Discrimination In the Workplace

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According to The Wall Street Journal and verified in other business periodicals, including Reuters, there is a lawsuit brought against PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) for hiring a “stunningly low” number of employees over the age of forty. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP acquires virtually all of its entry-level employees at college campuses, guaranteeing a millennial workforce. The suit was filed in San Francisco by Steve Rabin, a certified public accountant, who is claiming that PwC screens out older applicants. Rabin is 53, and his lawsuit is backed by the group AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).  For those wishing to follow it, the lawsuit is: Rabin v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:16-cv-02276.

 

Some of PwC’s numbers are not going to look good in court. The median age of accountants and auditors in the U.S. is 43, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average age of the PwC worker is 27, and two-thirds of its 46,000 U.S. workers are in their 20s or early 30s, based on a report released by PwC in 2011.  Even if 6 years older in 2017, all other variables held to be the same, that makes the average accountant in the U.S. a significant 10 years older than the average PwC worker.

 

In 2013, Facebook agreed to settle, rather than go to court over claims by a state agency that accused Facebook of violating employment law by posting jobs seeking recent college graduates. (Perhaps the article meant to say exclusively seeking young college graduates, because all college graduates are not in their early twenties.)

 

Twitter and Google face similar lawsuits that have yet to be resolved. IBM, icon of American ingenuity, lost an effort to dismiss a class-action lawsuit in November which alleged that IBM lied about needing to downsize. It turns out the downsize was (alleged, I should say) to be an effort to get rid of older workers so that it could hire more recent college graduates; the IBM case will move forward. There have been several cases against IBM of late, as there are more and more lawsuits from older Americans who are consistently rejected for employment or replaced in favor of younger workers. Gee, it’s starting to look like America really is a bad, bad place, and I’ve just been fooled all of this time. One must recognize, though, that those discriminated against do have legal recourse in the U.S. That’s a good thing.

 

The older workers have (hopefully) been getting raises for the time that they’ve been with the company. New entrants into the work force are paid less. Younger people get sick less than older people, but that is not always true. Older people tend to take less time off, because they are not starting families and taking off for births and the milestones of their children. At what point does experience not count anymore? In the case of IBM, the older employees were given a choice of a pay cut or a layoff, or downsizing. Could anyone imagine offering young people, or women, or disabled people, or minorities the choice of taking a pay cut or losing their job? Had IBM's behavior been aimed at women, minorities, the disabled, or any other group, the Department of Labor would have had jumped on IBM like a wolf on a rabbit.

 

Screening older employees and keeping them from obtaining employment is just as prejudiced and discriminatory as keeping women, minorities, the disabled, or those of a different sexual orientation from getting a job. Singling out older employees out for different treatment is disparate treatment, strictly forbidden by employment law. By definition, disparate treatment is: “An employee who makes a disparate treatment claim alleges that he or she was treated differently than other employees who were similarly situated, and that the difference was based on a protected characteristic.” Age has been a “protected characteristic” since 1967. I do not see how IBM’s treatment could be seen as anything less than disparate treatment. The legal word on age discrimination, passed in 1967: “The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA (29 U.S.C. § § 621-634), is the primary federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and applicants who are at least 40 years old based on age.”

 

Based on what has happened, it appears that the older employees are taking it both on the chin and in the wallet. PwC, IBM, and, I am certain others are “screening” out older employees. Because many of the older employees have been squeezed out, due to downsizing and all of that, there are a lot of the older workforce that are unemployed.

 

Allow me to propose a hypothesis. American companies, on the whole, have not been terribly successful in the world markets, as well as in retaining personnel and market share. Of course there are your successes Google and Facebook, but in manufacturing, like cars and things like that, America has not been doing well.  It is possible that the experienced employees have been forced out, and without the knowledge and experience of the older workers, American companies, led by young and inexperienced managers, are floundering in the global economy. An example would be Starbucks, which almost went out of business in 2008, when founder (and old person) Howard Schultz, was brought back from retirement and turned the company around. The young bucks of Starbucks nearly wrecked the firm. I find it amazing that people think that owning some glorified coffee shops can get you a private jet, but it has worked Mr. Schultz. After all, coffee’s a big thing.

