Welcome Arne Kalleberg (UNC – Chapel Hill) and Host June Carbone (author, Red Families v. Blue Families)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s to 2000s

Host, June Carbone:

The state of middle America can be tied to jobs. Once, good jobs – with security, benefits, a career ladder – were routinely available, at least for white males. A young man might finish school, find employment and stay with that company for the rest of his working life. Raises and promotions followed as a matter of course. The pay, even for the unskilled, could support a spouse and children. Health care benefits covered the family’s medical needs. Pension plans were typically defined benefit – once they vested, they guaranteed a fixed income no matter how the economy or the stock market performed. Unions served as a check on management efforts to demand too much, and both management and labor tended to work similar forty hour weeks. Employers invested in their employees’ training and skills and the employees, including both labor and management, often identified with the company.

These jobs, rooted in the manufacturing economy that followed World War II, are largely gone. Replacing them are some better jobs – particularly professional and technical positions that require more education and preparation but reward the employee with higher pay and the opportunity for greater creativity. The tech and medical sectors employ engineers, scientists, accountants, entrepreneurs, and sales staff who can create new and market e-books, IPods, videogames and the latest pain killers and cancer treatments. The new economy, however, also produces more “bad” jobs: positions that pay poorly, offer little job security, provide fewer benefits such as health or pensions, and offer employees less flexibility with respect to family needs or job performance. Wal-Mart and McDonalds immediately come to mind, but they may offer greater security and benefits than the contract agencies that supply home health care aides or family run restaurants and small businesses.

In his book Good Jobs, Bad Jobs Arne Kalleberg systematically documents the changes in the American economy. Think of a dimension of the American economy and it’s in the book. Wonder where Americans are working? Sales, Service (typically “bad” jobs) and Managers, Professionals and Technical Positions (typically “good” jobs) are up; precision production, operators, administrative support and crafts and repair (what used to be the middle) are way down. Want to know how the changes interact with the composition of the labor force? The percentage of Latinos in the labor force has steadily increased, from 5.8% of the total in 1980 to a projected 23.7% in 2050. On the other hand, the male labor force participation has steadily decreased since 1950 when 86.4% of males were employed or looking for work to a projected 66.8% in 2050. Concerned about job stability? Kalleberg looks behind the figures that show job stability holding steady to note that the averages cloak important differences: job stability increased for women while it decreased for men; and it held steady for college graduates while it decreased for the less skilled. Believe that Americans work harder than anyone else? Kalleberg provides evidence that more Americans work longer hours than thirty years ago, especially in good jobs, but also more Americans work less than forty hours a week. More Americans work more intensely, both in good jobs and bad ones, than thirty years ago; and more Americans report flexibility and control of work conditions, especially in good jobs.

Kalleberg also takes on the reasons for these changes. Though more measured than “Winner Takes All Politics,” which tied the changing jobs picture to political changes, Kalleberg agrees that the increased polarization in the work place is due to peculiarly American developments. While globalization has resulted in greater ability to shift production to low wage areas of the world, the impact on the American working class is greater than in other industrialized countries. Kalleberg clearly establishes that the causes lay with the decline of unionization, labor market deregulation, and the changes in the financial sector that emphasize short term profits at the expense of longer term investment in workers or company stability. One of the most striking charts in the book compares the growth of productivity with the change in wages. Productivity grows steadily from the early eighties through 2009, continuing upward even after the Great Recession. Median male compensation moves together with changes in productivity though the early eighties and then declines in the nineties and stays flat after 2000, even as productivity increases dramatically. American workers, especially men in “bad” jobs, no longer share in economic progress.

Kalleberg’s solution requires rethinking the social contract, a tough sell in individualistic America. He refers to the European concept of “flexicurity,” which seeks to combine employer flexibility with worker security. Doing so requires rethinking the relationship between public and private. The essential elements of such a model require universal, affordable, portable health insurance which ideally should be separated from employment. It also requires a more secure and portable pension system, more generous unemployment insurance, and greater opportunities to acquire new skills and education over the course of a lifetime. If employment is more transient and employers invest little in their workers, then a revitalized social safety net needs to fill in the gaps.

The book is sufficiently comprehensive that I hesitate to say that there is anything it does not address. Still, while the existing employment picture is comprehensively documented, many of the factors that affect the impact of these changes and the possibilities of reform receive limited treatment.

First is the corporate environment that transformed the American workplace. Kalleberg mentions the change in the financial environment, particularly the rise of institutional investors. He also addresses the change in executive compensation and the growth in wage inequality. Even so, he does not fully capture the extent to which CEO’s earn megabonuses by changing the corporate bottom line at the expense of both workers and long term corporate health. Recent books on pension systems, not to mention the financial crisis, show how executives can increase their own well-being through accounting changes and financial practices that increase the risks to everyone else, including their own companies.

Second, while Kalleberg certainly discusses the political climate that makes adoption of his proposed reforms unlikely, he does not engage in a systematic examination of the relationship between the increased concentration of wealth at the top and the political changes over the last thirty years. The book ends with an agenda for change, but not a political strategy on how to achieve it. The dramatic increase in the wealth of the 1% skews both the political and corporate environments. Kalleberg, while documenting the regulatory changes that have made management freer to shortchange the interests of workers, touches only lightly on the relationship between the two.

