Author Topic: Apparently Americans are lazy...  (Read 1313 times)

Tasty Pinecones

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Apparently Americans are lazy...
« on: April 12, 2017, 08:31:13 AM »
http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/12/news/economy/us-economy-big-problem-tyler-cowen/index.html

Maybe folks aren't getting rewarded enough to go above and beyond? or we feel we are going above and beyond all the time and there isn't much else to give?

I know personally I've gone above and beyond and I got paid the same. I backed off and work my assigned hours and get paid the same.

Entrepreneurial spirit: how many new businesses would be competing against corporate giants? Either you need a fresh idea that nobody else is doing, you need to do it better than everyone else, cheaper than everyone else or you aim low and make a living off of the bread crumbs the big businesses don't want to fool around with.

I have a friend that went that route very successfully.

Kris

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2017, 08:37:11 AM »
http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/12/news/economy/us-economy-big-problem-tyler-cowen/index.html

Maybe folks aren't getting rewarded enough to go above and beyond? or we feel we are going above and beyond all the time and there isn't much else to give?

I know personally I've gone above and beyond and I got paid the same. I backed off and work my assigned hours and get paid the same.

Entrepreneurial spirit: how many new businesses would be competing against corporate giants? Either you need a fresh idea that nobody else is doing, you need to do it better than everyone else, cheaper than everyone else or you aim low and make a living off of the bread crumbs the big businesses don't want to fool around with.

I have a friend that went that route very successfully.

This is idiotic. This is an example about how an academic scholar of economics can be so myopic as to make his research somewhat useless.

(Note: Former academic myself. In the humanities. He might wanna talk to some social scientists to help him get a larger view of things.)
Please note: Libertarian4321 did not vote for either Hillary or Trump. He voted for Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian candidate.

golden1

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2017, 09:41:17 AM »
Quote
Maybe folks aren't getting rewarded enough to go above and beyond? or we feel we are going above and beyond all the time and there isn't much else to give?

I think there is something to this.  I think that people are feeling a rising level of anxiety in their everyday lives, and that makes it hard to push through and do something risky.  In their spare time, the temptation is to netflix and chill. 

My husband started a business, and he is definitely happier in his career, but it took a layoff to spur him to action after 15 years of "meh". 

Kris

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2017, 09:57:12 AM »
Quote
Maybe folks aren't getting rewarded enough to go above and beyond? or we feel we are going above and beyond all the time and there isn't much else to give?

I think there is something to this.  I think that people are feeling a rising level of anxiety in their everyday lives, and that makes it hard to push through and do something risky.  In their spare time, the temptation is to netflix and chill. 

My husband started a business, and he is definitely happier in his career, but it took a layoff to spur him to action after 15 years of "meh".

Exactly. I used to give it my all at my job. Which resulted in some tepid thanks, benign neglect, and a net decrease in salary (no raise + rising COL + rising health care premiums every year). I got burned out, started doing less, and nothing changed. So I started doing the bare minimum -- though still good quality -- and still nothing changed.

I eventually took the plunge and launched a full-time writing career -- BUT that is only because I have the luxury of a spouse with a very stable income and good benefits now. If I didn't, I would likely still be doing the bare minimum at my old job, increasingly frustrated and increasingly less motivated.
Please note: Libertarian4321 did not vote for either Hillary or Trump. He voted for Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian candidate.

libertarian4321

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2017, 10:27:16 AM »
Anyone else find it ironic that the guy making a big stink about how Americans are secure complacent and not starting businesses, etc, is a tenured college professor- probably the epitome of secure and complacent, and hasn't started a business?

neo von retorch

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2017, 11:12:55 AM »
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Maybe folks aren't getting rewarded enough to go above and beyond? or we feel we are going above and beyond all the time and there isn't much else to give?

I think there is something to this.  I think that people are feeling a rising level of anxiety in their everyday lives, and that makes it hard to push through and do something risky.  In their spare time, the temptation is to netflix and chill. 

My husband started a business, and he is definitely happier in his career, but it took a layoff to spur him to action after 15 years of "meh".

Exactly. I used to give it my all at my job. Which resulted in some tepid thanks, benign neglect, and a net decrease in salary (no raise + rising COL + rising health care premiums every year). I got burned out, started doing less, and nothing changed. So I started doing the bare minimum -- though still good quality -- and still nothing changed.

I agree with this overall impression, but I'd take a look at "Punished By Rewards", and this article: https://hbr.org/2013/04/does-money-really-affect-motiv

I'd suggest that there is correlation between losing motivation in your career and stagnate wages, but not necessarily causation. What most jobs lack is engagement. When you're engaged, you're motivated, and it's not by money. But you probably do a better job and see personal skill growth, which can often translate into wage growth.

Gin1984

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2017, 01:27:25 PM »
Anyone else find it ironic that the guy making a big stink about how Americans are secure complacent and not starting businesses, etc, is a tenured college professor- probably the epitome of secure and complacent, and hasn't started a business?
I think your statement shows a lack of understanding of the academic field.  There is a reason it is called publish or perish. Tenure means you can't get fired for your opinion, you can be if you don't get funding.

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bacchi

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 01:36:21 PM »
I agree with this overall impression, but I'd take a look at "Punished By Rewards", and this article: https://hbr.org/2013/04/does-money-really-affect-motiv

I'd suggest that there is correlation between losing motivation in your career and stagnate wages, but not necessarily causation. What most jobs lack is engagement. When you're engaged, you're motivated, and it's not by money. But you probably do a better job and see personal skill growth, which can often translate into wage growth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

It's true. It's too bad very few jobs actually have all 3.

Eta: Autonomy seems to be a particular failing. https://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc?t=316

Even Atlassian's autonomy is far less than I want. 1 day/quarter? Pfthh.

« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 01:42:59 PM by bacchi »

golden1

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2017, 01:45:34 PM »
Quote
Anyone else find it ironic that the guy making a big stink about how Americans are secure complacent and not starting businesses, etc, is a tenured college professor- probably the epitome of secure and complacent, and hasn't started a business?

LOL - you obviously know very little about Tyler Cowen.

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I'd suggest that there is correlation between losing motivation in your career and stagnate wages, but not necessarily causation. What most jobs lack is engagement. When you're engaged, you're motivated, and it's not by money. But you probably do a better job and see personal skill growth, which can often translate into wage growth.

Absolutely.  Money isn't the same as meaning.  People work hard for money, but it is only one aspect of what makes people go above and beyond.  I think many people really don't have a sense that their jobs really matter.



Kris

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2017, 02:04:59 PM »
Quote
Anyone else find it ironic that the guy making a big stink about how Americans are secure complacent and not starting businesses, etc, is a tenured college professor- probably the epitome of secure and complacent, and hasn't started a business?

LOL - you obviously know very little about Tyler Cowen.

Quote
I'd suggest that there is correlation between losing motivation in your career and stagnate wages, but not necessarily causation. What most jobs lack is engagement. When you're engaged, you're motivated, and it's not by money. But you probably do a better job and see personal skill growth, which can often translate into wage growth.

Absolutely.  Money isn't the same as meaning.  People work hard for money, but it is only one aspect of what makes people go above and beyond.  I think many people really don't have a sense that their jobs really matter.

Well, strictly speaking, a lot of people's jobs don't matter. I can't even guess what percentage of Americans' jobs involve producing or marketing shit that is unnecessary, non-beneficial, and arguably even harmful to sociaty as a whole.
Please note: Libertarian4321 did not vote for either Hillary or Trump. He voted for Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian candidate.

Sockigal

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2017, 04:49:20 PM »
I read this article today and really didn't agree with much of what he said. As a business owners, my husband and I have owned a retail business since 1994. We used to be brick and mortar, but switched it all online about 12 years ago due to increased costs across of owning a walk in business. It was great online for awhile, but overhead has been steadily creeping up, even as we make cuts. Profits are down due to mostly the cost of shipping. Shipping charges through the USPS and UPS over the years have increased to such a high amount, it's almost not worth it anymore. Many packages we only break even. Last year both shipping methods went up 18%, again. Amazon gets huge shipping discounts, which makes it impossible to compete. A 3 pound package would cost me $35-45 to ship two day air.

We still do run our, now tiny, online business, but only make a fraction of what we used to. My husband has another full time job. Five years ago, he got a job mostly for insurance, now we need it for income. Insurance coverage is the second reason Mom and Pops just can't make it anymore. Our last private insurance quote was $2500 a month for a family of four through Blue Cross. None of us have major or minor health problems, but I had a breast cancer scare. Now those companies want an arm and a leg to insure me. So our only choice is for one of us to have a job through a company that offers insurance benefits.

I believe this is the same for lots of business owners! The health insurance industry in this country has really killed the spirit of opening up your own business, especially for people in their 40's and 50's.

I don't think people are lazy and don't want to open businesses. It's just not very lucrative in this day and age. Retail is almost dead for the small business owner. All those stores of the past (book stores, art galleries, gift shops, card shops, clothing stores, frame shops) just can't make a comfortable living anymore. There is way too much competition from the big box stores and Amazon. I remember when everyone was fighting to save small book sellers from Borders and Barnes and Nobel. Now we are just hoping Barnes and Nobel will make it!

The author also talks about productively being down, but I had read that it is way up. Most people now do the same workload that 2.5 Americans did 30 years ago. I saw this is a couple of jobs I had over the last five years. The companies kept labor costs lower, by always keeping a labor shortage. The same work load that 3 people had done previously was done by just one person to increase per person productively. Companies started using software like Dayforce and schedule employees by how much money those employees make per hour (all by sales per hour). Of course it doesn't take into account the work that has to be to stock the stores during non-business hours.

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2017, 05:14:50 PM »
I read Complacent Class a month ago and it plods along with a series of economic and social statistics, none of which are terribly interesting if taken in isolation. The picture that he builds up from those details, however, is something worthy of consideration. The overall themes discussed are: increasing desire for risk-avoidance; the sharp spike in prescription and street drugs that induce greater passivity (e.g. opioids, Ritalin); a tendency for people to cluster more homogeneously on economic, cultural, and ideological lines; and some of the impacts of increasing reliance on collaborative filtering algorithms (e.g. Netflix recommendations, okcupid, spotify, etc.). There is also a chapter describing income mobility differences between China and the US, with a couple of astounding rags-to-riches stories from China. Also notable is Cowen doesn't argue against all forms of complacency; in many sections, the discussion is more along the lines of noting some of the potential positive and negative impacts of a given strain of complacency.

Regarding Cowen's lack of entrepreneurship himself, I think that's beside the point and not strictly true either given he runs a well-regarded economics blog (marginal revolution) with fellow GMU professor Alex Tabbarok. Also, from reading his blog over many years, I'm assured Cowen is acutely self-aware of the irony in expressing this idea from his vantage-point as a tenured faculty member.

The CNN article was not that well written (I don't think Cowen actually calls American lazy at any point in the book, but I guess it does get clicks if you put that in the headline). Sockigal: Also, perhaps lost in translation, the argument regarding productivity is that the rate of growth in productivity is sharply down.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2017, 02:11:33 AM »
Thanks for the reference to Tyler Cowen's blog. Very interesting read.

projekt

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2017, 06:02:24 AM »
The author also talks about productively being down, but I had read that it is way up. Most people now do the same workload that 2.5 Americans did 30 years ago. I saw this is a couple of jobs I had over the last five years.

Productivity is rising.  Your impression is correct.  What has trended downward is productivity growth, which is related to the growth of the economy, and which is a measure of innovation. I didn't read through the article to see how it was phrased.

bwall

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2017, 07:05:27 AM »
I think that the author is confusing work ethic (laziness) with risk aversion.

Why *should* someone assume the risk of starting a business if they already have a well paid job?

Many business owners say that the best thing that ever happened to them was getting fired. Once the risk of losing that stable income was removed (by removing that income stream), they are much more inclined to accept the risk and start their own business.

I would include myself in that demographic, but I never had a job to get fired from. A job/business fell into my lap after graduation and now 18 years later, I'm FI.


Chris22

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2017, 07:45:32 AM »
The author also talks about productively being down, but I had read that it is way up. Most people now do the same workload that 2.5 Americans did 30 years ago. I saw this is a couple of jobs I had over the last five years.

Productivity is rising.  Your impression is correct.  What has trended downward is productivity growth, which is related to the growth of the economy, and which is a measure of innovation. I didn't read through the article to see how it was phrased.

Given that we are coming out of one of the greatest productivity revolutions of all time, the computer/internet age, that would sorta make sense, no?
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Sibley

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2017, 01:36:13 PM »
We still do run our, now tiny, online business, but only make a fraction of what we used to. My husband has another full time job. Five years ago, he got a job mostly for insurance, now we need it for income. Insurance coverage is the second reason Mom and Pops just can't make it anymore. Our last private insurance quote was $2500 a month for a family of four through Blue Cross. None of us have major or minor health problems, but I had a breast cancer scare. Now those companies want an arm and a leg to insure me. So our only choice is for one of us to have a job through a company that offers insurance benefits.

A small correction. Your breast cancer scare (glad it wasn't the real deal!) doesn't impact your premiums, due to ACA. Your premiums have gone up because a) you're a bit older, and there is some premium growth allowed due to age, and b) premiums have just plain gone up.

Not saying there's aren't issues with the health care industry as a whole, because there certainly are. But ACA protected you against having your premiums hiked for pre-existing conditions (or denied).

Sockigal

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Re: Apparently Americans are lazy...
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2017, 04:20:25 PM »

We still do run our, now tiny, online business, but only make a fraction of what we used to. My husband has another full time job. Five years ago, he got a job mostly for insurance, now we need it for income. Insurance coverage is the second reason Mom and Pops just can't make it anymore. Our last private insurance quote was $2500 a month for a family of four through Blue Cross. None of us have major or minor health problems, but I had a breast cancer scare. Now those companies want an arm and a leg to insure me. So our only choice is for one of us to have a job through a company that offers insurance benefits.

A small correction. Your breast cancer scare (glad it wasn't the real deal!) doesn't impact your premiums, due to ACA. Your premiums have gone up because a) you're a bit older, and there is some premium growth allowed due to age, and b) premiums have just plain gone up.

Not saying there's aren't issues with the health care industry as a whole, because there certainly are. But ACA protected you against having your premiums hiked for pre-existing conditions (or denied).
This happened before the ACA and  pre-existing conditions regulations. I live in a state that fought hard not to take Federal dollars and not offer ACA coverage in the beginning stages. When I checked our rates under the ACA they were still unaffordable for us. Not $2500 as previously quoted, but still over $1000 a month. It's all worked out for the best anyway. We feel secure knowing we have excellent insurance though my husband's employer and our portion is reasonable. Just wished small business owners could buy affordable insurance. I'm sure it's the reason so many people do not to open small businesses. We miss the freedoms of owning our own business, but don't miss the fluctuations in income and overhead.