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(Salon)   Amazon is all about its customers. Its employees... not so much   (salon.com) divider line 77
    More: Scary, fulfillment centers, work-study, employment agency, Advance Publications, temporary workers, heat index, bulk box, allentown  
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4670 clicks; posted to Business » on 27 Feb 2014 at 10:32 PM (7 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-27 07:41:37 PM
Meh, my sister works in one of their warehouses and likes it.
 
2014-02-27 08:07:37 PM
You mean those fulfillment centers aren't for fulfilling the hopes and dreams of the workers and filled with puppies and rainbows?
 
2014-02-27 08:21:48 PM
But in Germany Amazon has to deal with work councils (Betriebsrat); a powerful union, the United Services Union (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, or Ver.Di), with 2.2 million members; and high officials of the federal and state governments more closely aligned with labor than their counterparts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

I'm sure Germany's economy will crater any day now, right?
 
2014-02-27 09:00:12 PM
Wow... They Saloned the shiat out of that article.
 
2014-02-27 09:13:16 PM
So they track the workers movements down to 1800s level. Just shy of making knowing the time illegal.

Anything else?
 
2014-02-27 09:17:19 PM
will amazon distro center employees be happy or sad when 80% of them are replaced by robots over the next few years?
 
2014-02-27 09:20:40 PM

fusillade762: But in Germany Amazon has to deal with work councils (Betriebsrat); a powerful union, the United Services Union (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, or Ver.Di), with 2.2 million members; and high officials of the federal and state governments more closely aligned with labor than their counterparts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

I'm sure Germany's economy will crater any day now, right?


They've been growing 1-2% for the last little bit, and their unemployment is quite low (though FWIW, I've heard that they've been cheating with the equivalent of 0-hour contracts).  As far as Continental Europe is concerned, this is quite good.

Long-term, they're farked if they can't bring that up to 3-4% because we'll just outgrow them.

For now, they'll be OK as soon as they stop their green energy policies whose net effect has been to INCREASE coal usage.
 
2014-02-27 09:52:50 PM
Slackers.
 
2014-02-27 10:03:55 PM
Looks like this is referring to the warehouse flunkies, not corporate HQ.

Amazon's put over 10,000 well paying jobs right into downtown Seattle, and is currently building out their corporate HQ.
 
2014-02-27 10:09:03 PM
On July 25, with temperatures in the depot reaching 110 degrees, a security guard reported to OSHA that Amazon was refusing to open garage doors to help air circulate and that he had seen two pregnant women taken to a nursing station. Calls to the local ambulance service became so frequent that for five hot days in June and July, ambulances and paramedics were stationed all day at the depot. Commenting on these developments, Vickie Mortimer, general manager of the warehouse, insisted that "the safety and welfare of our employees is our number-one priority at Amazon, and as general manager I take that responsibility seriously." To this end, "Amazon brought 2,000 cooling bandannas which were given to every employee, and those in the dock/trailer yard received cooling vests."

Hehehe I can't stop laughing at that quote.  He should have added "But we sure as Hell aren't going to open the garage doors to give them any fresh air. They might steal sh*t"
 
2014-02-27 10:43:28 PM

Walker: Hehehe I can't stop laughing at that quote.  He should have added "But we sure as Hell aren't going to open the garage doors to give them any fresh air. They might steal sh*t"


I was a warehouse worker for a large mail order company back in the day - it's not about employees stealing shiat.  Hell, the article even points out they are tracking the workers down to the second.  It's about other people walking in and stealing shiat at unattended truck bays.  If you have a dock that can accommodate 30 trucks and you only have two trucks there, leaving an extra 28 doors open is just asking for shiat to walk out the door.  Obviously, the line from the products to the trucks is pretty direct in a warehouse interested in getting products out the door with lightning speed.

Still, and this was back in the 80's, even during the summer they had these massive wall fans to move air through the warehouse.  I seriously doubt it was as big as an Amazon warehouse, but I don't see why they can't manage the same thing.  I mean, these things probably had 8 foot diameter blades, and louvers that would open when they were turned on.  It was still hot, but the internal breeze was enough to blow your hair in whatever direction the airflow was going.  It wasn't air-conditioning, but it was good enough.
 
