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Comment Re:This is a bit disingenuous ... (Score 1) 87

While I agree with your main point, I think these types of articles are important for people to realize the costs of pollution. The reality is that the balance between the people and the corporations is heavily stacked in favor of the corporations.

In more detail, companies have no incentive to control their pollution, so the government has to step in. It's a classic tragedy of the commons. As we can see, the corporations just buy off the politicians and the people do not know to fight. Ironically, in a true free market, the polluters don't even gain much. The government needs to step in to prevent a race to the bottom.

Another problem is that alternatives that pollute less are disadvantaged because of the externalities that the polluters are exploiting. The government tries to step in and offer incentives to balance things but then the right starts crying about how this is against the free market and that regulations are killing jobs. As technology advances, there should be a constant increase in regulation to replace these polluters with cleaner technology and level the playing field.

Comment Re:statistics are hard (Score 1) 377

That sample group actually represents less than 0.00004225% of the population that makes up the NRA membership.

It's actually quite interesting how multiplicative and additive arguments are easy to mix up. You're essentially making a multiplicative argument that a percentage is relevant, but in this case it's the additive argument that matters. I don't care about the size of the population, all I care is that I have a big enough sample size to detect what I care about. For example, it might be a sample of 100 people, but I don't care if I've got a population of a thousand people or a trillion people.

On the other issues you are correct. How you formulate the questions and how you sample the population can have a huge effect on the results.

Comment Re: That org is garbage (Score 1) 377

This is just anecdotal and is biased based on what makes a good news story. (Watch out for all those sharks.) While it's hard, one needs to try and get good statistics. Maybe comparing states or countries with different gun laws will give some insight. Australia is a great example since they have a fairly recent change in gun laws. Has crime gone up a lot because people can no longer scare off or kill criminals?

Comment Re:Why is income equality necessarily good? (Score 1) 516

Bill Gates is only going to buy so many TVs, cars, and houses. Doubling his wealth is not going to change his spending habits.

It won't change his personal consumption habits, no. Instead he would spend the extra wealth on capital investments, which improve the efficiency of production and allow vast numbers of other people to buy more TVs, cars, and houses at lower prices.

The prices of many of these things don't seem to go down. I guess things like cars and TVs get better, but price wise they don't go down much. Inflation is generally positive, so things go up in price. Economists seem to think deflation is a bad thing...

Consumption is important, of course, but all economic progress comes from the part of our income which we don't immediately spend on short-lived consumer goods.

We need both, but I'm not sure how to determine the right balance. Also how much does investing in things like securities really help increase productivity. Sure the company owns some of these shares and they can borrow against it, but a lot of that money is just based on market perceptions between investors. I don't see that increasing productivity.

You're also conflating wealth with money. They aren't the same thing. Bill Gates has a lot of wealth, but most of it isn't in the form of money. Instead, he owns shares in various investments. Even if it were, people would simply switch to an alternate form of currency long before the symptoms you're attributing to "wealth concentration" became apparent.

Do you have evidence of people successfully switching to an alternate form of currency because of wealth concentration?

Comment Re:They are not creating 2,000 jobs, duh. (Score 1) 128

You've got some good ideas and a compelling presentation. I think you need think through some issues a bit more, but that's what makes this stuff fun. I've been guilty of some hypocrisy on the whole teaching thing, but live and learn. Anyway, this has caused me to think through a bunch of issues, which was my purpose, so thanks for that.

Comment Re:They are not creating 2,000 jobs, duh. (Score 1) 128

Success, you pulled me back in.

It's not guaranteed to happen; it's unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. That is: it's as likely to happen tomorrow as it was yesterday; it's as likely to happen in 500 years as it is today

There is an argument to be made here, but you need to make it. Instead you try to say something clever that on inspection is either wrong or very wrong.

The transition requires entirely-new technology of a form largely different from what we have today, and technology is not something that happens by brute force; it's a constant gamble with results mediated largely by luck.

But you are not an expert in this technology as so you are in no position to make these claims.

It's generally complex, but shows a trend of minimum wage increase causing job loss [frbsf.org]. The studies to determine if it does are statistical, and have problems with confounding. The analysis I use is mathematical based on supply of income, which is only representative of the trade of working hours.

This looks to be a good unbiased reference. He gives some empirical studies which show a somewhat negative outcome. Notice this doesn't address consumption, which might go up significantly, or the tax impact of not having to subsidize these low skill workers with government benefits. It's a complex issue with many possible metrics for success or failure.