 

I am not saying that the American companies are about to declare bankruptcy tomorrow, just that they have not been as successful as they could have been because the experienced workers have been purged from the payroll. The know-it-all, the “answer is in the computer” millennials are not really impressing some people, although they are doing well with the hiring managers; but then again, maybe the hiring managers are young and they are just hiring people like themselves. I’m pretty sure hiring people that look like you, if you are a hiring manager, is illegal, unethical and unprofessional, but as long as it’s just old people, who cares, right? The old people aren’t being found on Instagram, Snapchat (which just lost $2 billion in May of 2017, paying out billions to its workers and, of course, the founder) or any of the super-important, trending now, catch the wave, the newly-determined GOAT (where “I’m the goat” is the now a compliment). After all, out with the old in with the new.

 

Research into age discrimination lawsuits will reveal a lot of litigation. The lawyers have found another cash cow, this time the old codgers fighting for a job. Theoretically, if enough old people file enough lawsuits, or the U.S. government realizes the rampant prejudice in the workplace, perhaps some of the discrimination will stop. In the meantime, the struggle for freedom continues.  

Comments

Ric Wells Added May 19, 2017 - 2:38pm
Jeff I think the last sentence in your first paragraph is misleading. Shouldn't the word under be replaced by over. Maybe I'm misreading it.
Ric Wells Added May 19, 2017 - 2:42pm
Also applications in itself are discriminitory. Once you ask for year of graduation and or employment simple math tells the age of the applicant which then goes into the dead file. I contacted the ACLU about 2 years ago about this issue. Their answer. NOT INTERESTED.
George N Romey Added May 19, 2017 - 3:02pm
Ask any recruiter and in honestly they will tell you that companies discriminate against age without any concern for consequence.  Unless some dumbbell says something incredibly stupid its near impossible to prove age discrimination.  You in all likelihood do not know the other applicants and their background.  Proving age discrimination is next to impossible.
 
Also, being overqualified has become as much as a sin as under qualified and by nature older workers suffer.  The number of good jobs is becoming and more limited and its the older worker that gets left behind.  This is how companies get around the law.  A job posting will call for 5-7 or 3-5 years experience but someone older will naturally have more years than this.
 
The media will tell you its all related to old white dudes that had factory jobs either sent overseas or replaced by technology.  However, recent studies show that an older worker with an MBA and experience will have just as hard a time getting fully re-employed than a worker with only a high school diploma.  It affects both sexes and all races.  No one is immune once they hit late 40s.
 
Companies today want cheap and since they assume no one will stay more than a couple of years they do not care about experience.  They are looking for warm bodies.
 
Jeff Jackson Added May 19, 2017 - 3:19pm
The question then is, George, is corporate America, and our economy, suffering because of the better job those with the experience would be doing? Isn't that costing all of us money?
Leroy Added May 19, 2017 - 3:36pm
In the early 90s, my company first culled the deadbeats.  It was well overdue. If you weren't busy, you were sent to the boonies where no one wanted to go.  If you refused, you were fired.  Finally, the company offered a severance package to anyone that wanted to leave.  The catch was the company had the right to refuse.  It was it's way to get around the age discrimination issue.  It only approved people over a certain age.
 
One colleague in his upper 30s applied.  He was denied.  He determined to get himself fired.  He sat around all day with his feet propt up on his desk reading magazines.  It didn't work.  After several month, he wrote the CEO telling him how he felt about how the company was being run.  That worked.  He was fired.  He sued.  He got his severance package.  It didn't end well.  He tried to start a business.  The last I heard he had a $100,000 IRS lean against him for not paying employee taxes.
Ian Thorpe Added May 19, 2017 - 3:42pm
It's a long standing problem Jeff. Twenty five years ago McKinsey had a policy of hiring MBA grads straight out of business school as consultants. That worked out well for some older guys however, the small consultancy I was an associate of picked up several lucrative contracts to go in and sort out those guys screw ups.
They were great on theory, devoid of practical experience.
George N Romey Added May 19, 2017 - 3:59pm
Again it all comes down to a lack of good paying jobs.  Assuming I'm kept here full time I will be making what I made 20 years ago.  And I'm lucky.  If companies can pick and choose its going to be workers in their mid 30 to mid 40s. That group already has experience and not yet highly paid.  Too young gets screwed as well as too old. 
Leroy Added May 19, 2017 - 4:17pm
It seems to be what is happening now in my company, George.  When my boss moved on, he was replaced with a millennial.  His whipping boy (ensures boss's orders are followed) is a millennial.  The people he manages are all older.  The only older people who are hired are contractors.  I get the impression that the company would prefer all older employees to just go away.  The ideal situation would be if they formed their own company.  That way the company could beat them down in price.
 
