Wages and compensation: An introductory blog

A central feature of the American economy in the three decades after World War II was a mass upward mobility in which each generation lived better than the last and workers experienced earnings gains through much of their careers. The central drivers of mass upward mobility were real wages that grew roughly in line with labor productivity.

Great Companies, Great Jobs Acton Lab

The future of work in America and the future of our social and economic well-being are interdependent.

America's (Quality) Job Producers

Community Colleges

To prep the next generation of workers, getting the right skills is critical. And young people don't have to travel very far to get the training they need. (Second in a series of columns.) <Read more>

First published online by and on April 14, 2014. 

America's Young Workers

Destined for Failure?

They face a very different economy than their parents' generation, so simply working hard and getting a good education is no longer enough. <Read more>

First published online by and on April 14, 2014. 

Private equity tax breaks

How long will they last?

Are private equit funds similar to mutual funds, or are they in the business if buying, developing and selling companies at a profit? Much depends on the answer. <Read more>

First published online by Fortune magazine April 10, 2014/

Private equity tax breaks

How long will they last?

Are private equity funds similar to mutual fund, or are they in the business of buynig, developing, and then selling companies at a profit? Much hinges on the answer<Read more.>

Firt published online by Fortune magazine, April 10, 2014.



Federal Privatization and the Expensive Philosophy of the Circular A-76 Process

It might be thought that, if any work in America is inherently governmental and requires such tight governmental control that it cannot be privatized, it must be the military. However, history shows otherwise. From the British use of Hessian soldiers during the American Revolutionary War up to today’s use of defense contract workers, there is a long tradition of using private contractors in the military.

For example, in recent years, military housing has been privatized, with not particularly good results. The second Iraq War was awash with contractors, who were paid billions of dollars and were part of a system of cronyism and corruption.

Daniel Gouré, a vice president of the conservative Lexington Institute, has said that the United States has created "a fifth branch of the military ... called the private sector."

Privatization in the military - in fact, privatization of government in general - has created complex problems concerning the operation of government and the roles of the private and public sectors.

Copyright Reprinted with permission.


The Wider Benefits of Local Minimum Wages


As the minimum wage continues to decline in value and the income gap between the top and the bottom only widens, some localities, in addition to states, are seeking to enact their own minimum wages. New York City, for example is asking permission from the state to enact its own minimum wage in a city where one set at twice the national minimum of $7.25 an hour still would leave a single parent with two children below the city's defined poverty level of $50,000.

The Minimum Wage is Really an Efficiency Wage

Critics of the minimum wage have long focused on the employment effects, but that has only been one side of the standard model. The other side has stressed the increases to productivity and ultimately efficiency. Instead of thinking of the minimum wage as a social negative because of the supposed employment effects, it is time to think of it more as the efficiency wage it could be intended to achieve greater productivity and prosperity. Not only do higher paid workers have greater incentive to put more effort into their work, they also have less incentive to pick up and leave. Whereas the standard model argues that efficiency will be increased due to a substitution of technology of efficiency, employers can increase their efficiency through costs savings due to lower turnover costs. At a minimum, a higher wage would force employers to invest in the human capital of their labor forces.


The Red Faces of Solar Skeptics

If the faces of renewable energy critics are not red yet, they soon will be. For years, these critics — of solar photovoltaics in particular — have called renewable energy a boutique fantasy. A recent Wall Street Journal blog post continues the trend, asserting that solar subsidies take money from the poor to benefit the rich.

Perspectives from expert contributors.

But solar-generated electricity is turning into a powerful environmental and economic success story. It’s also threatening the balance sheets of electric utility companies that continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.


As their costs per kilowatt hour have fallen through the floor, solar arrays have hit the rooftops. 


<Read more>

First published online by The New York Times March 10, 2014.

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