Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Economics under Trump

Please. We have one hope. That a civilization built by pragmatic idealists -- who used fact-grounded skills to craft a nation and a gradually better society -- can somehow use facts to save it. We will win this on two fronts: 

(1) by steadily peeling away from the rabid confederacy more adult Americans, one by one... and 

(2) by showing die-hard confeds that their self-interest does not lie with the plantation lords. That eventually happened in 1864, as desertions from Lee's army doomed that wretched "cause."

Neither of these things will be accomplished by yelling and marching... though yes, yell we must. And march we must. (And I will be out there, especially on Earth Day.) A movement must energize, after all.


But both (1) and (2) will require tenacious argument, repetition, and cornering the fact-evaders with wagers! (More on that, soon.)


== It's the economy, stupid ==


While there certainly are many Trump voters who have legitimate economic complaints, millions more are doing just fine. Back during the primaries, Nate Silver at 538 tracked Trump supporters and found that their average incomes were higher than average in those states, not lower. Such folks still felt rage! Their core grievance is culture war, about which we've spoken often.


But this time, let's focus on economics. Among my patented Name an Exception Challenges, one of them asks: Name one major metric of U.S. national health that did better across the spans of either Bush administration than across the spans of the Clinton and Obama admins. Nearly all such metrics declined - many plummeting - across Bush regimes.  Nearly all rose, many of them by a lot, across both Democratic Party terms. 

Still, no one can deny the vast transfer of wealth from the middle to upper classes that sped up during the Reagan, Bush and Bush terms... but only reversed under Clinton... not Obama. Indeed, below I will cite an article in Commentary that seems to undermine -- yes by citing facts -- every optimistic thing you have seen me write! A missive of doom and gloom that can be answered!  But an honest adult first faces such things, and does not hide from challenge.


A little further down, I will exercise host privilege and rant for you a dozen spectacular outrages, all of which are about one thing -- opening the middle class carotid artery, to be sucked by vampires.

== What will happen to jobs? ==

My friend John Mauldin points out: “The simple fact of the matter is that United States is producing more manufactured goods than ever before. And the growth trend in manufacturing, which was established in the 1920s, has shown no signs of slackening, even through recessions. The chart below is from a study done by two professors at Ball State University. It’s a fabulous analysis that shows that 80% of the jobs that have been lost in American manufacturing have been lost due to technology. American workers are now dramatically more productive than they were in just the year 2000. The authors point out that our 12 million manufacturing jobs today produce the same amount of goods as 21 million manufacturing jobs did in 2000.”

John continues: “That trend is not going to change. Technology is going to continue to increase the productivity of American (and global!) manufacturing. With companies like Foxconn in China creating robotic production lines, the cost of labor is truly becoming a rounding error in manufacturing. Prediction: Apple will soon be manufacturing the iPhone 9 or 10 in the United States. But producing those iPhones here won’t create that many jobs, because the work will be done on a robotic assembly line.”

John alternates this sagacity with lapses into… well… rationalization that today’s American right has not gone insane.  A stunning act of willful hallucination.  But well…

== The Collapse of Supply Side Rationalizations ==

Mauldin runs a prominent - conservative-leaning - investment newsletter.  And John's a really nice guy who laments the anti-intellectualism and vulgarity of his party’s right wing… without ever admitting that there are no other wings remaining, or that all the knowledge and fact people are fleeing the madness.  To be clear, he does offer up economic insights of real value and I use them to balance the sage wisdom you all can get from the Evonomics site, where the truly wisest heirs of Adam Smith reside.

Like so many “ostriches”… sane and decent Republicans who must cover their eyes and ears with sand, in utter denial over the hijacking of their movement by monsters - my friend called for ‘sensible negotiation’ during the Obama years, especially using low interest rates to finance infrastructure investments that are both needed (lest bridges collapse) and that would boost money velocity among the working classes. 

Alas - like all ostriches with their heads buried in denial - he persistently excuses the Republican Party of any fault for their intransigent unwillingness to negotiate, even over menu choices at a restaurant. (The ‘Hastert Rule’? Punishing any Republican who ever negotiates with a Democrat? Never heard of it!)

So, I was unsurprised when my friend’s recent newsletter quoted Lacy Hunt, of Hoisington Investment Management, who recently offered up a stunning example of denial by tunnel-vision. Hunt critiques the proposed Trump-Ryan tax cuts for the rich and sensibly says they’re “unlikely to work as well” as the huge tax gifts for the wealthy that were done under Reagan, Bush and Bush.

Now note that the premise - conveyed slyly by assuming it - is that those tax cuts ever “worked” at all. But did they? 

Yes, there was some growth across the Reagan years, compared to the post Vietnam collapse under Nixon, Ford, and then Carter.  Carter got all the blame, even though he was the grownup who unleashed Pal Volcker to dry out the nation’s runaway binge-inflation. That medicine spread short term pain and crushed Carter’s re-election chances, but it set the stage for recovery, which everyone credited to Reagan. What? Nothing for Volcker and the President who supported him? Well, I have learned never to slam conservatives’ deity. Let Ronnie have it.

(Note: at the recent CPAC gathering, Trump never mentioned Reagan even once, completing the dismissal and abandonment of every single GOP figure since Lincoln.)

But let's admit there was some tepid growth under Reagan. Only, growth, which did not happen after either Bush tax cut, is just one supply side prediction!  Others include absolute promises that tax cuts on the rich will wind up erasing budget deficits

Now, repeat that aloud a few times. Yes, that is the core catechism of a madness that transfixes today’s right. Voodoo? Never once ever happened? Sure. But millions believed the incantation, repeating it with increasingly urgent desperation.

Ah, but back to Lacy Hunt, who says that Supply Side tax cuts may not “work as well” this time (they never worked at all)… because ever since those huge Reagan/Bush/Bush tax cuts for the rich, federal debt ratios skyrocketed from 30% or so to over 100%, with economic pace and money velocity plummeting, and hence there is now less slack for big tax cuts to leverage…

...and my jaw dropped. Seriously? Sagacious conservative economists can lay those sentences together, in a row, and not draw the blatantly obvious and true conclusion?  

That vast tax gifts to the rich under Reagan, Bush and Bush maybe caused the spectacular increase in debt and the decline in economic activity? Also skyrocketing wealth disparity? Seriously. Is there any more direct proof that smart people can be crazy, than when they cannot connect blatant dots?

Is it possible that the supply side cult can or will ever respond to relentless disproof? I repeat: every single huge Supply Side tax cut on the rich resulted directly in skyrocketing deficits and wealth disparities, along with plunging economic growth. Not just at the federal level.  Look at Kansas. Oklahoma. Almost every confederate state. 

Here's an impudent notion. Ponder that perhaps the Greatest Generation - just maybe - knew what they were doing, back when their program of strong unions and high taxes on the rich led to the greatest boom in the history of our species. Back when the GGs built continent-spanning highways and universities, defeated Hitler, overcame Depression, contained Stalinism, went to the moon and began our forward progress against racism, sexism and environmental neglect. Might they have known their stuff? And perhaps the fanatic voodoo doctors Chicago School - subsidized by the beneficiaries of those massive tax cuts - did not?

No wonder science and all the knowledge professions who deal in fact are now Public Enemy Number One.

The Evonomics folks are fighting for Adam Smith and for the mixed and successful system the Greatest Generation built, now being smashed by oligarchy & confederatism. You conservatives may disagree with much that's said at Evonomics.  But the weight of their argument belongs on your scales. See: Extreme Inequality Causes Economic Collapse and Inequality and Unearned Income Kill the Economy.

== A dozen examples of outright economic/political rape ==

Okay so let's indulge in some choice ranting:

First: after supply side voodoo has been disproved at every level, the GOP is talking about a $3 trillion tax cut, 99.6 percent of which would go to the top 1 percent of households. 

So much for the stunning delusion nursed by so many that: "Trump is not really a Republican." Name one major effective action Trump takes that does not favor oligarchs. I said effective, not populist confederate theater or cranky toddler stuff. Top priority has gone to taking off even slight restraints on the 5000 CEO golf buddies voting each other vampire sucks out of our arteries. 


Or take the House voting to kill the Federal Electoral Commission. Or the separate Election Assistance Commission, which inspects and vetts the voting machines that we rely upon for honest tallies, a service which the GOP Congress now plans to abolish because, of course, why should anyone worry about our voting machines being misused or hacked? (In most blue states, at least paper ballots can be audited after an election, limiting the cheating. In many red states, that capability has mysteriously vanished.)

 Or to end equality of Net access. The newly minted head of the FCC is a vocal opponent of net neutrality. 

Yep. It's oligarchs, all the way down. But confederates care about only one criterion -- does an action OFFEND the snooty smartypants professional castes? If we hate it, they have to love it.

And hence, we have the following example, so stunningly egregious that it boggles the mind anyone can see it as anything but outright rape. Of us.

President Trump proposes to cancel an Obama era rule that financial advisers have a "fiduciary" responsibility to protect their clients' interests.  Believe it or not, financial advisers can urge you to buy certain products that they know will harm you but that will benefit the adviser... all of it legally, thanks to GOP legislation that Obama tried to reverse. 

What? You thought Republicans were on the side of the little guy? Dig another example: Trump just caved to the pharmaceutical industry, after promising, fervently, during the election, to let the government negotiate drug prices (a GOP law forbids it.)  Oh, and now coal companies can dump into streams and groundwater and the EPA can't investigate.  And that is the tip of the tip of the tip.

Silly confeds claim that Trump appointing almost all billionaires and Goldman-Sachs execs to his cabinet is goooood! Because 'it takes foxes to guard the henhouse.' Numb. Skulls. Feathers are already flying. Enjoy being eating, Johnny Reb.

== The gloom!  The gloom! ==

All right, after that gloomy rant (!) let's get back to a master gloomcaster! 

A long, fact-rich tirade by Nicholas Eberstadt - “Our Miserable 21st Century” - against optimism ran in Commentary, and yes, every polyanna should read it in detail.  We have a full plate of problems to solve. It was a good contrary tonic vs pollyanna optimism... which is ironic, of course, since optimism is almost nonexistent and the reflex toward gloom is exactly the tool used by oligarchy to promote Trumpism and hatred of the "elites" who are trying to fix these problems.  Problems that are almost entirely caused by the oligarchic putsch.

Notice how the author focuses almost solely on the U.S., because some of our high metrics peaked a while back.  All over the planet, though, those metrics are climbing fast, with a billion children now in school who would have been child labor slaves, twenty years ago.