The direction seems to be that the millennials will manage contractors.  They won't possess the knowledge, only the management skills.  They seem to prefer this over knowing the details.  The process knowledge is being handed to the contractors.  The contractors don't give a hoot in hell in maintaining the process knowledge.  They are looking for the next job.
Jeff Jackson Added May 19, 2017 - 6:33pm
Yes, Ian, I have seen that exact situation, where the freshly-minted MBA knows all kinds of theory but little in practical operational knowledge.They can give you all kinds of theory about shoes, but can't tie the laces to save themselves.
 
Yes, Leroy, and I really don't know why, in present day they love firing the older managers and hiring millennials. I never saw that when I was in my twenties, they didn't fire the old guys and put twenty-somethings in, at least as far as I remember.
Mircea Negres Added May 20, 2017 - 3:37am
Businesses which only hire young people are making a huge mistake with a broad spectrum of consequences. As I see it, the hard part is making fools understand how foolish they are, then replicate that across the business sector. One of the best stories I know about "old guys" is that of Andrew "Yoda" Marshall, who was director of the Office of Net Assessment in the Pentagon from 1973 to 2015, when he retired at the age of 93. Not many companies and governments value experience above age, but they should.    
Jeff Jackson Added May 20, 2017 - 3:55am
Wow Mircea, that's an essay all by itself. I wonder if that book would fit the WB writers' agenda. The review I looked at compared Marshall to Sun Tzu or Clausewitz, both of which are in my library. Thanks for the tip.
Mircea Negres Added May 20, 2017 - 4:08am
Jeff, I know articles here tend to be of the "Trump is bad"-"No, Trump is good" type, but you and George Romey appear to be the most suitable writers to tackle the stories behind the unpleasant fact of age discrimination. I think it happens in South Africa too, but here it's compounded by the lack of jobs along with racial and gender employment quotas for firms with turnover above R1.000.000 per year and more than 35 (?) employees. It's also about to get worse for some "old guys" because General Motors is pulling out of South Africa and plant to sell their local factory to Isuzu. Workers and unions are afraid this means a lot of layoffs, and the automotive industry is generally reliant on a mostly 40-and over core of managers and engineers who are not easily replaced and can not be manufactured by pushing some buttons at a university's assembly line.
Jeff Jackson Added May 20, 2017 - 4:34am
Excellent point Mircea. By the way, according to the Wall Street Journal, GM is selling their plant in India as well to Isuzu. As far as I can tell, the Japanese, like Isuzu, place great importance on older workers, as evidenced by their ability to manufacture cars so much better than American companies. The Honda Accord has made the top ten list of best cars to buy for decades, a claim U.S. automakers would be hard-pressed to equal. I brought this up in the article, that perhaps the U.S. is giving up a competitive advantage by dumping older workers, and maybe the Japanese have been kicking our butts in the car markets because they value the experience of their older workers.  Tell that to the millennials, who think they're the smartest generation that ever lived. They can follow a thread back to its source, but couldn't tell the difference between a fuel filter and an exhaust pipe.
 
My recent essay on Thailand (not as political as factual) got a lot of negative responses, and even an article refuting what I found researching the land of smiles. The folks on WB have strong opinions, and they don't let facts get in the way.
Jeff Jackson Added May 20, 2017 - 4:38am
Or, they find facts from sources that are somewhat questionable.
George N Romey Added May 20, 2017 - 10:58am
I've been working with a small company locally.  A group of millennials have screwed what is a 30 year old company up good. They have no clue to what they are doing yet walk around like they are geniuses. 
 
