max_read + labor   10

While research has found that lawmakers are more responsive to the views of the affluent than to the less well-off, it is not well understood what institutions may limit unequal responsiveness. We argue that labor unions can reduce the bias of legislators despite high economic inequality, expensive campaigns and comparatively low union density. We provide robust evidence for this argument from the contemporary U.S. House of Representatives. Our extensive dataset includes a novel measure of district-level union strength, drawn from 350,000 administrative records, and income-specific measures of constituency preferences matched to 23 roll-call votes, based on 278,000 survey respondents. Exploiting within-district variation in preference polarization, within-state variation in union strength and rich data on confounds, we can rule out a host of alternative explanations. Additional evidence shows that unions moderate responsiveness during an exogenous economic shock. Our findings suggest that unequal representation is not an unavoidable feature of democratic capitalism.
labor  unions  politics  equality 
august 2018 by max_read
It’s bargaining power all the way down — Crooked Timber
In the orthodox perspective favored by Piketty, we ask “why is there more capital than there used to be?” and “what is the product of each unit of capital?” In the second perspective – which following Perry Mehrling we might call the money view – it’s the distribution among rival claims that is the real sociological fact, and the value of these of claims as “capital” that is an after-the-fact calculation. From this point of view, the relevant questions are “how much of the output of the firm is appropriated through property claims?” and “what value is put on each dollar of property income?” In which case, we should expect to see higher wealth ratios not in times and places where cumulated savings have outpaced growth, but in times and places where the bargaining process has shifted in favor of holders of capital claims, and where financial markets place a higher value on ownership claims relative to current output.
economics  piketty  income  wealth  labor  bargaining 
august 2018 by max_read
Opinion | It’s Not Technology That’s Disrupting Our Jobs - The New York Times
But this narrative is wrong. The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes.
labor  economy  technology  work  gig 
august 2018 by max_read
Gavin Mueller — Digital Proudhonism | boundary 2
Or instead of a remix, a “vortex,” to use the language of Nick Dyer-Witheford (2015), whose Cyber-Proletariat reminds us that the often-romanticized labor of digital creators and makers is but one stratum among many that makes up digital culture. The creative economy is a relatively privileged sector in an immense global “factory” made up of layers of formal and informal workers operating at the point of production, distribution and consumption, from tantalum mining to device manufacture to call center work to app development. The romance of “DIY” obscures the reality that nothing digital is done by oneself: it is always already a component of a larger formation of socialized labor.

The labor of digital creatives and innovators, sutured as it is to a technical apparatus fashioned from dead labor and meant for producing commodities for profit, is therefore already socialized. While some of this socialization is apparent in peer production, much of it is mystified through the real abstraction of commodity fetishism, which masks socialization under wage relations and contracts. Rather than further rely on these contracts to better benefit digital artisans, a Marxist politics of digital culture would begin from the fact of socialization, and as Radhika Desai (2011) argues, take seriously Marx’s call for “a general organization of labour in society” via political organizations such as unions and labor parties (212). Creative workers could align with others in the production chain as a class of laborers rather than as an assortment of individual producers, and form the kinds of organizations, such as unions, that have been the vehicles of class politics, with the aim of controlling society’s means of production, not simply one’s “own” tools or products. These would be bonds of solidarity, not bonds of market transactions. Then the apparatus of digital cultural production might be controlled democratically, rather than by the despotism of markets and private profit.
proudhon  marx  internet  makers  labor  tech  from instapaper
august 2018 by max_read
Why you need to improve your training data, and how to do it « Pete Warden's blog
The biggest difference between building models for research and production is that research usually has a clear problem statement defined at the start, but the requirements for real applications are locked inside users heads and can only be extracted over time. For example, for Jetpac we wanted to find good photos to show in automated travel guides for cities. We started off asking raters to label a photo if they considered it “Good”, but we ended up with lots of pictures of smiling people, since that’s how they interpreted the question. We put these into a mockup of the product to see how test users reacted, and they weren’t impressed, they weren’t inspirational. To tackle that, we refined the question to “Would this photo make you want to travel to the place it shows?”. This got us content that was a lot better, but it turned out that we were using workers in south-east asia who thought that conference photos looked amazing, full of people with suits and glasses of wine in large hotels. This mismatch was a sobering reminder of the bubble we live in, but it was also a practical problem because our target audience in the US saw conference photos as depressing and non-aspirational. In the end, the six of us on the Jetpac team manually rated over two million photos ourselves, since we knew the criteria better than anyone we could train.
ai  data  ml  labor  outsourcing  photos  tech 
may 2018 by max_read
Banks As Socialist Collectives - Bloomberg - Matt Levine
If a company pays workers a medium (or, sure, large) amount of money in mediocre years, and vastly more money in great years, then that is I think a decent sign that it is run partially for the benefit of the workers—that the workers think of themselves as residual claimants on the firm, entitled to help themselves out of the profits in good years. (Of course in bad years the employees still get paid—still get bonuses, even—so it is not a perfect measure.) A Residual Marx Ratio that tracks, say,...
capitalism  socialism  marx  banks  finance  economics  labor 
may 2018 by max_read
The Job Guarantee and the Wilted Liberal Imagination
If you browse Living New Deal, you’ll see that they were undertaking this level of public spending in hundreds of cities at once. They came up with plans, hired many millions of unemployed people, distributed grants, and did the work. Productive public employment and work at a mass scale is not some theoretical impossibility dreamt up by goofy leftists: It all already happened. Government had the capacity to do this 80 years ago.
JG  economy  jobs  labor  newdeal 
may 2018 by max_read
Silicon Inquiry // Notes From Below
What’s especially dangerous about the glorification of the brilliant technical worker is how it obscures the very real exploitation going on beneath the surface. These highly-paid technical employees, producing intellectual property, find their dialectical opposite in the low-paid employees who provide the material foundations for the company’s success. Similar to how women’s domestic work was (and still often is) invisible, this work is often done by contractors working under punishing conditions. Facebook has its army of moderators in the Philippines; Apple has its assemblers at Foxconn; Uber has its drivers; Deliveroo has its riders; Amazon has its warehouse workers. And all of these tech companies have the staff that directly caters to the highly-paid employees: cleaners, chefs, baristas, security guards.
labor  tech  technology  from instapaper
march 2018 by max_read
The United States of Work | New Republic
For Anderson, the latter point is essential; the notion of lifelong employment under a boss was anathema to these earlier visions of personal freedom. Writing in the 1770s, Smith assumes that independent actors in his market society will be self-employed, and uses butchers and bakers as his exemplars; his “pin factory,” meant to illustrate division of labor, employs only ten people. These thinkers could not envision a world in which most workers spend most of their lives performing wage labor under a single employer. In an address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society in 1859, Lincoln stated, “The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him.” In other words, even well into the nineteenth century, defenders of an unregulated market society viewed wage labor as a temporary stage on the way to becoming a proprietor.
work  labor  politics  contracts  from instapaper
april 2017 by max_read

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