The crux is that gloom serves a function when it piles proposed corrections on our to-do list.  It is our enemy when it screams "give up!" Or when it undermines our can-do spirit. Or when it leads millions to seek salvation with the nearest "strong" simplistic fast-talker. 

Somewhat in parallel to Eberstadt’s gloom is this article in the New Yorker by Evan Osnos: “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich." Some of the wealthiest people in America—in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond—are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.” 

Oh, the mail I am getting about The Postman, from folks genuinely concerned that they see proto-Holnists arising... and some even from those proto-Holnists who (gulp) give me strange credit for their "movement."

Agh. I was trying to argue against...

... oh, never mind.  Buy and distribute more copies of the book! Heck, let's make a better movie.

104 comments:

Tim H. said...

My first thought: "Wouldn't it be more fun to optimize the economy for the bottom 50%?", really, it would mean more economic activity for small business, which couldn't be a bad thing for larger business. Second thought: "Simplification of tax rules would mean more to most citizens and businesses than a tax cut.", my suspicion is that much administrative bloat might be tracked to non-governmental sources, inserted for the purpose of keeping down the riffraff.

reason said...

Tim H.
"... my suspicion is that much administrative bloat might be tracked to non-governmental sources, inserted for the purpose of keeping down the riffraff."

No I don't think so.

There are two reasons for complexity.
1. Taxable Income is inherently difficult to define (for instance think about the accounting needed to trace capital gains, or about differentiating between genuine costs and junkets, or of following depreciations and capital write-offs).
2. Politicians like to use tax deductions to reward selected constituencies for voting for them (instead of using direct spending for instance).

learner said...

Is this a hint of something in the works?
"Heck, let's make a better movie."

dennisd said...

Kentucky Governor Beshear's response to Trump was a breath of fresh air. He clearly articulated Obama's accomplishments and called out Trump directly for his lies and misinformation on health care and national defense. Beshear chided Trump for his weak leadership and lack of objective reality.
Beshear is pitch perfect pn values and policy.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people would be working in manufacturing if we hadn't put such high taxes on labor while simultaneously subsidizing their machine replacements?

And I also wonder how technological change would have been different if we hadn't been subsidizing the choices preferred by management class.

Cesar A. Santos said...

I was thinking about the new alt-right and how the 4chan crowd loves it so much. It all makes sense actually.

The hippie-liberal-progressive-PC-pinko-commie... side won all the media. They are free to spread their message freely.

What's a normal teenage would do to rebel against the establishment? "Lemme see... What do these guys hate the most? Nazi-Fascism?! Oh boy, where's my Swastika?!"

Thus Trump, Bannon, Spencer and others that they identify with the ideology, rightly or wrong.

It's a generational thing.

Tim H. said...

Reason, I'll give you that, but you can't avoid the asymmetric burden of Byzantine regulation on small entities vs huge. I feel that reform that only consists of tax rate reduction is a signal of continued support for the 1%, at the 99%'s expense.

Tom Crowl said...

The Democratic Party's Pitch to big donors.... "You'll make more money with us!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAwmiD_9Q2s&t=618s

I'd very much like to see the Democrats win... but they simply don't understand that some of the roots of anti intellectualism and expertise is the belief that the intellectuals and experts are anti them.

We need an FDR. But in today's Democratic Party he would never be able to get Democratic Establishment support.

The corruption of expertise in areas like law, finance, economics (very, very soft "sciences" which often try to pretend that they are "sciences") has leaked over into a more general distrust of "expertise" in general.

Tom Crowl said...

I also appreciate the fact that there are good 'billionaires' who truly want a more economically balanced society... which may well include higher taxes on themselves.

In this they certainly in harmony with their base.

But somehow... when the Dems had the Presidency and both Houses... they made the Bush tax cuts permanent and passed the Heritage Foundation's Health plan... (which ever since has been used by the Repubs to hang the Dems with... real irony there).

Now I don't doubt the sincerity of the liberal billionaires... but its a question of how hard they'll push to tax themselves.

This btw, is why the altruism dilemma... FROM A SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE... is important. It can lead to understanding in other areas... at least in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

More on repetition? Oh dear. Well, that is your forte.

Speaking of fact evasion--and I do understand if you're busy flogging all those very same ex-horsen--when might you get around to, first, justifying your procrustean simplification of the Greek model of political evolution to a simple binary between star-bound rocket-squatting heros and those ever nasty confederoligarchalfeudalists and second, instead of the mindless "infrastructure! infrastructure! infrastructure!" chant perhaps discuss the Strong Towns study that points to American car-sprawl suburbs being so not solvent and how slapping yet more infrastructure onto that fat pig will, exactly, help.

Marino said...

"The hippie-liberal-progressive-PC-pinko-commie... side won all the media. They are free to spread their message freely.

What's a normal teenage would do to rebel against the establishment? "Lemme see... What do these guys hate the most? Nazi-Fascism?! Oh boy, where's my Swastika?!"


first, it sounds like something like a "hippie-liberal-progressive-PC-pinko-commie" continuum exists (yes, it seems that killing niggers and faggots and blaming poor for being poor became a tiny bit outmoded... the horrible terrible iron heel of PC...), which is somewhat debatable :-) (it's called irony)

second, that there is a moral equivalence between "peace & love" on one hand and genocide on the other;

third, well, "anti-estabilishment" rebellion following the most establishment guy in town (how many Goldmann-Sachs in the new admin?) and wanting to keep at the same time all those nice stuff the "liberal" system gave those young people, like not frowning anymore on premarital sex... tiny bit hypocrites, no?

anyway... they're happy to try their Holnist/wannabe-SS generational revolt thing... to quote Clint, my answer would be something in between:

"do you feel lucky, punk?" and "go ahead, make my day".

locumranch said...


In this thread, David cites John Mauldin who argues that the United States is producing more manufactured goods than ever before because (1) increased capital investment in technology has led to increased economic productivity, (2) allowing 12 million manufacturing jobs today (to) produce the same amount of goods as 21 million manufacturing jobs did in 2000, (3) resulting in significant technologically-driven job loss among American workers.

So far, so good. But, then David goes on to dismiss Supply Side Economics as counterfactual 'voodoo' because of claims of (1) plunging economic productivity, (2) skyrocketing federal tax deficits and (3) increased wealth disparities due to legions of newly unemployed & unemployable American workers. Can anyone smell the inherent contradiction here?

The events described by John Maudlin (increased capital investment in technology leading to increased economic productivity with associated technological job loss) read like a dictionary definition of Supply Side Economics:

"A macroeconomic theory that argues economic growth can be most effectively created by investing in capital and by lowering barriers on the production of goods and services".

Let us count the Supply Side ways as enumerated by Mauldin: (1) Increased capital investment, leading to (2) increased economic productivity, leading to roughly (3) a 50% reduction in the 'production barrier' that is manufacturing jobs. Check. Check. Check.

And, the Supply Side negatives cited by David? (1) Plunging economic productivity is a fiction disproven by Maudlin's empiric observations, (2) skyrocketing federal tax deficits are (most likely) due to a shrinking tax base brought about by the technologically-driven extermination of the once-powerful Blue Collar Middle Class & the Labour Union, and (3) the increased wealth disparities are obviously due to legions of artificially unemployed & unemployable American workers who no longer benefit from capitalism.

To see Keynesian Economics disproven in such an eloquent fashion, it must rankle so, just as it must suck to admit that technological progress has created the very wealth inequalities that it was supposed to alleviate.

Enter the Welfare State, Guaranteed Minimum Income & the Purple Wage. And don't forget the Stasi. We'll need them to ensure a flat-level-fair-open playing field.


Best

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:


But somehow... when the Dems had the Presidency and both Houses... they made the Bush tax cuts permanent

That's not my recollection. I seem to remember the Bush tax cuts being on the table for part of a grand bargain, but the Republicans didn't go for it, and the tax cuts were allowed to expire. Or were they just allowed to expire for incomes over $250,000 ? Maybe that was it.


and passed the Heritage Foundation's Health plan...


Remember that there were only a few months when the Senate was filibuster-proof against Republicans, and even that would require the Senator from Aetna to go along with whatever plan was proposed. Obama himself seemed in favor of single-payer, but didn't think he could get it through congress. I suspect he was right about that.


(which ever since has been used by the Repubs to hang the Dems with... real irony there).


My personal suspicion is that the Republicans knew--even back in 1993--that their "plan" couldn't work, and that it was just a rhetorical club to argue against Hillary's plan. When Obama actually put it into practice, I suspect there was a lot of "OMG! He thinks we can actually follow that nonsense!" from the party opposite.

useless.old.fool said...

It is not the robots, it the foolish lazy bosses at the top.
http://www.epi.org/publication/robots-or-automation-are-not-the-problem-too-little-worker-power-is/

useless.old.fool said...

http://evonomics.com/robots-trump-globalization/

We are protecting the Lords over the workers, it is foolish and it will be at our cost, liberty and maybe our lives.

http://evonomics.com/pursuit-shareholder-value-kills-innovation/

dominictemple said...

David, I'm going to delurk to repeat a point I've made here occasionally, getting a conservative to realise that the Republican party is nuts only ever has one result.

A press tour as an "sensible conservative" who repeats liberal criticisms of the Republicans that they've been saying for decades and then they either rewrite history and say "I'm an independent" and "both sides are equally to blame," the "Ron Fournier/Matthew Dowd" route or redefine modern conservatism to whatever they believe in this week, the "Andrew Sullivan" route. The founder of bothsiderism, David Brooks is of course the best at this, never letting a chance go to blame both sides ever since his "liberal traitors are destroying the good christian President Bush" schtick became unprofitable during the end of the Bush years when their incompetencies became unavoidable.

If you're a conservative who doesn't like Fox and can act then the only vaguely kinda-sorta liberal MSNBC will hire you, see Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren, and of course, the 3 hour daily show with Joe Scarborough.

The point I'm making is that most Republicans live in a sealed information bubble, and those Americans who aren't involved or interested in politics, all they see and hear on most cable news networks is bothsides, bothsides, bothsides. Pointing out Republican atrocities on blogs like this is useless if the "political referees," ie. the news media is uninterested, or structurally incapable, as media critic and journalism professor Jay Rosen says, of saying one party is far worse than the other and to for the gridlock in politics.

John Sears said...

I have been thinking about proposals to tax robots for their labor. Would this be a good thing?

Anonymous said...

John Sears
How about we eliminate all employer taxes on labor first?
Why are we artificially reducing the demand for labor with these taxes?

Then maybe we should also eliminate all tax incentives to replace labor with machines?
Why are we subsidizing the wealthy for eliminating human work?

then maybe we can talk about taxing robots (capital more generally)

Jumper said...

