Why Stability of Income is More Important than Quantity

I am going to make an assertion that flies in the face of what currently goes for american ‘common’ sense.

Stability of income is significantly more important than its quantity.

To put it another way, a person with a mediocre but very stable income will have a very different world view and lifestyle from someone who makes significantly more (income) but from an unstable source. Let us be clear about a few things- upfront. The mediocre, but stable income, must be enough for a person to meaningfully engage in civil society. So welfare, social security, life behind bars etc does not count as mediocre, but stable, income or livelihoods.

But why is the stability of an income source more important than its size?

Conventional explanations for this phenomena usually take the form of some bullshit about ‘future time orientation’. However any and all such explanations are full of shit because they do not factor in the most important factor concerning the income stream of most people.

The vast majority of people don’t write their own paycheck!

Therefore income stability is not linked to some bullshit ‘race-realist’ drivel, ‘STEM’ jobs or education but to something far more fundamental, trans-cultural and trans-racial. All reasons invoked by CONservatives or LIEbertarians fall flat because they cannot explain why a willing, competent and otherwise reasonable person cannot get a reasonably stable job, which in the current system is the major source of income for most people. A society that cannot provide income (jobs) or any other alternate means of a humane sustenance has failed a very basic test- it has removed all rational reasons for the affected person to participate in that society other than to main, cripple, torture and kill other members of that society.

Income stability is therefore a very good proxy for the health of the ‘social contract’ in any given society.

The problems caused by an unstable income stream are however even more expansive in nature- for they not only reflect a broken social contract but cause a variety of responses which ultimately doom that society. Let me explain-

Take 2 men, person A and person B. Imagine that person A makes 50k/year in a somewhat monotonous, but very stable, 40 hours/week job. Person B makes 80-90k/year but in a unstable industry where job changes, frequent moves and prolonged unemployment between jobs is common. Moreover the industry in which person B works discriminates against older workers. Now put yourself in both their shoes and imagine how you would live, act and see the world around you.

Even though person A makes less than person B, he is reasonably sure where his next paycheck, his next year’s paychecks and even the next decade’s paychecks are going to come from. He can therefore plan his life around that rhythm and develop relationships, buy stuff and be generally involved in the society around him. In contrast, person B is spending most of his time looking for the next job, trying to get information about the latest round of layoffs and spending his time just trying to keep up. Because of the frequent layoffs, firings, moves etc he has no interest in developing relationships and is very cynical about human beings and society in general. To make a long story short- person B won’t invest in or care about preserving society because he has no stake in its stability and well being.

Under reasonably stable conditions, both A and B will act ‘normal’. The fun begins once the overall system becomes more stressed and unstable. While person A will try to stabilize the system and cooperate with others who want to do so, person B will take that a cue to explode, bail out, withdraw or join an ideology that promises a fair share of the loot to its followers. It really comes down to whether there are enough person As to stop person Bs from capsizing a stressed socio-economic system.

The astute reader will note that income streams which created person As were the the norm in post-ww2 period. However the silent neo-liberal/neo-conservative revolution of the 1980s have put an increasing number of people in the person B situation (if they are lucky). It all appeared to work OK till the mid-1990s, when a significant number of people born of person As realized that they had no choice but to become person Bs. I would go so far as to say that most people born after 1970 are person Bs.

However the real impact of their rising numbers requires reduction in the number of person As in the working age group and a series of serious socio-economic crises which test the system. As some of you might have realized we are entering, or have already entered, that situation.

My prediction is that every honest or crooked attempt to stabilize and calm the system will paradoxically make it worse, because our ideas about pacifying people are meant to work on person A, not person B.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. November 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    so it seems like you are asking for unionization/New Deal type stuff-the oldschool social contract where as long as you did a good job and the company didn’t go bankrupt, there was still a place for you.

    I agree about person b, I hate my job and the people I work with. Don’t care if it ends tomorrow. Rent a cheap crappy place, keep a little extras in the bank, keep my credit cards clean if I have an emergency situation. Probably a similar situation to your beloved whores…. Hoping you finish quick and the next guy doesn’t smell as bad as you… hahaha, I keep my clothes on but I’m just every bit as exploited if not more. Of course the Feminazi’s and Liberals don’t see it that way–I’m a cog that pays taxes for their crappy programs and I’m just as disposable to them as a fuckin’ jarhead in shithole Iraq.

    The past cannot be restored, but the status quo is untenable.

  2. commonwealth contrarian
    November 26, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    The British philosopher John Gray says most people today are affluent proles.That is, they live well most of the time, but live their lives like itinerant labourers rahter than traditional middle class professionals. The flexible job market certainly has a distructive effect on families (more divorces and lower birth rates) but I’m not sure what the solution is.

    Today’s post industrial society just doesn’t seem to produce enough steady full-time jobs.