Third, Kalleberg acknowledges the relationship between changes in the family and employment without a systematic examination of the way they interact. In some ways, I’m relieved because that is the subject of my next book. Kalleberg devotes considerable attention to the growth of two earner families and the need for greater job flexibility. What receives less attention is the class-based nature of the changing family. The workers on the losing end of the employment picture are also the ones who have experienced the highest increases in divorce and non-marital births (for reasons I will argue are related to the employment changes). That means that the role of the family in cushioning the impact of layoffs, extended job searches, and retraining efforts reinforces the class-based inequality that the employment system produces. The result both increases the importance of a new social contract and raises far reaching questions about how such a contract is likely to interact with the changing families of the next half century.

Overall, Kalleberg’s analysis suggests that we have lived through a wholesale remaking of the foundation of the American workplace with profound implications for the health of our society. His low key and comprehensive documentation of these changes should inspire outrage at the consequences.

146 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Arne Kalleberg, Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s to 2000s”

BevW November 20th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Arne, Welcome to the Lake.

June, Thank you for returning and Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Thanks to Bev and June for hosting this!

szielinski November 20th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Arne, I haven’t read your book. So, I wonder what your position is on a guaranteed minimum income or, on the other hand, having the government providing jobs to the unemployed at a set income, thus acting as an employer of last resort. This would stimulate the economy! while it provides investment capital with an outlet that does not involve the casino.

Thanks.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
In response to szielinski @ 3

I think having a guaranteed minimum income is a good idea, though it is likely to create more low-wage jobs, which is useful only in the short run

Naomi Cahn November 20th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I’d like to hear more about how to implement the needed agenda for change. Given challenges and resistance to the limited and minimal health care program enacted by Congress, given Tea Party rhetoric, in light of the break down of traditional community — how do we create change? Thanks.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Hi Arne,

I enjoyed the book. I have three questions to start off our discussion.

First, is there is one thing you would say is responsible for the change in the structure of employment, what would it be?

Second, do you see a relationship between the Occupy Wall Street protests and the change in employment structure?

Third, for those of us who are excited by your calls for a new social contract, what do you see as the necessary steps to get there?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

We need a cooperative effort on the part of government, business and labor. In view of the distrust Americans have towards these three institutions, this will not be easy. I suggest two complementary strategies: experimenting at local and state levels with needed initiatives (e.g., cooperation among community colleges and businesses to produce trained workers for particular jobs); and looking for “bridging” or win-win issues at the national level.

szielinski November 20th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 4

Would it help if the minimum income were part of a (green!) reindustrialization project?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:12 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 6

Thanks, June. To answer your questions:

(1) I’d say it is the intensified price competition fueled by globalization, technological change and neoliberal policies, which put a premium on labor market flexibility (for employers) and shifted the power balance away from labor
(2) Absolutely. The growth of precarious (uncertain, unpredictable) work has led to anger and frustration among many people, especially young and highly educated ones
(3) I suggested two steps in my response Naomi Cahn

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I started my replies on the preview page. Sorry for the confusion. I hoped we’re all together here now.

Nathan Aschbacher November 20th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 4

I would think that a guaranteed minimum income could be a useful idea as long as the goods purchased with the minimum income were diverse enough to prevent prices from simply including the de facto subsidy. Thus rendering the minimum income irrelevant.

This would require that basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter would be provided as a public service, and then the minimum income would be able to provide more traditional signals in the marketplace for goods with highly elastic demand.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Yes, a minimum income would help a lot. And (green) reindustrialization is certainly one way to create more good jobs (though it is questionable just how many). Green jobs seems like a win-win bridging issue that people of diverse political ideologies could embrace.

Phoenix Woman November 20th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 7

Hello, Arne, and welcome to the Lake!

Arne, how do you think the fact that (thanks to Citizens United) big businesses can dump unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns has affected which solutions are considered “acceptable” in the public discourse (itself largely controlled by large businesses)?

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

IMO, bad jobs stem entirely from political/power factors. 1%ers have been after looting of labor’s gains since end of WWII, and have waged (heh) a relentless, clever, and largely invisible war to take over all institutions that might have supported labor: coopting labor leaders (easy as pie as their reservation prices are so low), taking over courts so what meager labor protection laws extant are trashed, ditto USG agencies in charge of labor protection, and a host of other mechanisms I could cite.

All the other factors are consequences, not driving forces: 2-earner family, longer hours at work, increased borrowing to maintain standards of living.

Rising female participation rate (I am female), aka 2-earner family, a function of both trying to hold up family income, but also women’s desire to get a job where her mind was engaged (women’s movement of 1970s).

But when women ‘invade’ a profession, like docs, not only are they paid less, but the relative income of that part of the profession goes down, like OB-GYN.

Would Kalleberg care to comment on my observations?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for the welcome!

I am afraid the Citizens United decision will make it more difficult to move toward the new social contract that we need. This shifts the power balance even more toward lobbyists, big business, etc.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I wonder, though, how we get there. For example, a major problem seems to be CEO compensation. If the CEO wants to boost apparent profits in three to five years, the easiest way is to discard workers, raid pensions, and look for low hanging fruit or accounting gimmicks. By the time the consequences of these decisions become apparent, the CEO is gone.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

As long as employers have more power than employees, there will be a relentless drive to diminish labor income. So laws that guaranty labor income will be usurped by corps one way or another.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 14

I agree that the shifting balance of power between business and labor (aided by de-and re-regulation of labor markets enacted by governments) is the ultimate source of bad jobs. The changing nature of the labor force was in part a consequence of the growth of bad jobs (and lower wages, etc.), though there was also an impact of, for example, the rise of low-skilled immigrants (which encouraged employers to continue creating low-wage jobs).

The gender gap in income also reflects power differentials.

