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Comment The problem is captial (Score 1) 392

I agree with this.. except that ISN'T how things will happen without major restructuring.

It requires capital to buy the robots to produce things. Now, if those robots are basically owned by everyone (lots of small business, for instance, or where stock is owned equitably across the population) then we all benefit: we can work less for the same material wealth.

But capital, as we have learned, is actually highly concentrated, with the vast majority in the hands of a very small minority (0.1%) of the population, with a sizable fraction in the hands of just 20 people. So, I can't afford to buy into robots, but the Walton family (WalMart) can buy as many as they want. This means I'll still need to get a job.. but now there are fewer jobs.

This is a recipe for disaster: the only way it gets fixed is through economic catastrophe and rebuilding. Better would simply be:


Don't allow capital to get so unevenly distributed. Something like a 0.5%/year tax on all capital over, say, $1M per family would massively redistribute wealth without changing anyone's incentives. You could also do it slower with massive estate taxes, or other means.

Comment Untrue (Score 0) 421

Yes, if you adjust for the fact some jobs pay less, the pay gap disappears.

Except: there's strong evidence to suggest that it's not that women take poorly-paying jobs, but rather that jobs taken by women get paid less.

Consider school teachers: in the first part of the century, it was a better-paying job, relatively, to what it is now. The change in status and pay happened right around the same time that women started to become a large fraction of the workforce. Ditto computer programming: when it had a lot of women, it wasn't well-paying; it become a well-paying field when men started in it.

So, this article is also wrong: if this trend continues, getting more women engineers will just degrade the pay of engineering...

Comment Re: It is Inevitable (Score 2) 436

Stolen? By whom?

You do know that money is not really created or destroyed, right? What is being proposed is to impose friction on fossil fuel use, and remove friction from renewables. (Plus maybe doing carbon reclamation, if we can figure out any good way to do so. Or maybe an L1 Fresnel Lens, which is my preferred solution.) Preliminary evidence shows that money invested in green technologies has good rates of return on creating jobs... whereas long experience shows that fossil fuel industries have huge capital gains with workers being screwed more and more.

Why not give incentives to change our investments? Why not charge those who profit by fossil fuel use more?

Your stuck in conspiracy-theory land.

Comment Weather vs Climate (Score 4, Insightful) 436

I don't know if a roulette wheel will pay out on the next spin, but I DO know how fast I'll lose money if I continue to put my money down on black.

That's the difference between weather and climate. You don't need to predict the next 5 day's weather to know that 100 years from now we're fucked if we keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere... and we may be fucked even if we manage to reduce greenhouse gases dramatically in the near future.

The data HAS been verified. For instance, look at the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project. This was a project funded by right-wing activists who doubted the climate science. They specifically objected to use of satellite data and felt that terrestrial weather stations were not being vetted correctly. (For instance, showing pictures of temperature stations a few feet away from buildings or barbecues which they said tainted the results.) The Berkeley guys were led in part by Richard Muller, who has been a long-time skeptic. They went and got original raw data, and did a thorough job vetting each data point.

The result is that their data agrees completely with the climate change models. Muller's public summary is here:

There are other contrarian opinions, but very few of them work with large data sets in any honest way. Nearly all the contrarian viewpoints can be linked to right-wing money and other professional gains that their mainstream colleagues do not enjoy.

But mostly, the arguments they make are trash - which is why they aren't published. They're dumb ideas, easily seen through. Science works by honest appraisal of ideas and data, not opinion or groupthink as you seem to believe. It's not perfect - lord knows I disagree with a lot of scientific colleagues' approaches - but by and large good science tends to win out over bad science.

Comment Wagering with lives (Score 1) 502

It does matter. Even if you believe, incorrectly, that global warming is mythical, you should still pause to consider the implications if you're wrong.

Massive droughts in some places.
Massive floods in others.
Global upset of food supplies, leading to unrest and possibly war.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Major cities being taken out by storm surges. (NYC and New Orleans are early examples.)

CO2 concentrations have been going up; this is incontrovertible. Temperatures have been rising, which is also unchallenged by any thorough study. There exists a simple and well-understood mechanism why the two should be causally related. There exists geological data showing the two ARE related.

There are subtleties, to be sure, but these are the bare facts, well established past any reasonable doubt.

Comment Capital is king (Score 1) 1145

The problem with this old-fashioned notion of capitalism is that it works only if value-creation comes from labor: you buy leather and make shoes, then sell them. You have a profit motive to make shoes, and if you work hard making shoes, you get money.

The problem is that the economy has been shifting for a long time away from that. If I have capital, I can buy a robot to make the shoes for me. If robot maintenance is cheap, then I can create value for almost nothing. Then I earn a lot of money, for doing nothing other than investing my capital. So, my ex-employees starve. (And then I have no one to sell shoes to! Oh no! Recession!)

Large pots of capital are growing larger, which centralizes wealth. We need a way of spreading this wealth around so that everyone can live. There are lots of ways to do the taking (capital gains, inheritance taxes, etc etc) and lots of ways of spreading it around (food stamps, social security, etc etc). UBI proposal is one of the latter, but it's important in the magnitude that it suggest is neccessary.

Comment Re:Apples-Oranges (Score 1) 760

This debate isn't relevant.

The new law simply stipulates:
  - If you have capital gains, you can pay taxes at the full income tax rate, OR
  - you can get drug tested. If you pass, you can have the lower rate.

Low capital gains taxes require others to make up their share of your taxes (or suffer the reduced services). We simply choose not to offer such benefits to someone undeserving... using exactly the same criteria as for poverty benefits.

Of course it won't happen in reality, but I think ti's sound.

Comment Yes - 2500 F (Score 1) 1144

A very interesting technology choice is a this: get a very large, very hot ceramic container and put all the guns in it. Then melt them.

Responses to the inevitable:
- Of course you can't get rid of all guns, but you can make them much harder to obtain.. and make it so people can be arrested simply for attempting to obtain them or cary them.
    - This is proven by other countries, which have much lower rates of gun ownership, and fewer deaths in both single murders and multiple murders.
    - There are more privately-owned guns in the US than any other country in the world.
- Of course there are other ways to kill people. Yet automatic weapons remain the choice of tool for mass killings. Probably because it's the best.
- No, guns do not reduce crime
- No, you will never be a hero with your gun.

One source, amongst many:

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