I wouldn't make too complicated the recent gains in productivity. It's the PC.
...
Too bad our anonymous doesn't see her own Procrustean view of infrastructure. I'd venture few here are interested in adding to the problems of suburbanization, and would rather include solar power, a grid to handle it, more bike paths and sidewalks, and sensible expansion of electric light rail. Bridges are going to be needed for a while.

Jumper said...

This seems on topic.
http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/2012/08/who-killed-cock-robin.html

Brother Doug said...

The commentary article you linked to was disturbing and matches what I'm seeing in America with a worldwide glut of unemployed or underemployed men 20-55. Honestly until this is addressed I expect to see more authoritarian leaders like Trump and Putin. I wish I had a solution I don't see the political will in either party to seek solutions.

Alfred Differ said...

@Locumranch; You are over-reacting to David’s words when you argue he is being paternalistic. I’ve been on the receiving end of his advice (many years ago) and know he is willing to let people learn from their mistakes. He doesn’t just talk about the possibility that he is wrong about something. These two things go together, though. If he can be wrong, then he should let others try their ideas just in case they prove to be right. In my case, he was right, but he was polite and respectful with his advice and I learned at my own pace. I learned more than just the lesson, though. I got to see some of how others had tried the idea and failed and that made my lesson more valuable to me.

If you want to argue that a lot of progressives are paternalistic, I’m inclined to agree with you. I know plenty of them and it is an annoying set of behaviors. However, they aren’t all that hard to manage. I know many social conservatives who are paternalists too and I find them MUCH more annoying. Seriously. Who gives a damn what bathroom people use? Why should I tolerate those who DO seem to care? I’d rather smack them and tell them to mind their own business.

In health care, I can understand your inclination to avoid making our decisions for us. I can even respect that choice. I suspect every classical liberal can because the core motive involves protecting our freedom to choose. The impact of an error, though, is largely restricted to the patient and their family and friends. That is not the case with other kinds of decisions I might make and can be quite magnified when it comes to winner-takes-all voting choices. I appreciate the freedom to choose, but I might understand why some would want to limit me if one of my choices involves a risk of poisoning the world. Should I be free to act? Ethics can be fun to argue about, but one of the rare things most of us agree on in that field is that nothing is black and white. Fear of paternalism might be reasonable at times and unreasonable at other times. If we keep talking/arguing, though, we can probably figure out when to worry.

David S said...

@locumranch, thanks for quoting the first sentence of the wikipedia article on supply-side economics.

If you continue to the third sentence: "According to supply-side economics, consumers will then benefit from a greater supply of goods and services at lower prices; furthermore, the investment and expansion of businesses will increase the demand for employees and therefore create jobs." and the the third paragraph: "The Laffer curve is one of the main theoretical constructs of supply-side economics.[5] .... In addition, some studies have shown that tax cuts done in the US in the past several decades seldom recoup revenue losses and have minimal impact on GDP growth.[7][8][9][10]",

you get to the parts that I complain about: Supply-side economics has not delivered the jobs and the tax revenue that the republicans have promised.


LarryHart said...

David S:

Supply-side economics has not delivered the jobs and the tax revenue that the republicans have promised.


It has in the world of #AlternativeFacts

Paul451 said...

From the main article, and flogging my dead horse,

David,
"Back during the primaries, Nate Silver at 538 tracked Trump supporters and found that their average incomes were higher than average in those states, not lower. Such folks still felt rage!"

Silver misses the point. It doesn't matter than a particular group is slightly above median income, it's that the median income has been stagnant or falling for nearly four decades while the Real per-capita GDP doubled.

Why shouldn't they rage after having a third to a half of their potential wealth stolen from them? After having decades prosperity taken away from them, and their children?

That their anger is misdirected by skilled monsters, that is the issue for Democrats. And Democrats will never even begin to deal with that as long as they are making up pretty just-so stories that allow them to ignore the problem.

To borrow the supply-side's metaphor "a rising tide lifts all boats": if someone is chained to the sea-floor as the tide rises over them, splashing and struggling to breath as the waters wash over their head...

...how is it not missing the point to row over and berate them, "Oh stop complaining, you're a full one inch taller than the rest."

The culture war is merely the method used to skilfully manipulate their rage away from the actual thieves. It is not the cause of the rage, it's not even a symptom. It's the pickpocket's glove.

(For Larry: I hope you note the irony, that just as Republican voters are stabbing themselves in the back by voting for the very people who robbed them -- thanks to the manipulation of tribal identifiers -- the Democratic leadership are stabbing themselves in the back by latching onto the wrong reasons for Trump's win, useless fatalistic reason, because of their own stupid tribal identifiers.)

Similarly,
"It's a fabulous analysis that shows that 80% of the jobs that have been lost in American manufacturing have been lost due to technology."

But fails to explain how other countries managed to avoid the same decline in wages-vs-GDP, even as they suffered their own decline in manufacturing jobs.

Paul451 said...

Re: The Postman,
"let's make a better movie."

IMO, all it would have taken was a reversal in the roles of the leads. Beat-down Will Patton as the reluctant symbol of community, hammy Costner as the villain.

Not just because they would have fit the roles better, but Costner might have been willing to trim some of the clunkier and sappier scenes... if he wasn't in them.

--

John Sears,
"I have been thinking about proposals to tax robots for their labor. Would this be a good thing?"

You do that by moving the tax burden from payroll to profits. (Taxing the owners of the robots is the same as taxing the robots.)

In other words, the opposite of what has happened in the last forty years, where the share of corporate taxes has fallen as a share of tax revenues at the same time as corporate profits have increased as a proportion of GDP.

Paul451 said...

From several threads ago,

LarryHart,
(From the last post, but re-raised by Daniel's comment)
"You're probably correct that the other group didn't do a good enough job of pointing out the hand in your pocket, but really, are we that dependent on official sources of fact that if Democrats don't tell us that Republicans rob us, then we don't know it?"

There has been decades of very cleverly crafted self-reinforcing propaganda to blame the theft on the Other, and to blame the failure to deal with the theft on the Other Side.

And sadly, the Other Side has been complicit. Desperately wanting to win the approval of the "grown ups", desperately afraid of being associated with socialists and economic radicals, they have veered ever rightward; still being accused of economic incompetence even while being the only thing trying to at least limit the damage done by rightwing incompetence when in power.

And, more destructively, the supposedly "leftwing" MSM are, of course, all owned by large corporations, and deeply baked into the culture of the financial status quo. Deeply hostile to any threat to that status quo.

There is no voice to answer the propaganda.

On the theft, you get articles from HuffPo level lefties that is crafted for and only read by the choir, and longwinded analyses that are only read by... well, the people who write articles in HuffPo, but there's nothing even approaching the continuous, systematic propaganda that comes from Murdoch and the newer modern rightwing machinery -- and nothing at all in forums and language intended for middle America.

And that unanswered propaganda is what Trump was able to tap into, decades of pre-digested memes and unquestioned tropes that he could invoke with his jumbled speeches; only with the added bonus of being an "outsider". He was, quite literally, the only option available for the bulk of America who really have have had their country taken away from them.

locumranch said...


You're right, Alfred.

I'll admit that DavidB is more of blue urban moralist, tending towards recommendations based on his personal code of right & wrong, except when it comes to climate change, then it's paternalism all the way down.

Heck, I'll even admit DavidS is right that Supply Side Economics has "not delivered the jobs" with one wagered exception open to all comers:

I defy you to name one industrial age technological advancement, just one, that has increased all-cause employment among the general population, but you can't do it because this is NOT what Industrialisation does.

Rather than creating more jobs, Industrialisation has uniformly eliminated more jobs than it has created. It's what we call 'productivity', the making of more with less effort & fewer employees.

This is especially true for agriculture which accounted for > 70% of all-cause employment before 1840 but now accounts for less than 2% of all jobs because 'industrial development'.

The claim that Supply Side Economics cannot increase our tax revenue is likewise a crock. The pro-Capitalist West has merely chosen NOT to allow it to do so --- as they once did in the USSR-- in order to speed up the rate of industry-related disemployment.

Of course, budding leftists like Paul known how to fix this problem easily. They'll just confiscate & redistribute 'Das Capital' in order to Tax & Spend -- as the EU is now doing & the USSR once did before them -- until their financial ruination is assured.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

I saw a report the other day--possibly the same one Dr. Brin referenced--that stated that only 10% of manufacturing jobs were sent overseas. Most of those aren't coming back, no matter how many tariffs Der Pumpkinfuhrer erects, simply because most are the sort of line assembly jobs that they can pay $8 a day for workers in Vietnam, and dump the heavy metals right into the Mekong.

Anonymous wrote: "And I also wonder how technological change would have been different if we hadn't been subsidizing the choices preferred by management class. "

Surprisingly little technological advancement comes from the private sector. Oh, I know, Henry Ford, Elon Musk, blah blah blah, but they stand out because they are major exceptions. Most advances come from government-funded research, universities and through government grants.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch; Well… I suppose we are getting somewhere then. 8)

David’s response regarding climate change is stronger (mine is too, but I don’t do it here) because those are decisions on the level of ‘poisoning the planet’. I’m not sure it is a wise thing to stand by and let people do that when a huge fraction of the people who know something about this subject say it is happening. In my case, I didn’t need a doctor to tell me I shouldn’t take up smoking, but I was able to tell that most of them thought it was a really dumb idea and the few who wouldn’t say that when I was young tended to argue it wouldn’t be harmful at a level above what other harms we faced. I saw that as weaseling on their part and apparently went with the seemingly paternalistic advice that happened to align with my own decision. Fortunately for the world, I wasn’t engaging in a behavior that was poisoning the world.

That’s okay. If you want to say he is being paternalistic on climate change, so be it. Pay attention to the advice, though, and make a decision. Also pay attention to the fact that a lot of us think we are getting screwed by those who choose to do nothing at all. IF we are harmed, there will be payback for it.

Industrialization is just one portion of a wider phenomenon that could be poorly names ‘innovationism’. Innovations can certainly be destructive, but they don’t survive in a free market unless they also make someone rich. If they are any good at all, they make a lot of people rich including the common man, though, the rest of us have to wait for Act III as the innovation plays out on the stage. People who live in the West who don’t recognize that innovations MUST destroy don’t get it. Sure it is scary, but it works.