ThingsComeUndone November 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

“Ever since, precarious employment has been on the rise—paying low wages, offering few benefits, and with virtually no long-term security.
We are at a tipping point when my old roommate could get extra cash for a job in the city because he needed gas money to get there he could not afford the cost himself anymore and was willing to turndown work.”

I left a job last year because of racism yes but the final straw was my back was killing me and seeing the acupuncturist cost me more money than I was making.
Work can’t get done if workers can’t afford to work if their costs go up. The less they are paid the less costs they can afford to pay out of pocket.
Reply

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 14

I’ve been looking at those numbers and finding that the gendered wage gap has changed. It used to be that college graduate women made a slightly higher percentage of the median hourly wage of college graduate men, while high school drop women made a slightly lower percentage of the male median wage. Today, the high school drop out women make almost as much as high school dropout men, but for college graduates the wage gap has increased, and it has increased most at the 90% level.

ThingsComeUndone November 20th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

«
” “I have inspected the city-walls as well as the
provisions stored by the five offices and found nothing well
prepared and equipped. How can I cope with the enemy?”
“Thy servant has heard,” said Chang Mêng-t`an, “the sage
during his governorship preserved resources among the
people[29] and not in the treasury nor in the armoury. He
endeavoured to improve his teachings but did not repair
the city-walls. Suppose Your Highness issue an emergency
decree, requesting the people to keep enough food for three
years and put any surplus amount of grain into the public
storehouses, to keep enough expenses for three years and
put any surplus amount of money into the state treasury,
and to send all leisured men[30] out of their families to repair
the city-walls.” In the evening the Viscount issued the
decree. On the following day, the storehouses became
unable to hold any more grain, the treasury unable to hold
81
any more money, and the armoury unable[31] to take in any
more armour and weapons. In the course of five days the
city-walls were well repaired and all provisions for defence
measures were ready.”
http://xtf.lib.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=2003_Q4/uvaGenText/tei/z000000041.xml;chunk.id=d28;toc.depth=1;toc.id=d28;brand=default

Could America do this today when we live paycheck to paycheck?

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 7

We need a cooperative effort on the part of government, business and labor.

Enough hortatories. How does that happen?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 16

Yes, CEO compensation is certainly a problem. But I think this is a consequence of the way we have structured our capital markets and made satisfying shareholder the dominant factor in structuring work. We need to restructure capital markets so as to discourage short-term thinking on the part of CEOs.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 17

I agree–the relative power balance is key.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 18

When has there not been immigrant competition for U.S. jobs? What is the quant work that suggests that’s been a heavier influence in the post-WWII years than at other times?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Yes–precarious work (uncertain, insecure work) and bad jobs are reaching the boiling point. People are frustrated and angry!

ThingsComeUndone November 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

The composition of the labor force also changed significantly; the number of dual-earner families increased, as did the share of the workforce comprised of women, non-white, and immigrant workers. Of these groups, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants remain concentrated in the most precarious and low-quality jobs, with educational attainment being the leading indicator of who will earn the highest wages and experience the most job security and highest levels of autonomy and control over their jobs and schedules.

Women entered the work force to make up for men not making enough money to stay home. I am all for women working if they want to not because they have too.
My Grandfather was an illegal Immigrant until my Grandma made him legal by marrying him and he made enough money doing unskilled labor to keep his wife at home watching the kids.
Today how many legal citizens can get buy even with both parents working? America claims it has progressed and life has improved but how many immigrants can make enough to keep the wife at home with the kids? How many immigrant kids can afford to pay for college without college loans like my Dad did by working as his Dad paid for his room and board?
In a sense America has moved backward these days college grads graduate with a ton of debt.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 20

Yes–the gender wage gap depends on both the relative wages of men and women. For middle class men, their wages have stagnated or declined, helping to close the gap.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Yes, but doesn’t the structure of the “good” CEO jobs affect things? That is, the CEO is punching a ticket, collecting bonuses that make him (and it is mostly hims) rich and moving on to the next company, he is likely to care only about the bottom line. Why should he care any more about the long term health of the company than the shareholders?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

No way. Our sense of purpose, long-term, career narratives are all imperiled by the growth of precarious work and bad jobs.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 22

We need to keep the vision of alternatives out there until the politically unfeasible becomes politically inevitable (paraphrasing Milton Friedman)

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 23

CEOs are a mafia. In economics, know as information asymmetry.

CEOs are nothing but glorified employees as a matter of fact. Trouble is, CEOs claim to know more than boards of directors. (I’m on a couple of small nonprofit boards that are quite intrusive into the underlying organization, especially me) but let my assure you that a glamorous PP presentation will baffle brains at almost every chance. Since at large corps, boards are high paid shills, as long as they have a glossy PP from “management” they consider they have performed their due diligence.

And since the law system is corrupt, the boards know they will never be called to account.

And that’s all before the corrupt, bought pols even enter the scene.

ThingsComeUndone November 20th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 18

Its funny how as we lowered Men’s pay forcing Women into the work force we began lowering pay for jobs women held. Its funny how jobs immigrants held like Farm Labor don’t get overtime or sometimes even minimum wage just like some waitress jobs that are dependent on tips.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Yes–we have run out of ways for families to cope. First the dual earner family, then the housing bubble.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 25

The removal of institutional protections in the U.S. since the 1970s has made it much easier for employers to create low-wage jobs

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

It’s not funny–it’s sad. Again, I think this is a reflection of the lack of market power of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I liked your idea of a social contract and health care seems essential. The New York Times today had a book review that argued that what really killed health care in 1994 were Republicans in Congress who persuaded the Chamber of Commerce not to support it. The Republicans seem dominated by a combination of extreme ideologues and a small group of money men determined to fund the ideologues. Have we reached the point where the only way to engage in serious public policy is to become political?

