From her house in Widnes, beside the river Mersey, Mereli McInerney is working for companies in Dubai, Lithuania and London.
She drafts joint-venture agreements, sets up human resources procedures and guides people through employment tribunals. Some days, if she is feeling unwell – she is diabetic and suffers from fibromyalgia, which can cause chronic pain – she works in her pyjamas.
“The beauty of working from home is, if I’m having a bad day, I can get myself on the sofa, with a few cups of coffee and my laptop and my phone, and work away all day,” says the 50-year-old.
Ms McInerney is one of a growing number of older people who are changing the face of Britain’s labour market by choosing to work for themselves.
Hotel customers tolerate these marked-up amenities because they generally aren’t very interested in driving a hard bargain. The business traveler is likely to feel that he “needs” appropriately located accommodations and isn’t going to be interested in exhaustive research about the costs and benefits of staying someplace cheaper and more remote. What’s more, he’s generally not paying out of pocket. A responsible employee will of course try to be reasonably frugal, but even so frugality is benchmarked to local costs. That encourages a market that’s biased toward higher price points. The existence of premium business travelers who can fully pass on costs on to clients (think fancy lawyers and consultants) further pushes the market up. What’s more, even when people do pay for their own work travel, the cost is tax deductible. If a journalist travels for a freelance assignment or speaking engagement, it makes sense to take extra consumption in the form of staying in a nicer hotel with pre-tax dollars than to spend after-tax dollars at home.
Tourists may be more frugal. But even so, for many vacationers (especially in America) time is in shorter supply than money, so it makes sense to invest extra money in ensuring that the time is well spent.
Now that Obama rather than Romney won, such rules will be developed “at a more leisurely pace”. Despite Obama’s suggestion that it might be good if even he had some legal framework in which to operate, he’s been in no rush to subject himself to any such rules in four full years of killing thousands of people. This makes it safe to assume that by “a more leisurely pace”, this anonymous Obama official means: “never”.
There are many important points raised by this report: Kevin Gosztola and Marcy Wheeler, among others, have done their typically excellent job of discussing some of them, while this Guardian article from Sunday reports on the reaction of the ACLU and others to the typical Obama manipulation of secrecy powers on display here (as usual, these matters are too secret to permit any FOIA disclosure or judicial scrutiny, but Obama officials are free to selectively leak what they want us to know to the front page of the New York Times). I want to focus on one key point highlighted by all of this:
Democratic Party benevolence
The hubris and self-regard driving this is stunning – but also quite typical of Democratic thinking generally in the Obama era. The premise here is as self-evident as it is repellent:
The global manufacturing sector has undergone a tumultuous decade: large developing economies leaped into the first tier of manufacturing nations, a severe recession choked off demand, and manufacturing employment fell at an accelerated rate in advanced economies. Still, manufacturing remains critically important to both the developing and the advanced world. In the former, it continues to provide a pathway from subsistence agriculture to rising incomes and living standards. In the latter, it remains a vital source of innovation and competitiveness, making outsized contributions to research and development, exports, and productivity growth. But the manufacturing sector has changed—bringing both opportunities and challenges—and neither business leaders nor policy makers can rely on old responses in the new manufacturing environment.
Manufacturing the future: The next era of global growth and innovation, a major report from the McKinsey Global Institute, presents a clear view of how manufacturing contributes to the global economy today and how it will probably evolve over the coming decade. Our findings include the following points: