Consider the debate over the minimum wage. The controversy centered on what to do about what Sidney Webb called the “unemployable class.” It was Webb’s belief, shared by many of the progressive economists affiliated with the American Economic Association, that establishing a minimum wage above the value of the unemployables’ worth would lock them out of the market, accelerating their elimination as a class. This is essentially the modern conservative argument against the minimum wage, and even today, when conservatives make it, they are accused of — you guessed it — social Darwinism. But for the progressives at the dawn of the fascist moment, this was an argument for it. “Of all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites,” Webb observed, “the most ruinous to the community is to allow them unrestrainedly to compete as wage earners.”
Ross put it succinctly: “The Coolie cannot outdo the American, but he can underlive him.” Since the inferior races were content to live closer to a filthy state of nature than the Nordic man, the savages did not require a civilized wage. Hence if you raised minimum wages to a civilized level, employers wouldn’t hire such miscreants in preference to “fitter” specimens, making them less likely to reproduce and, if necessary, easier targets for forced sterilization. Royal Meeker, a Princeton economist and adviser to Woodrow Wilson, explained: “Better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth more of their kind.” Arguments like these turn modern liberal rationales for welfare state wage supports completely on their head.
Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change, 2008.
December 7, 2013
December 5, 2013
In short, if there are any positive externalities to governments spending vast sums to erect baseball, basketball, football, or hockey facilities for professional teams … most of the profit is captured by the well-connected and doesn’t benefit the communities who put up the money. I’ve linked to several articles that debunk the usual claims about how building this team a new stadium will provide so many millions of dollars in new spending, and the story always seems to be the same, regardless of the location of the latest corporate welfare pitch.
In 2008, Matheson studied sports projects from across the country to see if taxable sales rose after stadiums were built. The study also examined whether tax collections dipped when sports leagues shut down for strikes or lockouts.
“There was simply not any bump at all,” Matheson said.
Tax collections were as likely to drop as rise when a team started play in a new city. And collections dropped during some strikes, but rose during others.
The main reason relates to how spending ripples through an economy, said Dennis Coates, an economist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
When a couple spends $100 for dinner and a movie, much of that money goes to waiters, ticket takers and other local workers and suppliers. Those people, in turn, spend their paychecks on rent, food and other sectors of the local economy.
Each dollar of original spending can contribute $3 to $4 to economic activity and job creation.
Professional sports mute this ripple effect.
“Spending that goes on inside a stadium tends to flow into the pockets of a relatively few, high-income individuals who live a large portion of the year outside the city,” Coates said. “Much of that money flows out.”
Sports franchises also drain an economy by soaking up taxpayer money that could go to other city services or tax relief — both of which stimulate economic activity.
In her 2005 study, the “Full Count,” Harvard University professor Judith Grant Long pegged Tropicana Field’s public subsidy at 130 percent of its construction cost, one of the highest public shares in the country.
“The real cost of public subsidies for sports facilities is significantly higher than commonly reported,” Long wrote. “Public costs associated with the operation of the facility and foregone property taxes are routinely ignored.”
The best face on Rays economic impact came from two 2008 studies that indicated that baseball bolsters tourism revenues to the tune of $100 million to $200 million a year.
Tourism analysis is an optimistic approach because it focuses only on dollars flowing into the area without examining how baseball might sap local spending levels.
At Field of Schemes, Neil deMause also notes:
The economists note other reasons why sports spending is overblown (some studies could be double-counting fans for each game that they attend even if they’re in town for an entire series, among other things); the whole article is worth reading. And when you’re done with that, check out Shadow of the Stadium’s rundown of other reports on how economists nearly unanimously agree that stadium subsidies are a really, really bad idea. Not that economists are always right, but it should if nothing else put the burden of proof on team owners to show why the heck they should be getting hundreds of millions of dollars in public cash, when nobody can spot any significant public benefits.