US business is losing because too many managers like they just need a hand full of spreadsheets to properly run a business.
Maureen Foster Added May 20, 2017 - 11:07am
I believe you meant to say for hiring a “stunningly low” number of employees OVER the age of forty.  Obviously people are free to sue for whatever reason they like, but I find suits like this to be an example of the lawsuit happy society in which we live and would throw this case out in a heartbeat.  It’s a well-known fact that Pricewaterhouse hires young workers out of college and works them really hard.  It’s the kind of work that most older workers are not prepared to do.  To the extent this lawsuit gets any traction, what’s next, older workers suing bars for not hiring enough older bouncers?  Besides, one can look at the age or ethnicity make-up of any company and decide they’re being discriminatory against some group. 
George N Romey Added May 20, 2017 - 11:11am
The belief that older workers will not work extremely hard is nothing but crap. In fact, most HR managers have told me that people over 50 are far more willing to work long/extended hours than younger people.
Jeff Jackson Added May 20, 2017 - 12:50pm
Maureen, you're right,  that is exactly what I meant to say, as the article goes on to say that 43 is the age of the average accountant  in America, while the average PwC worker is 27. The discrepancy  is 16 years, yes? 
Yes George, most of the people I have met in their twenties don't want to work nights or weekends at all, so yes, I don't get how the younger people are more willing to work oddball hours. By the way, George, not working nights and weekends is now crouched in the phrase "work-life balance." Work life balance means 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 and don't call me or expect anything else. I was always the poor schlep that did the off-hours, the long days, and I can honestly say they were never rewarded,  never appreciated, nor did they do one iota for my "career."
 
Jeff Jackson Added May 20, 2017 - 1:04pm
Maureen, the job of a bouncer would qualify as a bona fide case for a younger person, as employment law goes, even though I only got a "B" in employment law. Keep in mind that sometimes "qualified" people are few to find, making diversity especially a challenge. For example, if you are a female engineer at present time, you can have a job almost anywhere that needs an engineer, because there just aren't as many female engineers as there are positions to fill.
As I track companies that fill positions (there are ways to track them on the internet) it seems that some organizations are hiring people who must have interviewed well, because their resumes aren't very strong. Or maybe they knew someone. OR maybe they were someone's relative. I always thought that education and experience were important, but reality is proving otherwise.
George N Romey Added May 20, 2017 - 1:38pm
The well connected increasingly are getting the fewer good jobs out there.  Just look at Chelsea Clinton.
Jeff Jackson Added May 21, 2017 - 7:28am
Mathew, if I was really concerned with suing companies for not hiring older workers, I would elaborate on what behaviors to look for when you want to file a lawsuit, what to listen for as key terms for a lawsuit as well as the legal firms that were the most successful in winning age-discrimination lawsuits; I did none of those things.
 
 
The free market as far as hiring employees went away with Affirmative Action in 1961, that function has been gone for decades. If the best workers do not fill certain objectives as ordained by the government, they are skipped over. That is the law and the free market has little to do with it. Certain quotas are required by law, even if it is not called Affirmative Action anymore.
 
There are many explanations as to why the American auto industry collapsed, but how and why then, did Honda, Toyota, and other Japanese firms in the U.S. avoid bankruptcy? Even if your explanation about overcompensation is accepted, who agreed to pay the old workers that money? It was the automobile companies in the first place wasn't it?
 
