Tag: Jobs

Good Paying Union Jobs

  • The other day at work I was suddenly told I had to go to a “labor law” class. They brought in additional workers to help cover shifts for an hour. All very confusing since they typically don’t spring for additional staff for anything. Anyway, the “class” consisted of someone from HR reading sections of the labor law act and telling us that unions rarely deliver on their promises. Ahhh… I get it now – suddenly the hospital is worried about union organizing. Sure enough, after consulting the official breakroom gossip pipeline it turns out that some folks are trying to spark some union organization. Also, the house just passed the PRO act which would undo states (like mine) right to work laws. Right now, even if a union forms at my hospital, it’s my choice to join or not. The PRO act would force me to join the union and pay dues as a condition of employment. Additionally the bill would force employers to turn over employees’ private information—including cell phone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules—to union organizers. Realistically I don’t think it has a chance of passing the senate, but you never know. I suddenly find myself conflicted about unions. In my previous life in the corporate world, I was stanchly anti-union. They tend to be massively corrupt, drive up manufacturing costs, and generally stand in the way of innovation, flexibility, and time to market. They’re ginormous political machines, lobbying to feed at the public trough. Look at the current ridiculousness with the teachers unions. Can you honestly tell me that they’re looking out for the best interest of the kids? It’s somehow safe for the poor schmuck at Walmart to go to work, but not for someone to stand in front of a handful of kids? As I’ve said previously, the way we teach kids has barely evolved in the last 50 years primarily due to teachers unions reluctance to change. But I digress… The hospital world is a mix of union and non-union. As a semi-libertarian, I’ve always believed in the free markets ability to set wages in response to availability and demand. I never thought about it much because my previous profession was one in extremely high demand and a very small labor pool. Wages were high. Other professions with a glut of applicants paid a much smaller wage. Fast forward and I find myself in the opposite scenario. My town has two hospitals. With very little competition, they have no incentive to pay higher wages. In a big city with many hospitals they do have to offer competitive wages. So at this late stage in my career, I would have said if a union can force higher wages or at least better patient ratios, fine by me. But then the China plague hit and I honestly don’t know how the hospital will stay in business. They’re hemorrhaging cash and have cancelled every capital improvement project that was on the books. It will be years before they recover. I don’t see how potential union demands right now helps anyone? Sigh. I don’t think there’s any good answer right now. I should probably just move to the clean energy sector. Biden has promised those will be the good paying union jobs.
  • Barbeque is a noun, not a verb. Today it’s dumping snow and I am cooking up some barbeque in the form of baby back ribs on the smoker. And in proper insurrectionist form, we are having a bunch of friends over. Suck on that, lock down states. P.S. please don’t tell the high priest of Covid, Fauci. I don’t want the secret Covid police coming to my door.
  • I casually look at new trucks from time to time. At some point that day will come when it’s time for a final vehicle. Right now the super popular truck in the overland market is the Toyota Tacoma. Peruse through the Instagram feeds and you see plenty of very cool, tricked out Tacomas. I look at that and think, hmm it would be kinda fun to build out a truck from scratch like that. And then I read this article in Outside magazine imploring people not to do that to these trucks. I had no idea about the gear ratio limitations and payload weight issues. Coolness over functionality. I would have easily fallen into that trap. Because, you know, it’s all about how you look on Instagram.
  • Here’s an account to follow that posts very cool maps.
  • The Biden administration will push a massive high speed rail initiative as part of it’s build back better infrastructure plan. All built with good paying union jobs of course. Perhaps they should check in with California to see how their high speed rail project is going? It’s been more than a decade and costs have gone from the original $33 billion to more than $100 billion. And for what? A single track that will run from Bakersfield to Merced that has yet to see a single train, and initial testing is still six to seven years away. But I’m sure the federal version will go much smoother.

Song of the day: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

Is Politics A Prisoners Dilemma?

