (might help explain why 25% of American billionaires are Jewish despite Jews making up, what, 2-3% of the population?), but the average Israeli IQ is just a few points above average IIRC. Japan's average IQ is only a couple of points higher than Germany's.

In short, one population isn't massively more intelligent; at least not when comparing countries like Japan/Germany/Israel.


Right. So the odds that 50% of the most intelligent students in the US come from 7% of the population (~2% Jews, ~5% Asian) is astronomical. It can't happen based on pure ability.

Something else is happening. It's most likely the "striver" culture of focus on education uber alles.
   123. Ace of Kevin Bass Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4664163)
The fundamental question to me is this: How do people with unpaid internships pay their bills?

If the answer is "they come from backgrounds that provide them with the financial security to work for free," then this is a problem, yes?

Is it "good" (for whatever normative value of that word you want to assign) for certain industries only to be open to people of a certain socioeconomic background and above?
   124. The Good Face Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4664164)
Right. So the odds that 50% of the most intelligent students in the US come from 7% of the population (~2% Jews, ~5% Asian) is astronomical. It can't happen based on pure ability.

Something else is happening. It's most likely the "striver" culture of focus on education uber alles.


While environmental factors almost certainly play a significant role, your conclusion doesn't necessarily follow. Relatively small IQ differences could have a much bigger impact when doing winner-takes-all standardized testing than they might in the far more complex calculus of national GDP.

If Asian Americans have a collective average IQ of 106 compared to 100 for the rest of society (made up numbers), and your elite college accepts the top 10% of SAT score applicants, period, end of discussion, you'd expect Asian Americans to be WAY overrepresented.
   125. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:35 PM (#4664176)
If Asian Americans have a collective average IQ of 106 compared to 100 for the rest of society (made up numbers), and your elite college accepts the top 10% of SAT score applicants, period, end of discussion, you'd expect Asian Americans to be WAY overrepresented.

Except that IQ advantage is itself a product of the striver culture. IQ is nothing like a measure of pure native intellect.

Take 2 kids of equal native intelligence, put one in an Asian family, that celebrates education, makes them study 5 hours a night, and puts them in extra academic activities, put the other in a white family that celebrates football and baseball, and encourages the kid to practice sports 3 hours a day. The first is going to show a higher IQ when tested.
   126. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4664232)
The fundamental question to me is this: How do people with unpaid internships pay their bills? If the answer is "they come from backgrounds that provide them with the financial security to work for free," then this is a problem, yes?

Maybe. I'm all for enforcing the minimum wage laws (which are not without problems) against unpaid internships that don't qualify legally, but it's probably a mistake to assume these unpaid internships are always advantageous for the intern. I'm not going to look for it, but their was a recent article suggesting parents were foolish to coddle their kids in "prestigious" unpaid internships that almost never lead to real jobs, rather than giving them a kick in the ass and pushing them to take "lower status" real jobs.
   127. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4664238)
Right. So the odds that 50% of the most intelligent students in the US come from 7% of the population (~2% Jews, ~5% Asian) is astronomical. It can't happen based on pure ability.


I'll note that that's a 7% who are going to hell according to our predominant religious orthodoxy. What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul, and whatnot.
   128. GregD Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:07 PM (#4664272)
Maybe. I'm all for enforcing the minimum wage laws (which are not without problems) against unpaid internships that don't qualify legally, but it's probably a mistake to assume these unpaid internships are always advantageous for the intern. I'm not going to look for it, but their was a recent article suggesting parents were foolish to coddle their kids in "prestigious" unpaid internships that almost never lead to real jobs, rather than giving them a kick in the ass and pushing them to take "lower status" real jobs.
I think this is an interesting question solely on the grounds of self-interest, separate from ethics. My wife's parents are relatively unsophisticated but were upwardly mobile from living in the projects (actually from celebrating when they moved into the projects and out of the tenements to be accurate) to making it eventually to the suburbs. They had their kids working crap jobs from 14 or 15, Lee's Famous Recipe and whatever crummy thing was available, so the kids learned that work was hard and some work was decidedly not fun. Then the kids all muscled themselves to diners and pizza places by junior or senior year to get some amelioration. While lots of their cousins were finding themselves, these kids all worked even as they also went to grad school, and they have worked every single second since.

I worked some crap jobs at pizza places and the like but I could also make an argument about why I should stop working during sports seasons or whatever and get away with it.

Anyway, of the four of them, they are all independent, gainfully employed people, which is a priority for any parent. One of them totally missed his calling and works hard and for not-much money in a field he no longer enjoys but can't escape from. That's a drag. He basically got so risk-averse about being jobless that he followed his chain of employment without asking if it was what he wanted to do. Another does really well and loves her job but would with different parents have followed a different path to get to that job, though that's really about her parents' lack of understanding of how different parts of the world worked.

Some of their cousins have taken internships in really demanding fields like music production and so on, and have lost years finding themselves in ways that haven't yet led to much of anything.

On the other hand, obviously I know some people who converted internships into cool stuff. And I know some other people who at 40 are still trying to live life as if it were just one string of internships and are no closer to committing to something than they were at 20.

For us, I think I'm eager for my kids--when their older to work at a pizza place or a bakery to get a sense of how businesses works and what it means to show up on time (and to watch other people fail to do that.) I'd rather they do that than some CV puff. Lee's Famous, though, I dunno...
   129. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:33 PM (#4664282)
For us, I think I'm eager for my kids--when their older to work at a pizza place or a bakery to get a sense of how businesses works and what it means to show up on time (and to watch other people fail to do that.) I'd rather they do that than some CV puff. Lee's Famous, though, I dunno...
Those baguettes are no joke.
   130. Flynn Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4664291)
The thing is, if these fancy restaurants suddenly had to pay interns, they would probably just eliminate interns. I'm not a well known chef but I have a few things to teach youngsters and that's what I have done.


If you're talking about taking a weekend to look in at a big restaurant, that's one thing, but as far as I know people just turning up and chopping onions at good restaurants in London is unheard of. Those guys get paid.
   131. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 06:16 PM (#4664301)
Lee's Famous, though, I dunno...


Had to look that chain up, since it doesn't ring any sort of bell with me. Turns out there's one in Jasper, Ala. Liver & learn.
   132. bobm Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4664371)
The whole admissions process was actually invented in order to discriminate against Jews, and keep the WASP % in the Ivies high.

Little known fact: the Hebrew phrase on the Yale seal roughly translates as: "If you can read this, you can't come here. "
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