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Comment Re:Scary stuff (Score 2) 279

I think the bigger issue is that some people can sacrifice basically their entire standard of living and it still won't guarantee a particular outcome. And this isn't even on the backs of the "wealthy fossil fuel barons" - this is just the average everyday person.

So it boils down to "absolutely everyone must do something" and the backlash of "who are you to tell me what I should do."

So then you get into "since everyone isn't doing it, I'm not going to sacrifice..." and nothing happens. Basically you have to accept forced behaviors or penalties - which a substantial portion of the population (not just in the US, by the way) takes issue with.

Comment Re:Globalisation (Score 1) 392

The short response is, of course, "it depends."

There are essentially only two types of economic activity: creation of wealth and trade. Creation of wealth is actual manufacturing or agriculture that generates consumables or what I would call "productive infrastructure" like machines or homes or storage facilities. Trade - while it may indeed generate value for both parties involved in the trade, cannot generate wealth.

In the general economy is a combination of activities where some people / organizations do actually invest in new production to create wealth so in aggregate it is true that the economy is not "zero sum". But at some point things bifurcate: a portion of the population is no longer able (for some reason or another) to generate new wealth, but instead can only trade.

For the portion of the population that can only trade, it is indeed a zero-sum game, except for the instances where the actual wealth producers inject new wealth into the trade markets.

So yeah, a Gates or Buffet or whatever doesn't necessarily prevent new wealth from being created - but as wealth concentrates, there isn't necessarily any impetus for the wealthy to generate more wealth (in fact, diminishing marginal returns say at some point it won't). We are just assuming that the wealthy will continue to want more - but at some point, they are effectively self-contained and would no longer have any need for trade. At that point - what happens? This is the source of fear (rational or not) from globalization and automation - when the owners of productive capital no longer have a need or desire to trade with non-owners.

To summarize - and I do agree it is theoretical/hypothetical: super-wealthy entities harm non-wealthy when, instead of using that wealth to increase production (through productivity increases or just new capacity at the same productivity levels), that wealth is only used to acquire ownership of a larger portion of the total available wealth (e.g., rent-seeking).

Comment Re:VAT is the answer (Score 2) 392

A VAT is actually counterproductive - you don't want to tax adding value!

What we really just need is an ownership tax - perhaps something like a property tax. The simplest form is this: your income tax rate is proportional to your ownership percentile.

This means if you own a lot, but have zero income, you get low tax - so you can keep your wealth. If you own nothing, and suddenly get income - you get to keep most of your income.

If you have massive wealth and massive income, you get taxed massively.

This solves most of the adverse incentive problems in any other form of taxation, but it has to be accepted that its unabashed purpose is to dampen wealth concentration effects.

Comment Re:Globalisation (Score 1) 392

If someone (or small enough group) has so much of the wealth that it's no longer possible for anyone else to obtain means of production, that's the problem.

Put another way - poverty is a result of being unable to produce something you need yourself or being unable to trade what you can produce for something you need. The reasons for that can be many, but the result is the same: if you can't produce what you need or get it by trade (or by gift), you're poor.

If all the wealth - that is, means of production and tradable goods - is owned by a small group, and you can't even provide a service for which those owners are interested in trading, and the government doesn't "tax" that wealth to redistribute it to you, you're SOL.

Comment Re:Always wait for the S version (Score 1) 114

Funny thing with this rationale is that it fails to quantify the benefit of not having a monthly payment obligation.

Also - if you have $800 in your pocket now and you want to take out a 0%/24-month loan and "invest" the cash instead of buying outright, that means you have to have an investment where you can withdraw $33 a month to make the payment on the 0% loan. You can't just pay that $800, say, into your mortgage because that money is not really liquid and you can't use it to make the payments on that 0% loan.

Comment Re:APPLICATION, not PATENT (Score 1) 62

I'm pessimistic and think, sadly, that you have too much faith in the patent office.

The correct response to this doesn't even have anything to do with "an abstract idea" - it should be "You have a device that is designed to take pictures and can identify objects in those photos, and that device has location information and storage. Using that device to keep track of the locations of objects is obvious - not patentable.

The only thing patentable would be if they had some novel way of storing location information perhaps, or some novel method of object recognition. The "idea" "keep track of objects' locations with a hololens" should not be patentable at all.

Comment Re:Incomplete economic experiment (Score 1) 441

I suddenly just realized what you're saying I think - you're saying that a portion of people who currently could pay $300 a month in rent but don't because it's not stable and they might lose their homes, would be willing to pay that with a UBI because it is stable. And, knowing that there are now people with a stable income, builders would build properties at that lower price point (where they currently don't). Because this is new construction in a new segment of the market it would not therefore necessarily have an impact on price levels in other markets.

And I would agree with that assessment - when you have new production in a market that doesn't compete with other markets, then you simply have economic growth with minimal impact on price levels.

