Views on politics and current events

Saturday, September 09, 2006

From An Economist

Free Time is Not Free

We have been discussing the issue of minimum wage. The economist in me was captivated by the "Quotation of the Day" in today's email version of the New York Times.

"I have come to realize that my free time is worth a lot to me."
- Alan Beggerow, unemployed steel worker

The quotation came from a very interesting and fairly in-depth article by LOUIS UCHITELLE and DAVID LEONHARDT in today's New York Times entitled "Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job."

What Mr. Beggerow has come to realize is that in accepting a job, he is selling not only his labor and his skills, he is selling his time. And time is a very valuable commodity. Most of us never really have the opportunity to truly gauge just how valuable our free time is.

That is another aspect of the minimum wage discussion I have largely overlooked.

Just how all of this is going to play out over the next decade is far from clear. Huge numbers of Baby Boomers are entering their 60's. Will they continue to work, or will they discover the true value of their free time?

If they leave the workforce – as they very well may – they will create a massive across-the-board shortage of skilled, experienced workers. This could drive unemployment in the U.S. to record lows, drive up the cost of labor, and put the immigration debate on the back burner.

The Boomers have proven themselves to be very independent. But once they discover the joys of free time, I'm betting it is going to require large sums of cash to lure them back to work.

It's definitely something to think about.


Dancho said...

Alan--you're doing a great service here and I appreciate the fact that you're continuing to update this blog and follow up on your fifteen minutes of fame.

It seems that economists and a lot of other people are just plain stupid. Their not surprised when GM moves a plant Mexico. They aren't shocked and amazed when Walmart buys their inventory from China. Sure, they may regret the decline of American manufacturing, but the conservative people who call you (and me) names and insist that lazy slobs should starve will tend to forgive GM and Walmart and all the rest. After all, it's just simple economics. Big corporations always take the easy way out. It's called maximizing profit.

Well, wake up, morons. You tell me why Alan and I should get a job. That's right losers, why should we work when we don't have to? If every business in America is dedicated to stiffing the customer and raping the landscape, why is it that when an individual decides to play that same game, then suddenly, amazingly, it's a sin?

How dumb do you have to be to misunderstand this? You ask Walmart to pay more for a plastic garden tool for "moral" reasons. Answer: Hell NO.

Ask GM or Ford to pay more to build a truck. Just for "Goodness Sake." Answer: HELL NO.

So you say that we must all work hard at regular jobs because it's the right thing? You've gotta be kidding. Because if Alan (and myself) go out to get jobs we work for the smirking assholes who will cut their mother's throat for a dollar. They aren't held to the same standard. They can pillage and plunder and they get a pat on the back. Why? Are they "entitled?"

Well, so am I.

I don't care if want me to slave away. Grow some balls and put on a Gestapo uniform and send me to the camps like a man. But please, don't whine at me about "morality." You can take that shove it up your ass.

Alan Beggerow said...

Hey, Dancho! Hell of a comment, no punches held. I agree totally! Thanks a lot.

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