Funny thing about agriculture, though. Back up a few centuries to when the number of people was around ½ billion. I’m not sure what percentage of us were farmers, but it was probably pretty close to 98%. The actual number doesn’t matter for the sake of this argument, though. Take the population and multiply by the percentage and you get the actual number of farmers. Maybe around 490M. With today’s world full of about 7.4 billion, a farming fraction of 6.7% gives about the same absolute number of farmers. So… how many humans still farm today? Are we close? More or less?

I point out the farming numbers because these innovations simply MUST be considered on a global scale to be understood. It is in Act III that the real impact of an innovation arrives because that is when it affects us all. The US is just part of the global market. If the innovations come from here, we as a nation are likely to become filthy rich during Acts I and II, but the world changes during Act III. Isn’t this what is happening now? Poverty across the world is collapsing. Look up the numbers and use them against the folks with unrealistic expectations for what innovations do. Progressives would prefer the messy first couple of acts were short or bypassed, but we don’t have to tolerate that. We CAN help them make sure cheaters don’t alter the rules and prevent Act III, but our price for that help should be their tolerance of the earlier acts.

Robert said...

Recently on Facebook I called on genuine conservatives to take back their party. I urged them to run for office, for State and Federal House seats. To sign contracts stating what they will do, what promises they will keep. And it garnered nary a single Like or Share.

I have a sneaking suspicion nearly all the friends on my Facebook page are either Liberals or Libertarians. Neither of which have any desire for Republicans to retake their party because they want that diseased corrupt organization to die.

Either that or FB decided to hide my comment. Ah well.

Rob H., who hopes Dr. Brin is correct and these outraged Veterans who are pissed off at Trump end up running for Republican Congressional Seats, both on the State and Federal level.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Zepp
"Surprisingly little technological advancement comes from the private sector"

Not so - almost all of the advances in manufacturing - the ones that anonymous was asking about - come from the private sector

Technology advances? - yep mostly state funded - manufacturing? almost all from private industry

And there is a point there - the drivers are Numbers of Workers and a LONG way second Quality

A lot of the time that does not actually lead to the cheapest manufacturing - but you will need impeccable data if you try and drive the other way and even then you will probably fail because "Everybody Knows" that reducing labor is the answer

I have been involved in a number of "improvements" that reduced labor but actually cost a lot more money

Part of that is the "everybody knows" and another part is that the factory overhead tends to be allocated on a per worker basis

I wanted to spend some money on the drivelines in my test cells - it was not justifiable because the number of failures did not warrant that expense

So I looked into it
The factory had an assembly line costing about $0.5 and 180 assembly workers

I had test cells that cost $4M and 20 workers

The accountant had allocated 10% of the "overheads" to me - but my cells were nearly 90% of the capital and ate the majority of the maintenance and engineering costs

When I beat him into recalculating sensibly the driveline improvements were easily cost justified

This happens all of the time where the low labor (but high capital and maintenance) solution is preferred over the higher labor - but lower total cost solution

And I agree wholeheartedly with Paul451 - it does not matter if you have done "better than before" if you can see clearly that you have done a LOT worse than you should have

Remember those tests where somebody is giver $100 to divide up?
If it is not seen as fair the recipient rejects his "share" even if that means he gets nothing

Erin Schram said...

locumranch said,
I defy you to name one industrial age technological advancement, just one, that has increased all-cause employment among the general population, but you can't do it because this is NOT what Industrialisation does.

A Name an Exception challenge, just like David Brin gives. How fun.

I admit that industrializing an existing people-based means of production will replace people. However, notice the conditions: "existing" and "people-based" and "means of production."

For my first entry, how about steam-powered locomotives? They replaced horses, not people. A train still needs an engineer, just like a wagon needs a driver.

For my second entry, I need something that created a new industry from scratch. Like radio. Radio broadcasting did replace newspapers in some niches, and individual radio messages could replace telegraphs, but most expansion in the radio industry was to new markets.

My third entry is the transitor. It replaced the vacuum tube, an existing product, but its advantage was in smaller size, less energy consumption, more reliability, and more versatility. It was not easier to manufacture, so it probably required just as many factory workers as the vacuum tube. In other words, replacing a product rather than a means of production does not necessarily replace people.

For my fourth entry, I break my original premise because this invention replaced an existing people-based means of production yet created more jobs: the cotton gin. The expanded market for cotton found plenty of work for the people displaced from combing seeds out of cotton bolls. Too bad so many of those people were slaves, increasing the demand for slaves, but that I blame that more on Southern plantation culture than on technology.

TCB said...

"The factory had an assembly line costing about $0.5 and 180 assembly workers"

Wait, the assembly line for 180 workers cost fifty cents?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi TCB
that was meant to be $0.5M - my bad!

David Brin said...

TimH I know how to do tax law simplification and it is the ONLY method that will work AND be fair. In fact, it cannot fail: http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/taxsimplification.html

Cesar: "It's a generational thing." Yes, that is what the "Fourth Turning" cyclical guys believe. And sure, there may be some LEAN based on these pendulum swings. But no. The Fourth Turning and Tytler and other "cyclical" guys are idiots. Bannon want it to be true, so he aims to precipitate the crisis, even though on Planet Earth and in the US there is no reason for one and no need for one.

If the Confederates and oligarchs let us, the rest of us are ready to fix the planet, get vastly richer and head for the stars.

dominictemple yes, We need to peel off the 10% of the population who are “ostrich” basically decent conservatives who admit “my side has gone insane.” Murdoch doesn’t try to argue them out of what’s plain before their eyes. The mantra is a desperate “but liberals are worse!!!” And I am now convinced only one clade will shake this. Colones. Retired colonels.

YEah Locumranch. This time he’s calm, attempts to be logical and keeps strawmanning to a dull roar. Alas, he’s also stupid. Mauldin is talking about the total output of industrial goods rising, while the labor to make them declines. That is NOT the same thing as saying “Supply Side Works.”

The Greatest Generation put in place systems to ensure thatMarx-described processes of working class impoverishment would NOT happen as the “means of production” were enhanced by capitalism. The oligarch putsch and confederate cult systematically demolished all of those safeguards and balancing mechanisms, allowing exactly and precisely Marx’s predictions to resume coming true.

We are going to have to replace those rooseveltean processes or the middle class will become Marx’s proletarians and do the rest of the things he forecast. The imbecile billionaires who are executing this betrayal of Adam Smith rationalize that it will put their steady and wise hands on the tiller. In fact they are delusional victims of sycophant flattery and ignorant that an angry proletariate will this time have gene splicers, industrial chemical access and - yes - any sort of WMDs.

FDR wasn’t a ‘traitor to his class.’ He SAVED his class from tumbrels.

“except when it comes to climate change, then it's paternalism all the way down.”

Yep! When I see an imbecile waving a knife and slashing everyone around him, taking him down is “paternalism” too.

“I defy you to name one industrial age technological advancement, just one, that has increased all-cause employment among the general population.” STunning bullshit. We have four times the US population as 100 years ago and most people have jobs.

David Brin said...

Anonymous is so boring. All his proposals are “don’t tax the plantation lords! They is our massas!”

Alfred knows that I have a libertarian side. Robert Heinlein was one of my parents. I have long said that government actions to raise up poor kids to COMPETE in a flat-fair arena are things libertarians should support, but not patronizing attempts to force equality of outcome. (Though some leveling is essential to reduce the power of oligarch castes down to a level subject to accountability.)

But thanks, Alfred, for the kindness and patience you are showing Locumranch. You are a decent fellow.

Paul451 you make a fair point and I am fine with dems making a big deal of jobs. Most of what I want would help that. But I still believe this is mostly cultural and psychological. e.g. Lovum and the ent have shown no sign of ever, remotely grasping certain concepts, like positive sum, even well enough to attempt to refute them!

Interesting point re the Postman movie!

Tim H. said...

David Brin, I know you're aware of the virtues of tax simplification, it's just that every time the right wing nuts uncork that jug of "Old tax cut", t reminds me to pound on that offense some more, I suppose I'm getting to the age where I repeat myself, like when I see an energy policy that amounts to a charitable gift to oil & coal, when one could make a case for substantially reducing carbon-based energy with only the prose of Jerry Pournelle (Think about it, if climatologists are successfully discredited, arguments exist from sources with a conservative pedigree.).

Anonymous said...

Brin is such a useful idiot for the oligarchs.

Brin is all in favor of globalization- class warfare against the working class in America, and environmental racism abroad. Empower capital and greatly weaken labor and democratic rule of nations. Point that out and he will call you a racist.

Point out that our tax policy punishes labor and subsidizes capital get call a slave sucking up to the oligarchs. It is just so boring to have someone point out one of the real causes of growing inequality. Far better for the oligarchs to have Brin ranting about racist traitors.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com . Politico is apparently taking Dr Brin's advice to ascribe probabilities to their predictions:


he dust is starting to settle and the punditry is beginning to try to figure out what President Donald Trump's Tuesday speech, means, if anything. Below we have some takeaways, but Politico has a different angle: an attempt to assign a probability of his actually carrying out his various promises.

+ Replacing the ACA: 50% (Republicans want desperately to replace it, but they can't agree on a plan)
+ Tax Cuts: 50% for a small package; 25% for a biggie (because Republicans don't agree on the details)
+ Boosting the defense budget: 90% (Republicans like spending money on defense, but not too much)
+ Infrastructure: 10% (Republicans don't like spending money for non-defense items, not even for buying pork)
+ Family leave and child care: 20% (Ivanka wants to make her mark, but these are expensive proposals)
+ ISIS: 80% (nobody likes ISIS much and it would be tough for a member of Congress to vote against fighting them)
+ Border wall: 100% (but the "wall" may be a short barbed wire fence rather than an expensive long wall)
+ Immigration reform: 10% (this is one of the most divisive issues in Congress and Democrats will have to sign on)

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Rather than creating more jobs, Industrialisation has uniformly eliminated more jobs than it has created. It's what we call 'productivity', the making of more with less effort & fewer employees.


Finally, a point of complete agreement, although I doubt that you agree that we're agreeing.

:)

The point is, we need to structure society such that the increased productivity is distributed to all. That is "redistrubution" only in the sense that one accepts that the means of survival and production are the private property of the few to begin with.

Technology should not present humans with more drudgery, it should free humans from the need for drudgery. Increased productivity should indeed require less work to provide for the individual and community needs. If (for example) two hours per day of human labor suffices to keep the machines running in an orderly fashion, and those machines do all of the work, then there is no reason that humans should be expected to put in a 40 hour work week (much less the typical 60 or 80 or "always on") in order to deserve participation in society.

David Brin said...