Comment Re:Incomplete economic experiment (Score 1) 441

What? I thought we were talking about the chronically homeless, which is generally due to mental or other health issues (hence the comments about being able to obtain/manage a bank account), or more indirectly from issues like the breakdown of the traditional family, which is what most people (even after they have "turned 18") used to be able to rely on if they hit hard times.

Incidentally, I do agree that housing vouchers would not be a "market" solution, but UBI isn't a market solution either - housing vouchers are just more obvious about it.

The point was that I've reduced problems that poor people have (unstable income) to problems that everyone else has, making them equivalent in nature.

Ah - this actually puts things in perspective. I think this point got lost in discussion about landlords' reasons for being a landlord, etc. I still think, though, that the effect of UBI on inflation - especially housing cost inflation - needs more consideration; without increasing the available supply of housing, more money chasing the same supply will inevitably increase prices.

Comment Re:Incomplete economic experiment (Score 1) 441

Actually, I've already rounded them all up and forced them to register. In fact, I have my registration card in my wallet.

That doesn't magically include a bank account though.

and so only fail to pay rent when financial troubles or irresponsible spending consumes their income before they pay rent.

(emphasis added)

So this is what I meant - "mere" UBI will not automatically give a person a bank account, nor will it automatically set up direct debits for rent, etc. What you are proposing basically requires wholesale management of bank accounts of individuals by the state - essentially you are saying that you're going to "force" some people to have accounts, deposit money in them, and then pay rent for them.

Why even bother with that complexity? Why not just have the state build zero-cost housing and eliminate the intermediate steps of the bank accounts and tracking UBI? You could instead just issue every individual a "housing voucher" that can be used on one unit at a time - if a person wants to move, they can then then take their voucher and move to another location with an open unit. Way simpler and also ensures that "rent" is paid by eliminating the need for rent in the first place...

Comment Re:Incomplete economic experiment (Score 1) 441

I don't disagree; I was slightly begging the question. I find it interesting/amusing/sad that as a society we used to have asylums but then abandoned them wholesale (instead of reforming them) because of abuses in the system, which put a lot of people that were in the asylums back on the streets.

Comment Re:Incomplete economic experiment (Score 1) 441

Wait, what? Do you really think those 39,000 people would all pay for housing if they had money? Sadly, many of them would not have the ability to even register for the UBI program. Are you advocating rounding them up and forcing them to register, then renting units on their behalf, because if left to their own devices they would probably not make rent payments anyway?

That said - the example does not seem to be complete. If landlord A can't make it work with $105 million in revenue because it costs $117 million, what is preventing some more efficient operation from coming in and building it for $95 million and being able to profit at $105 million in revenue? That is - what mysterious barrier exists which puts the cost at $117 million?

Incidentally, that example also shows why UBI promotes inflation - if there is something which makes it a "$117 million or nothing" situation, then UBI perpetuates that situation instead of allowing prices to drop to $95 million (or whatever) which naturally reduces the prices and makes it work.

Comment Re:Incomplete economic experiment (Score 3, Insightful) 441

I feel like you're not following ceteris paribus here.

The hypothetical landlord already owns and maintains that property in the current environment - so is making enough profit or whatever to continue being a landlord.

What you're arguing seems to be that in an unstable economy, if a landlord currently rents out property at $250 a month, and a shock suddenly occurs, then he will go bankrupt because tenants can't pay that. But UBI stabilizes that, so an economic shock doesn't remove the tenants' ability to pay rent.

I would say that in general that is true, but that doesn't have anything to do with price levels - why would a landlord reduce prices if he can get a higher guaranteed utilization at the same price unless he is competing with other landlords? Also consider that $300 a month at the same 90% utilization (supported by the more stable UBI) is more revenue than $250 a month at 100% utilization - the landlord most certainly would try to maximize profit and raise rents.

Comment Re:Incomplete economic experiment (Score 1) 441

This exactly - without corresponding programs in place to ensure supply increases along with increased demand - especially for things like housing and health care - prices will simply increase to mitigate all the benefit.

Consider how long it takes for new housing to be approved and constructed, and how generally landowners are the ones on the zoning boards that approve such things, and that will tell you how likely it is to have sufficient increase in supply of "basic goods and services" to make UBI actually achieve its goals.

Comment Concrete and Steel (Score 1) 121

We will never reach zero CO2 emissions.

Maybe we can reach zero net emissions through sequestration, but as long as we build with reasonable structural materials, we will not have zero emissions. I'm still not sure zero net emissions is quite the same thing as zero emissions either.

Also, it does take a whopping amount of energy to sequester emissions, so it's an interesting economic exercise to consider the energy investment of sequestration versus the cost of dealing with climate change. It's one of those things where people see the concentrated costs of war or relocation or whatever, but not the diffuse costs of say a 5% increase in cost of all steel and concrete everywhere. (Some ballpark numbers: 2016 world steel market was about 1500 million tons, at a price of something like $300 a ton. So a 5% increase would be about $22.5 billion a year.(And that's assuming it only costs 5% to sequester the carbon emitted from making steel.)

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