That screeching whine is the TUC gearing up

In contrast, the real wages of top professionals such as doctors and lawyers has more than doubled. The pay of many relatively unskilled and semi-skilled workers (including bakers, forklift-truck drivers, packers and bottlers) has actually fallen in real terms since the 1970s.

Yes, that\’s what happens in an economy.

As technology changes the demands for the labour to perform certain tasks changes. Wages then change to reflect the differences in supply and demand for those certain skills.

Since the 1970s baking has become ever more mechanised: pallets reduced the need for forklift drivers. Similarly with packers and bottlers, we\’ve mechanised more of the task.

We just don\’t need as many of them as we once did.

In any and every economy with any form of dynamism technological change will change the wages of some forms of labour. To complain about this is to be Canute, or as the Norwegians misspelled his name, a Cnut.

25 thoughts on “That screeching whine is the TUC gearing up”

  1. Mind you, the semi- and un-skilled are competing in a labour market weighted against them by the trade unions’ very own political party admitting large numbers of their competitors into the country.

    Meantime doctors’ pay is dominated by the ham-handed negotiations of the selfsame governing party’s NHS negotiators, rather than anything that looks much like a market.

    As for lawyers – presumably they have gained by the ever growing corpus of laws passed by the same villains.

    It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the best interests of yer working poor would be best served by the suppression of the trade unions and their parliamentary arm.

  2. How many lawyers does the economy need, Tim?

    Aren’t we actually seeing a situation where government is stimulating a pseudo-demand for certain protected service industries, while flooding the labour market at the manual end?

    How many politicians are lawyers, and how many are forklift drivers? Is there a pattern here that we may, by intense study, discern?

    I can think of severel words to describe an economy full of lawyers. None of them is “dynamic”.

  3. As for lawyers – presumably they have gained by the ever growing corpus of laws passed by the same villains.

    Not just “ever growing” but imprecise, ambiguous – poorly drafted.

  4. The imprecision and ambiguity are good drafting, not bad drafting. They are precisely drafted to be vague; broadly speaking lawmaking under Progressivism isn’t lawmaking as such; laws are better seen as enabling acts which pass statutory powers to the judiciary, bureaucracy, and the rest of the infragovernmental structure, who then for themselves decide on specific implementation.

  5. If I may …

    King Canute, of course, had no wish to hold back the (literal or metaphorical) tide, nor did he think he was capable of doing so. The story of Canute on the beach as it has been told since at least the 12th century, is rather more interesting and revealing of human nature. Canute sat on the beach and instructed the incoming tide to retreat, but he did so in order to demonstrate to his sycophantic courtiers that no man, not even he – an anointed monarch – was capable of commanding the mechanisms of creation.

    I realise that your reference to Canute was made largely to have a bit of sport courtesy of the alternative spelling of his name. I do feel, nonetheless, that it is a shame that Canute is often presented as an exemplar of arrogance and stupidity, when the truth is quite different, and that a distinctive and charming story has been changed into a simplistic moral fable about hubris. I suspect, though, that the tide might be against me on this one.

    Tim adds: A point that I have made here myself many a time……

  6. As it happens, I understand from various barrister friends that their incomes are plunging at the moment.
    A woman I know who does grade 3 prosecuting in the midlands hasn’t been paid – at all – since December, and when she is paid she;’ll be paid less than she was earning for lower level work five years ago.
    Not saying she/they aren’t whining, too, but the TUC need to get their facts straight, really.

  7. Tim, this post does somewhat betray an assumption on your part. Employment unskilled and semi-skilled industries is not absolutely fungible, and will have a long lead time before it can be converted to other uses. Therefore you have a significant number of people whose labour is now worth significantly less through no fault of their own, and will be for some time. Crowing over this is somewhat distasteful.

  8. “Grade 3 prosecuting”?

    That to me is a sign right there that there are far too many lawyers/solicitors/barristers out there.

    I’d argue for single-payer for laywers. None of them does anything worth more than minimum wage, of course. 🙂

  9. Dan // Jun 7, 2011 at 11:16 am said:

    As it happens, I understand from various barrister friends that their incomes are plunging at the moment.

    Perhaps they could try and become public access barristers instead and deal directly with clients and mix this with a bit of “no win no fee”.

