Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Employment Is Only One Part Of The Problem.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | September 10, 2011

No. 710

The President’s Plan, announced on Wednesday night, would most likely boost employment, at least for a while. But jobs created through government incentives won’t last unless there is a market for the goods and services they produce.  And therein resides the catch. Employment is only one variable in a larger equation.  If we ignore the big picture, the flowers we plant today will probably die for lack of adequate watering.

When certain goods and services require a smaller portion of a consumer’s funds, there is money left over to buy something else.  Our standard of living has increased substantially during the Twentieth Century and the past decade because the real cost of food, shelter and most of what we buy has decreased.  That comes about  through productivity.  That means, in part, that labor costs go down.

That is why the drive to “preserve good jobs” is counterproductive in the long run.  Despite our best efforts to preserve a sinecure, the market eventually finds a way to get around it.

The Atlantic recently contained an article that addresses this issue with great clarity.  For some time, the cost of energy, education and health care have been rising rapidly. For the moment, health care increases have slowed, but this may be temporary. Nevertheless, even these negative trends could be be brought under control in the long term through technology.

The charts in this article are very illuminating.  It is worth noting that the second chart (reproduced below) shows that the cost to consumers of professional fees is actually decreasing.  This is due in great measure to increased competition, but there are other factors involved.  Technology has reduced many of the costs of practicing law.  Since the mass introduction of personal computers in the 1980’s, the need for legal secretaries, telephone receptionists, couriers and other assistants has been steadily declining. [The streets of downtown Pittsburgh are much safer today without bicycling couriers weaving through traffic and running red lights.] The trend toward home offices among sole practitioners, with obvious cost reductions, has also accelerated during this same period.  And the internet has enable clients to shop for lawyers with the skills and expertise they need at fees they can afford.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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