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Forum Post: The Connection of Depressed Wages to High Oil Prices and Limits to Growth

Posted 7 years ago on Feb. 16, 2013, 8:58 a.m. EST by notaneoliberal (2269)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

About Gail Tverberg; My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. The financial system is also likely to be affected. .... In my view, wages are the backbone an economy. If workers have difficulty finding a job, or have difficulty earning sufficient wages, the lack of wages will be a problem, not just for the workers, but for governments and businesses. Governments will have a hard time collecting enough taxes, and businesses will have a hard time finding enough customers. There can be business-to-business transactions, but ultimately somewhere “downstream,” businesses need wage-earning customers who can afford to pay for goods and services. Even if a business produces a resource that is in very high demand, such as oil, it still needs wage-earning customers either to buy the resource directly (for example, as gasoline), or to buy the resource indirectly (for example, as food which uses oil in production and transport). http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/02/14/the-connection-of-depressed-wages-to-high-oil-prices-and-limits-to-growth/



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[-] 1 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

I'm reading the article, and a few things have piqued my interest. I don't want to make people feel like I'm spamming this thread, but this is an entirely separate point from my previous one so I'll start a new subthread to facilitate relevant discussion:

I really, really doubt that the retirement of the baby bums is going to create jobs or lead to any sort of economic improvement. There are a number of reasons why I think this:

  1. Baby bums basically invested everything in their houses, and that market has long since collapsed. If they have anything left over, it's not much, and if not, they've lost money.

  2. Most baby bums were middle class, not upper-class, and pensions are a fraction of their working wage. Retirees like to talk about how difficult it is to live on a fixed income, even when they're around people like me, whose non-'fixed income' amounts to $8000 a year after paying for rent and taxes. They can't afford to pay more than peanuts, and people like me can't afford to waste our time on jobs that pay even a penny less than what we're currently earning.

  3. The ones that didn't invest in their house probably invested in a 401(k), and I'm sure we all know how effective they are.

  4. They don't live in the same places as us. Retirees go to retirement communities, or in other words, suburbs whose prime demographic is old people. Young people mostly do not live in the suburbs, and definitely won't when there's even less work and oil prices are even higher.

  5. Young people have lots of debt, and those of us who are focused on paying it off tend to work multiple jobs. That is not conducive to caretaking work, which is very involved, unlike the shitty jobs that most of us can go to and feel detached from.

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Baby bums???


[-] -2 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

It's a derogatory term for Baby Boomers that I made up the other day, because they don't do any real work, they're self-entitled, and they never grew up past their infantile stage.

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Sounds self descriptive to me.

Do you have similar "pet" names for others among the 99%?

[-] -2 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

Uh, what?

Do you realize I'm talking about the gentrified upper quintile of society? Do you even know what the previous sentence means, or do you just say catchphrases like "the 99%"?

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

You didn't actually describe the upper quintile.

My guess would be that you aren't finished rebelling against your parents yet.

So what other "pet" names do you use?

[-] -3 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

Anyway, do you have anything relevant to say, or is it personal insults hour? This forum takes the long, fat tentacles of the dark lord Cthulhu, rams them hard up the asses of AIDS-infested homeless men until they're good and stinky, and then slowly carresses your every sensory organ and mucous with bloody, feces-covered AIDS juice, at which point His Greatness the dark lord implants in your head the nightmares of every rape that will ever happen in all of spacetime.

Think about that the next time you want to censor me.

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Excuse me, but I'm trying to determine why YOU are using insults, as well as what you think those insults will do for the price of gas..

So you also suffer from oral fixation hang ups?

[-] -2 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

So no. Okay, so I can stop replying to you until you have something relevant to add to the discussion, instead of just discussing me.

I am not the subject here. Fuck off.

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

You became the "subject" with your use of the term baby bums.

Telling me to fuck off, isn't going to save you from anything at all. So give up.

[-] -3 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 7 years ago

I thought you'd appreciate cute pet names. And an oral fixation? Hey, that's just like you when you say Teabaggers. Both of you are homophobic.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Your first mistake is assuming that you think.

You don't. You react.

[-] -1 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 7 years ago

Well then, i reacted that you'd appreciate cute pet names.

