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Submission + - America's Best Days May Be Behind Us

HughPickens.com writes: Take a look back at a popular TV programs from the mid-1960s, say “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and what do you see? Like today, middle-class Americans typically had washing machines and air-conditioning, telephones and cars. The Internet and video games were not yet invented but life, over all, did not look that different. Now flash back 50 years earlier to 1910 and less than half the population lived in cities, Model T’s were just starting to roll off the assembly line, most homes weren’t wired for electricity, and average life expectancy was only 53. Now Eduardo Porter writes in the NYT that although Americans like to think they live in an era of rapid and unprecedented change, the truth is that the most momentous changes of the 20th century arose between 1920 and 1970 and according to Robert J. Gordon, author of “The Rise and Fall of American Growth," despite the burst of progress of the Internet era, total factor productivity has risen in the last fifty years at only about one-third the pace of the previous five decades. “This book,” Gordon writes in the introduction, “ends by doubting that the standard of living of today’s youths will double that of their parents, unlike the standard of living of each previous generation of Americans back to the late 19th century.”

But that's not the worst part of the story. According to Gordon, the labor force will continue to decline, as aging baby boomers leave the work force and women’s labor supply plateaus and gains in education, an important driver of productivity that expanded sharply in the 20th century, will contribute little. Moreover, the growing concentration of income means that whatever the growth rate, most of the population will barely share in its fruits. Altogether, Professor Gordon argues, the disposable income of the bottom 99 percent of the population, which has expanded about 2 percent per year since the late 19th century, will expand over the next few decades at a rate little above zero. Gordon says that the explosion of innovation and prosperity from 1920 through 1970 was a one-time phenomenon. From now on, progress will continue at the more gradual pace of both the last 40 years and the period before 1920. "If you think about the productivity effects of the computer revolution, they started way back in the 1960s, with the first computer-produced telephone bills and bank statements and went on in the 1970s with airline reservation systems. In the early 80s there was the invention of the personal computer, the ATM cash machine and barcode scanning which greatly increased productivity in retail. And so much of the impact of computers in replacing human labor had already occurred at the time the internet was introduced in the late 1990s. And actually, depending on which part of the internet you are looking at, it was introduced before then. Most of us were doing email by the early 90s. Amazon was founded in 1994, so we’re 20 years now into the age of e-commerce," says Gordon. “There is plenty of room in my forecast for evolutionary change. What is lacking is sharp, discrete change.”

Comment Re:Dark side (Score 1) 65

The problem with privatization is not that the service is being provided by a private organization, it's that it's trading one monopoly (public) for another (private). The issue is that certain services have been monopolized by the government via the law. Services aren't magically better when performed by private companies. They are better in the free market because there is competition and no one can force you do to one thing or the other. Government and the services it has privatized are still just monopolies.

Comment Re:Interestingly enough (Score 1) 234

More than likely, any corporation that threatened to send men with guns to kick in your front door would quickly go out of business. Sending guns to kick in doors is expensive business and the government is the only institution that is funded by involuntary "customers". Don't confuse corporations with business. Corporations are creations of government and as such they draw much of their power from that unholy alliance.

Comment Re:You'd get two choices: Devil and Deep Blue Sea (Score 1) 702

an ever-shrinking number of companies leveraging their ever-increasing power to charge more and more for less and less

You just described a mixed economy having a central bank that controls the money supply, not capitalism. The United States has never had capitalism, only a mixed economy. This leads always to monopolies and corporate manipulation with government. Please explain how a corporation could establish itself as a monopoly without the legal use of force, i.e. government. Without government support, no company would be safe from competition. I'm wrong you say? Please provide an example of a corporation that became a "monopoly", provided a shitty product, and charged a high price for it.

It's not that the market is a bad thing or that capitalism is unworkable, it's just that it's not a magical cornucopia.

Supporters of true laissez faire don't claim that it is magical. Contrast that with supporters of state control and increased regulation. To them, the government can fix anything.

Science

The Proton Just Got Smaller 289

inflame writes "A new paper published in Nature has said that the proton may be smaller than we previously thought. The article states 'The difference is so infinitesimal that it might defy belief that anyone, even physicists, would care. But the new measurements could mean that there is a gap in existing theories of quantum mechanics. "It's a very serious discrepancy," says Ingo Sick, a physicist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, who has tried to reconcile the finding with four decades of previous measurements. "There is really something seriously wrong someplace."' Would this indicate new physics if proven?"
Amiga

Timberwolf (a.k.a. Firefox) Alpha 1 For AmigaOS 152

An anonymous reader writes "We're happy to announce the availability of the first alpha release of Timberwolf, the AmigaOS port of the popular Firefox browser. Timberwolf needs AmigaOS 4.1 Update 2 installed. Please read the documentation for information about usage and limitations. This is an alpha release, meaning it will have a lot of problems still, and be slower than it should be. We are releasing it as a small 'Thank you' to all those that have donated in the past to show that development is still going on. Timberwolf is available on os4depot.net. For further information and feedback, check the Timberwolf support forum on amigans.net."
Australia

