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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday April 12 2014, @08:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the If-only-we-had-crumbling-infrastructure-in-need-of-repair. dept.

Barry Levine writes that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging environmentalists to have some compassion for the coal miners they help put out of work because they can't be easily retrained to do other jobs. "Mark Zuckerberg says you can teach them to code and everything will be great. I don't know how to break it to you but no" said Bloomberg. "You're not going to teach a coal miner to code." Bloomberg, who is an environmental activist, said while he gives "a lot of money to the Sierra Club" to shut down coal-fired power plants and to promote green energy projects, society needs to "have some compassion to do it gently."

Thousands of coal mining jobs have been shed throughout the country, there were about two thousand fewer coal miners in March 2014 than at the same time last year. Coal-reliant states, like Kentucky have been hit especially hard with more than 2,200 mining jobs lost in that state alone last year a 23 percent decline. Bloomberg suggested subsidies to help displaced workers, like coal miners, and maybe even retaining. But Bloomberg said retraining isn't always an option, especially in an economy becoming increasingly tech savvy. Bloomberg stressed the need for the retraining to be "realistic."

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  • (Score: 0) by khallow on Saturday April 12 2014, @05:08PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 12 2014, @05:08PM (#30555) Journal

    throw hurdles in the way of starting businesses

    What hurdles are we talking about here, assuming we're talking about the US?

    You mentioned some in your post. The "local regulations" often involve a number of shakedown fees and of course, property taxes. Tax preparation is overly complicated and you have to collect and keep a lot of information to justify yourself, should the IRS come auditing. Liability is a huge hurdle. One bad lawsuit can destroy a business. As are complying workplace and environmental regulation. These often require the hiring of people just to do the work of complying with the regulations.

    Now, I get from your questions above, that you're the kind of guy who just sees benefits and not costs, but the thing is all this activity is done by government with little attention paid to how much it costs the business to make it happen. My view is that even if you think every single regulation should be in place, all that can still can be implemented in a way that is not so costly for the business to operate.

    There's also some rather nasty people in government who take it upon themselves to punish people arbitrarily. For example, EPA has pulled some pretty notorious stuff in the last decade, such as fining people and then claiming in court that the victims didn't have standing to sue the EPA and resolve the complaint that the EPA leveled against their property until they paid the fines.

    punish anyone who hires

    Since when was making sure that employees are properly compensated, taxed, and insured a "punishment"?

    Since forever. Punishment means that one faces an inordinate penalty for an activity or behavior. As to your assertion of "properness", my view on this is that it's not the job of government to do that, at least in the US at the federal level. The Europeans can nanny all they want as well as the flakier of the US states.

    For example, Social Security drives up the cost of employing US workers by 15%. At a glance the difference in cost between US and Chinese workers is somewhere around a factor of six ($26k per year median wage in US versus a bit over $4k per year in China). A dozen more reductions like eliminating Social Security would put the US at parity dollarwise with China. So by putting in a retirement program that doesn't do much, the US increased the cost of all of its workers substantially.

    Similarly, minimum wage still puts a full time (40 hours per week) US worker at over triple the cost of a Chinese worker (and that ignores that they get more work out of the Chinese worker at that). The weakest workers in the US are simply priced out of the market except as support for more valuable workers. One would only need somewhere around seven more things with the same discount as Social Security to bring minimum wage workers to wage parity with Chinese workers. This crap has synergy.

    And we get to insurance. If you employ 50 or more people, "full time" (over 35 hours this time not 40) then you have to pay at least $30k plus $2k for every employee above 50 (that's the minimum from the employer mandate penalty). That's half the median wages of a Chinese worker per employee above 50 just in health care costs. Between Social Security, minimum wage, and the Obamacare employer mandate, we just raised the minimum tax cost of employing anyone full time in a business that employs more than 50 people to the median wage of a Chinese worker. That's $4175 per year on top of wages, minimum. It's over $6k per year, if the person is making median wage.

    And in general, there's a huge hit to a business's bottom line once they hire the first employee and once they hire the 50th employee. Lots of regulation and costs pile up once those thresholds are breached.

    Also, treating my employees well isn't just good for them, it's also good for my business - well-treated employees are more likely to like their jobs, which means I'll get better job performance.

    That's nice except you still have to turn a profit in order to have a business. At this point, a lot of people just say that "we shouldn't care about businesses that can't survive". They ignore that by doing so, they just destroyed a bunch of potential jobs, a bunch of potential businesses, and all the nice things that could have happened as a result of those jobs and businesses. That leaves us with whiners like davester666 who complain about the "American Dream" without understanding what happened to thwart it.

    It wasn't the evil 1% (or your bogeyman of choice), it was the nickel and diming of employers by society. The evil 1% didn't raise the median cost of employing people by far more than the median wage of a Chinese worker, the US public did. The evil 1% didn't throw a ton of regulations on US businesses, create perverse liability law, or a pile of little fees, politicians elected by the US public did. You can demand all these wonderful things, the cost is that you might not stay employed or have a government capable of providing those things.

    My view is that there are two stark choices: adapt or well, not die, but suffer through a period of decline for society anyway until it reaches a level below parity with the developing world where US labor is worth the bother of employing it. Developing countries like China show that there isn't some magical dearth of jobs, businesses, or invention out there. There is lots of opportunity still. And you don't need to become another China in order to get it.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by davester666 on Saturday April 12 2014, @07:42PM

    by davester666 (155) on Saturday April 12 2014, @07:42PM (#30587)

    "The evil 1% didn't throw a ton of regulations on US businesses, create perverse liability law, or a pile of little fees, politicians elected by the US public did."

    Actually, yes they did. They poisoned us, starved us, hired people to beat us up, had us thrown in jail, killed us and lots of other fun things to make MORE profit that they don't want to share.