2014-02-27 10:53:21 PM
But please buy my book, on sale at Amazon.
 
2014-02-27 10:57:43 PM
It's hard to know when you read articles like this if the horror stories are representative or isolated. The issue with the heat, for example, could have been the result of a poor management team at one warehouse and not representative of the rest of the warehouses.

With Wal-Mart, the misery is very consumer-facing. With warehouses (as with manufacturing), the misery tends to be known to the workforce, but not the broader community.
 
2014-02-27 11:04:43 PM
Wow, thanks for the reminder.  I forgot to track my order this morning.  Just shipped at 5 pm today :-)

/seriously, I've heard this story before and had some not so fun experiences.
//STILL BETTER THAN E-BAY/PAYPAL!
 
2014-02-27 11:08:48 PM

the801: will amazon distro center employees be happy or sad when 80% of them are replaced by robots over the next few years?


They'll have time to pursue their interests... like food and water
 
2014-02-27 11:11:19 PM
Is it wrong that I got half a stalk reading that?

So the conditions are demoralizing.  Replace them with robots and see if they like it better.  I've worked crappy jobs where I was on my feet for hours at a time.  I worked in buildings with no heat, AC, or even insulation.  I've worked outside with no building at all.  I honed my skills, gained experience, and got better jobs.  If you're working a packing job in a warehouse for more than a few years, who's fault is that?

/flame suit on
 
2014-02-27 11:13:44 PM
phhh

what they do to developers is far, far worse.
 
2014-02-27 11:16:20 PM

meyerkev: Long-term, they're farked if they can't bring that up to 3-4% because we'll just outgrow them.


Can't get the translation to 'farked' figured out. Seriously, fark the growth fetish right in its ear.

jtown: I honed my skills, gained experience, and got better jobs.  If you're working a packing job in a warehouse


There are no skills to hone or experience to gain in an Amazon warehouse or a Walmart floor job.  Nor do they want you to gain any skills or experience (that == turnover).
 
2014-02-27 11:22:11 PM
CSB...

I used to sell to manufacturing companies in The US. I have been in some gnarly plants - heat, chemicaps, dangerous working conditions... Brutal stuff.

It was 'wicked hot' one day in one warehouse? A company demands optimal performance for money paid in the form of wages? The horror!

This Amazon hate is pretty silly. As a $60 BN company, if conditions were really that bad, I would expect a bit more outrage and public awareness beyond some blogger with a hair across their ass.
 
2014-02-27 11:24:58 PM

Lawnchair: meyerkev: Long-term, they're farked if they can't bring that up to 3-4% because we'll just outgrow them.

Can't get the translation to 'farked' figured out. Seriously, fark the growth fetish right in its ear.

jtown: I honed my skills, gained experience, and got better jobs.  If you're working a packing job in a warehouse

There are no skills to hone or experience to gain in an Amazon warehouse or a Walmart floor job.  Nor do they want you to gain any skills or experience (that == turnover).


If only there were schools and education available to people outside of working hours.  I sure as Hell didn't climb up the pay scale with my manual labor skills.  It's quite possible to do Thing A to pay the rent while learning how to do Thing B to improve your future.
 
2014-02-27 11:29:35 PM
Hello those in the ivory tower. This is how it is and has been for most of us you farking morons.
 
2014-02-27 11:32:11 PM
lol red state poors.

America's own third world.
 
2014-02-27 11:34:13 PM

mrlewish: Hello those in the ivory tower. This is how it is and has been for most of us you farking morons.


Some of us left red state inbred jesus lovin parts of the country and moved to where the godless sinners and repobate wenches earn 3, 4x the wages.

keep effin the chicken out there in the middle of BFE though. The out-yonders are what make the tech-mecca boomtowns keep booming.

your dollars pay my scotch club membership. Thank you!
 
