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Comment Re:We Americans should hit Apple with an European (Score 1) 171

That's a moral standpoint with no useful impact.

I designed a Universal Social Security plan which reduces the tax burden on Americans by over $1 TRILLION per year. This plan completely remediates the welfare system; establishes a stable minimum income, eliminating many risks in providing goods and services to lower-income markets (currently, their income is unstable and can go away quickly, incurring massive costs for landlords especially); and slows and thus spreads the reduction of jobs by technical progress (including globalization and automation), thus reducing the short-term economic threat of sudden rapid progress (the long-term impact is always an immense increase in standard-of-living; a sudden industrial revolution creates an economic train wreck, while a longer period of growth creates immediate prosperity).

Money bound up in big bank accounts has almost no impact on the economy. Pulling it out and spending it in bulk, suddenly, causes a temporary stimulus, and largely creates inflation. This is because more money is put into play, but not more productivity; after you stop infusing huge piles of cash into the economy, there's no support for any new jobs created, except for what technical progress has occurred during the inflationary period of excess money creation (money idled and not spent is essentially removed; pouring it into the economy is essentially money creation, and differs from printing new money in that it doesn't then increase the fractional reserve basis and lead to more money creation by loaning).

By contrast, a Universal Social Security (or other effective form of Universal Basic Income) increases the amount of take-home pay relative to cost dollars. That is to say: If an employer pays $10,000 to have an employee, then that employee's work is paid for by consumers of the product the employee makes. If the employee makes 10,000 units of said product per year, then $1 of that product's per-unit price represents the employee's pay. Out of this, the employee may take home only $6,000. UBIs such as the USS change the situation such that the employee takes home, for example, $8,000, while the employer still pays only $10,000.

Obviously, such a situation means products don't face a cost increase (you still need $1 of revenue per unit to pay that guy's salary and benefits), yet consumers have more money to spend.

Look back and think about the engineering involved there. Some changes to tax policy reduce the welfare burden by over $1 trillion per year, increasing the amount of take-home pay for all working Americans, lifting low-income households out of poverty, and ensuring even non-working Americans have income sufficient for a hard-bounded minimum (but low) standard of living. Businesses don't pay any additional costs, and particularly don't pay more costs as consequence of hiring an employee; and the employee takes home more dollars per dollar paid by the employer to employ them. That changes the stable set points of the system, increasing the consumer's spending power relative to the cost of production, thus increasing buying power.

What's the engineering involved in grabbing a fistful of cash out of Apple? Hint: Apple's entire profits ($10 billion per year) would amount to $58.48/year more in every single American's paycheck; their entire cash savings is about $1,000 per working American (ONE time, not repeating). Total actual corporate profits in the United States are roughly 10% of all income--that's not small and not insignificant (it's 10%), and it's only unimportant because the economy is so much bigger than all that.

Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 1) 182

Why would we want to make everyone poorer?

Because a market with negative unemployment can't sustain itself, and rapidly destabilizes and then collapses. It's the same question as "why do we vaccinate against a fatal disease if the vaccine makes you ill for a day or two?"

The whole point of any sort of universal basic income is to make most people less poor. Yet here, you state your fix makes all people poorer.

Make all people poorer AFTER IMPLEMENTING A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME. That means richer than X, less-rich than X+n. You've slipped in a sneaky logical proposition to suggest poorer than X (the starting condition), which is a deceptive argument (lying).

Besides that, the whole point of a universal basic income is stability. A basic income prevents people from entering poverty, and creates a firm poverty floor. In the United States, not everyone has access to housing, food, and clean water; our welfare system doesn't provide that at all. HUD provides housing assistance to 1 in every 4 qualified households; the other 75% go onto a waiting list AND NEVER RECEIVE A BENEFIT. Unemployment insurance pays a benefit for only 6 months.