  • I was thinking about the apparent lack of awareness politicians on both sides have of the pulse of the people they’re supposed to represent. They tend to rush to solve the wrong problem because they need to be seen as “doing something” about whatever’s in the news. We just had a large mob of very angry people rally to express their dissatisfaction with something that devolved (as mobs do) into violence. Politicians rush to “fix” the end result of the situation – we need to call in the national guard, they must condemn all violence, we need to put people on no-fly-lists, we need to impeach, etc… While all of that may or may not need to be addressed, I don’t hear anyone on the left asking the real question – what happened to make all those people so angry and what could be done to address that? It reminded me of the Prisoners Dilemma. Two prisoners in solitary confinement, no way to communicate with each other. If one snitches on the other, he goes free and the other serves his sentence. If both snitch, both serve their sentence. If neither snitches (because snitches wind up in ditches), both serve reduced sentences. Politicians (especially today) seem to be wired to always believe politics is a zero sum game. The only way I can win is to ensure someone else loses. We’ve entered the era of scorched earth politics. Tearing up a state of the union speech or driving pointless impeachments to score points is more important than asking what’s more beneficial for everyone. Both sides are guilty of this… Republicans just really suck at it. I wonder if we’ll ever get back to a point where folks recognize if both sides accept a little pain (compromise), everyone benefits in the long run? (Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical. Never going to happen.)
  • I had to laugh. A couple of days ago Tucker Carlson had a line that made me snort out loud: “Once Donald Trump leaves the scene and it’s time to divvy up the spoils of the United States Treasury to begin the great piñata party of 2021…” And sure enough, yesterday Biden rolls out a $2 trillion dollar stimulus spending plan. This will be followed by another $1.3 – $2 trillion dollar infrastructure plan. It’s gotten absurd to the point there’s no reason to even fight it anymore. We’re printing money out of thin air. Hell, if we’re already printing trillions, we may as well print another four or five. Give every American with a drivers license a brand new car. And pay for their insurance. And create a guaranteed auto buyback program for all the existing vehicles and loans. Can you even imagine the stimulus this would bring to country? It would resurrect the failing auto industries, create new manufacturing jobs for the entire supply chain, improve our air quality, put more money in the pocket of struggling families by getting rid of a car payment, and help the most disenfranchised be able to get a job. I think that’s a damn fine idea. I guess you couldn’t require a drivers license. That would be discriminatory. Anyway, put me down for a Tesla Cybertruck.
  • I was reasonably productive yesterday with planning. I resurrected the Bullet Journal and starting looking into some travel ideas. I agree that putting (figurative) pen to paper does help organize thoughts. Next up will be working on the daily routine and thinking about hobbies.
  • For dinner last night I made a deluxe grill cheese and tomato soup. Thick sourdough, two kinds of cheese, bacon, grilled onions, sliced tomato and avocado. Probably a 2,500 calorie meal, but worth it. Now I just need to go run approximately 50 miles to break even.
  • We watched the History of Swear Words last night. Pretty good. Nicholas Cage was able to poke fun at himself. Nice to see actors who are comfortable enough to do that. It’s said that swearing is a sign of intelligence. If so, I should be a rocket scientist.
  • A list of red flags in job interviews. Reminded me of an answer I got frequently when I was a hiring manager at Microsoft. I’d ask the candidate how they would find out the answer to something and I’d frequently get the response: “I’d Google it”. Uhmm… you’re interviewing at Microsoft, are you really that dense? If you’re going say that, at least make the case why one search engine is better than the other. That I’d respect. This is beside the issue of being so unaware that if all I needed was someone who could “Google” something, I could hire a random street person (or sixth grader) and be just as successful. This of course was back in the day when Microsoft was the Evil Empire and Google’s code of conduct slogan was “Don’t be evil”.