November 28, 2013
Statistics can be very helpful tools in analysis, but the quality of analysis will depend on the accuracy of the statistics. In the US, the organization responsible for compiling the unemployment numbers is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They actually compile several different categories of unemployment data, only one of which is commonly used by the media: the U-3 unemployment rate. Wendy McElroy explains why this may be a very misleading number:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles the United States’ unemployment statistics every month. It looks at six categories of different data, that are called U-1 to U-6. U-3 counts how many people were unemployed but were actively looking for work during the past month; this is the official unemployment rate that is broadcast by the media. By contrast, U-6 counts the unemployed and underemployed who are excluded from the U-3 data. For example, U-6 classifies people who have unsuccessfully looked for a job in the last year as “not participating in the labor force” rather than as unemployed. U-6 also includes part-time workers who need more employment in order to live, but the number of these workers is dwarfed by the number of long-term unemployed. (“Long-term employment” is defined as lasting 27 weeks or more).
The data included in the categories increase as the numbers ascend; the categories are defined as follows:
- U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force
- U-4 Total unemployed plus discouraged workers
- U-5 Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force
- U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons
What is America’s real unemployment rate? According to U-3 for October 2013, 11.3 million people were officially unemployed. BLS adds that 91,541,000 working age people did not participate in the labor force. If these numbers are added together, there are 102 million working age Americans who are either unemployed or not in the labor force for reasons that are not clear; for example, they could be retired. The non-working population represents 37.2% of working age people.
(Note: it is not known how the federal furlough of employees during the October shutdown affected the data, if at all. The furloughed employees seem to have been counted as both unemployed and working because they eventually received full payment for the time off.)
The unemployment rate reflected by the last four categories of BLS data break down as follows:
- U-3 = 7.3%
- U-4 = 7.8%
- U-5 = 8.6%
- U-6 = 13.8%
The American media used the U-3 numbers and reported the unemployment rate for October to be 7.3%, which is about 1/2 of the more realistic U-6 total. The media also glossed over U-3 figures that were alarming. For example, the official rate for teen unemployment (16 to 19 years old) stood at 22.2%; black unemployment is 13.1%
November 19, 2013
Every time a liberal sees someone behaving badly they sigh and say, “They just need education,” but the solution to America’s problems is less education, not more. If we got over this myth that everyone needs infinite academia, we would have less unemployment, more manufacturing, a stronger economy, less student debt, and less school tax. The economy would be stronger and we would all be happier. Ironically, in an effort not to hurt anyone’s feelings, we developed a system where everyone has to go to college, even the stupid people, until we all feel like shit.
When everybody’s special, nobody is. Getting everyone into college means you have to dumb down the curriculum until it is nothing but meaningless drivel that has no application in the real world. Colleges aren’t going to complain when you stick them with more customers. They just take the check, lower the bar, and say, “Come on in.” But getting a gold star on your math test does not a computer programmer make.
When my dad was a kid in Scotland, Britain was practicing a very successful exam system called 11-plus. Dad came from a huge working-class family and as is often the case, one of them had an IQ much higher than the others. They all took their 11-plus test at age 11. His brothers did fairly poorly and he did incredibly well. The brothers were then diverted from academia and put into trade schools, whereas my father got scholarships for private school and eventually got a degree in physics from Glasgow University. The brothers did very well working at a printing press and now lead fulfilled lives as proud tradesmen. My father went on to develop sonar equipment that called the Russians’ nuclear-submarine bluff and helped lead to the fall of communism. This was all thanks to the 11-plus system and it worked beautifully for over 30 years until 1976 when the egalitarians decided it was cruel to admit that some kids are simply not as smart as others.
Not only is this kind of thinking the stupidest. It’s stupidist. What’s the matter with not being smart? As Hemingway put it, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Have you ever seen a genius at a water park? He’s miserable. The only time people with an IQ over 120 are really happy is when they’re at work. They’re basically our slaves. Dumb people ride ATVs with their sons, go bungee jumping, and laugh their heads off when somebody farts. Many of them are also rich.
Gavin McInnes, “A Nation of Working-Class Dropouts”, Taki’s Magazine, 2013-08-23.
