Lawyers and the Economic Red Shift

Dalton Conley, a sociologist at NYU, has an op-ed in today’s New York Times arguing that something novel has happened to the life of leisure: it isn’t very leisurely anymore. “[I]t is now the rich who are the most stressed out and the most likely to be working the most. Perhaps for the first time since we’ve kept track of such things, higher-income folks work more hours than lower-wage earners do.”

Conley hypothesizes that this intriguing development is the result of greater disparity in incomes at the top end of the scale — what he calls an “economic red shift.” That is, the richer you are, the faster people at the wealth level just above you seem to be pulling away. Combine that with the fact that people usually define their socioeconomic status in relative terms — i.e., how they compare to the Joneses — and you have an explanation for why hours increase with income. Or, as Conley puts it, at higher income levels, “the opportunity cost of not working is all the greater ( … since the higher we go, the more relatively deprived we feel).”

Continue ReadingLawyers and the Economic Red Shift

Can A Worker Get a Break?

Boss_button

Cross Posted on: Workplace Prof Blog

Apparently, they should not expect one in 2009 (or maybe not in this lifetime).

MSNBC (via AP) reports:

U.S. workers can expect skimpy raises in their base salaries next year, but top performers may still fatten their paychecks with merit compensation.

A study released Tuesday by Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting firm, found base pay will rise by 3.8 percent in 2009, marking the seventh consecutive year of flat growth.

One-time performance-based pay, however, is expected to grow by 10.6 percent. That’s down slightly from 10.8 percent this year and 11.8 percent in 2007.

Great. On our way to more pay inequality in this country and to a place where workers will have to wait longer before being able to afford retirement (Yahoo! News via AP):

Continue ReadingCan A Worker Get a Break?

A Galling Case in the Seventh Circuit

The Seventh Circuit has an interesting new sentencing decision, United States v. Carter, which nicely illustrates the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Gall v. United States.  Robert Carter, the husband of defendant Virginia Carter, embezzled money from his insurance business over several years.  There is no indication that Virgina Carter participated in the embezzlement, but she likely had some knowledge of what was going on.  Eventually, for reasons that are unclear, she sought a divorce.  Following the advice of her lawyer, who did not know that much of the family income was illegal, Carter attempted to take control of the couple’s liquid assets by transferring them into her own individual bank accounts.  Normally, this would be a sound tactical move in a divorce setting, but, by virtue of the criminal origin of the assets, Carter thereby became a money launderer.  Following conviction, she faced a recommended sentence of 87-108 months in prison under the federal sentencing guidelines.

Continue ReadingA Galling Case in the Seventh Circuit