A basic income can remediate all of this. My Universal Social Security plan immediately places all HUD-qualified households above the poverty line--and bumps everyone from the lowest 5% of incomes up (that's about $7k/year) above the single-person household poverty line. It creates a minimum stable income class, whereas currently lower income classes are *unstable*--meaning low-income rental units today have to charge a high mark-up to cover risk of lost income (i.e. evictions, empty units), while low-income rental units under an effective form of basic income don't face that particular risk and so can charge a rent affordable by non-working individuals and *still* turn a reliable profit. Food, personal care, and other needs are within financial reach as well. It's a very low standard of living, and it's one we simply can't guarantee in our current system.

This approach *also* prevents sharp unemployment spikes from technical progress, such as mass automation. Rather than raise wages for the classes of workers whose jobs are easy to reduce, you provide them a supplemental income. That means they have more buying power, and they don't cost the employer any additional money. There is, thus, no added pressure to replace them as a cost-reduction measure, and so strategic integration (i.e. employing a more-expensive human because you think the machines will be even-less-expensive in a few years) carries a lower risk (cost) and a relatively-higher benefit (the gap between your wage and the cost of the machine is smaller, so the business can swallow that if it expects a big ROI for later implementation). Different businesses will have different risk appetites and tolerances, and so this situation causes a more-gradual replacement of labor, allowing the market to adjust and provide replacement jobs before unemployment increases too much.

The side-effect of all this is it's $1 trillion cheaper: it reduces effective tax burden on Americans by 40% ($1 trillion), and moves the remainder of replaced service costs directly into low-income consumer hands rather than into bureaucratic benefits systems. That tends to adjust from low-efficiency (high-margin) business to high-efficiency (low-margin) business, creating a hell of a lot of jobs. On-balance, it's more jobs than people; and an increase in the labor force would just push spending power up, leaving us with even more jobs and still not enough people.

That effect is reigned in by cutting back on working hours. That makes everyone poorer by cutting back production (fiat currency is backed by productive output rather than something like gold). With 118%-123% employment, a cut of 20% would bring us to 5.6%-1.6% unemployment (anything less than 4% unemployment is dangerously low), with similar productivity to current. That means the same proportion of income is worth roughly the same amount of purchasing power (slightly more), and the basic income still buys all the same things (or slightly more); but everyone works 20% less, and has less purchasing power with which to create an unsustainable number of new jobs.

It's like an airplane engine: there's about 40,000 moving parts, not just a prop spinning. A complete redesign of the radial engine driving the prop can spin the same prop at the same speed while consuming less fuel. Stop looking at the prop and asking why do anything if nothing changes.

Comment Re:We have K&R on PDF (Score 1) 151

Even if you did, it strikes me that this is an absurd metric. Since a lot of C development goes on within communities; either closed source shops, or open source projects, where it's likely only a portion of the mailing list archives, if any of them at all, are archived. The majority of the BSD and Linux kernels are written in C, along with a significant percentage of the toolsets, so clearly there's one helluva lot of C coding going on. Whether search engines index that activity or not is irrelevant.

A better metric, though not perfect, would be to look at the activity in places like Git, to see how many lines of code roughly are in any given language.

Comment Re:WTF Profits (Score 4, Insightful) 277

People say "profits" a lot. They try to ignore that prices don't follow inflation, and that costs are real.

The long and short of it is, somewhere behind the opaque shroud, Apple goes from selling the last-model iPhone at a 10% profit to selling it at a 10% loss. What's probably actually happening is people just aren't interested in spending on a new phone now, and will take a low-cost phone at a bargain. Apple can't cut the current-model back to that cost, and can't even get the old-model down that low, and so is trying to hit prices that the consumer will pay by cutting costs back.

In other words: the "cutting into profits" is more like "losing business, and facing extinction." Apple isn't going to die out today; they know that if they can't keep their phones in the consumer market, they're going to die out in a decade, maybe. Strategic executives actually look way ahead and try to minimize the likelihood of such an outcome.

You're talking about a 20% mark-up, and you've managed to ignore that Apple will take a 10% mark-up but the consumer won't pay $600 for a $550 phone. If Apple wants to sell a phone like that in a market of $350 full-featured phones, it needs its Chinese manufacturers to deliver a $350 phone that it can *maybe* mark up to $400 as a premium option.

At the base, this happens when competitors are offering top-of-the-line technology at the break-out price point. 10% more for 10% more feature, until you're suddenly paying 50% more for 10% more feature; you stop just at that point, and now your next competitor can only offer a better product at 1.5 times the price. Yours might cost $400, but their barely-any-better gadget now costs $600. Even if most of your market is in mid-tier $250-$300 phones, your major competitor can't distinguish themselves as a better product without a distinguished price point: to stand apart in features, you must stand apart in price.

This is a common strategy for other reasons. You release a low, mid-tier, and high-end flagship product; then the customer sees that the mid-tier product is much cheaper than the top-tier product but almost as good, and buys the mid-tier product due to its excellent value. Without the top-tier product, they make a more price-conscious decision, determining their need rather than bare purchasing efficiency. What I've described is an extension: you ensure that the high-end flagship product of distinction is someone else's, and that it's *very* expensive by way of making the most-expensive *reasonable* product on the market yourself. Maybe nobody buys your Galaxy S7; but they're sure as hell not going to spend twice as much on a fucking iPhone.

Apple has the extra disadvantage of not selling a mid-tier product; they sell the iPhone 5 currently, which broadcasts loudly that it's an out-of-date product because it was the premier product four years ago. If it was called the iPhone 7n (new budget offering), people would perceive it as a modern, budget-friendly phone without all the bells and whistles.

Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 1) 182

Because creating further artificial labor scarcity via work week restrictions will fix a labor scarcity problem.

Labor restrictions restrict productivity, raising prices and reducing what people buy, thus reducing employment. In short: you have less to barter with, therefor there is less you can barter for, therefor somebody who produces something will find nobody can pay them for the product, and so he becomes unemployed.

Imagine you spend 10% of your income on food, 4% on clothing, 2% on personal care, 30% on housing, 18% on transportation, and 36% on entertainment and other non-essential spending. Call it by dollars: $100, $40, $20, $300, $180, $360. You have a total of $1,000 to spend.

Now imagine everything just got 20% more expensive because everyone working 5 days making $1,000 is now working 4 days making $1,000 and, for every 5 such people, we hire another worker making $1,000 to fill in the gap (i.e. that last day costs an extra $200 per person now). I suppose you got this far and then determined there's that extra worker now, right? Let's look at it further.

So now nobody's getting paid more; they're working less, and MORE PEOPLE ARE BEING PAID to make the products you buy. Your expenses are $120, $48, $24, $360, $216, and $432. That's $1,200--or $200 more than you were able to spend before, and even more than you're able to spend now.

Well let's tie it all together. Food, clothing, personal care, housing, transportation... that's $768 right there. You have about $232 to spend on the other stuff you were buying--about 64% as much. 36% of the production related to those jobs is now unsustainable (there's no revenue to pay all those wages), and so those jobs vanish.

That's the point. You create a situation where people have more money to spend than there are workers to supply, and then you boost the labor expense of anything they want to buy by restricting labor hours. Suddenly everything becomes more expensive, but nobody has any more money; the capacity to buy products beyond what our labor force can supply goes away, because we're suddenly all poorer.

Comment Re:Google's reply? (Score 1) 172

A search engine could provide links to a news item without showing any of the content. Of course, that will heavily devalue the news item in question, but if the EU insists on trying to destroy any notion of fair use, there will be inevitable casualties.

Maybe Google could just pay for the rights to access AP, Reuters and the other news wires, and then just say "Fuck it" to the news publishers, much of their content coming from exactly the same sources.

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