2014-02-27 11:34:49 PM

Lsherm: Walker: Hehehe I can't stop laughing at that quote.  He should have added "But we sure as Hell aren't going to open the garage doors to give them any fresh air. They might steal sh*t"

I was a warehouse worker for a large mail order company back in the day - it's not about employees stealing shiat.  Hell, the article even points out they are tracking the workers down to the second.  It's about other people walking in and stealing shiat at unattended truck bays.  If you have a dock that can accommodate 30 trucks and you only have two trucks there, leaving an extra 28 doors open is just asking for shiat to walk out the door.  Obviously, the line from the products to the trucks is pretty direct in a warehouse interested in getting products out the door with lightning speed.

Still, and this was back in the 80's, even during the summer they had these massive wall fans to move air through the warehouse.  I seriously doubt it was as big as an Amazon warehouse, but I don't see why they can't manage the same thing.  I mean, these things probably had 8 foot diameter blades, and louvers that would open when they were turned on.  It was still hot, but the internal breeze was enough to blow your hair in whatever direction the airflow was going.  It wasn't air-conditioning, but it was good enough.


I worked for UPS in the 90's, and unloaded trucks for a solid 5 hours a day (hey, that was a full-time day there for warehouse/hub jobs). During the summer they didn't care if loading dock doors were left open for extra circulation, they actually encouraged it. There was no worry of someone else coming in and stealing crap from the open bays because the area, like the few amazon warehouses I've seen, is a closed site. Trucks have to go through security checks/gates to get onto the property, and almost all actual docking of trailers is done by yard trucks, not the over-the-road semi's. Even then, all docking was completely supervised.

In short, If amazon values efficiency and time management that much, I highly doubt that external theft through their loading doors would be a real concern, as even that would be a well-controlled and choreographed procedure. The theft concern angle is bullshiat.
 
2014-02-27 11:37:18 PM
I engineer/build/sell automotive components.   Amazon approached me a few months ago about selling thru their website.  After consulting with my father I refused, evidently they have quite the rep for late paying and beating down suppliers.

I do buy quite a bit from them though, trying to sort that out.
 
2014-02-27 11:37:37 PM

Angela Lansbury's Merkin: Meh, my sister works in one of their warehouses and likes it.


She must not have a problem with working, too many people stuck in warehouse environments are lazy or potheads who like to slack off.

And in America you are not allowed to have a workers council or any kind of representation group without joining a union which is a bullshiat law. A group of employees should be able to have their own concerns and bring them to management without having to pay a union. But they got their law passed to monopolize worker representation so they always get a cut when people want to organize against any bad management.
 
2014-02-27 11:43:22 PM
Back in the late the late 90's when Amazon first opened its warehouse in Newark DE, they would only hire college students or grads for pick and packing orders.  I thought the whole point of going to college was so you wouldn't have to work in a warehouse.  Anyway, they eventually dropped the college education criteria for fulfillment center work when they realized most college kids could get work at MBNA for better pay and comfortable work environment.
 
2014-02-27 11:44:58 PM
I worked in one of the better factories in Eastern PA. for 7 years and during that time it was bought out once by a European Company. Representatives from that company spent the week checking out the facilities and after referred to it as "The sweat shop". This article told me nothing new.
 
2014-02-27 11:49:09 PM

mrlewish: Hello those in the ivory tower. This is how it is and has been for most of us you farking morons.


Ha ha! Get a skill set and a better job.
 
2014-02-27 11:51:27 PM
I don't want to take a stance on Amazon's policies, but "fulfillment centers" sounds like something a third world country would name their re-education camps.  If you were watching a sci-fi movie and an evil empire threatened to send the heroes to something called a "fulfillment center," you would roll your eyes and wonder if they'll meet Warden Badguy at the fulfillment center.  Who in their right mind thought that was a good name for warehouses?
 
2014-02-28 12:02:31 AM
But enough about people that work on AWS...
 
2014-02-28 12:05:44 AM
So you are trying to turn the workers into robots?

If a company is willing to invest millions of dollars, they could easily replace skilled labor at warehouses with robots.  In 10 to 20 years it will happen.

At one of the nearby distribution centers for a retail chain, they couldn't find anyone to work, until they recently raised the starting wages
 
2014-02-28 12:22:54 AM

llortcM_yllort: Who in their right mind thought that was a good name for warehouses?