  3. Matt Strictland
    November 27, 2011 at 12:10 am

    commonwealth contrarian :
    The British philosopher John Gray says most people today are affluent proles.That is, they live well most of the time, but live their lives like itinerant labourers rahter than traditional middle class professionals. The flexible job market certainly has a distructive effect on families (more divorces and lower birth rates) but I’m not sure what the solution is.
    Today’s post industrial society just doesn’t seem to produce enough steady full-time jobs.

    It probably can’t be fixed as internal issues within US society will probably kill it. The US is overdo for a race war or a dictatorship and we may well not survive that.

    However in theory social credit could do the job.

    Basically the state cuts everyone a check. The trick here is that this has to be fiat money, not taxed, the social fabric won’t support more than about 20% GDP (so called Hauser’s Law) you mint the needed 3 trillion each year and hand it out.

    The thing is it also requires fairly heavy economic controls, capital controls and a host of rather repressive economic measures (i.e CIA assassination if needed) to check the lunatic economic liberals and keep them from waging economic warfare on the civilization.

    On top of that immigration, race, class and other issue must be discussed openly and honestly without rancor. I have trouble imagining any reasonable situation in which any of thats even possible.

    The fact is while cutting people a check works, probably a quarter of the Urban population of the US is so disconnected from work and proper social functioning as to be a menace. Because this class is largely Black and Hispanic , its complicated.

    Basically to work you need comity and thats not gonna happen.

    Alternately the US could split up ala the Soviet Union. I can’t see D.C. going for that but say 11 nations could each go their own way. 2 or 3 might be able to pull of social credit. The rest, well not so much

    Best candidates would be some kind of Cascadia (Nor Cal thru Washington) and maybe some kind of Vermont/Maine/ Yankee Commonwealth if they closed borders and did some internal development.

  4. Columnist
    November 27, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Destruction of the family and depressing birthrates is the purpose. A feature, not a bug.

  5. JWRebel
    November 27, 2011 at 6:22 am

    If people find themselves in an irrovacable position, they (can) make peace with it and discover how to be happy. The more everything is up in the air, the unhappier they will be.

    Most people experience society as a machine that grinds up individuals. The constant harping on leaner and meaner, fight for survival, adapting to changing demands, etc. fosters an “it’s either me or you” ethos where people see no rewards in co-operation and feel no responsibility for the lot of their “fellow” travellers. This sort of “society” is unsustainable, except at the most basic Viking level, and even then… Technology ultimately demands vast co-operation.

    The only way to avoid social devolution is some sort of “technological dividend”, so that the distribution of demand can keep apace of the vastly increased powers of production. That, and disagregating corporate structures, so that people can again invest in their own “tribe”.

    The comment about 20% of GDP (Hauser’s law) is without basis: In the USA 45% is spent collectively (at all levels of government), including about 7% for stuff related to the military. In Europe the figure is much higher. The percentage is not determined by quantatative parameters buy by qualitative ones: whether your medical care or garbage pickup or electrical grid/transportation is collective or private makes a big difference for the %GDP, but only qualitative measures determine whether it is sustainable and practical.

  6. jackal
    November 27, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Humans live in an exchange economy, an artificial construct that has been substituting for nature ever since Babylon. In this system, society’s lord is money, and there are no limitations on holy grails, which include all forms of human sacrifice and exploitation. How ironic that a nation that had risked it all to escape absolute rulers imposing the divine right of kings, has come full circle with a ruling class that sits in board rooms, lapped in luxury, having hijacked the political process to rule in European fashion of kingly caprice, its wake a Mad Max wasteland strewn with broken children, adults and families. While humans are subject to the whim of a ruling class, no wild species so far has ever managed to hijack nature.

  7. anonymous
    November 27, 2011 at 11:34 am

    get a government job. Don’t get a STEM job. Or get a government STEM job. Or get a STEM job, making 80-90k/year, and live frugal. With sufficient savings and investment, job stability becomes much less of an issue, and maybe even a benefit.

  8. November 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Yet another pitfall of traditional economics.

    1) Stability is of greater value than total wealth.

    2) Great income disparity leads to jealousy, regardless of total wealth (compared to medieval kings).

    Neither of these are arguments for Keynesianism, of course, but they are gaps that need to be acknowledged; homo economicus only exists in the laboratory.

  9. Jpf
    December 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    It’s worth noting that the very purpose of an income by and large is to obtain stability. At a certain point this is what most people work for, a stable place, a spot to call their own, with some reasonable expectation that tomorrow will not differ too radically from today. This is a comfort zone, and it would be foolish to underestimate it’s sheer human power.

    There are outliers, of course, people who thrive on unpredictability and the lure of a big and yet indefinite future payoff. Outside of business startup types, traders (financial and otherwise), organized criminals, hustlers, and congenital salesmen, the vast majority of people do not favor this.

    It takes all types..

  1. December 4, 2011 at 2:01 am

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