Song of the day: Meredith Brooks ( Live) Lilith Fair- Bitch 1997

Basic Dude Stuff

  • I’m sure I’ll be accused of perpetuating “toxic masculinity“, but oh well. Pat Mac is clearly on the far end of the masculinity spectrum, but his general message should be shown to the youth of today. He started posting some silly clips to his Instagram titled “Basic dude stuff”. Quick little clips of general stuff most guys of older generations knew. Tying knots, gardening, taking care of your tools, chivalry, cooking, driving skills, exercise, shooting, etc… Things that I took for granted, but seem to be lost on the current generation of youth. I look at my younger nephews and just shake my head. I love ’em to death, but worry for them and their generation. Even though they’re of driving age they have no interest in getting a drivers license. No interest in being active in the outdoors. It’s all about gaming. They’ve never had a job. By the time I was their age I’d had paper routes, mowed lawns, and been getting on a Greyhound bus each summer and traveling across the state to work as a lifeguard for months – alone. No parental supervision, no cell phone, and had to walk across town to the laundromat each week to do laundry. Thirteen years old. I couldn’t wait to turn sixteen, be able to drive and explore. I honestly don’t know how my nephews will survive and what kind of men they’ll grow up to be? Maybe the online gamer, manbun, intellectual is what women want today? And speaking of women… I think “basic dude stuff” should apply equally. Actually I think the young women of today are becoming more badass than the boys. It’s a brave new world.
  • A laundry list of voting infractions in Georgia was presented yesterday. Most shocking was video footage showing suitcases of ballots being revealed from under desks in Georgia vote counting facilities after poll workers were reportedly told to leave the room. Yawn. Nobody cares. Almost zero media coverage. How is this even possible? It’s frightening to think about what sheep we’ve become.
  • Speaking of sheep, the Governor of CA, apparently worried that the LA mayor was upstaging him in the unchecked power department, shut down the entire state. I still don’t understand how one man or woman has the power to unilaterally destroy businesses and livelihoods like this?
  • If you still think the mandatory mouth diapers everyone wears are the magic anti-covid solution, you should read Alex Berenson’s investigation into mask research. He’s busy doing what journalists used to do in a bygone era.
  • Was Covid here much earlier than we have been lead to believe? Eh, who knows. Maybe we’ll find out in 2026 when the Durham report comes out.
  • Sorry if I’m sounding a little cynical today. I was pulling my dogs tail in the shower, tripped over him and broke my foot. Hmm, ok. No, you’re an eighty year old man who tripped getting out of the shower. We’re one broken hip or getting the ‘rona away from President Harris.
  • If you’ve ever worked in a tech company, the Work Chronicles comic will make sense to you. This is why I no longer work in tech.

Song of the day: 311 “All mixed up (live)”

A Case For Universal Basic Income

I should start out by saying that I do not agree with implementing a Universal Basic Income (UBI). However I recently listened to a podcast with Andrew Yang, a 2020 presidential candidate, and he made the most compelling case yet for it. I think the alarm bell he’s ringing is true… I’m just am not convinced UBI is the right solution.

Mr. Yang’s premise is that due to AI and automation one-third of all working Americans are going to lose their job in the next 12 years. Most of these workers are going to have a very hard time finding new employment. He makes the case that it’s not realistic to think that you’re going to re-train a truck driver from rural Iowa to write code. By giving every working age American $1000 a month you provide a safety net that will be put back into the economy in the form of gas, groceries, fuel, etc… A UBI paid for by a VAT tax. You have a choice of taking the UBI or social services (e.g. food stamps) but not both.

I agree that the coming AI boom is going to displace mass numbers of people. The Mckinsey research group estimates between 400 and 800 million people will be replaced by automation by 2030 worldwide. In the US, the top ten professions are mostly all lower wage jobs. The top five are:

  • #1 for males – truck driver
  • Retail sales
  • cashier
  • office clerk
  • food prep
  • customer service

The mean annual income in the US is $46,000. Every single one of those most common jobs listed is replaceable by automation. A third of the country out of work is a recipe for a real economic crisis that I’m not sure we can survive. The taxpayers are going to pay one way or another – in the form of food stamps, medical, etc…

There are folks who claim we’ve always had revolutions in technology that displace workers – let them #learntocode (don’t put that on Twitter!) The difference between the first and second industrial revolutions and today’s displaced workers is twofold; first the scale of displaced workers was much smaller and second, those revolutions actually spawned a middle class. An uneducated displaced farm worker could move to the city, work in a factory and support a family. Today it’s actually those lower-middle class jobs we’re removing.

So what’s my solution? I don’t know. As a libertarian-ish person I have a very hard time seizing taxpayer money and giving it to others because they made poor decisions and aren’t busting their ass to improve themselves. I also recognize that a mob of hungry, desperate people rioting with pitchforks isn’t in societies interest either.

Most politicians will push for ungodly expensive government boondoggle spending programs to “re-train” workers. Those are usually bottomless money pits with little positive outcome. I applaud Mr. Yang for at least being brave enough to raise the issue and give a plausible solution.

Is UBI the right solution? The more I think about it, the more I’m on the fence. It’s not often I stumble upon an issue where I don’t have a clear opinion. What do we do with 100 million people in this country out of work and no skills to bridge the gap? I’m curious what you think? What’s the right answer? Is this even a problem? Maybe the revolution will happen slower than we think. It’s certainly worth having a discussion… but I suspect we’ll ignore it until too late.