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Comment Re:Missing ingredient: consumers (Score 1) 391

You've forgotten to add the effect of automation on prices. Suppose you automate away half the jobs at a factory, saving half your wage bill. Given that manufactured goods are a highly competitive industry, your increased margins are hardly likely to last, so the increase in profits gets competed away. That means that the labour cost saving is being passed to consumers: that's how the "profits" (that is to say, lower prices) flow to consumers.

So in the limit, if all the jobs are replaced by robots then the goods should be priced at the cost of the materials. This is still too high for someone who doesn't make any money.

This makes no sense. If consumers are the bottleneck, then who's buying to create the taxable profits in the first place?

If things continue to head in the same direction, this is where we'll end up. Fortunately there is still time to increase the taxes on things like capital gains or high bracket incomes. Ideally we would have more asset taxation since income tax largely is spent on protecting American assets. (Some assets more than others.)

Comment Re:Confused! (Score 1) 57

Why is this insightful? Shouldn't this comment have a low moderation value. A high moderation leads people into wasting their time look at this post and into a parent post who needed some help. Why should anyone else care.

Of course this is not the fault of the parent or the poster. Is moderation really this crappy? I guess moderators want to moderate something in this article and there just aren't any good posts.

Comment Re:Too bad. (Score 5, Interesting) 798

This doesn't make much sense. If the support for data plans is expensive then just refuse to give data support for people who don't have data plans. Of course, there is the associated cost of dealing with them on the phone and refusing to help. This could be offset by offering them a minimal data plan or a data support plan.

The real reason ATT doesn't want people to use this option is that lots of people would drop their data plans. There's a lot of wifi around and many people would be satisfied with just wifi. I guess this opens up an opportunity for someone to come up with a way to get a phone to report a false id to the cell phone company.

Comment Re:What about people who bus, bike or walk? (Score 1) 686

Nice example of equivocation. I say why not give the proper incentives to companies as in incentive to do something, and you change it to a regulatory incentive used by the government to get people to behave in "desirable" ways. While I am proposing government regulation, it is not some arbitrary incentive but is instead a way to correct for externalities.

Comment Re:What about people who bus, bike or walk? (Score 1) 686

I guess you include paying a lot less as a more efficient way of paying for roads. I was confused as to what you meant as you said we're not going to get out of paying for it.

As for changing the regulatory framework, I claim that can be reasonably free market. It's a relatively easy way to deal with these types of market externalities. It's not too controversial to claim that a free market needs government interventation to create the market. I would also claim that includes correcting for these types of externalities.

Comment Re:And this too shall pass away. (Score 1) 639

Hoarding the money in tax havens and other such things essentially makes it useless to the economy.

Right. Because an investor putting money in a haven keeps it in cash.

What actually happens is that money is put into investment baskets which goes to buying debt in enterprise. That enterprise probably employs you.

Or that enterprise buys capital or employs some workers in a third world country. What we have is a tragedy of the commons. Corporations, in order to maximize profits, are outsourcing and cutting wages. To an individual corporation, this makes sense; however, when many corporations do it, they destroy the consumer base that create and buy their products. If every corporation slashed salaries of all their employees, their short term profits might rise, but in the long term who has the money to buy their products. Henry Ford had the right idea, but I doubt a publicly traded company could pull that off.

Comment Re:Just a cheap H1-B visa scam, "for the kids" my (Score 2) 257

What you say does not contradict that Microsoft wants more H1Bs to reduce their labor costs. It's simple supply and demand. By adding people to the job market, H1B visa workers will depress wages. While Microsoft is willing to pay more than market average, they will still benefit from a lower market average.

Comment Re:Just keep in mind the tradeoff (Score 1) 556

You can pretty much look at any pill in a pharmacy and they all cost peanuts to actually produce, like software it's just a matter of pricing it so that the expected sales pay off.

This also says something about the massive over regulation of the generics industry by the FDA. Most generics should cost peanuts, but many do not. I would guess the pharmaceutical companies exert considerably lobbying to keep it that way. In fact there is currently a massive shortage of many generics. Instead people are forced to by the name brand version.

Comment Re:One more issue (Score 1) 1065

Wealth tax seems pretty fair to me. Looking at how our government currently spends income tax, it mostly goes to defense. It can be interpreted that the government is spending that money to protect the wealth of the nation. Therefore people should pay proportionally to their wealth.

The idea that it's unfair because people might waste their income seems strange. If someone makes some bad investments and loses some wealth then they have less wealth to protect and should pay less tax. This is also true if they waste their money on things that have a high depreciation.

Comment Re:Hardly surprising... (Score 1) 435

If EVERYONE say "that's a great deal, let's do it!", then you have to pay the subisdy to everyone, and tax everyone extra to pay the subsidies - so, your neighbor pays for your solar installation, you pay for your neighbor's solar installation, and effectively noone gets a subsidy.

The goal is to lower the cost of solar versus other energies. The hope is that it will create the demand and allow the market to increase production to lower the cost so that the incentives can be removed and solar will still be competitive. This can be effective with smaller industries that can substantially decrease cost either through research or larger factories.

Another motivation is to equal the playing field since many existing energy sources take advantage of subsidies and externalities. While it would be great to get rid of those unfair advantages, politically it's easier to give incentives to competing technologies.

One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor... is to discourage... from expecting too much from mathematics. -- N. Wiener