Btw my pet names, Alec P Shooz aren't homophobic like yours You should work on it

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

So then Ack is your puppet.

Nice to know you suffer from MPID

[-] -1 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 7 years ago

Awe. Can that be my pet name?

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

No. Awe would be inappropriate for you.

freak doesn't really fit either, but what the hey.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

I hope they don't bother thinking about it.

There's no need.

They should just ban your useless ass.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 7 years ago

That is obviously NOT removing the offensiveness.

Please do so.

[-] 0 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 7 years ago

I think Teabaggers is homophobic. Can we get the mods to remove them from all of shooz's posts?

Nah. If I asked for that I would fucking SUCK as much as you fucking SUCK

[-] 2 points by inclusionman (7064) 7 years ago

Nothing wrong with requesting offensive comments be removed. Shooz doesn't strike me as homophobic and as I recall the tea party wears tea bags on their hats. Seems to me the term fits.

Besides the tea party is the antithesis of Occupy. Who cares if they are offended.

Do you frequently defend the tea party?

[-] -2 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 7 years ago

Who cares if they are offended? Who cares if I am offended? Who cares If you are offended? Nobody. Which is why I would never cry to the mods.

VQ, still wearing the cone of shame.

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Go ahead and ask.

See how far you get.

I didn't chose the term, teabagge(R). They did.

I just continued using it after they figured out what it meant in certain communities.

Besides, they raised my taxes the lying sacks of dog dung.

[-] -1 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

Okay, done.

[-] 0 points by inclusionman (7064) 7 years ago

The replacement comment is even worse.

Have some respect.


[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 7 years ago

I have nothing to apologize for. I have done nothing wrong. There is nothing wrong with requesting an offensive comment be removed.

Do whatever you like. You do not impress me.


[-] 1 points by notaneoliberal (2269) 7 years ago

I don't think there is anything in the article that disagrees with your thesis. As a "baby bum" myself, I don't foresee ever being able to retire. You seem to have a better grasp of the situation than most but still, the unfortunate truth seem to be- there isn't going to be any economic improvement. I don't think people (especially Americans) are anywhere close to coming to grips with that. As energy gets more expensive, the whole world gets poorer.

[-] -3 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

Just to give you an idea of who you're talking to, I'm a 23 year old autodidact that's stuck in the university system and a soon-to-be debt slave. My parents are baby boomers and they are so delusional about the way the world is, I sometimes suspect that someone is putting very strong doses of LSD in the water supplies in their community.

Being blind to the real world, of course, most of the older generation thinks we (my generation) should do exactly what they did, which is get a good-paying, middle class job, and pull ourselves by the straps of our boots to wealth as they did. Of course, though they may have started as poor, most of them started on the same footing, rather than what is happening to my generation, which is a fair amount middle class people, a larger amount of poor people, and massive amounts of debt across the board, but especially for those who want to make their lives better. Couple that with peak oil and existential threats to our species in the near future, and what you get is very poor prospects for anything resembling the dream economy of our parents.

I'm not going to say that my perspective is common among my generation because, honestly, it isn't. However, there does seem to be a more implicit understanding among the younger crowd (or at least the poorer, younger crowd that I generally associate with) that we are not going to live lavish lives and own big, valuable houses in the suburbs. Many kids these days seem to be taking a more level-headed approach to life, though they still have a lot of lessons to learn.

[-] 3 points by repubsRtheprob (1209) 7 years ago

You're full of complaints, full of negativity, full of name calling, full of put downs, full of hate, full of a great deal.

I think YOU need a hug.


[-] -2 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Go find your own fucking discussion! The world isn't sunshine and fucking rainbows, nor is 100% of discussion about it going to be. I haven't said anything positive because I'm too busy responding to insults, MOSTLY FROM YOU.

Why aren't you giving the OP all kinds of shit for his "depressing" "negative" thread? Oh, because that's not what you're on about, you're just throwing a goddamn tantrum like a little two year old. Quit fucking following me.

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

That was indeed a rather depressing comment.

Filled with hot air.

Is it that you don't think (R)epelican'ts should hold responsibility for their actions and stonewalling?

[-] -3 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

SO ANYWAY does anyone actually want to discuss the effect of oil prices on future wages?