Our anonymous coward just gets loonier and loonier. I only skim his rants in order to remind myself the dizzying nature of their primary incantation:

“If I shout something loud enough, I can convince myself than an opposite is true! WHite is black! See how clever that makes me? Laws and rules and tax changes that oligarchs want, that serve to make oligarchs richer at the expense of everyone else… these help the poor! Yeah, that’s the ticket! YOU LIBERALS are the oligarchy-lovers! It’s so weird and clearly false that it just HAS to be true!”

Catfish N. Cod said...

@LarryHart: the problem is that there will still be scarcity. There's only so much cubic volume near the hot city center. There's only 24 hours in the day, and I need to sleep 8 of them, so my eyeballs and ears and attention span is a limited resource. There's only one Jerusalem, etc.

So there will still be an economy. How do I earn access to such things in an economy? How do I get my added value counted up? If it's not primarily by my labor, how do I get priority access to those things that are still limited?

It's a Star Trek kind of problem. A good one to have, but still a problem. And the legacy answer of the old scarcity economy is the default answer -- one that leaves the old oligarchies of the past still in charge, reinforced by priests still telling everyone that toil is virtue and so those who toil deserve to be lords.

(Even though service to others, particularly unselfish service, is supposed to be a higher virtue in nearly all religions.)

----

Anonymous Coward is locked into presumptions, which is sad. She thinks any globalization has to be the globalization practiced at one particular time by one particular faction. A globalization that penalizes countries with poor labor and environmental standards, that levels playing fields by a rigorously ascertained process? Unpossible!

TTP didn't just have tremendous wins for capital, such as intellectual property laws. It also had a large number of labor protection rules intended to push our high degree of labor protections out into these other regions. All gone now. Can we replace it with something better? Perhaps. But not with a slogan of "America First", which sounds to everyone else like "America Uses Its Power And Wealth To Take Advantage Of Everyone Else, Just Like Their Enemies Always Claimed".

Anonymous said...



Our tax policy taxes labor and subsidizes capital.
Show me how that tax policy helps working people and hurts the oligarchs.

raito said...

reason,

Also #3, politicians like to use the tax code to encourage certain behaviors. Why else is there a mortage deduction other than the government wants us to own property. The dark side, of course, is that they want us to borrow in orde3r to have it, which recursively measn that there are businesses willing to lend, which means they want people to borrow, ad infinitum.

Dr. Brin,

Learn Robert Aspirin's lesson. You can only lead from the front if you're looking over your shoulder. Otherwise, you won't know where your crowd is going.

Side note on Heinlein. Currently reading to my childrne, Have Spacesuit - Will Travel. My daughter nearly strangled me the other night when the last line I read was 'The spaceship learly landed on me'. And she's the one who thought it would be boring.

Your point about bringing up competitive offspring strikes a chord with me, though. Especially since my municipality is current growing its poor population more than its rich population. When/where I went to high school, so did most professor's children. And a large group of minority students whose parents had escaped the Chicago and Detroit ghettos of the 60's. And those minority children flourished in the essentially middle-class environment. Pre-capital-D-diversity. Pre 'outcome-based'. Pre must have role models of the same color. Pre just about eveyrthing except the notion that they were as deserving as anyone else. The biggest things that led to their success were that they were surrounded by other students who served as their role models ("Not go to college? But everyone does that! You should, too." [and their parents knowing that it was the way out of the circumstances they grew up in]), and the school system NOT reducing their standards. This let the professor's children not skip, and brought up the minority students.

It was very frustrating to speak to other parents who can prattle on ceaslessy about diversity, yet give you a bovine stare if you ask why they don't care about academics. Or who talk about being prepared for the future instead of creating it.

locumranch,

You haven't gone the extra step (but David S. did) with Supply Side. "... therefore, give me the money." Big difference between reinvestment or borrowing to make those improvements vs. being handed a wad of cash.

The problem with 'wad of cash' supply side is that it has been shown to create low-velocity money. Stimulation works better with higher-velocity currency.

It's a bit like the difference between offering to buy a beggar a sandwich vs. handing them a bill.

And at least some of what you see as paternalistic, I see as attempts to stop the tragedy of the commons.

I might take your wager (if I understood your meaning of 'all-cause', otherwise I might answer the wrong question) and say the industrial revolution. A large portion of the machine-made goods (made on machines run by former farmers, or those who never owned farms but were previously agricultural) fed back into the agriculture business, allowing more food to be raised, which, in part, allowed the population to rise. Most of that rising population found work. I don't see how oyu could raise the number of jobs if population doesn't rise, unless a significant portion of the people weren't already working.

useless.old.fool,

It's unfortunately true that investors don't want dividends any more, they want stock price. Part of that is what comes from having investors who don't much care about what the businesses they invest in actually do. 'Mr. Lewis and I are going to build ships together, great big ships.' Wouldn't that be nicer?

anonymous,

Some of us aren't fond of behavioral sinks resulting from living in anthills.

Jumper,

Si it was a pencil? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Pencil)

Alfred Differ,

Thank of how much could be saved with unisexual bathrooms.

raito said...

Duncan Cairncross,

Your comment is exactly the reason my wife went and got an MBA.

LarryHart,

Here's my percentages:
Replacing the ACA: 5% for wholesale replacement, 100% for at least tweaks (because it's hard to ignore that big a plank)
Tax Cuts: 10% for everyone, 95% on the top tier (what do you expect in a government of billionaires)
Boosting defense: 100% (gotta lool strong, dontcha know)
Infrastructure: 80% (because the GOP will eventually realize that most of the money will go to them)
Family leave: 10% (and yes, Ivanka)
ISIS: 80% for activity against them, 30% for eliminating them (too many don't like anything warlike)
Border Wall: 0% for a wall, 80% for a short fence (only if POTUS figures out that he could do that and claim victory)
Immigration: 100% on tweaks, 20% meaningful change

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Mauldin is talking about the total output of industrial goods rising, while the labor to make them declines. That is NOT the same thing as saying “Supply Side Works.”


If Supply Side works--if handing free money to the wealthy will cause them to invest it in money-making industry rather than just spending or hoarding the cash--then the same logic informs us that handing money to unemployed poor people gets them to invest in finding a job rather than sitting on the couch watching tv. So to endorse Supply Side as a theory, you'd have to--at minimum--also endorse lavish unemployment benefits. How does that correlation work out in real life?

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

the problem is that there will still be scarcity.
...
So there will still be an economy. How do I earn access to such things in an economy? How do I get my added value counted up? If it's not primarily by my labor, how do I get priority access to those things that are still limited?

It's a Star Trek kind of problem. A good one to have, but still a problem.


I completely agree. I think it's the defining problem of 21st Century first-world society.

I just don't believe the answer is that the old work-or-starve model is helpful in addressing the problem. Rather, it's a way to avoid addressing the problem.


And the legacy answer of the old scarcity economy is the default answer -- one that leaves the old oligarchies of the past still in charge,


This is a situation where a recessive gene is required for adaption to a new environment, or where liberals are needed to come up with innovative answers because conservatism is no longer applicable to the situation.

I'm not saying "work for your keep" was never a good system, but it's a hammer when the problem no longer resembles a nail.


reinforced by priests still telling everyone that toil is virtue and so those who toil deserve to be lords


Strangely enough, the lords seldom toil at all, at least not in the sense that workers toil.

Kal Kallevig said...

LarryHart

If (for example) two hours per day of human labor suffices to keep the machines running in an orderly fashion, and those machines do all of the work, then there is no reason that humans should be expected to put in a 40 hour work week (much less the typical 60 or 80 or "always on") in order to deserve participation in society.

Exactly, what can be done by machine should be done by machine.

David Brin said...

Like calling taxes on businesses - who use our roads and schools more than anyone - are now "taxes on employers" and because of that magical incantation, suddenly (and how conveniently) taxing business is Eeeeevil!.

Or the dividends that stockholders get from company profits. That is "double taxation!"

And the Inheritance Tax, by far the most useful and best and fairest tax -- one that need never be paid! - is the "Death Tax and top priority for removal by the GOP. Because heaven forbid zillionaires should have to make a foundation, to avoid paying for a civilization that's been good to them!

Anonymous spouts all of these incantations... and proclaims "I am the one fighting oligarchs!!!!"

David Brin said...

Stunning silliness. Oh! Oh! Our tax laws punish the rich investors who could make jobs! Thay are set up against the interests of those po' po' rich folks. Those persecuted rich folks who have NO influence and couldn't possibly have been the ones to warp the laws in their favor. No not them! They are always the victims!

Adam Smith clearly predicted what would happen after Supply Side tax gifts to the rich. Mostly they were NOT spent on new productive capacity (supply.) They went into passive rent-seeking (rentier) investments that slow money velocity near zero and inflate asset bubbles. Smith knew this. All non-voodoo economists know it. But not stupid confederate "yes, massa" oligarch-lickers.

SOME of the rich have invested in productive capacity... the tech billionaires. And except for a few hyper libertarians, they are all democrats who want their taxes to go UP! Why? Because they are smart enough to see that a middle class civilization will thrive and not revolt and put them in tumbrels.

Jumper said...

Our Laffer curve settings are so far off, there's a good possibility that the profits of the rich would increase more than enough to offset a tax increase compared to the economy they are working with now.

Carl M. said...

The Kennedy tax cuts from 91 down to 70% TRIPLED the takehome pay for those in the top brackets, and a cost of reducing revenue down to 7/9. Increased declared income didn't have to grow that much to offset the lower rate, and the incentive was huge.

When you cut from 50 down to 40, the change in takehome pay for the bracket isn't nearly so spectacular, and the cost to government bigger. I suspect less Laffer effect on raw math alone.

Let us note that Bill Clinton also cut taxes on the rich in order to get a short term surge in tax revenue. He cut the capital gains tax, the tax that the wealthy pay.

The old 90% top tax rates were easy to dodge for the old money rich. They could either go for capital gains or buy tax free municipal bonds. The high top bracket fell hardest on celebrities: athletes, movie stars, and musicians. This is why Ronald Reagan went from New Deal Democrat and union leader to conservative icon. Even the Beatles complained about the Tax Man. (Eventually, they figured out how to make their earned income look like capital gains.)

Carl M. said...

In other news, check out Scott Adams' post on dopamine and political outrage:

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/157904840851/dopamine-puppets

I recall reading similar things here...

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

Brin is all in favor of globalization- class warfare against the working class in America, and environmental racism abroad.


No, he's actually against that.

Empower capital and greatly weaken labor and democratic rule of nations. Point that out and he will call you a racist.


No, that's exactly what he talks about. Whether or not you are a racist, you are a fool, and I've given up suffering fools for Lent.