November 7, 2013
Wendy McElroy talks about the plight of poor children in the early days of the industrial revolution in Britain:
Parish workhouses existed in Britain long before the Industrial Revolution. In 1601, the Poor Relief Act paved the way for parish officials to collect property taxes to provide for the “deserving poor.” In 1723, the Workhouse Test Act was passed to prevent false claims of poverty. Any able-bodied person who wished to receive poor relief was expected to enter a workhouse; its harsh conditions would presumably act as a deterrent. About the same time as the Industrial Revolution (circa 1760-1840), attitudes toward the poor underwent their own revolution. The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) not only bled Britain of money; they also created a flood of injured and unemployable men who returned from battle. Those men had families who were plunged into poverty. Between 1795 and 1815 the tab for Britain’s poor relief quadrupled. Meanwhile, the cost of mere subsistence soared because of political machinations such as the Corn Laws, a series of trade laws that artificially preserved the high price of grains produced by British agriculture. Many people could not afford a slice of bread.
But sympathy for the poor was in short supply. Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb’s definitive book The Idea of Poverty chronicles the shift in attitude toward the poor during that period; it turned from compassion to condemnation. An 1832 government report basically divided the poor into two categories: the lazy who sucked up other people’s money and the industrious working poor who were self-supporting. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 instructed parishes to establish “Poor Law Unions” with each union administering a workhouse that continued to act as a deterrent by ‘virtue’ of its miserable conditions. Correctly or not, statesman Benjamin Disraeli called the act an announcement that “poverty is a crime.”
Pauper children were virtually imprisoned in workhouses. And nearly every parish in Britain had a “stockpile” of abandoned workhouse children who were virtually sold to factories. Unlike parents, bureaucrats did not view poor children as loved or otherwise valuable human beings. They were interchangeable units whose presence was a glut on the market because there would always be another poor child born tomorrow. Private businessmen who shook hands with government did not have clean fingers, either. Factory owners could not force free-labor children to take dangerous, wretched jobs but workhouse children had no choice and so they experienced the deepest horrors of child labor. The horror was not because of the free market or capitalism; those forces, along with the family, were among the protectors of children. Child laborers were victims of government, bureaucracy and businessmen who used the law unscrupulously.
November 5, 2013
Coyote Blog on the problem with the latest anti-discrimination law:
In reality, this is how it works: Suddenly, as owner of the company, one finds a lawsuit or EEOC complain in his lap, generally with absolutely no warning. In the few cases we have seen in our company, the employee never told anyone in the company about the alleged harassment, never gave me or management a chance to fix it, despite very clear policies in our employee’s manuals that we don’t tolerate such behavior and outlining methods for getting help. There is nothing in EEO law that requires an employee to try to get the problem fixed via internal processes.
As a result, our company can be financially liable for allowing a discriminatory situation to exist that we could not have known about, because it happened in a one-on-one conversations and the alleged victim never reported it.
What I want is a reasonable chance to fix problems, get rid of bad supervisors, etc. A reasonable anti-discrimination law would say that companies have to have a grievance process with such and such specifications, and that no one may sue until they have exhausted the grievance process or when there is no conforming grievance process. If I don’t fix the problem and give the employee a safe work environment, then a suit is appropriate. The difference between this reasonable goal and the system we actually have is lawyers. Lawyers do not want the problem to be fixed. Lawyers want the problem to be as bad as possible and completely hidden from management so there is no chance it can be fixed before they can file a lucrative lawsuit.
Anyone with family or friends in the civil service hears about the hours wasted on bureaucratic wrestling with the guy who spends his energy crafting strategies to get you to do his work. My favorite came from a doctor in a prestigious department at a state hospital whose secretary threw out most of his mail, including all of the invitations, because answering it was too much work. He ended up getting his wife to come into the office and act as his unpaid secretary, because firing or replacing the secretary was way too much trouble.
I am not slamming all civil servants as lazy lackwits; these stories come from good civil servants who are endlessly frustrated by the obstructive and destructive minority. Turkeys in government are like prizes on Wheel of Fortune: Once you win one, it’s yours to keep. They can’t be fired, and they rarely quit; the best you can do is wait for a chance to transfer them somewhere else.
Because of the Universal Law of Turkey Accretion, the quality and effectiveness of a government agency’s personnel are likely to peak very shortly after that agency is established. HHS has been around for a long time, and so has its IT staff. Which means it has more than a few turkeys. Or, as David Cutler put it in a 2010 memo to Larry Summers, “The agency is demoralized, the best people have left, IT services are antiquated, and there are fewer employees than in 1981, despite a much larger burden.”