I'm going with the decades-old practice of calling the packaging and delivery of orders "fulfillment" of the orders.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_fulfillment
 
2014-02-28 12:30:07 AM
The reason I order from them is that they ship their crap so quickly.  Do you want to be out of a job because you can't move boxes, or do you want to be out of a job because everybody orders from WalmartOnline instead of Amazon?  If your life skills peak at taking something from one place and putting it in another place, you should not complain.  Cats can do that.  Two-year-olds can do that.
 
2014-02-28 12:52:37 AM

meyerkev: fusillade762: But in Germany Amazon has to deal with work councils (Betriebsrat); a powerful union, the United Services Union (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, or Ver.Di), with 2.2 million members; and high officials of the federal and state governments more closely aligned with labor than their counterparts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

I'm sure Germany's economy will crater any day now, right?

They've been growing 1-2% for the last little bit, and their unemployment is quite low (though FWIW, I've heard that they've been cheating with the equivalent of 0-hour contracts).  As far as Continental Europe is concerned, this is quite good.

Long-term, they're farked if they can't bring that up to 3-4% because we'll just outgrow them.

For now, they'll be OK as soon as they stop their green energy policies whose net effect has been to INCREASE coal usage.


I've been thinking about this and studying up on people all over the globe.  I don't think the poorest are trying to edge the next country out for bragging rights as much as they are for bringing some level of comfort to their fellow countrymen.

It's fascinating how Germany thrives while a number of her natives gasp for air.  They must be doing something right.
 
2014-02-28 01:10:04 AM
My sister worked in one of those places.  If I understand correctly, there was loads of security since they had originals of movies and actually copied them on demand to fill orders.  Warehouse doors were kept shut to help with security, so it was damn hot there.  Anyway, she told me that during a performance review there were negative comments, and she said there was no way she could meet the expectations, so she quit right there.  Her reviewer dropped his head and said he was now screwed.  She thinks he had to give her a bad review to keep her from getting a raise.
 
2014-02-28 01:27:46 AM
fark Bezos and fark Amazon. Bleed us and dry and find another place to siphon from once you now longer make Seattle the cool place to reside.
 
2014-02-28 01:42:54 AM

llortcM_yllort: I don't want to take a stance on Amazon's policies, but "fulfillment centers" sounds like something a third world country would name their re-education camps.  If you were watching a sci-fi movie and an evil empire threatened to send the heroes to something called a "fulfillment center," you would roll your eyes and wonder if they'll meet Warden Badguy at the fulfillment center.  Who in their right mind thought that was a good name for warehouses?


In the industry jargon, 'fulfillment' is the process of combining multiple items into a single shipment that can be sent to the customer, and then getting it out the door. Warehousing is the medium to long-term storage of items. Warehouses and fufillment centers are two different things (though they might be co-located in the same building, or for certain products might be the exact same operation).

If Amazon stockpiles 10,000 XBoxes for Christmas 3 months away, that is warehousing. The process of getting a customer order, packing together and shipping their order of a single XBox, controller, and videogame is fulfillment. The warehouses exist to keep the fulfillment centers stocked, the fulfillment centers exist to execute customer orders. The former is designed to store goods cheaply, while the latter is designed to let workers combine orders as efficiently as possible.
 
2014-02-28 02:04:52 AM

ko_kyi: llortcM_yllort: Who in their right mind thought that was a good name for warehouses?

I'm going with the decades-old practice of calling the packaging and delivery of orders "fulfillment" of the orders.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_fulfillment


Fubini: llortcM_yllort: I don't want to take a stance on Amazon's policies, but "fulfillment centers" sounds like something a third world country would name their re-education camps.  If you were watching a sci-fi movie and an evil empire threatened to send the heroes to something called a "fulfillment center," you would roll your eyes and wonder if they'll meet Warden Badguy at the fulfillment center.  Who in their right mind thought that was a good name for warehouses?

In the industry jargon, 'fulfillment' is the process of combining multiple items into a single shipment that can be sent to the customer, and then getting it out the door. Warehousing is the medium to long-term storage of items. Warehouses and fufillment centers are two different things (though they might be co-located in the same building, or for certain products might be the exact same operation).