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 29

he is [un]likely to care only about the bottom line

Fixed it for you.

There is no mechanism in the U.S. to make CEO’s care about the bottom line.

Poster child: Herman Cain. Godfather’s Pizza shrank to about 1/2 its size under his CEOship, yet he is now a credible candidate for POTUS.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 29

We also need a cultural shift–people are not embarrassed any more when they earn so much more money than others. Perhaps the Occupy Wall Street movement can help to keep this issue at the forefront.

ThingsComeUndone November 20th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 30

It should be noted than Han Fei Tzu who I quoted argued the wealth should be with the people and not with the government or the rich because both those groups if they get to powerful will try and get more powerful at the expense of the ruler.
As well as impoverish the state and that makes the ruler poor in the end and his state ripe for taking. Today’s Conservative thinkers and I include Obama’s White House among them seems not to know the classics.
I do wonder just what do they teach at Harvard:)

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 31

Your response baffles me. What does Milton Friedman have to do with this discussion? Friedman is a lapdog of the 1%ers. How would doing anything that he did advance the 99ers cause one iota?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 32

I don’t disagree with you. I’m not sure CEOs are organized as well as a mafia, but they certainly have benefited from stacked decks that have been created by lobbyists and those with the power to make the laws.

szielinski November 20th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 32

The old distinction between those who own capital (the capitalist class) and those hired by capital (the working class) no longer makes sense. CEOs may be salaried labor, as you suggest, but they function as and are thus capitalists. So also the remainder of upper management. These individuals may also own capital (the company’s stock) but their work and status determine their class position.

ThingsComeUndone November 20th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 36

I was thinking Funny like suspicious coincidence to suspicious to be random next time I’ll use italics sorry.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I thought the most telling statement in your book was the chart showing that productivity went up dramatically over the last ten years without an increase in the wages for the employees who produced the increase. How do you counter the notion that the ones garnering the benefits are somehow the “job creators”?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 37

I think so. The changing nature of work and workplace is fundamentally due to a shift in the power balance between various social actors. Realigning this balance must require political actions

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 38

Right, no mechanism now. But I am hopeful that the kind of concerns we see raised by protesters will shine a light on these practices and lead to the kind of outrage that might lead to significant changes.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 41

But Friedman’s point was ideologically neutral. The right tends to be believe their ideas will win out because they’re right. The left tends to believe that only power matters. Arne argued that we should follow Friedman and have confidence that if the correct ideas are repeated, their triumph will become inevitable.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 35

Agree. But my Q was related to your comment centered on immigrants. Deregulation and dismantling of labor protections since WWII is only tangentially related to immigrants. Much more endogenous than that.

One could argue that all POTUSes, Rs & Ds, trashed labor in post-WWII period. The only time that real wages rose over that period was when labor became so scarce (unemployment rate around or below 4%) that labor was so scarce that corps were forced to bid workers away from each other. That included several years during the late 1960s, and just a couple of years in the late 1990s.

seaglass November 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Try NO jobs.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 41

I just thought it was ironic that it was Friedman (who indeed contributed mightily to the neoliberal revolution) would say that. My point was that we need to keep ideas that may not be political viable now alive so that we can draw upon them when the political times are right

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

welcome to the lake ann and thank you for hosting the book salon june…

now my contribution, a clarification

While globalization has resulted in greater ability to shift production to low wage areas of the world

it’s not “globallization” we have ALWAYS had a “global economy” as a matter of fact, it was the “global economy” that started this new nation, it was a revolt against the lowering of tariffs for a global manufacturer (I believe the east india import company or something like that)

so if it’s not “globalization”, what is it?;

it’s the reduction and elimination of the tariff system, it’s the removal of protectionism…when was the last time anyone heard on corporate media “buy american”

when a country produces product at slave and child labor rates we NEED to tariff that product the comenserate differnce

THE LACK of that system is what caused our jobs to disapear, not “globalization”

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Could you restate your proposals as agenda items for Occupy Wall St.?

Tammany Tiger November 20th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 38

Par for the course. Most celebrity CEOs enriched shareholders–including themselves–through mass dismissals of employees. Which is why I consider Jack Welch one of the most overrated Americans of the 20th century.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

No–I understood what you meant. And I agree.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 45

I think the graph in the book (taken from the Economic Policy Institute’s analysis) is very compelling: only the top has benefited from our productivity growth for many years.

szielinski November 20th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 48

Friedman’s ideas appealed to the political and economic elite at a time when those elites were willing to act on them in some way.

During the 1980s, I recall reading cheers for relatively high unemployment rates because unemployment kept inflation low. Friedman had a large hand in this one. We freely chose barbarism.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 42

Mafia of CEOs doesn’t have to be ‘organized.’ All they have to have done is graduate from kindergarten to recognize the pattern.

The reasons why I use the word mafia instead of a more neutral word like cartel is bc CEOs take advantage of their organizations. And while cartels might seem organized, time-honored processes like price leadership reveal that there need be no meetings, no emails, no overt evidence of a cartel to make one exist in reality.