Megan McArdle, “Get Rid of Obamacare’s Turkeys”, Bloomberg.com, 2013-11-04
November 2, 2013
Walter Olson explains why the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), even if passed, would not do much to help the people it’s supposedly designed to protect:
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Monday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill to “prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity” that’s been proposed in one form or another for nearly 40 years. It will be a symbolic vote at many different levels. First, the bill stands little chance of passage in the GOP-controlled House; the point of giving it prolonged attention now is more to inflict political damage on Republicans for resisting a popular measure than to get a bill on President Obama’s desk. Second, it seeks to ratify (and take political credit for) a social change that has already occurred through nearly all the country, including even very conservative locales. Most larger employers are now on record with policies against discriminating against gay employees, and even smaller employers without formal policies mostly hew to the same path in practice, for many good reasons that include not wanting to lose the talents of employees from any demographic.
ENDA is a less salient bill than it looks in a second way as well; statistics from the many states and municipalities that have passed similar bills (“mini-ENDAs”) indicate that they do not serve in practice as a basis for litigation as often as one might expect. This may arise from the simple circumstance that most employees with other options prefer to move on rather than sue when an employment relationship turns unsatisfactory, all the more so if suing might require rehashing details of their personal life in a grueling, protracted, and public process. The forbidden group categories that tend more to drive HR managers crazy are things like age, disability, and criminal record consideration, where the law regularly tries to forbid behavior that in fact is perfectly rational for employers to engage in.
On a level of sheer entertainment, the bill has certainly furnished more than one way for some conservatives and Republicans to make themselves appear ridiculous. Some GOP supporters in Congress, for example, seem to be tempted by ENDA as an “easy,” crowd-pleasing vote to show they’re not always on the anti-gay side. But consider the implication: lawmakers who take this path come across as willing to sacrifice the freedom of private actors — as libertarians recognize, every expansion of laws against private discrimination shrinks the freedom of association of the governed — even as they go to the mat to preserve disparate treatment by the government itself in the recognition of family relationships. Sorry, but that’s upside-down. A classical liberal stance can reasonably ask the government itself to behave neutrally among different citizens with their differing values and aspirations, but should not attempt to enforce neutrality on private citizens themselves.
October 26, 2013
A guest-post at the Freakonomics blog by John List and Uri Gneezy looks at an experiment they conducted to test their theory about the gender wage gap:
Scholars have long theorized about the reasons why women haven’t made faster progress in breaking through the glass ceiling. Personally, we think that much of it boils down to this: men and women have different preferences for competitiveness, and at least part of the wage gaps we see are a result of men and women responding differently to incentives.
Being experimentalists, we understood that without actual evidence, this was just a conjecture. Determined to test our idea in the field we launched a large-scale field experiment on Craigslist where we posted ads for an administrative assistant gig we needed to fill. The experiment was conducted with Jeff Flory and Andreas Leibbrandt as coauthors. We received responses from nearly 7,000 interested job seekers from cities all over the U.S.
After a job seeker touched base with us, we gave them more details on the way they’d be compensated. Then we asked them to provide some basic information if they wanted to be considered for the position. Half the job seekers were told that the job paid a flat $15 per hour. The other half were told they would be paid $12 an hour but they would compete with a co-worker for a $6 per hour bonus (so that both ads would pay workers an average of $15 per hour).
What’d we find? Women were 70% less likely than men to go after the job if it had the competitive pay scale.
The blog post is called “A Unified Theory of Why Women Earn Less”, but I don’t think it actually qualifies — if the experiment was repeated in different markets, it might well explain some of the difference, but I suspect that women’s choices of jobs that provide greater flexibility in hours and the specific fields that draw more female than male workers are probably greater influences on the overall employment and compensation picture.
October 16, 2013
Coyote Blog looks at the widely touted flattening of income growth in the United States and wonders how much mobility (people moving from one state to another) might play a part in the overall picture:
All of this is a long introduction to some thinking I have been doing on all the “Average is Over” discussion talking about the flattening of growth in median wages. I begin with this chart:
There is a lot of interstate migration going on. And much of it seems to be out of what I think of as higher cost states like CA, IL, and NY and into lower cost states like AZ, TX, FL, and NC. One of the facts of life about the CPI and other inflation adjustments of income numbers is that the US essentially maintains one average CPI. Further, median income numbers and poverty numbers tend to assume one single average cost of living number. But everyone understands that the income required to maintain lifestyle X on the east side of Manhattan is very different than the income required to maintain lifestyle X in Dallas or Knoxville or Jackson, MS.
