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Comment: Re:Inequality isn't harmful (Score 1) 832

by overshoot (#48167423) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

The correlation is not just in the USA, not just the past six years, for another.

And FWIW, the past thirty years have constant-dollar wages in the USA flat while productivity increased. (Household income increased due to increasing hours worked, mostly women.) The exception was during the 90s, when (despite predictions to the contrary) wages actually increased.

Facts on the US part readily available from the lovely search and visualization tools at the St. Lous Federal Reserve.

Comment: Re:Progressive Consumption Tax (Score 1) 832

by overshoot (#48161007) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

The government spends 13.68% of all income across the country on welfare alone.

Total 2014 per-capita spending on welfare, all sources, in the United States is $1538.40

Total 2013 per-capita income in the United States is $53,960 (Google, including World Bank)

$1538.40/$53,960 = 2.85%

Comment: Re:Self-serving -- meh! (Score 1) 832

by overshoot (#48160877) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

I have the impression that income taxes are comparatively low in the US whereas the corporate taxes are exceptionally high. Anyone who can comment meaningfully on this?

The statutory tax rate is 35%, which is the highest in the G20. However, there are so many exemptions, deductions, credits, and of course outright avoidance that the actual rate is close to zero.

Unfortunately, that "average corporate tax rate" includes some companies that actually get reamed and others (think General Electric) which are actually net recipients of money thanks to credits.

Comment: Re:Three things you can tax, and consumption is ba (Score 1) 832

by overshoot (#48160773) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

You forgot a simple head tax. One head tax based on your place of residence (or split among localities if you have more than one residence over the tax period based on time spent at each). There'd be one of these for city, county, state, and federal paid once a year.

Have you run the numbers on this?

US government spending, per capita, is $12,101, so the canonical family of four would start off owing $48,400. Roughly half of the population would pay more in taxes than they earn.

Which, aside from value judgments, is going to make it necessary to increase the tax rate since those "takers" won't be paying much. Of course, increasing the tax rate will put more of them in the street, etc.

Comment: Re:Inequality isn't harmful (Score 5, Insightful) 832

by overshoot (#48160613) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Inequality in itself is not harmful.

It does seem to be negatively correlated with economic growth.

What difference does it make to me that someone in Ohio is driving a Rolls Royce while all I have is a Nissan?

That depends, doesn't it, on whether the shift in income from wages to capital kept your income from growing over your working lifetime. If inequality has a net positive sum great enough for "trickle down" to lift all boats rather than just the yachts, well and good. If it's a negative sum (the top gets increases, the bottom loses money) then the picture changes.

This isn't an ideological question, but an empiracal one.

Comment: Re:Gallons per mile? (Score 1) 402

by overshoot (#48091543) Attached to: Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

This is why we use MPG and why they put big numbers on the speedometer even though that 4 Cylinder would never make it to 120 MPH.

Considering how long Indy racers ran with four-bangers ...

Or for that matter, my Subaru with its four-cylinder Boxer is basically an updated version of the car that holds a long list of speed records for distances like 50,000 km -- at sustained average speeds of over 135 mph.

The real reason auto manufacturers put silly speedo ranges on is to keep the most common highway speeds in the upper quadrant of the dial, for quick reading and thus faster times getting your eyes back on the road. And, yes, I've worked with the auto industry on speedometers, albeit long long ago.

Comment: Re:metric you insensitive clod! (Score 2, Insightful) 402

by overshoot (#48091373) Attached to: Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

The reason it's considered inferior is because it's inverted from what you really care about - what you care about is "how much fuel will it take me to get n miles".

No, what I really care about is, "can I make it to the next fuel stop with what I have in the tank." Which is not a problem in most of Europe, but is very much a problem in large parts of the USA.

And unlike the manufacturers' economy claims, I use the number on a regular basis instead of just when I'm planning to buy a car.

Comment: Wavefunction collapse (Score 2) 770

by overshoot (#47853361) Attached to: How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

This whole discussion is distorted by the framing around "belief." As long as the result of a scientific inquiry is "belief" it's reasonable (in the "sound reason" sense) to hold the issue open and speculate that Einstein's General Theory (or the current version of Darwin's) might in fact be totally wrong.

But that's where the denialists play word games. They talk about open minds, and how consensus isn't dispositive, etc. and then use that as an argument against teaching evolution in schools or taking steps agains AGW. Or, for that matter, against teaching heliocentrism or plate tectonics.

The "scientific consensus" may not be dispositive in any epistemological sense, but when it comes time to collapse the waveform and make a decision it's certainly the way to bet.

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