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 4

I think having a guaranteed minimum income is a good idea, though it is likely to create more low-wage jobs, which is useful only in the short run

not really so, that’s structure not policu

the government NEEDS to provide living wage secure jobs, then the local economy has to compete against that wage

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to perris @ 52

But haven’t other countries responded to globalization without gutting labor protections? I’m not an expert on Germany, but I see the Germans as subsidizing the move to high precision manufacturing by providing infrastructure, redesigning education to meet industry needs, and providing other support. The EU subsidizes home grown protects through a set of subtle and not so subtle measures. In the meantime, we have the no-nothings who deny global warming and rail against effort to invest in green technology. In the meantime, the Chinese are about to emerge as the world leaders.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to perris @ 52

It is true that we have always had globalization. But the pace of globalization, aided by technological changes in IT and communications, etc., have made the world much smaller and accelerated the pace of change. So, I would argue that “globalization” is qualitatively different now

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
In response to seaglass @ 50

Yes, no job is clearly worse that bad jobs. But, when the economy recovers, we need to focus on job QUALITY in addition to job quantity

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 51

OK. Got your point & thought that might be what you’re driving at.

But here’s my rub. If you’re trying to keep ridiculous ideas alive in light of all empirical evidence to the contrary (Friedman) you can do that easily if you have support of PTB.

If, OTOH, you are trying to keep economics ideas alive that pass every empirical test, without the support of the PTB, furgetaboutit.

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 14

IMO, bad jobs stem entirely from political/power factors. 1%ers have been after looting of labor’s gains since end of WWII, and have waged (heh) a relentless, clever, and largely invisible war to take over all institutions that might have supported labor: coopting labor leaders (easy as pie as their reservation prices are so low), taking over courts so what meager labor protection laws extant are trashed, ditto USG agencies in charge of labor protection, and a host of other mechanisms I could cite.

always agree with you, I have something to add to this mix

greenspan’s depraved policy of setting the prime base on wage pressure, when labor is demanding more wage greenspan impemented the policy of raising the prime, when there is no wage pressure he lowered the prime

THAT’S why lending rates are so low today, negative wage pressure

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 61

I think it’s the tariff policy that’s different, nothing more, if it cost the same to produce a product imported as it does to manufacture it here, (by using a viable tariff system) the economic expedience would force the product manufactured here

szielinski November 20th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to perris @ 59

the government NEEDS to provide living wage secure jobs, then the local economy has to compete against that wage

The living wage becomes the reservation wage!

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 60

Rightwing nutcases in Germany & France (Merk & Sark) are running at full speed to catch up with U.S. in dismantling labor protections.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 60

All countries are facing similar problems. Germany responded fairly well, providing incentives against layoffs and encouraging job sharing. But countries all over the world are under increasing pressure to reduce labor protections (and social protections generally). The Chinese will face their own challenges of income inequality, power of workers, etc. before too long

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to szielinski @ 66

living wage as defined by fdr, where a man can put healthy food on the table, take vacation, have health care, put his kids through college and retire

that’s a living wage

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 63

Not sure what PTB is.

Not also convinced that the idea of having a new social contract that addresses problems of precarious and polarized jobs is ridiculous

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to perris @ 64

Greenspan BIG contributor to trashing labor, no doubt. Thanks for bringing the man with no conscience and no brains and no heart (isn’t there a children’s book about that) into the discussion.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 70

PTB=powers that be.

Friedman is an insider. Anyone who wants anything for labor is an outsider.

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 60

I’m not suggesting gutting labor regulations I am suggesting making them even more bold

szielinski November 20th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 68

The problem is overcapacity relative to the market demand for the goods that could be produced. Are there any local solutions to this problem?

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Did you see the column in the New York Times by David Brooks on Red v. Blue Inequality? He argued that the blues resent Wall St. and the reds are more concerned about blue collar workers. I thought the column was outrageous because what it really tried to do was to revive resentment of the intellectual elite instead of acknowledging that the same people are behind both. Do we need to put a face on the forces that drive inequality and if so, do you have any candidates?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to perris @ 59

But the federal government can only provide living secure jobs up to a point (say, in the public sector). It can increase the federal minimum wage. However, the government can not ensure that jobs are secure (nor can the private sector). That is why we need to enhance the safety net that catches people when they become unemployed and to provide active labor market policies that enable people to be retrained.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to perris @ 65

But haven’t we learned that protectionism leads to more protectionism? Isn’t free trade what we really want, and then help American companies compete better?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to perris @ 73

I certainly agree with that. The removal of labor protections (including the non-enforcement of laws on the books) are a large part of the problem that led to bad jobs

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to perris @ 73

I understand that. Sorry for the confusion.

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 77

no, we haven’t learned that, there is nothing wrong with local protectionism and no we DON’T want “free trade”, that’s the LAST thing we want or need, what we want is fair trade

when a country produces product without subjegating the work force=no tariff, that would raise labor rates everywhere

we WANT other countries supporting their local labor force and we want to support our labor force as well.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Do you think the solution will ultimately need to be a global one? I see states also competing to attract companies. Ending that competition might be better for all of us.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 72

Doing things for labor will also do things for business and the country more generally. Providing people with living wages will give them the $$ to buy things which will help create more jobs, etc.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to perris @ 80

Aren’t there better ways to protect workers than individual restrictions in particular countries? Don’t we need a global approach that builds worker protections into the WTO? The Chinese may soon be willing to join in some of these measures.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 81

Ultimately, we need a global solution, so that companies can no long “venue” shop by offshoring to the places with lowest wages and labor standards. We are a ways from there though, which is why I am focusing on what the U.S. can do right now. And yes, the situation with the states parallels that in the world economy more generally, as states compete to attract business. Federal labor standards would help here