    Unless, of course, they are not very confident in their abilities.

  10. @ Adam Bell

    I see no crowing, just pointing out a predictable trend. Same way we all need to watch our debts, bills, make sure the car’s kept in good nick, try not to eat too much crap, we also need to keep an eye on our job prospects. Make sure there’s work for us tomorrow. If someone’s job disappears from under them, how can you argue it’s no fault of their own?

    You’re right, lots of reasons why people don’t switch smoothly out of dead-end careers; practical, psychological, whatever. (By the way, if you think unskilled labour retraining has a long lead time, have a think about skilled labour).
    So what, because it’s hard it’s somehow not our responsibility?

  11. @Niels:

    While I understand your point, the level of responsibility you’re putting forward is a significant burden without access to sufficient market information. You’re presuming that everyone has the freedom to identify how much their current skill set will be worth in the future, when this is not the case. No-one enters the world knowing how to forecast the employment market over the next five years.

    Now, if you were arguing for some kind of education reform around economics and the market for particular types of skills, you might be making a fair challenge. But until everyone has equal access to the types of information required to carry out this task, they don’t bear equal responsibility.

  12. Also bakers etc will make up a smaller proportion of the workforce (demand having decreased).

    Even so had we had the sort of 10% growth China manages there would be nobody poorer in real terms. Our abysmal growth rate is, of course, the fault of the big government, regulatory regime the TUC loves (& regretably the Conservatives seem almost equally keen on too).

  13. We probably are seeing that level of growth in per worker output in the private sector. The problem is that the private sector is shrinking rapidly.

  14. Because society is the economy, yeah? Let them eat cake.

    There is no such thing as society. Merely people behaving in a certain way. Their interactions between each other when converted into a monetary value are collectively called the economy.

    The word society we all know is a weasel word for socialists to use to get people to agree to give a certain class of people power to coerce.

  15. Is this the same Kay Tie who called me some kind of a madman for arguing that there should be no such thing as compulsory land purchase for the nebulous common good of society?

    ;o)

  16. @ Ted S “That to me is a sign right there that there are far too many lawyers/solicitors/barristers out there.”

    All G3 means is that she’s reached level 3 out of four grades of proficiency. You wouldn’t – surely – want a newbie prosecuting serious assaults/sex offences, or a G4 murder brief on minor stuff?

    @PPS “Perhaps they could try and become public access barristers instead and deal directly with clients and mix this with a bit of “no win no fee”.
    Unless, of course, they are not very confident in their abilities.”

    She prosecutes so effectively does deal directly.
    As for the no win no fee bollocks they can’t work like this on prosecuting.

    Anyway, I’m not defending their fees, just saying the TUC are wrong to suggest professionals’ fees are a one way street.

  17. @Adam,

    thanks for the response, but I’m not assuming that at all. Merely stating that while this is a difficult thing, it does need to be tackled, not least by those whose skills are becoming redundant.

    You sound like you’re assuming the bakers and bottlers and whatnot can’t possibly be expected to predict/tackle/solve the problem in any way, which seems rather patronising.

    While the Guardian article seems to be claiming it’s all down to the employers ripping off the poor shmucks driving the forklifts, instead of (at least in part) technology simply making certain manual tasks redundant.

  18. compulsory land purchase for the nebulous common good of society

    Just because society doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that a large group of people can’t legitimately act collectively in their own interest. The word society is used by lefties to justify the state acting collectively on behalf of a nebulous concept.

  19. Like, “society needs a motorway”. Or, “society needs a railway”. That “large group of people” are free to act collectively in their own interest. It’s where they get the right to take the property of others to serve that interest is where the problem lies, and where the lefties pull their “society” word out of their rear ends.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of roads. I just think that if your collective wants to build one across my land, you ought to be prepared to buy the land off me at whatever price we negotiate and, if I don’t want to sell it, you’ll have to take your road by another route.

  20. if I don’t want to sell it, you’ll have to take your road by another route.

    That doesn’t account for the value created by the mere fact the route is through your land. If a million lefties all bought a square foot each of the UK they’d be able to veto all road building.

  21. please do the right thing and spread the lies about syria and iran and iraq and afghanisatan and September 11th 2001 (NYC 9/11) and July 7th 2005 (LDN 7/7)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *