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Comment Re:If they're going to do this... (Score 3, Interesting) 161

Interesting (to me): One of the side-effects of my Universal Social Security proposal is excess demand--a labor shortage. The fix is re-defining full-time working hours as 26-32 hours per week, meaning everyone gets dropped to 4-day work weeks. This happens because it's a trillion dollars cheaper than current strategy.

In theory, with or without salary adjustment, dropping everyone's work time by 20% decreases their share of labor pay. That is to say: to make 1,000 things takes 4 people, or it takes 5 people each working 80% as much. As long as your entire economy changes at this ratio and wages don't change relative to each other (they can increase, decrease, or stay the same, but all by the same percentage), whatever salary you end up with is suddenly only capable of buying 80% as much.

In practice, I'm pretty sure we have a lot of part-time workers (I've looked this up before) and a lot of slack time. On one hand, part-time workers would experience no change, so neither their income nor the influence they have on price would change: the stuff they make wouldn't become any more expensive. On the other, many people would work the same amount and spend their work slack-time as leisure-in-earnest instead of non-productive office hours: instead of being restricted by the facade of office hours, you'd be outside work enjoying the time you're spending doing nothing useful.

That's actually a bigger problem. It means cutting hours without a salary cut raises the price of certain goods for part-time workers, but not for office workers; while cutting hours with a salary cut raises the price of certain goods for full-time workers, but not part-timers. The first case is regressive onto the poorer, and benefits the middle-classes; the second is harder on the middle-classes, and doesn't directly-benefit the poor. The second case is arguably better, since cutting working time in this way definitely cuts buying power in total, so someone has to get poorer, and you've restricted how much that happens and to who; but it has obvious undesirable issues.

On the other hand, the end result would probably be about break-even for the middle classes in total (when you include the Universal Social Security benefit), plus a 3-day weekend every week, so ... eh?

Comment Re:Less Power For You (Score 1) 145

Doing more with less is how technology works; and technology comes with discovery, not mandate.

Natural gas burned in power plants and transmitted as electricity produces much more light out of LED lamps than natural gas piped to gas lamps. They couldn't just up and switch to electricity and LED lamps 50 years before Edison and Westinghouse, even if the Government told them they had a week to figure out how to produce more ten times light with half as much gas.

(The chief effect of all this is less labor: you use 5% as much gas to run lights, that means 5% as many human labor-hours invested in running lights, and that proportion of society--not those particular people, but the constant inflow of people becoming working-age adults to replace the retiring seniors, at least at least--can now become doctors and engineers, since we don't need them mining for gas. Again: you can't just dictate there shall be more doctors and fewer farmers, and the halved farm workforce shall work to produce twice the food output at half the price; it won't work.)

Comment Re:No surprises there (Score 1) 161

Growth is technical progress.

People today are more wealthy than people 10 or 20 or 50 years ago. The median family spends less on food, Cars have more features, yet only reflect a purchase price of 56% of the purchaser's income in the median case. We've gone from extremely-expensive computers with 4MB EDO RAM and 33MHz CPUs to having high-speed, multi-gigabyte RAM, 64GB storage devices in our pockets as a simple fact of life. Communication is ubiquitous with cell phones and high-speed Internet.

Clothing is cheaper; people today have about 50% increased access to more and better healthcare than people of the 90s; and we spend nearly half our money on luxuries.

Automation won't just put us into caves and cages to be fed a nutritious gruel by robotic keepers; it will make the Tesla Model S the household car of the lower-middle class, while the poors make do with that currently-$45,000 Model 3. It will place more electronic gadgets into everyone's hands. It will dramatically increase the access to healthcare, while lowering the cost of complex tests and treatments. $800 ceramic-on-ceramic fillings--the best remediation you can get for dental caries--will become the standard, even among the poor, because they cost $20.

The poor will not simply be shoveled off into the corner. They'll work, hard, and live beneath the rest of us, as they do today. They'll work and they'll live as well-off middle-class families live today. Their hard-earned money will buy them the sorts of $2,000 appliances I purchase for myself, because that $1,897 double-oven stove only costs $350 in the world of the future (well, there's inflation, but the poors have that much more money, too, so whatever).

Luxury. Technical progress brings luxury down to the people. There was a time rags were made of old clothes because cloth cost more than 90% of the population could afford; people wore one or two sets of simple clothing--nothing fancy and expensive, because frills and pleats increased fabric use--and many were haphazardly dressed in the poor's last-season fashion, tacky and out-of-style, handed down to the rabble because it simply won't do in noble social circles. Now we all have 10 days's worth of fancy clothing, coats, hats, a million pairs of shoes... things that would have cost us 15 years's salary--and, the fancy stuff with all the pockets and pleats we use today, 40 or 60 years's salary--back then.