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 76

I agree there are limits, I agree with a social safety net, I also make the statement that when a company pays lower then living wage they are costing the rest of us money, they are externalizing their bills

we need to tax companies that do not pay a living wage, or the reverse, give a tax credit to those that do

perris November 20th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 83

the global approach that addresses social needs not corporate or profit needs

the approach would be;

“if you allow for living wage or collective bargaining, no tariff, if you do the tariff will be the comenserate difference”

we don’t even have to make it a country by country tariff, it should be a corporate tariff instead

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to perris @ 80

But we can support our labor force without protectionism. We can produce products and services of higher quality. But this issue doesn’t apply to many many jobs in the service economy which cannot be offshored

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to perris @ 85

Yes! This would be a first step

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to szielinski @ 74

Don’t we need to increase demand? By giving people the means to consume more?

perris November 20th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 87

anne, we can’t compete “globaly” with slave and child wages unless we lower our wages and standards in keeping…we have have a tariff system

maybe you didnt know this but the very reason this country came to existence is the king removed tariff from the walmart of that generation, the founders would have none of it

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to perris @ 86

The dominance of multi-nationals complicates this, no? To a large extent, it is these multi-nationals that are competing, not countries

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

We talked a lot about government and politics. I wonder if there is also room for a new business strategy. Costco, for example, makes a point of being a good citizen. It treats its employees well. It locates in inner city neighborhoods and it has a reputation for quality. Can that strategy work for more companies?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Yes, “high performance work organizations” like Costco have been shown to be profitable, and to “do well by doing good”. Implementing such strategies requires a relatively long-term strategy though, since it involves worker training, etc. I definitely think this is a good business strategy, though it is hard to square with the short-termism of CEOs that we have discussed

perris November 20th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 91

whoever pays slave labor is the culprit, I have no problem using the tariff against those multi corporates, or rewarding them for paying living wage

what we need to do is demand living wage from all products sold in this country, if that standard is not met we need to charge the difference, that difference would be called a tariff but we can call it something else to make it more palatable

say ‘cost evasion fee’ or something equally perjurative

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

The story I heard in Silicon Valley was that 10 years ago the VC’s insisted that companies outsource as much as possible. Today, they find that quality control is better in the U.S. and that countries like China have become more expensive without the same quality as U.S. shops. Is there a way to rebuild?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to perris @ 94

OK. Implementing this might be tricky though

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:11 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 95

Do you mean that outsourcing in the U.S. has enhanced quality control? Not sure how this would work. I would think QC is better when things are done in-house and the company can exert greater control over production

perris November 20th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 96

had a great time here, have to go but here is my parting shot

implimenting would be no more tough then it has been in the past, we have always had tariffs and the removal of those have been the ruin of our production capacity

implimenting a viable tariff system is not difficult practically, though with corporate bought law makers it’s difficult politically

how simple is this/;

“if you pay a living wage we reduce taxes’

that would be the easiest method me thinks

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to perris @ 98

Thanks for your ideas on this

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 97

I am saying that quality control was better in the U.S. The emphasis on outsourcing became mindless.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Are you involved with Occupy Wall St. at all?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

No. I have attended local rallies here in Chapel Hill though. We have a small Occupy Chapel Hill movement

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

What new institutions do we need? My favorites are:

A “congressman of the 1%” rating system that looks at campaign contributions, votes on taxes, corporate loopholes, worker protections, etc.

A “worker friendly” label for companies that includes identification of political involvement.

Identification of the PTB, like Koch and Murdock, connecting them to the financial crisis and other evils.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 100

OK, right. My understanding is that outsourcing has been reversed in a number of cases, as companies found it beneficial to exercise greater control over production. Outsourcing is a favorite strategy for increasing organizations’ flexibility, in much the same way as the World Bank required companies in emerging economies to adopt market principles as a condition of funding.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 103

Shining light on who is doing what certainly would help create more transparency. Definitely worth a try!

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Naomi Cahn and I are writing a new book that looks at the relationship between the economy and the changing family. We were very intrigued by your discussion of what happened in the nineties, the decade when working class families start falling apart.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

We are focused on both the top and the bottom. We are finding that the wage gap has increased for women college grads if we look simply at median hourly wages and that it has increased the most at the 90th percentile, even after controlling for hours worked.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Yes, you were right to point out that I did not spend all that much time in the book discussing the relationship between the changing economy and family, other than to emphasize the role played by the growth of the dual earner family and the needs of this kind of family for greater control and flexibility over their work schedules and time. I look forward to your more detail discussion of the relationship between the changing economy and family!

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Our audience seems to be petering out. I’ve found in the past that it doesn’t go as well when we hit dinner time.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 107

That’s interesting and is consistent with what I suspected. Men at the very top of the income distribution have done very well, relative to others.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Yes, it seems like it is just you and me!

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 82

I call it firing your customers.

But when that happened in the Gilded Age, the U.S. just went out of its way to develop an overseas empire to try to provide customers for excess supply of corps. That’s what “free trade” is a euphemism for today.

What is a U.S. corp today, anyhow.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

What I haven’t been able to explain is why women college graduates as a group seem to have lost ground comparing 1990 and 2007. I wouldn’t have expected the effect at the top to be that large on median hourly income for all college grads.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 109

Got my dinner, so back to being a pest.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 112

Good point. Hard to tell what country a multi-national corp belongs to.