Good Language Choice For School Programming Test? 407

An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Informatics Olympiad programming test is being run in a couple of months. I'm an experienced programmer and I'm thinking of volunteering to tutor interested kids at my children's school to get them ready. There will be children of all levels in the group, from those that can't write 'hello world' in any language, to somewhat experienced programmers. For those starting from scratch, I'm wondering what language to teach them to code in. Accepted languages are C, C++, Pascal, Java, PHP, Python and Visual Basic. I'm leaning towards Python, because it is a powerful language with a simple syntax. However, the test has a run-time CPU seconds limit, so using an interpreted language like Python could put the students at a disadvantage compared to using C. Is it better to teach them something in 2 months that they're likely to be able to code in but possibly run foul of the CPU time limit, or struggle to teach them to code in a more complicated syntax like C/C++ which would however give them the best chance of having a fast solution?"

Comment Re:Well, this seems subpar. (Score 1) 452

Whenever I hear "the government ruins everything" I know that I'm hearing ideology, not reality. The people saying such things take so many of the regulations, which make this country run smoothly, for granted.

Whenever I hear "the government makes this country run smoothly", I know that I'm hearing ideology, not reality. The government is by its very nature and definition an institution of criminals that accomplishes everything it does by force and coercion. In a democratic nation, just because 51% of the population chooses something, it does not mean it is justified to FORCE the other 49% into doing it. Likewise, the 51% majority likely will not even get what they vote for anyway, as is seen with the current and previous American administrations. You may remember that GW Bush campaigned on a non-interventionist foreign policy.

All of the agencies you have listed have nothing to do with the quality of food, worker safety, air travel, highway safety, and building codes - those things are all improved only by the actions of free individuals on the market. While companies may be compelled by government "standards", the real driving force behind any increase of quality is due to competition. Company A, no matter how large must, must maintain a certain level of quality if it does not want to risk losing market share to smaller, better companies in the same sector. The belief that without government constraints, all production would be rubbish or food poisonous, etc. is ludicrous. On the contrary, look at any country that has had increased controls and you will see less production at a lower quality, along with a worse standard of living.

In a free market, no company can escape from competition. Coercive monopolies are not possible without government policy. Without the force of government, no company has the power to force anyone and can always be out maneuvered.

Submission + - Modern Day Protectionism (lewrockwell.com)

xPhoenix writes: Vedad Krehic writes on LewRockwell.com about Modern Day Protectionism. 'The consumer entertainment industry lobbyists lie. They lie over, and over, and over. They lie to the media, they lie to the politicians, they lie to you. The lies in question are rarely looked upon critically by the media or the politicians, only by grassroots opposition. The main lies involved are all variations on the same theme; copying equals theft. That is to say, if you copy a piece of data – be it a software program, a song, a movie, a book, that makes you a thief. You're depriving the producer of that work of money which they supposedly have a right to.'
The Courts

WIPO Committee Presentations Show Nuanced View of Copyright 84

AtomicJake writes "As the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is known for a very rigid course combating counterfeiting and piracy in general, it comes as a surprise that during a meeting of the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement, several presenters have shown nuanced views on the economics of enforcing intellectual property rights. Combating clothing piracy might not be beneficial for the welfare of a developing country. Most surprising is the presentation of WIPO Chief Economist (PDF) Carsten Fink, which says that illegal copies of software may actually be beneficial even for consumers of the original goods. Also the piracy of audio-visual goods creates not only losses but also benefits for e.g. hardware manufacturers. Maybe this is because Mr. Fink wrote the presentation before joining WIPO?"
Software

Emacs Hits Version 23 367

djcb writes "After only 2 years since the previous version, now emacs 23 (.1) is available. It brings many new features, of which the support for anti-aliased fonts on X may be the most visible. Also, there is support for starting emacs in the background, so you can pop up new emacs windows in the blink of an eye. There are many other bigger and smaller improvements, including support for D-Bus, Xembed, and viewing PDFs inside emacs. And not to forget, M-x butterfly. You can get emacs 23 from ftp.gnu.org/gnu/emacs/ or one of its mirrors; alternatively, there are binary packages available, for example from Ubuntu PPA."

Comment Re:Well, Obama is nominating Sotomayor... (Score 1) 456

Sure, the government pays for health care, but that money doesn't have to then come out of your pocket or your company's pocket.

And where exactly are you suggesting the government gets its money from if not from corporate and individual citizens? (Printing and borrowing aside since they only defer the responsibility temporarily)

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