L said...

Anonymous Fool:

Our tax policy taxes labor and subsidizes capital.
Show me how that tax policy helps working people and hurts the oligarchs.


You're asking the wrong question. Show me how US tax policy is the fault of progressive liberals.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Anonymous spouts all of these incantations... and proclaims "I am the one fighting oligarchs!!!!"


Not even that so much as "You're unfairly calling me deplorable!" And since you're not calling him anything, he must infer that you're talking about him in the first place.

An old line from an episode of Hill St Blues: "Well, you answered to your name, so it must be plain!"

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

In other news, check out Scott Adams' post...


I lost a lot of respect for Scott Adams when he posted about how if even 0.1% of Muslim refugees are terrorists, then letting 10,000 refugees into the country means accepting ten terrorist incidents as the price of compassion.

I don't fault his math. I fault the implication that this sort of mathematical analysis applies exclusively to Muslim refugees. How many mass-shootings would we have prevented in the past two years by putting all white Christians in concentration camps? Does "not putting white Christians in concentration camps" mean we accept hundreds of mass shootings as the price of freedom?

Anonymous said...

What stunning drivel from the useful idiot.

Did you notice how he ran from the central point that taxing labor artificially reduces the demand for labor and how subsidizing capital artificially increases the supply of capital?

There are plenty of way to tax businesses that don't place a tax directly on the labor used by that business, but I guess Brin can't understand that.

LarryHart said...

What makes anyone think that Dr Brin is arguing for subsidizing capital?

If there's anything we "can't understand", it's how you get from point A to point Z.


Jason said...

Economics is demand driven. Bussiness will not increase supply without knowing, or sometimes guessing if you are starting out, that there is demand for the service or product. If you want to increase economic activity without increasing demand you have to increase competition for the demand. 10 businesses for a certain size of demand will have more jobs than 1 bussiness. Profits for each bussiness will be smaller but innovation will increase. What's killing our economy, besides gradual declining eroei in fuel, is monopalisation of our industries. How has either Democrats or Republicans tried to stop that. The government's main economic responsibility is to insure free markets where they benefit society the most, not health care by the way. When has our government ever done this?

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

To answer my own question having extremely high tax rates on the wealthy may be a way to control monopolies as the incentive to grow is greatly reduced. I'm not sure if this was a reason in past for high tax rates as my tax history knowledge is pretty much non existent.

Jason said...

To answer my own question having extremely high tax rates on the wealthy may be a way to control monopolies as the incentive to grow is greatly reduced. I'm not sure if this was a reason in past for high tax rates as my tax history knowledge is pretty much non existent.

LarryHart said...

Jason:

The government's main economic responsibility is to insure free markets where they benefit society the most, not health care by the way


The government's responsibility, enumerated in the preamble to the Constitution, is to "promote the general welfare". The constitution says nothing about free markets or capitalism. It does say that congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce.

LarryHart said...

@Jason,

High individual tax rates on the wealthy provide incentive to invest revenue back into one's business rather than pull profits out of that business.

LarryHart said...

OTOH, low individual tax rates are an incentive to suck everything of value out of a business and pay it to yourself.

Paul451 said...

David,
"Paul451 you make a fair point and I am fine with dems making a big deal of jobs."

It's not about "jobs". It's the entire economic structure. (I mean, it's the stuff you already know, the failure of supply-side, the inherent accumulation of wealth and resurrection of the oligarchy.)

Only one side is talking about it in terms and in places that the bulk of America lives, and it ain't liberals.

"But I still believe this is mostly cultural and psychological. e.g. Lovum and the ent have shown no sign of ever, remotely grasping certain concepts, like positive sum, even well enough to attempt to refute them!"

As I said in a previous thread, it doesn't matter why the good townfolk of Lynchnigger Alabama voted for Trump. They were always going to vote for someone like Trump. It doesn't matter why an MRA-nutter like Locum or a neo-Nazi-in-training like Treebeard voted for Trump. They were always going to believe stupid things.

The question for Democrats is why did people who previously voted the clever black liberal from Chicago into the Presidency, twice, then turn around and vote for Trump.

From what I've seen, the Democrat leadership and most liberal commentators and writers aren't even aware of the question.

Instead they want to talk about their own tribal shibboleths. Racism, sexism, islamophobia, etc. The few who do consider the economic question only do so to find a trite excuse to stop considering it; as with the Nate Silver example.

David Brin said...

Dang what an idiot. And he SNEERS so well! Seriously, this guy is a flaming example of why his cult has driven away every knowledge and skill caste... and hence so desperately needs to screech "I know more than all the people who know stuff!!"

Oh... this article demolishes the insane riff that technology doesn't produce jobs. These screeching idiots have one criterion for the diarrhea they spew from their mouths. "If it is counter-intuitive and seems opposite to fact and supports oligarchy, cry it from the rooftops! That makes me look so cool and impudently rebellious, I MUST be right!!"

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/17/technology-created-more-jobs-than-destroyed-140-years-data-census

Jason said...

Larry,
In my opinion free markets are the best way to promote the general welfare. The Internet has greatly improved the consumers information and helped. Transparency in the market is what we need for consumers. More competitors needed on the other side. Constitution is ambiguous in how to promote welfare. Thus the great discussions we get to have.
(How to stop this rookie from having duplicate comments?)

Anonymous said...

Dang the useful idiot sneers back without actually responding to the point.

Brin is just too arrogant to admit that taxes on labor reduce the demand for labor.
And the taxes on labor and the subsidies for capital expenses help explain the growing inequality in the US.

But hey the smartypants thinks that cos playing union soldiers is the path to congress and the white house so his analytical skills may not be there anymore.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart (talking to Locumranch);

The point is, we need to structure society such that the increased productivity is distributed to all.

Hmm. Be careful with that. You’ll trigger an old liberal’s concern about designing societies. We aren’t smart enough for that. Maybe a Vinge-an transcendent could do it, but that ain’t us.

If you want to chase after cheaters, though, I’m for it. Add structure by beating down the people who disobey emergent social rules with 90%+ support and I’ll help. If the rule has less than 90%, I might not, but I might also agree not to get in your way.

Also, increased productivity shows up two possible ways. It might show as increased income, but it can also result in lower real prices. Either version should be acceptable to the common man. I argue that most productivity gain delivers for the vast majority of us during Act III of an innovation and that you won’t get there without Acts I and II. If you can put up with that, you get my support in helping ensure gains are distributed to all. If you want to bypass the first two acts and design a solution for the last one, I’ll probably oppose you. Again… we aren’t anywhere near a Vinge-an transcendent for the insight we would need.

…then there is no reason that humans should be expected to put in a 40 hour work week (much less the typical 60 or 80 or "always on") in order to deserve participation in society.

Argh. Where did you come up with that idea? The meaning one could take from it is ambiguous. No one gets to expect 40 hours out of me unless I’ve contracted to deliver it. Same for 60 or 80 or whatever. None of that has anything to do with deserving participation in society. Where were you trying to go with this?

Alfred Differ said...

@raito;

Think of how much could be saved with unisexual bathrooms.

Heh. Yah. The other side will complain about the money spent changing all the signs. 8)

There is one complication I can understand. Many places have restrooms that can serve several of us at once. Gender segregation allows for this cost savings. Many places I frequent here in CA that have already switched to unisex restrooms, are small places with restrooms serving one at a time. Those are easiest to convert because only the signs have to be changed. If other places want to take their time figuring out how people are going to respond, I don’t mind if they want to keep with the old approach for a while. What I DO mind is the state getting involved. Let the people and business owners work it out.

It might take a little getting used to for some, but I think we should try to not care so much about the gender of the person in the stall next to us. It is what they DO that matters. Much like David points out in his transparency argument, it doesn’t really matter what you KNOW (or ARE in this case). It matters what you DO.

The flipside of this is that I’d rather the state not get involved in making everyone switch to unisex restrooms either. If some store doesn’t want to change and a customer can’t get to a restroom in a timely manner, I suggest the customer just pee on the floor to send management a clear message. If I’m on the jury, I will vote to acquit. 8)

Jumper said...

Thanks, Carl M.! Scott Adams provided the link to the funny part:
http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-to-stay-sane-in-era-non-stop-outrage/

All this should be more well known. I like Brin for this reason (among many): he has emphasized it often enough to lead me to think about it deeply. The rage-aholics are a sad and nasty bunch. In fact we saw one today!

Apparently among many internet commenters sneering is an outrage! How dare these sneerers sneer so! This is probably why Treebeard wants to ban Elvis music.

David Brin said...

Treebeard and Locumranch stay this side of trollery. An anonymous coward who is incapable of recognizing the host's power of expulsion treads the other side. I went from perusal to skimming to glancing. Now I will ignore the fool. If that fails, click deletion.

Alfred Differ said...

sneer
snappy
snarlers
snag a
snick

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

"The point is, we need to structure society such that the increased productivity is distributed to all."

Hmm. Be careful with that. You’ll trigger an old liberal’s concern about designing societies. We aren’t smart enough for that. Maybe a Vinge-an transcendent could do it, but that ain’t us.


I wasn't saying I had the answer. I'm saying this is the situation we are in...human beings require certain things for survival and comfort, and human labor is increasingly not required to produce those things. So a social system which divvies up the spoils based upon toil is increasingly anachronistic.


"…then there is no reason that humans should be expected to put in a 40 hour work week (much less the typical 60 or 80 or "always on") in order to deserve participation in society."

Argh. Where did you come up with that idea?


From listening to rhetoric about "people too lazy to work" and such for at least 40 years now.

I get that you think as an entrepreneur, and as such are not typical. It sounds as if you are thinking "My wealth comes from the value I produce, not from the number of hours I work." Fair enough. That's probably a healthier attitude than is typical. In that case, the question I would raise is "value to whom"?

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

What I DO mind is the state getting involved. Let the people and business owners work it out.


It comes up most often with public schools, for which the state (or government at some level) is necessarily involved. The kid also doesn't have the option of staying home. I'd expect the state (or government at some level) needs to be involved when the bathrooms in question are in public spaces, parks, municipal buildings, and the like.

I agree (I think) that there are competing interests involved--the comfort of the other users of the restroom as well as the comfort of the transgender individual in question. I suspect people have been "working it out" for years by the latter quietly using the room in which he/she would not likely appear out of place and by the former engaging in a sort of "Don't ask, don't tell".

LarryHart said...

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/02/mike-pence-personal-email-hacked-aol-governor

What a surprise. As governor, Mike Pence used personal e-mail for public business, and was hacked.

Seems as if Hillary was persecuted for a practice that is pretty much business as usual for everyone, Republican and Democrat. And it's not an outrage unless she's the one doing it. Even though she uzed the only web server on earth which was not hacked.

Jumper said...

The idea that liberals desire to design and implement mandatory social systems and their critics want not to, seems suspicious. First off, it shows a lack of humbling understanding of what we've been fortunate to learn from the examination of fractals, chaotic attractors, and butterfly effects. Second, history shows that Axis powers and the Russian communists gave agonizing demonstrations of how inept and cruel the attempts are. Nowadays such stuff comes solely from the corporate world, and their employees.

Duncan Cairncross said...

This whole bathroom thing is just silly

The current practice is

One big room with sinks and a urinal - also containing some stalls with WC's
Another big room with sinks - also containing some stalls with WC's

This gives lots of problems as the normal practice is to have the same number of stalls - so there can be lines in the ladies

Changing to a Single big room with sinks and Stalls plus another room with urinals would fix everything with no additional embarrassment AND either less lines or lower total and operational costs

This will require people to "put things away" before leaving the urinals or stalls - but that is one of the things that we should be training them to do when at school!

locumranch said...



Good points made by all.

It is apparent, however, that Eric has never cared for horses. I have. And I can promise you that are they are much much MORE inefficient, wasteful, time consuming, labour-dependent & potentially expensive contraptions than any Steam Locomotive or Automobile, despite the fact that 'no assembly is required'. Also, it's quaint for Eric to remember 'transistors' & the people their production once employed, yet it's still quite sad that he has forgotten the pressman, the newsie & the practically extinct textile worker.

Then, DavidB descends into cognitive dissonance & tells an 'alternafact' WHOPPER of a lie by claiming that "most people have jobs". What utter malarkey!! The West's 'Dependency Ratio' indicates that LESS than 50% of our total population has gainful employment; and, worldwide, the Potential Support Ratio (comparing workers to dependents) is headed straight down to toilet-town. Remember child labour, piecework, the 80+ hour workweek, no retirement age & the reason why farmers traditionally had large families?? Time was when everyone worked, but no longer.

The Guardian article was likewise a laugh-riot as it compared the numerical job count (or, even worse, the occupation-specific percentage change) to the percent employed of the population total.

Perhaps the truth is too HORRIBLE for most people to admit, even though it's been an open secret in Science Fiction since 'The Shape of Things to Come', 1933, by HG Wells:

Industrialisation is a runaway train of a Ponzi Scheme, always requiring expansion (more resources, more factories, more markets & more consumers) in order to justify its existence & stabilise (and/or increase) job counts . It cannot be stopped (or even slowed beyond a certain point) elsewise the whole system will collapse under its own weight like Krispy Kreme Donuts, the Dot.com Bubble or the unpublished academic.

This Industrial Ponzi scheme is also the cause of every great war since the Civil War, this need for ever more expansion, resources, factories, markets & consumers ELSE economic collapse, a cycle that repeats every 40 to 60 years or so (Civil War, WW1, WW2, the Middle East, etc), most recently delayed only by the zealous overconsumption performed by the heroic, self-sacrificial & increasingly obese Americafat Fat Fatty consumer.

Like David, I once hoped that we (or, at least some of us) could avoid this imminent collapse by escaping into Space, yet now I fear that this window has passed, so much so that the confiscation & redistribution of capital will only speed our socioeconomic collapse.

Infinite productivity is NOT a thing: Remember this when you dream of being fully-supported by the machinery of your (cough cough) 'Capital Investments'.


Best
_____
@Duncan: When our whole socioeconomic future is circling the drain, then toilet etiquette becomes our most pressing social concern.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Changing to a Single big room with sinks and Stalls plus another room with urinals would fix everything with no additional embarrassment AND either less lines or lower total and operational costs.


Spoken like a lifelong bachelor. :)

I think you misunderstand just how viscerally uncomfortable some people, especially people my mother's age, are just being in the presence of the gender opposite and a bathroom at the same time.

Then, there's the issue that Asimov's "Caves of Steel" made clear. Men tend to do their business and get out, hopefully without acknowledging the presence of any other human being (of whatever gender). Women tend to socialize in the restroom. The styles are incompatible. In fact, that might make a better criterion than birth certificate for a law that determines which bathrooms a gender-ambiguous person is entitled to use.

I kid, yes, but (borrowing from Al Franken) I'm kidding on the square.

Smurphs said...

Apropos of nothing, but I am currently reading the latest biography of U.S. Grant, and happen to be at the Presidential election of 1868. The Freedman Laws giving assistance and education to the recently emancipated slaves were widely portrayed as letting he Black Man live a life of ease and idleness on the backs of the poor, oppressed working White Man. (so, Larry, that meme has been around for A LOT longer than 40 years).

Also, interesting, the official campaign slogan of the Democratic Convention in 1868 was "This is a White Mans' Country; Let The White Men Rule."

The more things change, ...

LarryHart said...

@Smurphs,

What has changed since 1868 (aside from which party is on which side) is that it was a losing slogan back then.

Tim H. said...

Smurphs, the autobiography is also worth your time, and the price is right... I rather liked the point where Grant expresses regret for not being able to do more for poor whites in the south, whose economic opportunities were blighted by the plantations.

Jumper said...

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/labor-force-participation-rate
Hit "max" for the full labor participation stats chart. It illustrates the bullshit thrown at us is wrong.

raito said...

Alfred Differ,

Yes, they'd complain. Part of the inefficiency is, as has been said, keeping the same number of drains for each gender. But another is making the extra capacity the same for both. F+x and M+X results in 2X over capacity to make sure there's never a shortage. With unisex, X is probably sufficient. Maybe 1.5X.

And you will run into LarryHart's mom who can't/won't adjust. Should she have to or not? That's part of the quesiton. If if so, should we always have to remain the same ebcause someone a generation ago couldn't move forward? (I don't have global answers, jsut questions here)

There were several times in the dim past when my mother bypassed the line at the women's to take my sister into the empty men's.

LarryHart,

Thanks for bringing up Franken. I've been listeing to the Sessions flap for a day now, and what I find most interesting is that it seems like people are willfully missing what was asked, and that the answer didn't answer the question.. I'm most disappointed that no one seems upset that the question Franken asked was never actually answered.

First off, Franken really proved that he's got a brain. What he asked was, "What would you do if you knew abut this?" Pretty clever, attempting to get an answer about the future (which could then be used if the answer wasn't what was then done), and possibly having the information about the calls so that he could call out that the non-answer was false.

Secondly, any explanation that Sessions didn't understand the question should be enough to immediately remove him, because he's stupid. I don't have a law degree, and I'm not a Senator, and I understood the question. And I could have answered the question, either with his non-answer, or an actual answer, in a way that wouldn't have caused trouble. Either actually answer, 'Depends on the mertis of the case', or non-answer, 'Sure I had calls, they were about current business, not campaign business'.

Thirdly, answering a question of "What would you do if you knew?" with "I don't know that it happened" is not answering the question. But everyone seems to be ignoring that.

LarryHart said...

raito:

And you will run into LarryHart's mom who can't/won't adjust. Should she have to or not? That's part of the quesiton. If if so, should we always have to remain the same ebcause someone a generation ago couldn't move forward? (I don't have global answers, jsut questions here)


Funny you should put it that way, very shortly after I watched Charlton Heston portraying Mark Antony in a movie of Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar". The similarity of phrase is chilling. "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him!"

Seriously, though, my mom as an individual would adjust moreso than most. My point was that we are talking about ladies of a certain age all over the country. You can try to convince them, or try to ignore their concerns, but they do vote, and it wouldn't surprise me if a large percentage voted for Trump on this issue alone. Not that they mean transgendered people any harm in their hearts, but that the insistence on treating ladies' rooms as indistinguishable from men's rooms strikes them as contrary to all reason and common sense, just as almost anything President Snow advocates strikes us. It makes us look like the crazy people who call a donkey a horse.

David Brin said...

Counterfactualism is the cult’s core religious tenet. Locum’s shriek that industrialism is a disaster reminds me unabomber Kaczynski’s book (I am currently reading) that ignores the grinding misery of almost all of our ancestors, compared to today, when 80% of human children get the basic “stuff” they need, and even the poor, in Africa, can leverage their own efforts to improve their lives, using the miracle of cell phones.

“Like David, I once hoped that we (or, at least some of us) could avoid this imminent collapse by escaping into Space…” You know nothing of my wants or hopes. It’s not that we haven’t barked at each other for years. Just rest assured. Your image of me is almost entirely a concoction of your own sick needs. Almost never have you portrayed anything even remotely what I have said, let alone think.

LarryHart has it right. Women need a refuge where men can’t barge and noise-about. And yes, there are moments when the opposite can be true.

LarryHart said...

I think I have plenty of liberal cred here. I just don't think it's wise to expect or demand people of earlier generations to simply accept that the underpinnings of the world are not as they have thought them to be for many decades without working to convince them that a different perspective is warranted and necessary. If we just treat them as old farts whom time has passed by and whose feelings are inconsequential, then we get the 2016 election.

I hate to keep dragging Mom (who is alive and well, btw) into this, but the fact is that she'd be fine sharing a ladies' room with a trangender woman who truly self-identifies as a woman. She'd be less fine with a roomful of mixed company in hearing (and smelling) distance of what goes on inside the stalls. To her, and to millions of her generation in all 50 states, the "obvious" solution is worse than the problem it attempts to solve.

Jumper said...

Kaczinski was a tragic asshole. He discovered all the things at risk to be removed by modern life; the comforts and human rewards from any functioning community. Then he removed himself from that, choosing no community, and so became insane.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart; My wealth doesn’t have much of anything to do with the value I produce. My income does according to my employer, but I don’t believe it. That kind of argument died with big parts of the classical economic equilibrium theories.

It’s all about what OTHERS think my stuff is worth (and then whether I agree) whether it is assets I claim to own or my labor. I’ve had my labor highly valued one year and not valued the next and that is how things go. What I produce isn’t the valued thing, though. Neither is my labor. The value appears only during the exchange. Afterwards, no one knows what the value of my product and my labor are. In the brief moment of the exchange, my employer and I do know. Afterwards, we conform to an illusion that the values linger. It is an illusion that I’m not inclined to convince my employer not to believe.