Could it be that even with a flat average median wage, that demographic shifts to lower cost-of-living states actually result in individuals being better off and living better?
For some items one buys, of course, there is no improvement by moving. For example, my guess is that an iPhone with a monthly service plan costs about the same anywhere you go in the US. But if you take something like housing, the differences can be enormous.
Let’s compare San Francisco and Houston. At first glance, San Francisco seems far wealthier. The median income in San Francisco is $78,840 while the median income in Houston in $55,910. Moving from a median wage job in San Francisco to a media wage job in Houston seems to represent a huge step down. If you and a bunch of your friends made this move, the US median income number would drop. It would look like people were worse off.
But something else happens when you take this nominal pay cut to move to Houston. You also can suddenly afford a much nicer, larger house, even at the lower nominal pay. In San Francisco, your admittedly higher nominal pay would only afford you the ability to buy only 14% of the homes on the market. And the median home, which you could not afford, has only about 1000 square feet of space. In Houston, on the other hand, your lower nominal pay would allow you to buy 56% of the homes. And that median home, which you can now afford, will have on average 1858 square feet of space.
October 4, 2013
Everybody wants everything now. I caution persons slightly younger than me that life was not always as rosy as it has been for the last 20 or 25 years, at least for the most part. There was a time when it was very difficult for a hardworking family to get by, and you jumped on any work situation that promised even a modicum of stability. With both feet. You’d accept work situations that would look like indentured servitude now, more or less. You never ever ever quit your job before you had another one. Never. And it took real nerve to buy a rundown building like this and turn it into something.
My elders warned me about the Depression. It led them to certain habits which seem like madness now — overreaction and paranoia. When you hear about honest people hoarding cash outside of banks, saving newspaper and cardboard and scraps of this and that, never throwing anything away, always afraid that all prosperity is ephemeral — that’s the Depression talking.
Twice in my working life, unemployment in the construction business has exceeded 25% for a substantial stretch. That might be news to you civilians, but the reason you can’t find anyone to do anything for you that involves heavy lifting, hammers, and speaking English, is that everyone but the hardiest souls and people with nothing but a strong back were driven out of the sector for sunnier economic climes. Everybody bailed out if they could manage it.
Sippican Cottage, “I Know That Smell”, Sippican Cottage, 2013-10-03 (originally posted in 2006)
September 19, 2013
In the Daily Beast, Robert Herritt reviews the latest book by Tyler Cowen, Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation.
Cowen’s main background assumption is that in the not-too-distant future various kinds of “genius machines” will be everywhere. In the workplace, business negotiations and client introductions “will be recorded, processed, and analyzed [and] … [e]ach party to the communications might receive a real-time report on when the other people are likely lying …” At the supermarket, “[y]our shopping cart will use GPS to track your moves through the store, including which aisles you visit most often.” As for our personal lives, “[a] woman might consult a pocket device in the ladies’ room during a date that tells her how much she really likes the guy. The machine could register her pulse, breathing, tone of voice … or whichever biological features prove to have predictive power.”
Even a few years ago, this forecast would have sounded silly, but that was before many of us trusted Match.com algorithms to suggest potential spouses and smartphones came with fingerprint scanners. Cowen’s not talking about flying cars (that futurist mainstay that always seems both just out of reach and comically unnecessary), but rather slightly more sophisticated versions of the technologies that many of us already use.
The bad news, he tells us, is that the rise of the machines will only worsen the wage polarization we are seeing today. Cowen predicts a situation where 10 percent to 15 percent of Americans are “extremely wealthy” with “fantastically comfortable and stimulating lives.” Most of the rest will see stagnant or falling wages but will benefit from plenty of “cheap fun and also cheap education.” For those wondering, this vanishing middle ground is where the book gets its catch-phrase title.
What will determine whether you end up a high earner or a low-wage left-behind will be, in large part, your answer to some variation on the following questions: “Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you?”