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 7 years ago

Union busting has driven down wages across the board. Front groups PR and astroturf has made it sound palatable.

Wanna talk about how corporate charter and libe(R)tarians are the cause of most of what is wrong in the Nation and the World?

They are you know.

[-] -1 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 7 years ago

Try to ignore him. He's not the best person to debate with here. He won't answer your questions and will accuse you of not answering his if you don't give the answer he needs to prove his point. And he leaves out important facts a lot.

Keep trying and you can have some good discussion here.


[-] -1 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 7 years ago

Ha! Most of the point loss has come from him and his two or three pals, but no one really cares. Seriously, lose points? ouch.

This site can have some interesting info, but its mostly just five or six people having at it. Not much to really do with OWS. You can find more true OWS stuff on the web, or better yet, get out into the real world and DO, not talk.

[-] 1 points by notaneoliberal (2269) 7 years ago

I agree with you. Most of my contemporaries have no clue that the world is not the same. As for peak oil, many have bought into the oil industry hype that says "we have plenty of oil". You are quite right to recognize that what worked in the past is no longer relevant.

[-] -2 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

I'll start with a disclaimer that I haven't read the article yet, but I've been actively studying ecological and biophysical economics for a while now, so I can pretty much guess what it's going to talk about.

I'm probably going to get downrated for this, like most of my other posts with salient information have: The common consensus of Occupy seems to be that there is an ultrarich class of society, that is not natural [to "real" capitalism] and, once rooted out of society, will no longer cause the problems we have come to know today.

However, this belies an assumption that the system was not going to do exactly what it has done, by design, from the very start. Capitalism is characterized by competition, a race to the top for personal benefit, and a race to the bottom for cost. Unfortunately, a lot of the costs associated with business are actually supposed to be of social benefit under the capitalist system, the most notable being wages.

Labor has always been the largest component of prices. The middle of the century was a "golden age" for the middle class and capitalism because there was the combination of cheap fossil fuel, which could replace physical human labor, but more importantly, a lack of computerization, which meant that human control was indispensible for labor to actually get done.

As computers have become more prevalent, able to carry out tasks that humans do, and lower in cost, we have observed a stagnation in wages for those outside of the ownership class, despite continued growth in profits, productivity, national product, and the other orthodox metrics. This stagnation in wages roughly coincided with a stagnation in demand (which may be due to wages, but I still maintain it is because people were actually sated), which was the start of the huge demand-creation apparatus (marketing, advertising, IP).

The economy has become so efficient that the only way to reduce prices was to start offshoring labor to China. China is today what the U.S. was in post WW2, the country whose economic state and level of infrastructure is perfect to be the center of manufacturing. Now that even wages in China are going up, and that there is not really anywhere else for us to get our cheap shit from, in combination with the rise in embodied energy costs that you are referring to, I think there's absolutely no question that we are going to see a rise in prices for all commodities in the near future.

[-] 1 points by notaneoliberal (2269) 7 years ago

I agree with most of your observations. Particularly, "we are going to see a rise in prices for all commodities..." I do see a difference in the position that China is in vs the port WW2 US. At that time, the price of oil was much lower, and remained low. The US was already importing oil, but at a low price. This is no longer possible. The article has a graph showing the decline in real wages in recent years. (You may want to actually take a look.)

[-] -2 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

The reason I say that is mainly that China has a huge supply of cheap coal, which is why its air quality is so fucked, and because it has a large, mechanized manufacturing sector that is not yet automated (but is actually in the process of becoming so). What happened to us in the US is already happening in China and will do so on a much shorter timescale, due to both the technological availability of computerized manufacturing as well as the networking effects of globalism and the internet.

I think there's little more in capitalism's future except more of what's been going on the past few years.

[-] 1 points by notaneoliberal (2269) 7 years ago

China does have a lot of coal, however, they are also importing a lot. The big problem China has is the fact that its' major export markets; the US and Europe, aren't doing so well.

[-] -1 points by Ackhuman (-88) from Fairfax, VA 7 years ago

I don't know if that's going to be as critical an issue as it would be for a Western country, since China is so far removed from what Westerners think is a "burgeoning capitalist economy", or whatever Anglo-American dopes like to say about it.