Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Trade Unions

How to Read That Productivity/Wage Gap Chart We’re Always Seeing

You’ve probably seen this chart before. It’s everywhere now. I’ve used it more than a few times over the years. It’s the chart from the Economic Policy Institute that shows that while US productivity has continued to increased over the last few decades, real inflation-adjusted wages haven’t kept pace:

I’ve seen two bad misreadings of this chart lately, and I want to clear them up.

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Don’t Vote for the Tories: They’re Strangling the Unions For No Good Reason

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans for a snap election on 8 June. She’s way ahead in the polls, and the Conservatives may win–they may win by a lot. But they shouldn’t. So I’m continuing a blog series called “Don’t Vote for the Tories.” Each post gives you a new reason to reject the Tories at the polls this June, grounded in research and data. I aim to do at least one of these each week until the vote. Today we’re talking about trade unions.

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Corbyn’s Brexit Long Game

Initially I found British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit strategy bizarre. He campaigned to remain in the EU, but not very hard. Then after leave won, he decided to have the Labour Party support the government’s decision to invoke Article 50, using a three line whip to punish Labour MPs who defied him. Two-thirds of Labour voters opposed Article 50–why was Corbyn so intent on preventing Labour MPs from voting their consciences, from voting the way their own supporters wanted them to vote? Why would Corbyn alienate so many party supporters and young activists who had opposed Brexit? Why wouldn’t he take this opportunity to place his party firmly in the remain camp, so that if and when the government’s Brexit plan fared poorly, Labour would be in position to say “I told you so” and reap electoral gains? Is Corbyn a fool after all, or is there some strategy to this that I was missing? I think I have this figured out–Corbyn does have a plan, but it’s not the sort of plan most people expect or want him to have.

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The Left in Britain: Debating the Merits of Corbyn and Smith

The British Labour Party is having another leadership contest, just one year after current leader Jeremy Corbyn defeated three rivals, 59.5% of the vote. Corbyn’s opponents have rallied behind a single challenger, Owen Smith. Smith’s supporters claim that Labour cannot win an election under Corbyn while Corbyn’s supporters claim that Smith is a Trojan horse for a Tory-lite party establishment. As the campaign has unfolded, Corbyn has sought to reassure supporters that he has a credible electoral strategy while Smith has sought to persuade Labour voters that he is a strong advocate for the left. Who is right and what is going on? Let’s have a think.

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The Trouble with Unpaid Internships

These days, many young people find that the competition for entry level jobs is very fierce—so much so that to get a job, you need to already have job experience. But if you need job experience to get the job in the first place, how do you go about meeting this requirement? Increasingly, young people are finding that unpaid internships are the only solution. 60% of employers prefer to hire people who have completed internships. As a result, 55% of college seniors report having worked as interns, more than double the figure from the early 1990’s. More than one million Americans work as interns every year, and about half of those are unpaid. That’s at least 500,000 unpaid interns. If each of those interns worked 40 hours a week for 12 weeks at a minimum wage job, each one would earn $3,480. That’s almost $2 billion combined, and a lot of the work that unpaid interns do is worth more than the minimum wage. What’s going on here?

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