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[flagged] Study: Inequality Robs $2.5T from U.S. Workers Each Year (nymag.com)
40 points by AndrewBissell 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 20 comments





This argument strikes me as bizarre.

1) The distribution of income has been different over time. 2) If it had been pegged at 70's levels, and wealth generation had been unaffected, incomes would have grown more. 3) But this hypothetical didn't happen. Ergo 4) You're being robbed by the enemies of the proletariat.

Also, the data on offer strike me as odd. There has been far more than 8% wage growth since the 70s. This Pew Trends article, which controls for factors like household size, indicates that household income has risen 49% since 1970.[0] Note that incomes have risen significantly since 1990, even as the number of dual income households has remained flat during that period. [1]

[0] https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/01/09/trends-in-income-... [1] https://www.pewresearch.org/ft_dual-income-households-1960-2...


"In fact, in real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago"

"Meanwhile, wage gains have gone largely to the highest earners."

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/07/for-most-us...


Your source ignores benefits.

The source you're referring to explicitly discusses benefits. It even includes a chart that depicts the relationship between "wages and salaries" and "total benefits" over the past twenty years.

While I think it's important to distinguish between wages and total earnings, it's also important to differentiate between earnings and purchasing power. The fact that benefits have increased over time won't mean much to the average American if that increase simply reflects a corresponding increase in the cost of healthcare, for example.

In my view, the important question to ask isn't whether median earnings have been completely stagnant over recent decades (i.e. 0.00% growth in real terms), but whether increasing inequality represents some sort of structural change. Thinking in those terms, the range of varying estimates regarding the change in median earnings over recent decades seems relatively small and insignificant when compared to the larger economic picture.


Another robbery is the taxable income equation and the effects on everyone in a community. For instance, why should the infrastructure in Seattle, WA be literally crumbling before our eyes? (I'm not saying the civic budget makers are blameless here, but something is not right with this equation)

Also, it is not just the home of Bezos and Gates, but multiple other cities according to this audit released by SDOT on 09/11/2020: http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/CityAuditor/aud...

(Poor bridge conditions: Chicago 14%, Pittsburgh 13%, Seattle 6%, Minneapolis 5%, DC 4%, and Portland 3%)


That doesn't seem like that Bezo or Gates fault though. Seattle all things being equal would have more money person citizen than they ever had in the past. It seems as if its almost all the fault of the government and the increase of taxable income is negatively correlated with those things getting fixed.

Can you elaborate on what equation you're referring to?

I think he just means the income tax brackets are not progressive enough

It is interesting reading the descriptions of amazon warehouses as hell holes relative to other warehouse jobs

I'm curious if there will be room for increased automation in these abusive manual labor areas in logistics. Warehouse work, truck driving etc. If these could be automated, then the workers would no longer be subject to the horrible abuse we read about. Amazon and other I could imagine leading some of these efforts eventually.

Not sure however that moves to reduce manual labor will reduce inequality, the person who owns the equipment that replaces 100 workers may take the profits from that ownership.


Well bezo has been pushing for increasing minimum wage for warehouse workers for this very reason. Anyone without the capability to automate will be driven out because they can't pay workers, and amazon will if anything become more efficient and have no incoming competition because he legislated his only possible one which would have been cheap labor.

So these people want to redistribute wealth based on productivity increases from entrepreneurs to works. Even though the productivity increases have very little to do with the workers being more productive and more to do with technology and automation. This is also despite though by their own admission workers wages and living standards increased over that same time.

Seems crazy to me.

Seems like because productivity increased and ease of business has increased more people should be creating businesses since you need less workers to run your business. This also includes the fact by their own admission because the rich can't just store this money most just goes into reinvestment anyway.


the owners, have changed very little. If a factory becomes automated, the owner of the factory had access to capitol, and the workers had access to labor. I don't see why one of these should be rewarded for production increases and the other shouldn't. You can't create a business without capitol, therefore one might conclude the wealth inequality is keeping most people from starting a business even if they have a good idea.

The owners have change a lot. In todays world more entrepreneurs don't supply their capital. They supply the ideas, organization, innovation, risk, and maybe a small bit of saving but they from bezos to elon none really supply the capital.

So a lot of things may be keep workers from trying but it isn't capital.

The workers doesn't get more of a business for the same reason you don't get a better grade cause you peer got a better grade. The workers didn't supply more labor, but the owner supplied more ideas, better organization, and better intuition. None of bezo's automation ideas has anything to do with workers.


Cost of starting a startup have dramatically decreased, but between the moment you launch and the moment you are in position to raise angel or VC money, well you definitely need some money most of the time!

And starting an (ambitious) startup is more risky and is more luck dependent that starting an old style business franchise, or most company in the 80's, which make having capital even more important.

This is more risky, but with more extreme result: you can get much bigger much faster, with network effect, putting the company and its CEO in a more dominant position... We are more in a winner takes all economy, with more losers.

"None of bezo's automation ideas has anything to do with workers" ; without employees, without their work creativity innovation, Bezos would be poor...

The increase of productivity of a company is the consequence of what did the company. And the company is its workers, and its shareholders. Why the workers - that generates ideas, put them in place, make the company running - should have now a smaller part of the productivity gain than before ? (And before automation was big too)


it takes two to tango

entrepreneurs without workers are just some guy in a room with an "idea"

at some point, the distribution and sharing of the profit becomes unfair (workers also risk a lot too, as they can be fired at-will, and loose thier livelyhood at any time at the whim of the owner) and this is the fundamental problem we are facing i think


No an entrepreneur in a room before raising money can easily be worth millions and that typically what happens. The workers come to help scale the business but to say they get nothing is untrue. They don't take as much risk and their share should be what they negotiate for.

The fact is thats exactly what a price or wage is. Fideling with prices because you personally don't like the number two people determined what a worker is worth typically ends in disaster. No matter who it is who trying to price adjust they are usually to ignorant of all parts of the business the to know enough to pick a correct wage or price for labor.


there's many disparities in any system often for completely benign or intentional reasons

In many ways, there is more disparities now than before...

People are customizing their lives in ways that were never possible in the past. They're free to consume things they like, the barrier for distributing content to the world has never been lower. It's hard for me to believe that a world of infinite individual variation will lead to equal outcomes - or that it ever should. Thomas Sowell writes about ubiquitous natural variation like geography, culture, etc. and how it all leads to very "unequal" outcomes, but there's nothing inherently evil about it.

Inflation adjusted wages lower than 45 years ago despite massive productivity gain... there's nothing inherently evil about it ?



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