Back in the late 80’s I was a part-time college teacher. Physics, astronomy, and that kind of stuff. I was also in grad school, so part-time was all I could risk doing. The teacher’s union and the district where I taught agreed that my contact hours should be valued in the mid-30’s per hour. After I had secured my degree, the agreed upon rate was in the low-50’s per hour. This was all baked into the contract which helped me make decent predictions. I was only working 3 hours a week at first and never went above 6 with them. Multiply that up and you’ll see it wasn’t much. However… it was enough for me to get what I really wanted. If anyone had told me I was too lazy to work, I would have raised an eyebrow at them, mentally lumped them in with stupid people, and then moved on. What a person wants matters. It would have been nice if someone had given me a wad of cash to get by, but it wasn’t so important to me that I sought it out or sought another kind of trade for it. When I got tired of being poor, though, I moved on and never doubted that I could.

When someone spouts that nonsense about people too lazy to work, I poke back at them to see how confident they really are about their own income. Many people can’t face that kind of examination and they shut up and avoid me. It is a useful bit of defensive magic I encourage everyone to learn. Risk taking is scary stuff and if there is ANY connection between a person’s attitude and their wealth, my suspicion is that risk takers deviate the most from the average, thus the typical higher earner is probably one of them. Good luck teaching risk adverse people to take risks. It’s hard work.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch; Most people have jobs

That your response to that is so strong should be taken as a measure of how far off your understanding is compared to what he intends. When someone uses four words like that, be suspicious that they are spoken in a context that is going unsaid. You’ve got to check your internal model of the person saying them to figure out what the context is, though, because we gist just as much in our speech as we do in our reading. In a nutshell, if a comment sounds outlandish, consider the possibility that your model is a poor representation of the person saying it. A better model would enable you to unpack the meaning intended by the speaker.

In David’s case, consider the possibility that a partially unpacked version would go like this. “Most people who want a job have a job.” More unpacking would reveal that our general opposition to child labor, overlong work weeks, and working until you die offers up a version that goes like this. “Most adults who want a decent job have one.”

It is terribly important to model a person if you are going to successfully unpack meaning in written statements. In a face-to-face setting, roughly half of our communication passes through body language. Of the remaining half, about two thirds of it passes through tone of voice. Very little passes through the actual words we chose, but what does is EXTREMELY compressed making use of a lifetime’s worth of learning in becoming fluent.

David points out how mismatched your model of him is. It’s not just an attempt by him to weasel out of the consequences of your accusations. Here is a simple example of how far off you are.

Like David, I once hoped that we (or, at least some of us) could avoid this imminent collapse by escaping into Space…

Nah. Not even close. Kinda the opposite for him. More than kinda. He’s pretty fierce about not giving up Earth. I DO know a number of people who think we’ll need to escape, but he isn’t one of them. Escape is a dumb idea anyway. There never was a window for it.

Oh… While I’m at it… Your economic theory is a dud too. I learned an investment joke years ago, but can’t remember it well enough to tell it. I’m terrible with jokes that way. I DO remember the point of it, though. When doctors think it is a good idea to invest, it is time to sell them everything you have and revert to cash or even gold. If they think it is time to sell, buy up what they offer. All of it. They make excellent counter-indicators in the financial markets.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

My wealth doesn’t have much of anything to do with the value I produce. My income does according to my employer, but I don’t believe it. That kind of argument died with big parts of the classical economic equilibrium theories.
...
The value appears only during the exchange. Afterwards, no one knows what the value of my product and my labor are. In the brief moment of the exchange, my employer and I do know. A


Ok, I'm guilty of careless semantics. It would have been closer to say that, if your income can be expressed as the perceived what you produce (more accurately, the perceived value of the production which can be said to be "yours"), then your wealth is the integral of your income over time, minus that which you trade away and/or consume.

Smurphs:

The Freedman Laws giving assistance and education to the recently emancipated slaves were widely portrayed as letting he Black Man live a life of ease and idleness on the backs of the poor, oppressed working White Man. (so, Larry, that meme has been around for A LOT longer than 40 years).


"40 years" referred to the approximate length of time that I've been old enough to notice such things.

Erin Schram said...

locumranch said,
It is apparent, however, that Eric has never cared for horses. I have. And I can promise you that are they are much much MORE inefficient, wasteful, time consuming, labour-dependent & potentially expensive contraptions than any Steam Locomotive or Automobile, despite the fact that 'no assembly is required'. Also, it's quaint for Eric to remember 'transistors' & the people their production once employed, yet it's still quite sad that he has forgotten the pressman, the newsie & the practically extinct textile worker.

I avoid talking in areas, such as the newspaper business, where my knowledge is sketchy. I have read up on trains and electronics, but locumranch caught that I have not read up on horse-drawn wagons.

As for textile mills, however, I know one real-life example well. I used to live in Savage, Maryland, two blocks north of Savage Mill, a former textile mill currently occupied by small shops (see www.savagemill.com and I recommend The Family Game Store there). The history of the mill is displayed within this historic site. The mill was built in 1822, expanded afterwards, relied on the railroads to deliver its goods, and quit producing textiles in 1947. It was not made obsolete by new textile technology; instead, the demand for the cotton canvas dropped so that it was no longer profitable. It had a last hurrah in World War II because the military used a lot of canvas. If its machinery had been replaced with new machinery to make modern cloth it could have continued, but its owners decided not to modernize. Sometimes technology could save a business instead of destroying it.

Jumper pointed out,
http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-to-stay-sane-in-era-non-stop-outrage/

Thanks. That was a good article.

Alfred Differ said,
Good luck teaching risk adverse people to take risks. It’s hard work.

My risk-taking increases whenever I have a reminder how poor I am at judging risk. If I have data I can reliably estimate risk with statistics, but my intuition about risk is terrible. Hiding from imaginary risk is silly, but I have to think critically to see that the risk is imaginary.

Kal Kallevig said...

Alfred,

I don't know what LarryHart had in mind with his 40 expected hours comment. I thought he meant the way society is organized so unless you are "gainfully employed" or lucky enough to have inherited wealth you will live in poverty. And unless you leverage your way into a high pay profession, even with that gainful employment you will live at or near poverty. The machines have made many of the formerly good jobs disappear but we still distribute the fruits of the economy according to the old rules, and a whole lot of average type people are disadvantaged because of it.

David S said...

@LarryHart,

You raise an interesting issue regarding your mother and transgeneder bathroom use, but I can't tell if you have considered all the permutations. Would she rather share a bathroom with a post-operation transgender male or a post-operation transgender female? Now consider a choice between pre-operative transgender male/female? And finally, between a gay cisfemale and a gay cismale?

How do you think your father would answer to the same questions?

I ask these questions to try to determine if the issue is external appearances, "plumbing", sharing a bathroom with someone who may be sexually attracted to your parent/someone your parent might be sexually attracted to.









Jumper said...

In engineering, I completed a project that began saving the company $400,000 a year. I don't seem to have a problem determining its value. True, I don't know if that system was retained when they moved production to Mexico 17 years later.

LarryHart said...

David S:

You raise an interesting issue regarding your mother and transgeneder bathroom use, but I can't tell if you have considered all the permutations.


That's exactly my point. That before one declares a "simple solution" and tries to implement it by fiat, one should understand that there are all sorts of complications involved, many of them affecting the participants at a visceral level in ways they probably haven't consciously thought about for decades if ever.

The debate doesn't even really seem to be about transgender people per se. Transgender people are almost hostage to the fear that if a man is allowed to decide that the ladies' room is his appropriate venue (and no one has the right to say otherwise), then depraved heterosexual men will take advantage of the situation and descend upon that most hallowed and forbidden no-man's land* by the thousands.

* It's a line from "Batman"

LarryHart said...

@Kal Kallevig,

Yes, you're interpreting very close to what I meant. To state it more simply:

People need a certain level of stuff. If the stuff is freely available (depending on where you are, possibly water or certain types of fruit), then we're talking about a method of administering the commons in such a way to balance need against maintainability. If the stuff requires human labor and/or planning to produce (most food, most energy, most shelter) then the ones who actually make the stuff earn a right to the stuff, while others have to trade for it.

Increasing automation reduces the need for human labor while not reducing the inherent need. Ideally, this is a good thing. If people aren't required for the production process, then they shouldn't be expected to do drudge work. But this is a major social change, which essentially puts more of the "stuff" that people need out of reach for the people who need it. To me, the question becomes one of incorporating the "stuff" that doesn't require human labor into the commons. To others, that "stuff" belongs to the owner class, and everyone else who is not economically valuable to that owner class is simply out of luck.

The problem to be solved is not an economic one per se, but a societal one. What kind of society are we? The economic system will follow from that. And no, I don't have a detailed solution either.

locumranch said...


Let's assume that when David says "most people have jobs", he means that the current job trends are 'appropriate' (whatever that means). Now, note that this statement about work trend 'appropriateness' in no way invalidates my argument that "Industrialisation has uniformly eliminated more jobs than it has created".

Inarguably, the elimination of an onerous employment requirement is a GOOD thing -- I like leisure & luxury as much as the next man -- but only up to a point. Past that point, when the dependency ratio increases much past 1 to 1, the efforts of the (shrinking) working class become unreciprocated & a confiscatory parasite class develops that does not contribute to the social collective.

Hence 'Slavery' (as Smurphs suggests):

Slavery has been variously defined as (1) "the involuntary subjection to another or others", (2) "the idea of complete ownership and control by a master", (3) "a state of subjugation or captivity often involving burdensome and degrading labour", (4) "compulsory service, often such as is required by law", and (5) "a condition wherein the fruits of one's labour are not one's own".

Taxes (defined as "compulsory payments by companies or individuals to the state") are much loved by progressives and (also as a matter of definition) "100% taxation equals slavery". The big question then becomes how much of a SLAVE are you, percentage-wise? Who owns the fruits of your labour? And how many layabouts are you compelled to support at the command of your Progressive Corporate Master?

And, finally, I'd like to point out that my 'Industrialisation as a Ponzi scheme' model is actually quite empiric, based on the 2015 events surrounding Doxycycline pricing. What happened was this:

Doxycycline was a successful antibiotic and, thanks to capital investment, automation & industrialisation, its cost of production dropped so low (3 cents/tablet) that it's market value could no longer justify continued capital investment & manufacture. Plant after plant closed down, precipitated an artificial shortage, led to worldwide unavailability & caused its price to jump to more than $5/tablet in a matter of months.

https://vineyardgazette.com/news/2015/09/24/cost-doxycycline-skyrockets

First-world textile plants followed the same pattern. And, so does Industrial Agriculture, I'm afraid.


Best

Smurphs said...

My point was about Racism, not Slavery.

Boy, you work really hard at deliberately misrepresenting what other people say. Doesn't it get tiring?

David Brin said...

onward

onward