September 15, 2013
All I can assume is that my RSS reader needs a good, swift kick every now and again because this post from Labour Day just showed up in my reader now …
I needed a job, bad, in LA, 1980-ish. I moved there with next to no money and no plan. I was only old enough to drink because they hadn’t changed the law yet. I’d had a dozen jobs or more already. No one was hiring nobody for nothing nohow. If I see another person compare today’s economy to the Depression I’m going to show them a picture of 1979. When a mortgage on a house reaches 17%, unemployment is right around 30% in the construction industry, and inflation looks like it’s going to touch 20, you get back to me. Car companies did more than just talk about going bankrupt back then.
I was sleeping on the couch in an apartment shared by two girls, neither of which I knew then or know now. You can distill painful shyness into a kind of brazenness if you try real hard.
The only job opening I could find was a classified for a welder. I had welded under a microscope before, so I was prepared to say I was qualified. A ship in a bottle is still a ship, right?
I drove 66 miles dead east from LA to get there. Outside the place looked like Ingsoc owned it, and inside it looked like Beelzebub was renting it. Medieval. A metal corrugated roof in the desert. The concrete block walls could just barely hold in the amount of crazy required to be a welder in there.
It was a terrible job and the pay was about the same as begging in Calcutta or maybe a dental assistant in England. There were — I remember because they told me — 135 people there that day applying for the job. There was a person sitting on every horizontal surface you could see making out an application. I was the only one wearing a suit and holding a resume. They took me out of the scrum, up the stairs, gave me the man what are you doing here act.
I lied. I lied like a politician. I lied like an infomercial. I lied like four hundred sermons played backwards. You bet I can weld your thermocouples. They sent 135 people away that very minute.
(to be continued)
I switched the Sippican Cottage RSS feed to NewsBlur instead and this story really does continue…
You couldn’t get an apartment in LA without a bank account and a job. You couldn’t get a bank account without a fixed address. I couldn’t get a job without an apartment. I can’t remember who was governor of California at the time. It might have been Jerry Brown or maybe George Deukmejian. At any rate, Franz Kafka was actually running the place. I picked a day, and simultaneously told the apartment landlady I had the job, told the bank I had the apartment, and told the job I could TIG weld thermocouples all the live-long day, baby. The Million Pound Bank Note is just a short story to you; it’s an instruction manual to me. You guys should read less Rand and more Twain if you want to get on in this world. By “less Rand,” I mean “no Rand,” and “all Twain,” actually.
September 10, 2013
Bruce Schneier explains why we should expect more whistleblowers in coming years:
Big-government secrets require a lot of secret-keepers. As of October 2012, almost 5m people in the US have security clearances, with 1.4m at the top-secret level or higher, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Most of these people do not have access to as much information as Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor turned leaker, or even Chelsea Manning, the former US army soldier previously known as Bradley who was convicted for giving material to WikiLeaks. But a lot of them do — and that may prove the Achilles heel of government. Keeping secrets is an act of loyalty as much as anything else, and that sort of loyalty is becoming harder to find in the younger generations. If the NSA and other intelligence bodies are going to survive in their present form, they are going to have to figure out how to reduce the number of secrets.
As the writer Charles Stross has explained, the old way of keeping intelligence secrets was to make it part of a life-long culture. The intelligence world would recruit people early in their careers and give them jobs for life. It was a private club, one filled with code words and secret knowledge.
Whistleblowing is the civil disobedience of the information age. It is a way that someone without power can make a difference. And in the information age — the fact that everything is stored on computers and potentially accessible with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks — whistleblowing is easier than ever.
Mr Snowden is 30 years old; Manning 25. They are members of the generation we taught not to expect anything long-term from their employers. As such, employers should not expect anything long-term from them. It is still hard to be a whistleblower, but for this generation it is a whole lot easier.
One might have expected that whether they observed the implication of these domestic failures, or whether they contemplated in every newspaper the indications of a social life too vast, too varied, too involved to be even vaguely pictured in thought, men would have entered on the business of law-making with the greatest hesitation. yet in this more than anything else do they show a confident readiness. Nowhere is there so astounding a contrast between the difficulty of the task and the unpreparedness of those who undertake it. Unquestionably among monstrous beliefs one of the most monstrous is that while for a simple handicraft, such as shoe-making, a long apprenticeship is needful, the sole thing which needs no apprenticeship is making a nation’s laws.
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State, 1884.