‘Splain Me, Please

I am frankly puzzled by Robert Solow’s op-ed on why wages aren’t keeping up. In the op-ed he doesn’t mention globalization, immigration, or the reality that the mechanism by which labor unions raise wages is by limiting entry, i.e. restricting the number of workers.

Don’t those omissions produce a, shall we say, skewed view of the subject he’s addressing?

Can someone explain this to me?

6 comments… add one
  • ... Link

    Such comments wouldn’t suit the purposes of the ruling class, so presumably he either envisions himself as part of that class or is bought and paid for by that class.

  • steve Link

    He says the following at the start of his piece. He acknowledges there are other reasons, but finds this one interesting and is writing to expand upon it.

    ” I want to suggest one possible cause for the lag of wages behind productivity. It is not the only one, for sure. But it is particularly interesting, and it interacts with another rather unhappy trend in the labor market to suggest that the trend against wages is likely to continue.”


  • Okay, fair enough. I find it impossible to look at the world that way. It would be like trying to calculate the cost of driving from here to Cleveland if you ignore the cost of gas or the car. It’s an abstraction—it has no referent.

    It reminds me of a conversation I was having with a colleague this afternoon. I said that in optimizing a particular process we could spend $5 million between now and the end of the year optimizing a portion of the process that accounts for, perhaps, 1% of the costs or we could spend $100 optimizing another portion of the process that accounts for 90% of the costs tomorrow. Yes, completely optimizing the process requires both. Do you really think we should postpone the $100 optimization until we see the results of the $5 million optimization?

  • steve Link

    Look at it from the editor’s POV. What is more interesting? AN in depth look at one part of the problem, or a piece where you just rattle off everything you can think of, in 1000 words or less.


  • PD Shaw Link

    An article doesn’t have to be about everything, but a piece that uses the Treaty of Detroit to explain how the world once worked and how it should work simply cannot fail to discuss globalization.

  • I don’t want to beat a dead horse on this but the U. S. economy has changed a lot since 1950. I want to see some empirical evidence before I accept on faith anybody’s views even if that person has won the Nobel Memorial Award in econ. That was mostly for work he did in the 1950s and 60s and it’s just barely possible that his instincts are obsolete.

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