The older workers of the tech companies are paid so much money that they retire under forty and live out the rest of their days in comfort. As noted in the article, Facebook settled out of court rather than go to court and face an age discrimination judgment. They admitted that they did it, and paid the money for it to go away.  Why yes, look at Snapchat, who brilliantly lost $2 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Hitting it out of the park indeed, that is, if you consider losing a few billion in a few months hitting it out of the park.
George N Romey Added May 21, 2017 - 11:08am
Tech companies like Snapshat do not have a viable business model, just a bunch of hype.  Look at the darling of years ago, Groupon, it still barely makes money and its stock is trading for a little over $3 a share.  Snapchat will end up another Groupon.
Dino Manalis Added May 21, 2017 - 12:59pm
Employers prefer youngsters, I can understand why, but older workers have valuable experience to share, don't leave them out!
Jeff Jackson Added May 21, 2017 - 3:31pm
If you were going to have surgery, who would you prefer to do the cutting on you, an experienced veteran or a fresh-out-of-school "let's cut you open and see what we find" rookie?
Jeff Jackson Added May 21, 2017 - 3:41pm
The New York Times May 20, a San Francisco firm just laid off 45 people, or one-third of their staff. Another internet firm hitting it out of the park, I guess.
George N Romey Added May 21, 2017 - 4:25pm
The big issue is that companies feel that experience isn't needed anymore.  They have either spreadsheets or market hype that drive decisions. 
Jeff Jackson Added May 21, 2017 - 4:37pm
Plus, George, their real talent is offshoring and downsizing. They're leading the race to the bottom and can't figure out why they shouldn't make 1700 times what the average worker is making, after all, they're 1700 times smarter than the average worker. (Impossible on the IQ scale.)
George N Romey Added May 21, 2017 - 4:45pm
At one time the CEO may have been the guy or girl that started on the bottom and worked hard.  Sure they had some good luck along the way but when they reached the top they understood how important all layers of the company were to overall success. Today we have a ruling elite born into wealth and given immediate access to privilege at a young age.  They've never worked on a factory floor or in a cubicle (think Chelsea Clinton) and are clueless to how a company actually runs.
Jeff Jackson Added May 21, 2017 - 5:01pm
And so much of the rest of the world's businesses are kicking our butts, as our economy shrinks, our jobs go away, and eventually, we forget how to make anything, because the youth of our nation aren't looking to sweat their heads off making $9.00 an hour, while the C-Suite execs make thousands of times that. What a mystery economics is. It's just too hard to figure out.
Patrick Writes Added May 22, 2017 - 4:30am
Sounds like a race to the bottom...
 
Great post, Jeff. Informative and interesting.
Leroy Added May 22, 2017 - 8:19am
"If you were going to have surgery, who would you prefer to do the cutting on you, an experienced veteran or a fresh-out-of-school "let's cut you open and see what we find" rookie?"
 
Phrased another way, who would you prefer to do the cutting on you, a veteran with obsolete knowledge and shaky hands or a youngster who knows the latest and greatest technology and has great dexterity?
 
Maybe we need a little of both.
Mike Haluska Added May 22, 2017 - 10:46am
Every profession (almost) faces the reality of fresh, young competition entering the job market, this is nothing new.  As an engineer, we have to keep pace technologically throughout our entire career to remain productive and valuable.  When I started out we used pencils, T-Squares and drafting boards.  Today, nobody knows how to use a drafting board - it's all done on the computer with CAD (Computer Aided Design) software.
 
Most professional athletes and entertainers understand that they have "expiration dates" and plan for a career after sports/movies if they're smart.  In addition, most athletes and entertainers understand that later in their careers as their skills/popularity diminish, so will their compensation.  As the baseball scout tells young Billy Bean in the movie "Money Ball"
 
"We're all told at some time we can't play the children's game anymore.  Some of us are told at 18, some of us are told at 40 - but we're all told."
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added May 22, 2017 - 11:08am
Mike, an astute observation. The professionals who are unwilling to embrace the new technologies are indeed cosigning themselves to the "B" list or to be put on the shelf for the rest of their lives. Most of the time, the new technologies make things easier once you learn them,and I am relatively sure that CAD is easier than T-squares, because CAD lines are easier to erase than pencil lines. 
Most professions like engineering, teaching, law, or medicine sharpen the practitioner as they age (up to a point). Companies like IBM simply getting rid of older workers does neither the organization or the workers any good, and organizations like PwC are deliberately not hiring older people. 
Mike Haluska Added May 22, 2017 - 12:36pm
Jeff -
 
Thanks for the assessment.  In engineering, many guys eventually get moved into management positions where they do not practice detailed engineering as they once did earlier in their career.  Some of us who happened to pick up some business acumen and are effective communicators (rare for engineers) wind up in New Business Development, working with potential clients on new opportunities.
 
As far as being "pushed out" by the young guys, I keep in mind that when I first got into engineering I "pushed out" somebody to make room for me.  Some companies handle it more gracefully than others, but that's life.
George N Romey Added May 22, 2017 - 2:47pm
When companies downsize the first to go are older and usually higher paid employees.  Clearly from everything I've seen companies go for the big dollars and care little about experience.  Sadly older workers will be the last to be hired even with their experience and education.  Since employers have a limited number of good jobs they can be choosy.  So they chose the 35 year old with 10 years experience versus the 50 year old with 25 years experience.  Technology is changing the way in which employers value experience.  More to the fact, soft skills no longer carry the cache they once did.  Maybe they should, but in reality they don't.
 