If Amazon stockpiles 10,000 XBoxes for Christmas 3 months away, that is warehousing. The process of getting a customer order, packing together and shipping their order of a single XBox, controller, and videogame is fulfillment. The warehouses exist to keep the fulfillment centers stocked, the fulfillment centers exist to execute customer orders. The former is designed to store goods cheaply, while the latter is designed to let workers combine orders as efficiently as possible.


Huh.  The more you know.

/Admittedly, I probably should have already known that.  Oops I feel dumb.
 
2014-02-28 02:08:40 AM

Lawnchair: meyerkev: Long-term, they're farked if they can't bring that up to 3-4% because we'll just outgrow them.


Can't get the translation to 'farked' figured out. Seriously, fark the growth fetish right in its ear.


Start at 100.

Wait a century.

1% growth = 278
2% growth = 738
3% growth = 2008
4% growth = 5459
...
7% growth = 109663

That's why we have a growth fetish.  Give me an extra percent for a century and I'll be 3x as rich as you.

2.bp.blogspot.com

Do that for long enough and NOTHING else matters.  I don't care if our/their wages track productivity or not.  Nothing.  Else.  Matters.

Seriously, if you want to see what happens when 1 region outgrows another, go look at Europe vs. the Ottoman Empire.  Pre-Malta, the Ottomans threatened Europe, crushed the Byzantines, and bestrode the Earth.  After Malta and Lepanto, they were tied.  After Vienna, they could never threaten Europe again, and by 1800, only another European country could dig another European country out of Europe (Battle of the Nile).  It took 3 centuries to get from the fall of Constantinople to the sick man of Europe.

Europe vs. China
4 US ships vs. entire Tokugawa Shogunate.
US having a higher GDP than the entire Axis combined after merely being a thumb on the scales during WW1.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_production_during_World_War_II
US military budget DROPPING throughout the entire Cold War until the Reagan military expansion was 8% of GDP, or about 2/3rds of a standard 1950's budget.
The utter poverty of the Arab world because they've had a 0% growth rate since about 1960 or so.

On a long enough scale, growth is all that matters.  GDP if you can get it, GDP/capita if you can't.

US GDP was $2 Trillion in 1950, US GDP is a little less than $16 Trillion today.  Which means that our military budget, larger than the next N nations combined, is ~4% of GDP.  That's pocket change.  We overpower the entire world with pocket change.  And the ~$2 Trillion that we spend on various transfer payments and tax credits is only another 12%.  And since you only GET 19% of GDP in taxes (and that's shockingly constant), the best way to get more money for government programs is to grow hard, grow fast.  Otherwise, you get to make some hard choices.  Like every European country being totally broke to some degree* because elder-care states and demographic transitions do NOT go well together.

Seriously though, If we ever get a time machine, I really want to go back and tell some moderately high-ranking British officer that we basically ruled the world on 4-5% of GDP (During the 90's, it was 3.4%, and I *think* we hit 5.5% at one point during Iraq) just to watch the heart attack.

And besides, if you grow faster enough for long enough, you get into this weird state where your "desperately poor" is better than their average.  Faster Growth won us the Cold War in just that manner. And if Europe doesn't start growing soon, their elder-care policies will send them bankrupt and then their best and brightest will all come here to avoid getting taxed back to the Stone Age.

Germany *seems* to average about 1-2%.
USA *seems* to average about 3-4%.
And in turn, China's been averaging about 8%, but they're basically Japan in 1988 except with MUCH worse demographic and environmental issues and absolutely fark-all in the way of innovation, so if they can average 4% for the next 20 years, I'd be amazed.  Like I really want to see how they do it.

Over a long-enough time frame, if this continues, all those right-wing articles about Europe just not mattering any more (fine examples from turn of the millennium  here, here and here , and honestly here) will become true.  They won't have the economy, they won't be generating much tech, and too much of what economy they have will be tied up in the welfare and elder-care states to really let them generate that hard power that lets the USA be so stupidly dominant today.

*USA too, but the USA has much lower taxes to begin with, and is still actually attracting immigrants who then turn around and have lots of kids, who then turn around and pay taxes.  It's not the Hispanics who will overrun this country, it's the really bright Asians.  And I'm OK with that.  Because Asian chicks are hot.
 
2014-02-28 02:12:22 AM

msupf: Lsherm: Walker: Hehehe I can't stop laughing at that quote.  He should have added "But we sure as Hell aren't going to open the garage doors to give them any fresh air. They might steal sh*t"

I was a warehouse worker for a large mail order company back in the day - it's not about employees stealing shiat.  Hell, the article even points out they are tracking the workers down to the second.  It's about other people walking in and stealing shiat at unattended truck bays.  If you have a dock that can accommodate 30 trucks and you only have two trucks there, leaving an extra 28 doors open is just asking for shiat to walk out the door.  Obviously, the line from the products to the trucks is pretty direct in a warehouse interested in getting products out the door with lightning speed.

Still, and this was back in the 80's, even during the summer they had these massive wall fans to move air through the warehouse.  I seriously doubt it was as big as an Amazon warehouse, but I don't see why they can't manage the same thing.  I mean, these things probably had 8 foot diameter blades, and louvers that would open when they were turned on.  It was still hot, but the internal breeze was enough to blow your hair in whatever direction the airflow was going.  It wasn't air-conditioning, but it was good enough.

I worked for UPS in the 90's, and unloaded trucks for a solid 5 hours a day (hey, that was a full-time day there for warehouse/hub jobs). During the summer they didn't care if loading dock doors were left open for extra circulation, they actually encouraged it. There was no worry of someone else coming in and stealing crap from the open bays because the area, like the few amazon warehouses I've seen, is a closed site. Trucks have to go through security checks/gates to get onto the property, and almost all actual docking of trailers is done by yard trucks, not the over-the-road semi's. Even then, all docking was completely supervised.

In short, If amazon values efficiency and ...


You worked for UPS at a hub in the 90's.  I worked for a mail order company in the 80's.  Neither one of us knows how an Amazon warehouse is laid out.

I'm suggesting they might need to keep the drive bays closed unless they aren't being used, but that they can provide better ventilation for their warehouses.
 
2014-02-28 02:16:21 AM

meyerkev: Seriously though, If we ever get a time machine, I really want to go back and tell some moderately high-ranking British officer that we basically ruled the world on 4-5% of GDP (During the 90's, it was 3.4%, and I *think* we hit 5.5% at one point during Iraq) just to watch the heart attack.


Or not.

Wiki says they were spending 40 Million pounds on the empire in 1897, or 2.5% of GNP.

So I went to the official bank of england inflation calculator and it popped out 4.4 Trillion pounds.  Which is $7.3 Trillion.

Damn.
 
2014-02-28 02:43:24 AM

Generation_D: Looks like this is referring to the warehouse flunkies, not corporate HQ.

Amazon's put over 10,000 well paying jobs right into downtown Seattle, and is currently building out their corporate HQ.


It refers to the ones who work all day, not the ones sitting in their offices in WA all day smoking a doobie, figuring out the next new method to screw the productive people in the warehouse.
 
2014-02-28 02:53:41 AM

syrynxx: The reason I order from them is that they ship their crap so quickly.  Do you want to be out of a job because you can't move boxes, or do you want to be out of a job because everybody orders from WalmartOnline instead of Amazon?  If your life skills peak at taking something from one place and putting it in another place, you should not complain.  Cats can do that.  Two-year-olds can do that.


If you see someone moving too fast at the warehouse trip them until their times come down into the average of the group.
 
2014-02-28 03:21:52 AM
As a marketplace dealer, they don't give two farks about me either.
 
2014-02-28 03:42:24 AM

meyerkev: Lawnchair: meyerkev: Long-term, they're farked if they can't bring that up to 3-4% because we'll just outgrow them.


Can't get the translation to 'farked' figured out. Seriously, fark the growth fetish right in its ear.

Start at 100.

Wait a century.

1% growth = 278
2% growth = 738
3% growth = 2008
4% growth = 5459
...
7% growth = 109663

That's why we have a growth fetish.  Give me an extra percent for a century and I'll be 3x as rich as you.



Do that for long enough and NOTHING else matters.  I don't care if our/their wages track productivity or not.  Nothing.  Else.  Matters.

