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Why is everything so expensive while workers are underpaid?

As a total surprise to the social justice crowd, employers cannot continue to pay workers more than what those workers produce.

A recent book claims many workers now have BS jobs. They produce essentially nothing. Some of these are so unnecessary “workers” can spend much of their day on social media and no one seems to notice. Other jobs work a person almost to death, but nothing of value is actually produced.

Many tasks are now done with machines, computers and AI. The worker, truth be known, is not really needed. The second factor is the explosion of bureaucracies. If workers are not standing around watching a machine or computer do the work for them, they are filling out and processing endless forms.

Here is how it works. A director of an organization has an assistant director. The AD (everything is an acronym in a bureaucracy) assists the director and is the administrator of a particular sub-function. Between complying with mountains of bureaucratic paper, the director finds himself in endless meetings.

His response is to give more of his normal duties to the AD. The AD becomes so burdened she can no longer find time to administrate her particular sub-function, and a new assistant is hired to take on that job.

Meantime, an external agency, typically some government appendage, requests the organization comply with its demands for more information complete with proper forms, all of which take an immense amount of time and effort. The director and his AD are already occupied with meetings and filling out an ever increasing number of traditional forms.

The director realizes he can’t meet the demands of the external agency unless he hires another person to oversee that operation. Although the new person finds she is capable of guiding the function demanded, she is not, by herself, able to collect, analyze and report the data demanded by that agency and must therefore hire someone who can fulfill this function.

That new person needs four people to actually do the work. These four find after a period of time the information they are hired to process is stored, processed and delivered by computer systems that need knowledgeable people to operate, but which when operational require very little human input.

Hence, we have an organization originally staffed by two people that has expanded to nine, four of which are working themselves into a nervous breakdown and five, after pushing a few computer keys, could play solitaire for the rest of the day.

Note, however, that no functional output is actually accomplished.Think of this now as a university or school district. You will notice the operational costs have gone up dramatically, but no new teachers were hired, and students are not better educated.

You will also notice that although the new people are knowledgeable and hardworking, their jobs are BS, driving down salaries and increasing costs at the same time.

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Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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