At the beginning of the 20th century, elites were concerned that people didn’t have enough money to buy their products so they supported strategies to provide them with the means to consume. Today, they have an easier time shipping products overseas, and so are less sympathetic to redistribution

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 112

How would you distinguish the companies from the ruling class? Someone like Bob Rubin parlays being Sec. of the Treasury to CEO of Citicorp, which he runs into the ground. But I doubt that he identifies with Citicorp.

In the old days, Henry Ford was Ford Motor Company. Hewlett-Packard in contrast goes through a succession of CEO’s. Is the company or the business elite that’s the problem?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 113

I assume you mean lost ground relative to men?

Is comparing median hourly income at the very top of the income distribution all that useful (given that most of these folks are salaried)?

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 113

Women in professions or just college grads, as I tried to point out above, just lower the average comp in the relevant category. It’s called discrimination.

I worked on Wall St for 30 years. One boss (he subsequently became and may still be head of Barclays) proudly asked be what I thought he did when he was head of fixed income for some firm (Morgan Stanley iirc) in Tokyo (he’s a RMAM=rich white American male). I asked the requisite what, and he responded that since female grads of prestigious Japanese b-schools were so much cheaper than male grads, he hired women.

My response was that proved that discrimination existed bc if everyone did what he did the gender wages would equalize and they hadn’t.

Left him speechless, for all that mattered.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

This is Bill Black (June’s spouse). john powell (he uses lower case for his name), a prof. at The Ohio State University, gave a luncheon talk at our recent UMKC conference on the financial crisis in which he emphasized what a devastating reduction in wealth it caused among Latinos and Blacks. The higher the interest rate the mortgage broker could obtain (generally through a “liar’s” loan), the higher his/her fee was for arranging the loan. The same perverse executive compensation systems flowed through and dominated the process as the loan was originated, sold, pooled, and “resold” through a collaterized debt obligation (CDO). You expressed the view earlier that managers were responding to shareholders’ pressures, but these loans destroyed shareholder wealth while making the executives exceptionally wealthy. The worst jobs are those that incent employees to cheat and destroy the customer and seek out the most vulnerable customers as their worst victims.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Thee elites weren’t concerned about anything related to customers at the beg of 20C. They had captured the USG then as they have today. So Philippines had to be recolonized by U.S. as a base for China intrusions. etc. Concessions in China & Japan.

Labor gains were not granted by PTB, but hard fought with many deaths (remember Pinkerton goon squads) by ordinary workers.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 119

Yes, I guess in this case they did destroy shareholder wealth. I wouldn’t call these “worst” jobs, though–they seem to be good jobs from the point of view of those holding them (even though they are bad for others)

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 118

The raw figures show that the gender gap has increased for all women college grads, not just the top 10%, measured by median hourly wages. The gender gap has narrowed for all other women. The changes are most dramatic for the top 10%, but what’s happening is broader.

I think it’s not just discrimination the way it was in the old days. Instead, it’s a reward system for the Alpha males on the make.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 116

The diff bet capitalism & communism is that in the former, the corps own the govt, whereas in the latter the govt owns the corps, or means of production in more common parlance.

IOW, when economic & political power becomes concentrated in a small group of elite, it’s all over for the rest.

It doesn’t make any diff with whom Rubin self-identifies. He can write his own ticket.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 122

Well it certainly can’t be explained by educational differences. Though discontinuous experience for women may play a role, as might the decisions by an increasing number of women to “opt out” of the career fast track. I suspect the answer lies in a combination of benefits for men and disadvantages for women.

kking November 20th, 2011 at 3:47 pm

There would be no bad jobs if the lowest of all jobs paid a middle class liveable wage with health care and retirement benifits.Then the real leach on goverment would have to produce.The businesses could not get away with stealing the labor from anyone.even the floor sweeper could live a less stressful life and be more productive.

econobuzz November 20th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 123

It doesn’t make any diff with whom Rubin self-identifies. He can write his own ticket.

x2

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 122

I didn’t know that & will have to think about it more, but it doesn’t surprise me.

When I was on Wall St, I naively thought that women would get ahead thru solidarity. I was schooled that only one woman would make it to the top, and so she viewed all other women as rivals. AKA alpha females.

As an aside, and by way of karma, the first woman partner of Goldman Sucks, Jeanette Winter Loeb, lost her entire $22 million financial fortune to Bernie Madoff. I’m told she also had real estate investments, so was not left penniless.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I think it does matter in this sense. Take health care. It is in the interest of most companies for the government to pick up this cost. The private system is a huge expense for employers and inefficiently run. If the government did this right, there would be two losers: the insurance companies and the ideologues opposed to all government. The big insurance companies would not be enough to block this if other companies (e.g., Wal-mart) joined forces to make it happen. They can’t because of the political alliance opposed to government action.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:49 pm
In response to kking @ 125

I agree. If the worst jobs paid a decent wage and people had benefits, then these could not be called bad jobs. And, if the economic compensation was decent, then employers would be likely to treat workers better, to elicit their ideas on how to do the job, give them more autonomy and discretion, etc. Paying people very little to do a job cheapens both the job and the person, in the eyes of everyone

econobuzz November 20th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

How much can be explained by choice of college major and, subsequent to graduation, choice of industry and firm, by gender?

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 128

Yes. I thought for sure the Affordable Health care bill (at least in an earlier incarnation, when single payer was an option) would be embraced by the business community, as it would take this very expensive item out of the economic compensation package. This would have enabled employers to pay workers higher wages too.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Again, this is Bill Black.

Destroying shareholder value is the norm for “accounting control frauds” and that is the form of fraud that drives our recurrent, intensifying financial crises.