Remember when a cell phone cost $4,000 in 1983? In 2015 that's over $9,000; two hours per week of talk would cost you $550/month. Not everyone can afford that; yet poor people buy a $60 feature phone or spend $170 on a used iPhone, and $60/month for unlimited talk and text plus 3GB data. I use under 500MB of data, so I spend $33/month and just get Ting.

How many rich people luxuries do you use now? How much of the stuff you're using is a much-more-advanced version of something that was available to people who could spend 3 times the median income on it 25 years ago? Your cell phone is comparable to a multi-million-dollar supercomputer in 1985. Microwaves were an invention of the air force, because a million-dollar radar emitter in a fighter jet pumps out a lot of microwaves, and they put a door in the cockpit where you can slide in a tray of food and then have yourself a hot meal; your microwave probably cost $70.

Do you really think people will just roll over and eat the slop the robots pour down their throats? We'll do what we've always done: Get richer. We'll take all the luxuries of the rich and then complain they've found new toys we can't afford.

Comment Re:No surprises there (Score 1) 161

improving an economy's efficiency lowers the unemployment rate rather than saying that lowering the unemployment rate improves an economy's efficiency because otherwise you are talking nonsense.

They're both sort-of true. Higher employment means higher production-per-capita, thus more buying power per-capita, thus more wealth; although an extremely-low-unemployment economy falters because of labor shortage, thus can't grow.

Efficiency in an economy is complicated.

One of the primary drivers of efficiency is technical progress. Technical progress simply means new technology allows us to produce more goods in the same labor. Take the same population, employ fewer farmers, employ more engineers, employ more doctors, and still produce the same amount of food because the farmers plus engineers are able to output more food per total labor hour; these doctors used to be farmers, but we don't need them anymore, so now we have healthcare. When you get down to money, you realize all the services being bought are paid for by consumers (that's where revenue comes from, and we pay wages out of revenue), and so necessarily things must get cheaper as a percentage of the per-capita income (that doesn't say the distribution is equitable; just that the cost of product X is a smaller fraction of *all* money being spent).

I like to talk about the cost of wage dollars. An employer pays an employee's wage, plus payroll taxes, plus benefits, plus unemployment insurance premiums; and the employee pays income taxes and such things as OASDI and Medicare (not to mention sales taxes, VAT, etc.). An employer has to spend some number of dollars for an employee to take home some number of dollars--for example, $1000 minus 6.2% OASDI is $938; at a 25% tax rate, the employee takes home $703.50. An employee's time is divided among products, and the employer's cost is divided into products; the employee must buy those products (and produce the revenue source to pay wages of employees) out of his wages.

Obviously, more take-home pay per employer cost means more maximum buying power. A business may or may not lower the price of goods to a minimum. Tere are economic pressures which cause this to occur to varying degrees, which is why food has a slimmer margin than diamonds and cars have a slimmer margin than food (lots of bulk negotiation up the production chain for cars; the manufacturer might make 10%, but the coal and steel mines negotiate low-margin contracts for multi-billion-dollar profits). Still, a 10% or 3% or 40% margin is a proportion on top of cost; and costs have always trended toward stability--lowering--when technology improves, else we would never advance as a society because we'd never have the consumer buying power to buy anything we hadn't bought before.

That's efficient. It's why progressive taxes are efficient, why some forms of universal basic income are efficient, and why accomplishing economic goals such as state welfare to greater effect with lower cost is efficient: consumers end up with more spending money per dollar paid as production cost by employers, and thus can buy more.

That effect tends to not simply lower unemployment, but stabilize the economy: when there are problems, your Jenga tower doesn't just collapse; it wobbles a little, and a piece falls off the top.

Your argument is that the economy is a zero-sum game, for business A to be successful it must reduce the success of business B. This is false

Technical progress would suggest that an economy is not a zero-sum game because the economy grows.

That does not mean that the economy is infinite at a given time. The economy, as it is now, has limited consumer buying power. In the future, technical progress will increase the per-capita buying power, and population growth will increase the number of consumers, thus causing an exponential (f(t) = g(t)*p(t))) growth in the economy. For any point in time (t), there is a limited amount of consumer buying power in the economy.

That means any business which grows gets its growth from the growth of the economy--a limited resource--or from the reduction of another business. Because the growth of an economy is a limited resource in that the economy only grows by so much in a span of time, not all businesses can be successful; there is a limited amount of new business success available. That means they're competing.

Does that make sense?

Comment Re:What Envirmental Wacko caused it? (Score 3, Funny) 318

A multi-cat household can be hard on even the toughest kitty litter; so when your litterbox needs a change, go for the Nuclear Option. Containment 100% silica-based kitty litter can handle even the toughest jobs, whether you're managing a two-cat household or a nuclear waste disposal site.