All of this is creating a new class of poor.  Older workers with vast experience but deemed overqualified.  Some are lucky enough to have one spouse income to live on but often at a price.  Living on one income takes away the ability to be generous to kids and grandkids.  Friendships get lost because you no longer have the ability to go out to dinner and travel. Its very sad because once the kids are gone people often re-discover themselves and find new friends.  I know my parents did as well as their new found friends.
 
Others aren't so lucky.  They end up destitute and on the street.  Suicide rates and death from substance abuse for age 50-65 is soaring. 
 
I've seen the damage this has caused.  And I hear all of the excuses.  Like look outside of your area of expertise.  Yeah, good luck getting someone to hire you with no experience.  Go back to school.  Again, good luck getting someone to hire you.  Just look at our young people that can't get hired because of lack of skills but no one is willing to teach those skills.
 
This is why while I don't favor socialism I do favor guaranteed employment.  If we supposedly value human life and the value and dignity of work then we would make sure that everyone has the opportunity to utilize their full skills and background.
Mike Haluska Added May 22, 2017 - 2:58pm
George -
you can "favor" Guaranteed Employment but you know as well as I do that nothing short of the grave is "guaranteed" in life.  You can't say you're for Free Enterprise and support "Guaranteed Employment!  How can you point a gun at a businessman and say "hire this old guy or else" and claim you're for Free Enterprise? 
George N Romey Added May 22, 2017 - 3:32pm
We put them in work for example in business.  They could help with a small business each day with the SBA with the business paying for expertise 1 or 2 days a week (something smaller companies could afford.)   There is no shortage of work for people with talent.
Jeff Jackson Added May 22, 2017 - 7:14pm
Mr Honesty I appreciate your response, and it is Austria and NOT Australia, eh, mate?
I embraced a lot of software right at the beginning - I remember when one picture file would take up all the memory of the computer! I learned software that the instructors told me would guarantee me a job- and then- nothing.
I have loads of documents that I can no longer open because it is a version  1.0 or 3.0  and the old software won't even load on the new computers. I could, and still can, do things with AS400 many people would tell you are impossible- but not if you understand the architecture of the software and the shells of the program.
I can't say it is good to hear that the Austrians have the same problem but it is good know that we old people aren't alone- Good to hear from you!
Maureen Foster Added May 23, 2017 - 8:56am
Why would a bouncer qualify and not some junior associate at PWC?  The way I see it both jobs require someone young.  I would argue the PWC job is more physically demanding.  These kids are working 80 hour work weeks, often living out of a hotel room during the week and flying home on the weekend.  Few older workers with kids are willing to put in those kind of hours or are willing to be away from family for several days a week. 
 
Diversity need not be a challenge.  Companies should be encouraged to hire the best candidates for the job.  If following that unbiased decision a company is diverse in terms of age or ethnicity or sex, all the better.  If not, it should not be deemed to be discriminatory.  Chances are every company is not diverse in one way or another, so all of these lawsuits should be dismissed. 
Mike Haluska Added May 23, 2017 - 9:01am
George - all that your suggestion:
 
"They could help with a small business each day with the SBA with the business paying for expertise 1 or 2 days a week (something smaller companies could afford.)"
 
does is shift the cost to the public, and being run by the government just go ahead and quadruple the cost and cut the actual benefit by 3/4.  The last thing most small business owners want to hear is "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
Dirk Droll Added May 23, 2017 - 1:43pm
I wish for every such (justified) lawsuit to succeed. Discrimination of older folks is indeed rampant and too much accepted as the norm. Yet, at the same time, political hacks keep working on raising the retirement age. What gives? Why not just slaughter each of us after a certain age, and maybe turn us into food? Let's think... what should we call it? "Soylent Green" maybe? No idea how I came up with that name...



And all that when older workers prove time and again to be more dedicated, thorough, reliable, and experienced than younger ones. The workforce discrimination against our seniors seems to be a combination of capitalist greed (undo pay raises) and our cultural worship of youth. As you said, Jeff, "as long as it’s just old people, who cares, right?"