Seriously, if you want to see what happens when 1 region outgrows another, go look at Europe vs. the Ottoman Empire.  Pre-Malta, the Ottomans threatened Europe, crushed the Byzantines, and bestrode the Earth.  After Malta and Lepanto, they were tied.  After Vienna, they could never threaten Europe again, and by 1800, only another European country could dig another European country out of Europe (Battle of the Nile).  It took 3 centuries to get from the fall of Constantinople to the sick man of Europe.

Europe vs. China
4 US ships vs. entire Tokugawa Shogunate.
US having a higher GDP than the entire Axis combined after merely being a thumb on the scales during WW1.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_production_during_World_War_II
US military budget DROPPING throughout the entire Cold War until the Reagan military expansion was 8% of GDP, or about 2/3rds of a standard 1950's budget.
The utter poverty of the Arab world because they've had a 0% growth rate since about 1960 or so.

On a long enough scale, growth is all that matters.  GDP if you can get it, GDP/capita if you can't.

US GDP was $2 Trillion in 1950, US GDP is a little less than $16 Trillion today.  Which means that our military budget, larger than the next N nations combined, is ~4% of GDP.  That's pocket change.  We overpower the entire world with pocket change.  And the ~$2 Trillion that we spend on various transfer payments and tax credits is only another 12%.  And since you only GET 19% of GDP in taxes (and that's shockingly constant), the best way to get more money for government programs is to grow hard, grow fast.  Otherwise, you get to make some hard choices.  Like every European country being totally broke to some degree* because elder-care states and demographic transitions do NOT go well together.

Seriously though, If we ever get a time machine, I really want to go back and tell some moderately high-ranking British officer that we basically ruled the world on 4-5% of GDP (During the 90's, it was 3.4%, and I *think* we hit 5.5% at one point during Iraq) just to watch the heart attack.

And besides, if you grow faster enough for long enough, you get into this weird state where your "desperately poor" is better than their average.  Faster Growth won us the Cold War in just that manner. And if Europe doesn't start growing soon, their elder-care policies will send them bankrupt and then their best and brightest will all come here to avoid getting taxed back to the Stone Age.

Germany *seems* to average about 1-2%.
USA *seems* to average about 3-4%.
And in turn, China's been averaging about 8%, but they're basically Japan in 1988 except with MUCH worse demographic and environmental issues and absolutely fark-all in the way of innovation, so if they can average 4% for the next 20 years, I'd be amazed.  Like I really want to see how they do it.

Over a long-enough time frame, if this continues, all those right-wing articles about Europe just not mattering any more (fine examples from turn of the millennium  here, here and here , and honestly here) will become true.  They won't have the economy, they won't be generating much tech, and too much of what economy they have will be tied up in the welfare and elder-care states to really let them generate that hard power that lets the USA be so stupidly dominant today.

*USA too, but the USA has much lower taxes to begin with, and is still actually attracting immigrants who then turn around and have lots of kids, who then turn around and pay taxes.  It's not the Hispanics who will overrun this country, it's the really bright Asians.  And I'm OK with that.  Because Asian chicks are hot.


The main take away from this is no matter what happens throughout history, you can take all the stats and figures you want, but when it all comes down to the fact that victory comes from thinking with your dick.
 
2014-02-28 04:35:59 AM
FTA: "...at other times higher targets for output were simply proclaimed by management, in the manner of the Soviet workplace during the Stalin era."

THERE!!! Now do you see the evils of capitalism? We need the government to take over and own the means of production to prevent this!!!
 
2014-02-28 04:41:08 AM

Lawnchair: There are no skills to hone or experience to gain in an Amazon warehouse or a Walmart floor job.  Nor do they want you to gain any skills or experience (that == turnover).


You can learn to show up on time and work hard. Those skills have gotten me much farther than my two college degrees.
 
2014-02-28 06:18:10 AM
I wonder if part of their "custom centric" beliefs they would consider that making the customer feel bad/guilty for buying from them because of their employment practices isn't particularly customer friendly, unless they either think all their customers are amoral and intensely selfish, or that they could successfully hide their behaviour forever.
 
2014-02-28 06:34:09 AM
Still beats going to Best Buy, amirite?
 
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