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Comment Re:As productivity raises (Score 4, Insightful) 245

Well then you are missing the way way back side. If productivity increases, and reduces the need for workers, fewer people have money to buy goods - even when they are cheaper (though that doesn't happen due to price stickiness and profit motive/greed). This causes a downward spiral that we've been living in for decades.

I'm so tired of market fundamentalism. It is a soulless religion.

China has seen an increase in their middle class because they use policy to build it. In the 40s through the 60s in the US rich people paid huge percentages of their income in taxes (and only the top 5% at first paid that), which was directly redistributed back to workers through public works and other programs. Wages and salaries were controlled with both floors and caps. This even lead directly to employer benefits such as health insurance - they couldn't pay more, so they needed to offer something else - and the economy was so good from these policies that there was a lot of demand for everything.

Europe and Japan acheived similar wonders with similar policy. We can look at those places today to see the countries where those redistributive policies are stronger, are weathering the shit-storm market fundamentalism brought us over the last decade, better than the free market states.

Comment Re:chemical engineer graduates (Score 1) 245

All we need to do is democratically make policy to solve these problems. Aging demographic is harder, and is usually taken care of through immigration, but the wealth gap is easier. We have simple models to follow from the 1940s. Tax the crap out of the wealthiest, and hand out the money. FDR had to use a public works program, but the actual mechanism you use to distribute wealth is actually less important.

The missing part is a political movement that feels empowered to make these demands. After WWII it was an easier justification - countrymen sent their kids off to war, and they felt they deserved something in return. I don't feel the need to go to war, but we do need some similar justification to make the demand palatable. This damned right wing market ideology that is so effectively propagated is making this a hard nut to crack though - the free market religion has been very effective at conscripting folks to advocate against their own interests.

Comment Re:Sounds like it's working as intended. (Score 2) 245

The American dream worked quite well for baby boomers, and the post WWII generation. The only reason it doesn't work any more is because the systems we need in place to make it a real possibility for people have been systematically attacked and removed, because that system requires that we collectively pay for it. In a system geared toward the concentration of wealth (like all market driven economies), it starts to feel like a small group (people who are good at getting money into their pockets) are being picked on, and have to pay more than their fair share, and other forms of whining. In reality, the whole system has to work for any part to be stable. Keynes knew that, but modern neoliberals just want to believe they don't have to pay for a nice society - or they are just callous pricks who don't care. Either way, the American dream seems like a sham to those under 40 today, but it hasn't always been that way, and it doesn't always have to be that way. We just need to correct the system, just like we routinely have to do (check your older history books).

Comment Re: Sounds like it's working as intended. (Score 1) 245

Social security insurance is just an insurance pool. The specific numbers written down are always meant to deal with the math of the time (and try to project forward), but they need to be updated once in a while. The system has been stable for over 80 years, and with only a small amount of effort can be stable for the next 80. It's not a complex system, though it would be nice if politicians (mostly Republicans) would stop messing with it for ideological reasons.

Stable insurance systems are all about scale, and no one scales better than government. The fed is actually quite good at insurance.

Comment Re:Sounds like it's working as intended. (Score 1) 245

In capitalism, there are two important classes - employer/owner and employee/worker. In the US we have only 2 viable political parties (and really only one that can effectively set policy) - both represent different sets of owners/employers. It should be no surprise then that in a country with no working class political party, workers (and that includes workers with advanced degrees) get left behind or even worse, exploited.

Comment Re: Has he been invited to the white house? (Score 1) 920

Well it's that, but it's also the "stupid objectivity" problem. There is always an underlying op-ed position - even that is simply empiricism, as well as unspoken moral foundations, such as secularism, pluralism, etc. Edgar R. Murrows did certainly not give equal weight to two sides of a lynching disagreement the way CNN does give to torture today.

Comment Re:Not mine. (Score 1) 468

Concepts of ownership don't have to remain they way they are now though. These concepts in the history of the human race are actually quite young, and capitalism is barely a zygote. For most of our existence, we didn't have such nonsense restraining us. What happens if automation leaves us with no more scarcity?

Comment Re:Nope (Score 2) 468

First, economists are little more than apologists for whatever the political class wants to do with the economy. Economics is far more voodoo than it is science, and especially in it's current culturally enforced scarcity constraints. Second, Milton Friedman was an especially harmful apologist. Third, it would great if machines did all the hard work, so we could have more leisure. I'm all for it. Fourth, you are right! We would still find things to do, but we wouldn't necessarily have to deal with the abuses of markets when we don't have the artificially imposed scarcity constraint any more (which will look increasingly silly as machines produce so much excess), which in the long thousands of years of history of mankind aren't that old anyway, and aren't even all that great, having been criticized even by the ancients like Plato and Socrates, who had no love for that particular method of wealth distribution.

All of this is to say he's even right - iPhones are still mostly made by hand...

Comment Re:Not mine. (Score 1) 468

Well not yet, but machine intelligence will be able to program itself eventually, and they'll do it better than you or me. You think your brain is anything more than a biological machine?

That's all beside the point. It's not the automation or the AI that's causing all this unemployment pain - it's the system surrounding them. Mechanization, automation, AI - these things can all be used to solve every human problem we've ever faced, yet, all we get are warnings of impending doom from our visionless "leaders". Give me a break.

We should be discussing how to configure our political and economic systems to distribute the benefits of these things in some fair way, rather than just trying to scare people senseless. We should also be discussing how to create machine intelligence that won't try to kill us. Both of these things are possible with enough imagination and vision.

Comment Re:Who would benefit-- us, but not the parties (Score 1) 1321

Democrats are generally far too sensitive about what their opponents say about them. Look at all the things the Democratic side says about Republicans - does that ever modulate their behavior? No. And they are winning everywhere (partly) because of it.

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