In the end, though, automation will continue to destroy more jobs, and certain groups will suffer the destitution from unemployment sooner than others. Even if we somehow managed to be utterly evenhanded in the culling of the human workforce, poverty would spread. It's time we push for, and obtain, a guaranteed basic income for all citizens, to protect us, at least partially, from the ravages of capitalist wealth funneling to a dominant minority and return the focus of our society to things other than money.



I think your theory that companies have suffered from loss of experienced workers is not without merit, Jeff. It's one of the various ways in which capitalism actually manages to be less efficient than alternative economic decision making models. We have been taught and like to think that capitalism is supreme because of competition lowering consumer prices and incentivizing business efficiency. We tend to overlook that it also abounds in businesses spending much effort on destroying other businesses and in gambling with resources and human fates. One could argue that the Soviet Union totally outraced the capitalist western world (despite its flawed model of socialism or communism), starting from a poor and backward feudal state to rise to a global superpower in no time, and in the end only collapsed either because of its tyrannical political system or – an intriguing idea – because, having outraced us, it got to the finishing line faster. Now, some three decades later, it's our turn to collapse. Why wouldn't a society focused entirely on money instead of human values eventually collapse, at least where the survival and quality of life of most people is concerned?
 
George N Romey Added May 23, 2017 - 3:13pm
Capitalism doesn't always help society and in fact it can harm society.  A modernized and civil society finds the means to smooth out the hard curves.  Or we can pretend its 1900 when we had children labor, virtually no health and safety requirements and no indoor pluming.  The free market zealots are all about the free market until it sticks them in the ass.
Mike Haluska Added May 24, 2017 - 5:16pm
If you think America got to become the economic success it has by NOT following Free Market Capitalism, then what does explain it?  America has only been around 200 years compared to 3,000 years or more for other nations.  Russia has FAR more natural resources.  The UK had a worldwide empire for hundreds of years. 
 
Free Market Capitalism is the most moral, fair method dealing with our fellow man so far devised.  You can't throw in greed, theft or deceit and act like those are exclusive to or a result of Free Market Capitalism - they exist as part of human nature, not abstract economic theory!  As Dr. Friedman states in the video below -  
 
"is there some nation you know of that doesn't run on greed?  Do you think China doesn't run on greed?  Do you think Russia doesn't run on greed"?
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A&t=80s
 
 
Mike Haluska Added May 25, 2017 - 1:53pm
George - your comment:
 
"The free market zealots are all about the free market until it sticks them in the ass."
 
reflects an emotional response to your recent economic problems, not a rational response.  All that the Free Market does (when it isn't screwed around with by the government) is systematically induce producers to make the best quality products at the lowest price and encourage buyers to make the most of what resources they have.  That is the textbook definition of an EFFICIENT MARKET.  Sellers get the highest price the market will bear and Buyers get the best quality products at the lowest price the Sellers are willing to produce at.     
 
Don't confuse the faults of humans with economic systems.  Free Markets produce people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie while Socialism produces monsters like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, etc.
Ric Wells Added May 25, 2017 - 3:22pm
You ask George not to give an emotional sleep response and then you compare theoritical free market economics with some real life examples of socialism. I cry foul.
Jeff Jackson Added May 25, 2017 - 8:11pm
I appreciate the discussion, I really do. I think what some of us are calling capitalism is elitism-
If they were capitalists, they would have started without much- what we have, in the banks and the idle rich class, are people that are bailed out by the bank regulators, who are their friends  - 
When George refers to capitalism not working, what he is referring to is the system that we have, that is NOT capitalism, it is elitism, where we have people who call what they practice capitalism, when in fact, they are protected from the dangers of capitalism by the government.
They call if capitalism, but if they lose any money, the government bails them out- none of us would call someone like that a capitalist.
George N Romey Added May 25, 2017 - 9:21pm
Jeff no its not capitalism. Its corporatism and as Ron Paul says there is a big difference. 
Jeff Jackson Added May 25, 2017 - 10:16pm
I agree George, corporatism, elitism, not capitalism. The corporate play a game they cannot lose. The incestuous relationship between the government and the corporations is the political class that has made America into something that the founders never intended  to be.