Containment 100% silica-based kitty litter: don't let your waste go nuclear.

Comment Nothing to hide (Score 1) 347

I put my phone number on goods I'm having shipped to America illegally so customs can call me for an explanation if they so desire. Yes, I'm trafficking things across the border that I'm not allowed to traffick across the border; and yes, customs inspects the package and decides it's fine.

I still don't want them digging through my Facebook and shit. My Facebook is online and exposes a ton of shit to everyone; there is no expectation of privacy, and they're welcome to go looking, and I still don't want to hand over a compendium of all the leads they should use to investigate me at their leisure. It's just a hassle to keep myself that well-documented.

Comment Re:No surprises there (Score 1) 161

Perhaps true; and that doesn't debase my argument. If NewMobile employed 1,000 people and Verizon, being more-efficient, lost fewer in equivalent operations, then the remaining balance would be taken from other businesses. Those businesses aren't necessarily mobile; maybe you spend more on phones, and you can't spend as much on fancy shoes.

The point is jobs are paid for from revenue, and so consumer spending supplies jobs. You get more jobs with population growth (more people) and improvements in an economy's efficiency (lower unemployment rates); businesses grow employment by taking a share of this or by reducing another business's employment.

As an aside, if NewMobile is truly less-efficient, its products must cost more. That doesn't mean they don't employ more people per dollar of revenue; it means they must employ fewer people per product or service provided. To employ more people per dollar of revenue, they would *pay lower wages*; to fully-describe this situation, I'd have to write a lengthy Ph.D. thesis, and so what I wrote is an appropriate approximation and grossly-correct.

Comment Re:No surprises there (Score 1) 161

Those solutions are not optimal. Full automation at a rapid pace creates a distribution problem: it can only produce and distribute goods with a command economy, which is ineffective at managing the large amounts of data required to maximize growth. Technical progress would slow.

Reducing population size isn't efficient; it's reductive. It's like saying that you could make your car more efficient by driving it less: you would simply drive less, and still get 17mpg. This would leave you less-wealthy (you don't have the ability to go everywhere all the time anymore, because you're driving less).

You seem to have responded to a technical analysis of economics with a well-poisoning argument. Your fantasy about being fair and equitable hurts people, and you don't like to acknowledge that.

Comment Re:Reminds me of a crazy, hot girlfriend (Score 1) 318

In economies, you expand population until you end up with the haves and the have-nots. 40% of the American workforce turns over every year, and there are job postings everywhere; the 5% unemployed have 6 months of unemployment insurance before they run out, and our unemployment system thus relies on some of that 40% turn-over ending up unemployed as someone else snaps up their job and escapes the jaws of economic death.

A nuclear accident wobbles your economy for sure. Some source of production is gone, thus a chunk of wealth vanishes. A strong economy can recover from this in short years, rather than decades; some of the people whose lives and livelihoods were destroyed will get back on their feet, others will take the place of some other poor sod who got their place in society instead. Who are you to judge whether the terminally-poor should remain that way or have his chance? Either decision throws somebody into the gutter to fight with the rats.

The base problem here (unemployment is a fact of economics) is why we need a universal social security; and it also blunts the concern about ruined lives and lost jobs, because the void fills back in. You can claim it's unfair--it's no fun to be working, then not working, then remain not working because someone else got your job--but what is fairness? There are 3 people and 2 jobs, and this situation is entirely unresolvable by any means; is it fair that one person must be condemned to eternal poverty, or fair that he get his chance now and then at the expense of someone else?

Nuclear power provides strong value to society in terms of dense power production, low environmental impact, and a reduction of lives lost. Everyone--rich and poor--enjoys this benefit; and a nuclear powerplant exports energy in a wide geographical area, bringing purchasing power to the town, raising the average income class, lowering crime, and generally making everyone's lives better. It's like living in Cupertino with Apple bringing $2 billion in employee salaries to that tiny little scrap of a town. If you live in such wealth while others live in poverty, is it fair to make you accept the risk that, one day, your life might get uprooted, and one of those others might jump into your place before you can get back on your feet? Does privilege mean you can demand your place be held and rebuilt for you?

Comment Re:What Envirmental Wacko caused it? (Score 1) 318

No, wrong. It's nuclear waste disposal. It has a precise set of instructions and materials. Do not substitute anything for anything else without involving a nuclear waste disposal engineer. Don't even consider a different type of *steel* for the barrels--steel made from ore sourced from a different mine can have a much different chemical composition, including different levels of vanadium or copper or whatnot, so only used the approved material from the approved manufacturer operating on approved quality controls.

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