Work Longer, Not Smarter

…as Bob Pozen, a former president of Fidelity Management and the author of “Extreme Productivity,” a book on slashing work hours, told me, “Time becomes an easy metric to measure how productive someone is, even though it doesn’t have any necessary connection to what they achieve.”

There are people in every office that wear their long work hours as a badge of honor. I am sometimes suspicious and wonder why they’re not getting things done with the standard 40 hours a week.

Some people are truly swamped. Others I’m not so sure.

What price is heroin this holiday season?

The economics of drugs in Upstate New York:

A rock of crack cocaine the size of a pencil eraser costs $40 to $50 in the north country. In Syracuse it can be had for half that amount. In New York City? Fuggedaboutit. $5 a rock.

That difference in price provides an incentive for dealers to travel north to peddle their wares.

Prescription pills like hydrocodone go for $5 to $10 apiece in the north country, depending on the dosage, Chris said. Strangely enough, the price of marijuana has increased. At $200 to $250 an ounce, it’s “quite expensive,” Chris said.

Meth is a little bit harder to come across for the casual shopper. It’s mostly cooked in makeshift labs by hardcore users who then sell it to a small circle of friends, Chris said.

The Majority Doesn’t Want or Need Upgrade Pricing

Marco Arment on when iOS developers should charge for apps and how he’s struggling with that for his upcoming Podcast software:

This is the real reason why Apple doesn’t care about upgrade pricing: there’s no demand from customers. The market has shown that free apps will be downloaded at least an order of magnitude more than paid-up-front apps, and smart use of in-app purchase in a free app is likely to make more money. Over time, this trend has only become stronger and more clear.

Post-Scarcity Economy

Because computers.

…almost every job, probably including yours, runs the risk of being obsoleted when software eats the world…or when the next version eats it again, even faster. Meanwhile, retraining is slow, 50% of the population is below average, and even if technology does eventually create as many jobs as it destroys, there’s no guarantee that those jobs will be available to the entire population, or appear in a timely manner. The result, in a world built around the precepts that most people must have jobs and unemployment is a disaster: economic devastation for those affected.

The Men Who Want AIDS

For some homeless, HIV infection results in an upgrade to their lives through government benefits programs.

This cruel paradox — having to get really sick in order to enjoy a better, more comfortable life — has not gone unnoticed. “I have experienced people [who are] grateful that they have HIV,” says Sage Rivera, a research associate at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has worked with hundreds of LGBT youth. “It’s sort of like a sigh of relief or an extra boost,” he says. “There are a whole bunch of different names for HIV within the [LGBT] community: ‘the monster,’ ‘the kitty,’ ‘the scratch,’ ‘the gift that keeps on giving.’ So people say, ‘I have the kitty — so now I can get my place. Now I can get hooked up; I can get my food stamps, I can get this, I can get that.’

The spread of HIV is incentivized. Yikes.

Why Do So Many Jobs Pay So Little?

Because they’re only just a little less expensive than – ahh screw it, because computers.

Forty years ago, there was no expectation that fast-food or discount-retail jobs would provide a living wage, because these were not jobs that, in the main, adult heads of household did. Today, low-wage workers provide forty-six per cent of their family’s income. It is that change which is driving the demand for higher pay.

This needs a much more thoughtful solution than just “raise the minimum wage.” If you raise the minimum wage so that people can afford the standard of living, what stops the price of that standard of living from increasing? Nothing.

“Yes, Men Do Leave the Market”

Sometimes men just stop looking for dates.

The reason is the expected rate of return of your precious, finite, and perpetually dwindling time. If you go out, hot as you may be when you’re 18, you have little to no control over succeeding in getting a girl’s number or a date. And as experience will tell you it’s a 1/20 shot you will succeed, and that’s assuming you have good game. All in all, I would estimate most 20 somethings waste an equivalent to 4 full years of full time work chasing girls to relatively little avail. A significant opportunity cost.

The X-Box 360 on the other hand is a guaranteed rate of return.

I have been meaning to spend more time with my Xbox 360.

The Internet destroyed the middle class

Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class – Salon.com:

“Here’s a current example of the challenge we face,” he writes in the book’s prelude: “At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”

Efficiency and automation made America a knowledge-based economy. Nerds replaced low-skilled labor.

Others often make the point that new industries have emerged to replace the previous labor market, but there’s no acknowledgement of how those markets don’t employ as many people as the older industries did.

Why not? Because there’s no need to. Because computers.

And this is where things start getting weird. If you are in favor of automation and efficiency (and who isn’t) you are indirectly supporting the hollowing out of the low-skilled job market – and you begin to sound like a heartless Scrooge when the only thing you can think to improve the quality of life for low-skilled laborers is that they need to catch up, and fast.

Previously: