Meaningless Monday - Making America Great Again

by: Philip Davis

Summary

A look at wages and labor in our Economy.

Inflation and buying power.

Automation in the workplace.

Click to enlargeMonday again?

Come on people, let's lobby our useless Congress to make all Monday's National Holidays. A 4-day work-week would also make sense. If we stopped people from using Social Media at work, they'd be able to accomplish everything in 2 days anyway. According to the chart on the right, 10% of our workforce spends more time on the web than they do working.

Only 60% admit they visit Social Media sites during work and sure, 30% of those people are old - so maybe they really didn't but it's not just Social Media, of course. Finding a place to eat counts too, or planning a trip or reading non-work stuff. Work is, on the whole, a strange thing because most people can take a vacation for a whole week and the company is just fine without them, right?

"Gig Economy" workers don't get paid when they take time off and that gives Gig Employers a 2% advantage over their rivals right out of the gate. A complete lack of benefit payments adds another 6% advantage and then there's the fact that the employees don't get paid at all for time they are not being productive - let's call that 22% to round it out to a 30% advantage Gig Employers have over traditional employers.

Click to enlarge

Over 6% of our labor force is now "Gig" or pretty much 100% of the "jobs" that have been created since the crash of 2008. These are not, generally, great jobs. They are certainly not the kind of jobs that let you dream of a sweet retirement and that is why you have a jobs recovery without a recovery in the underlying economy and without any real growth in Consumer Spending or Housing. If we had a booming slave economy, you wouldn't be surprised that the slaves aren't running out and buying new homes or couches and washing machines yet the idea of wage slavery is too abstract for most Americans to understand - especially us older ones, who used to be able to afford an apartment in college with our minimum wage jobs.

That's simply not true anymore. If like me, you got your first job in the late 60s or early 70s, then you had 50% more buying power for your salary than you do today. Not only that but the CPI inflation data is complete BS and the wage information fails to take in the loss of benefits - which is also hampering the net disposable income of consumers.

For example, for an employee who works for a company or agency that pays his/her healthcare insurance. The monthly cost has risen from $1,000/month to $1,500/month. The employee's wages have remained stagnant but the total compensation costs paid by the employer have gone up by $500/month. Now the employer shifts that $500/month to the employee as their share of the healthcare insurance cost. Since the average full-time worker earns around $40,000 a year, and pays around 18% in taxes, their take-home pay is around $33,000 annually.

The employee's co-pay of $6,000 a year ($500/month) represents 18% of their take-home wage. This is an 18% REDUCTION in earnings, or the equivalent of 18% inflation (i.e. a reduction in purchasing power). This shifting of the skyrocketing burden of healthcare costs acts the same as 20% inflation, yet it doesn't even register in the current CPI.

It's one thing to say that inflation is "a little" higher than reflected in the CPI but it's actually out-of-control higher but, if we admitted the true cost of inflation, we'd also have to admit that our Social Security System is not keeping pace and that means we're way more underfunded than we think and actually went bankrupt a while ago. That would mean drastic steps would need to be taken to take care of our seniors and that would mean taxing the rich and that's a non-starter so the Government covers up the whole thing rather than have a real discussion about the situation.

As you can see from the 1938-2013 chart, cars, rents, movies, gasoline... are all up 100% higher than the raises in SS have kept up with while College Tuitions are about 800% higher - so don't expect Grandpa to kick in for college! So we've destroyed the buying power of our retirees and we've destroyed the buying power of the working poor and the Middle Class in the US has shrunk to just 19.6% of the population - one of the smallest on the planet!

Click to enlargeThe Fortune 500 doesn't care because they are selling more than 50% of their stuff overseas - to the places we exported all the good jobs. That's why China's middle class is more than 50% larger than ours while those evil, Socialist nations have almost half of their populations in the middle class (the horror!) - the way America used to be in the 40s, 50s and 60s (pre Nixon/Reagan). Since then, it's been one giant, long-term, downhill ride for most Americans so no wonder they want someone to "make America great again."

The problem is, we're all looking at the wrong problem. As noted above, a lot of jobs are a joke and soon we'll all be replaced by machines and that's fine - if a machine wants to do my job, God bless it - I'm perfectly happy to go on a trip around the World a few times. Unfortunately, no one will pay you to take a trip around the World - we still have this old-fashioned notion that only people who work have merit and we're not willing to pay people who choose not to work.

Currently, 160M people out of 320M people in the US work. We make so much stuff that we export $2.5Tn worth of it to other countries and, if we didn't import $200Bn worth of oil and another $100Bn worth of iPhones and hundreds of Billions of other things we consider Imports but really are just items being delivered from our Chinese factories for distribution - then we'd have a huge trade surplus too.

All that stuff works perfectly under Capitalism. So perfectly, in fact, that we're now funneling record amounts of money into Corporate Profits while paying our remaining laborers the least we've EVER paid them as a percentage of GDP - and that INCLUDES slavery!

We have got to drastically re-think Capitalism folks because it has already re-thought about you and it has decided it will move on without you! They don't need you as a customer - because they can get those overseas and they don't need you as a laborer - because they can get those oversees or make one out of metal. What then, is your plan little prole?

Have you given any thought to the end game of Capitalism? Have you thought about the day when one man will push a button and all of the agriculture in America will be done by robots and all of the cooking and cleaning and all of the building and building maintenance and all the accounting and all the pleadings in electronic court, etc. What will be your job? What job should your children train for? Under today's Capitalist system - what will your children be worth?

Click to enlarge

Not thinking properly about the Future is why people who began working in 1938 are eating cat food for dinner today. It's 2016 - what's your plan for 2096?


Disclosure: I am/we are short SPY, QQQ, IWM, DIA, NLFX, TSLA, AMZN.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Positions as indicated but subject to RAPIDLY change (currently mainly cash and an otherwise bearish mix of long and short positions - see previous posts for other trade ideas). Positions mentioned here have been previously discussed at www.Philstockworld.com - a Membership site teaching winning stock, options & futures trading, portfolio management skills and income-producing strategies to investors like you.