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Comment Re:Minimum Wage = Inflation (Score 1) 1106

Oh, and incidentally, if shadowstats.com were accurate that inflation were really 2.5% above what is estimated using the CPI, then interest rates would have been much higher since 1990. Instead, interest rates are roughly in line with what we would expect from inflation as measured by CPI.

Comment Re:Minimum Wage = Inflation (Score 1) 1106

The reason why food and fuel are generally not counted is that they are highly variable. Right now, inflation as measured by the full CPI is lower than that with food and energy removed:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=fXg

There's also the independently-produced Billion Price Index, which also shows inflation under 2% right now:
http://bpp.mit.edu/usa/

Comment Re:Yes, the minimum wage needs to be increased. (Score 1) 1106

Two different issues.

Regarding lowering the minimum wage, the idea isn't to provide you with a wage you can live on and afford "things". The idea is to create an entry point into the workforce. From there you move on to jobs that pay living wages. You aren't meant to stay earning minimum wage for extended periods of time.

Okay. But many people find themselves unable to get jobs that earn much more than minimum wage. Wal-Mart, for example, doesn't pay any of its lower-level employees (including lower-level managers) more than a few dollars above minimum wage. You may wish it were different, that people didn't take multiple minimum wage jobs in order to support their families, but that is the reality.

My work ethic comment is aimed at the abuse of unemployment and welfare plans. Too many people remain on these services - again meant to be short term and temporary - for too long. If an individual cannot find a job that "suits" them, they can remain on unemployment far too easily instead of finding a honest job that pays the bills. Welfare is similar - there is zero motivation for an individual who has no work ethic to reenter the workforce. This is where a significant part of the US lacks work ethic.

There is no evidence whatsoever for these claims. People generally are on welfare or unemployment assistance for a very limited time. This downturn is special, of course, because millions of people have been unable to find jobs where it would have been easy at other times: to not extend them an extra helping hand is not only cruel, but hurts our future economy, as workers who are unemployed for long stretches become unemployable.

As for welfare, the main problem with welfare is that it is means-tested. This creates the problem that if a person earns just a little bit more money, they get kicked off of welfare, so that there is a range of income where people have an active incentive to not get raises or work more hours. That is really, really bad. There's also the cruelty bit where means-tested programs are guaranteed to push some people out of welfare that really need the assistance.

Personally, I would much rather have a program where every adult citizen of the United States gets a stipend that is enough to survive on. It shouldn't be enough to live well, of course, but it should be enough that people can still live (i.e. enough for food and shelter). Then, if people want more, they need to work for it.

Comment Re:Minimum Wage = Inflation (Score 1) 1106

The worker that works directly with the general public is most likely a minimum wage earner. Grocers, fast food workers, and convenience store clerks are small sample of the types of jobs that pay minimum wage. You raise the minimum wage then you raise the price of goods sold at these retail outlets. This raises the CPI.

Only a tiny fraction of the money paid for those goods and services goes to the minimum wage employees. It really doesn't matter that those are the people the customer sees. Most of the money still goes to things like the managers' pay, building rent, wholesale purchase of the final goods, licensing payments, etc.

Comment Re:Minimum Wage = Inflation (Score 1) 1106

Right now inflation is around 1%-2%. We haven't had 5% inflation since the 80's.

But perhaps more to the point, inflation only increases interest rates just enough to correct for inflation. And it can only do this over time when people have learned to expect the new, higher inflation rate. There is a period of transition when inflation is moving from a low value to a high one where interest rates haven't yet been increased where spending is boosted. So yes, a sudden shock to increase inflation right now would help tremendously (and even more if the central bank signaled that it was willing to accept the new, higher inflation rate, rather than bring things back down to the current rate).

Comment Re:Yes, the minimum wage needs to be increased. (Score 1) 1106

So, people can't afford things any longer, and your solution is to lower the minimum wage still more? Why?

And you really think that the problem right now is a lack of 'work ethic'? Seriously? You think that millions of people just decided around late 2008, early 2009 that they wanted to take a big, long vacation? That's what causes unemployment?

Comment Re:Minimum Wage = Inflation (Score 1) 1106

This is false. The minimum wage impacts the wages of only a fraction of the workforce, specifically the fraction that has control over the least amount of money in circulation.

But inflation would be a good thing right now anyway: inflation reduces the desire to save, which increases spending, which would help get us out of this slump. The minimum wage won't do much to get us there, though. Yes, much higher taxes on the wealthy would help as well, but far far less than a minimum wage increase (higher taxes on the wealthy should be pursued for reasons of reducing corruption and increasing economic fairness).

Comment Yes, the minimum wage needs to be increased. (Score 1) 1106

And it needs to be increased dramatically.

After the minimum wage was re-established in 1938, it was increased in the following decades along with worker productivity. This should seem reasonably fair: after all, if workers are to be paid in proportion to how much they have to offer, the minimum wage should increase with productivity.

This stopped in 1968, when the minimum wage was allowed to not increase for an extended period.

You may not recall, but the period from 1938-1968 wasn't exactly a bad period where the US economy was concerned. Granted, we had a war for the first part of that period, but the few decades following World War 2 were the most prosperous decades in American history, with low unemployment, income gains shared by all sectors of society, and everybody's standard of living improving dramatically over that time period.

If the minimum wage had continued to increase with productivity, it would be approximately $20/hour today, not the paltry $7.50/hour that it is.

Comment Re:fuck you iceland. (Score 5, Insightful) 684

Perhaps more to the point, banning all porn makes it more difficult to deal with kidnapping, trafficking, exploitation, rape, etc. As long as porn is legal, it's much easier to monitor and track. Make it illegal, and there will still be porn out there, but now it's more difficult to determine which bits of porn are clearly harmful to the actors/actresses in the film.

This is basically the same argument I'd make for making prostitution and recreational drugs legal. No government has any business legislating personal morality: we should, instead, regulate these things to help moderate the harm to others these practices cause.

Comment Re:Is it normal ? (Score 3, Insightful) 570

Yes. I purposefully keep my desktop clean, and almost exclusively use the start menu to access my programs. I do not like clutter, and only use my desktop for a couple of widgets and temporary file storage.

The start menu is vastly, vastly better for multitasking than a desktop: the desktop is already hidden by the programs that are already open, and I don't want to have to go back to it just to open a new program.

So no, I think the Windows 8 UI is a stupid attempt to bring a user interface that is okay for the tablet into the desktop/laptop space where it absolutely does not belong.

Comment Re:Nature (Score 1) 468

This is quite incorrect. Granted, the press release was positively horrid. Here's the basic gist of the findings: our current understanding of the effect of CO2 on the climate is between 2C-5C temperature forcing per doubling of CO2 (with 3C being the most likely). This new study claims a result closer to 2C.

So basically, the predicted claim of this study is that global warming should progress along the lower limit of current projections. Except that in reality, warming since 2000 has progressed very close to the middle of projections. That makes the results suspect, to say the least.

Furthermore, here's a presentation of the results:
http://www.newton.ac.uk/programmes/CLP/seminars/120812001.pdf

As page 24 shows, they rather dramatically underestimate the recent Northern Hemisphere warming, so that's another reason to doubt their results. My bet is that their "simple climate model" was too simple, and their data may have been impacted by using lots of data from before there was enough CO2 for it to be a major climate driver.

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