I do wonder whether you wish to consider adding a moral component to your definition of “good” jobs. From the standpoint of white-collar criminology, we see a number of positions for lower skilled individuals that are lucrative only if the employees are willing to defraud the customer. We consider these to be terrible jobs because they bring out the worst character flaws of the employees and leave meany of them hating what they are doing but unwilling to give it up. Florida, for example, had exceptionally weak regulation of mortgage brokers. When they finally checked, they found that over 50,000 of them had criminal records. There is testimony before FCIC that it was common for their prior job to be flipping burgers. (They changed to flipping houses.) A broker could get a $20,000 fee for arranging a “jumbo” liar’s loan. All (s)he had to do was create a fraudulent loan application and a fraudulent appraisal. That is why fraud was endemic. The lead guys that run the scam often target callow youths who have never worked at a good job with honest professionals. The kids may be ruined for life. I have only limited sympathy for them, but I would never call what they do a good job.

BevW November 20th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Arne, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and the economics of jobs.

June, Thank you for Hosting this Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Arne’s website and book

June’s website and book

Thanks all, Have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving.

Next week:
Saturday – Michael Hiltzik / The New Deal: A Modern History
Sunday – Dr. John Geyman / Breaking Point – How the Primary Care Crisis Endangers the Lives of Americans

If you want to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to econobuzz @ 130

All of these factors explain part of the gender wage gap. But by far the lion’s share of the gap is due to occupational sex segregation, the fact that men and women work in different kinds of occupations (and, within occupations, in different kinds of jobs)

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 128

Insurance corps & PhRMA own Obama. (Remember the secret meeting he has with them at soon as he was inaugurated, not a twit diff from Cheney’s secret meetings with carbon cartel.) Walmart doesn’t care bc it doesn’t give benefits anyhow (workers at Walmart can’t afford to shop there) and other corps don’t care about cost bc after FAS106 in early 90s, they gradually stopped giving med benefits to workers.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 127

I have never been that big a fan of the mindless egalitarianism on the left. But when I left George Mason, home of right wing law and economics, for Santa Clara, very pc, I left a group of social misfits for a community that looked out for each other more. The management studies show that the most effective leaders look out for morale and their workers’ emotional satisfaction. Less effective managers focus only on getting the job done. The former are more likely to be women, but the effectiveness of the traits hold even in all male military units, and many effect male leaders demonstrate the same style.

When the system changes to focus on winner take all rules, it attracts more men, and men who put their own interests ahead of the company. What happened at Enron is the leadership drove out the executives who favored a focus on ethics or community and promoted those who reveled in the wealth (and prostitutes). You don’t need to discriminate to produce male dominated environments.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 132

That’s an interesting idea. To the extent that such criminal behavior is “built into” the job and not due to the characteristics of the person, it could certainly come into play in determining job quality. It would be difficult to get hard data on this, though, not to mention over time trend data!

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

This would have enabled employers to pay workers higher wages too.

Surely you jest. Corps would have captured the entire lower labor comp in their profits. None would have been ‘shared’ with labor. Why should corps do that when they can get plenty of workers without offering higher comp.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:57 pm
In response to BevW @ 133

Thanks, June, Bev and everybody who participated in this interesting discussion!
Happy Thanksgiving!

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Thanks to all of you for participating. Great discussion! Arne, Naomi and I really enjoyed your book and plan to discuss it in our new work. Thanks for the information on the labor market.

Arne Kalleberg November 20th, 2011 at 3:58 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 138

But maybe workers wouldn’t be so dependent on corps if they knew they wouldn’t lose health insurance, etc. if they stood up to them

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

There is some data done by law profs on the culture of Enron. Manuel Utset in particular looks at some of the time horizon issues and corporate fraud.

June Carbone November 20th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, too.

eCAHNomics November 20th, 2011 at 4:01 pm
In response to June Carbone @ 136

Humans are alpha male societies in evolutionary terms. I haven’t made up my mind whether that is prosurvivor or anti. But it is what it is. Of all countries in the 20C, 98% of leaders have been men, and of the women, less than 1 percentage point have not been widows or daughter of.

Alpha male hasn’t worked out so well for chimps, so maybe human race is also headed for extinction under that behavior, but if so, it will happen only in an evolutionary time frame.

Nathan Aschbacher November 20th, 2011 at 4:49 pm
In response to Arne Kalleberg @ 51

I don’t know what you see around you, but most of what I see around me is snark and anger being used as a coping mechanism. Occasionally I see something that attempts to identify and categorize various problems or imbalances in a way that surpasses a handful of technocratic terms mixed with snark and anger. Extremely rarely do I see a discussion occur that includes thoughtful analysis and interrogation of the existing systems, proposed solutions (whether politically viable or not), and then rigorous analysis of those proposed solutions to thoroughly conclude whether or not they actually attack the root of the problem or are simply still attempts to chase away the symptoms rather than reconfigure the broader system.

One would think that with the tools for collaboration that we have available to us today that we ought to be able to act effectively as one history’s greatest think-tanks. Instead we seem to get about as far as random discussions about needing some different kind of political party or political candidate and then endlessly recycling the discussion about what we should name it or who the next champion should be.

It’s a little depressing honestly.

Nathan Aschbacher November 20th, 2011 at 5:10 pm
In response to BevW @ 133

Is there some good reason why FDL doesn’t use Google Apps to establish email addresses, calendars, etc. at @firedoglake.com directly?

It takes like 30-45 minutes to setup, and it looks more credible at the same time as providing a more unified brand.

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