Basically nearly all studies detect a loss of jobs; and narrow geographical studies show little to no localized impact. San Francisco may not suffer unemployment by raising minimum wage to $15/hr, while somewhere else in the country jobs are lost because that total flow of income has to come from someone's labor hours purchasing fewer things.

Your own claims contradict you. You claim stable 5% unemployment and clearly the minimum wage has fluctuated based on decreases from inflation and increases by law, therefore you've made the empirical claim that the minimum wage does not effect employment.

However, in the context of the cited paper, you are probably right, a nationwide increase in minimum wage is probably not the right thing. In principle, minimum wage should be tied to local cost of living, but this is probably hard to implement and might have some unintended consequences.

Bernie likes to start sentences with, "You don't need to have a Ph.D. in economics to know..." and then say something that's totally fucking bonkers and doesn't align with objective reality. He doesn't know a god damned thing about economics and is approximately the political equivalent of Dr. Oz or Dr. Mercola.

I looked into it, and his $15 has not been studied and is probably too high. However, when negotiating it's always best to start high. As for his knowledge, I'm sure he knows more than you or me.

So we want to keep a 2% inflation rate. Assume the above occurs over 10 years, the $10 chair should cost $12.19. Well, that chair costs 0.5h because 10 workers make 20 per hour. For those wages to adjust to this inflation, the workers must make $12.19/hr; but to have chairs cost $12.19/hr, we must pay workers $24.38/hr. It's impossible for wages to not exceed inflation in general.

You keep saying this as if you are saying something insightful, but I'm just not seeing it. It's clear that it's not what happens and is practically flawed in many ways.

Refuge in ignorance. You don't understand, so you plug your ears. The truth must be uncomfortable for you.

Look I've been a bit rude, but honestly I find you a bit annoying. You phrase things as if you are trying to teach me something and you need to simplify it. Maybe you actually believe what looks to be a fairly naive picture. Look I've known for a long time that a simple picture of the economy is that people trade what amounts to work and that this is beneficial. However, this is just a big picture sketch. For example, rich people can do nothing and just live off investments that are managed by people they hire. In principle, they can do this forever.

For example, "the truth must be uncomfortable for you". No I just have better things to do that offer me more enjoyable use of my time. However, I did get a bit out of this. I do think economics is an interesting subject, and I was forced to think things through a bit more. All was not lost. I hope you got something out of it, but we reached diminishing returns, and I hope you have something better to do with your time. Anyway enjoy your mission, but do try to find a way to have an impact. (I signed the petition early on, but it doesn't seem to be getting much traction.)

Comment Re:They are not creating 2,000 jobs, duh. (Score 1) 128

Higher salaries for some subset of people can be beneficial. For example, increasing the minimum wage can boost consumption and stimulate the economy. In many ways it's just a transfer of wealth from the richer to the poorer. Fortunately, the poorer are better consumers and they stimulate the economy creating need for more stuff and maybe more jobs.

This is actually not true.

Give some research that backs up your claims. https://www.bloomberg.com/news... http://www.epi.org/publication... https://www.washingtonpost.com...

You're right that minimum wage raises are a transfer of money (and, in fact, buying power) from the richer to the poorer; the problem is the "richer" here make $12/hr, and the "poorer" just got bumped from $7.25/hr to $8.25/hr. Minimum wage isn't incorrect; but it doesn't magically create jobs. It concentrates income into fewer hands.

I never said how much I would increase the minimum wage. At a minimum, one needs to increase it to a living wage, so tax payers stop subsidizing the companies that exploit these workers. Since Bernie's done the research, let's start with $15/hr and set increases based on inflation.

Shorter version shot from the hip [slashdot.org].


In the short term, the problem's actually the same: it's cheaper to get humans to do a lot of things, and humans employ technical means to reduce their labor. For the foreseeable future, elimination of human labor is an amusing fantasy taken too seriously by delusional people.

So it will happen, but we just shouldn't worry about it. There should be a term for that, maybe AI denier.

Well it's been fun, but I probably will not read another response. Even if I don't accept your novelty or follow your logic, I do admire your spunk. Keep at it.

Comment Re:They are not creating 2,000 jobs, duh. (Score 1) 128

That's about where you can stop. You do know you can create gold using a coat hanger and a glass tube, right? The problem is it takes a hell of a lot of energy--it's actually less labor-intensive to mine gold.

No I didn't know that was possible... What you probably want to say is that those resources, such as land, are really just savings from previous labor. Clearly not all labor is equal.

Governments are also the product of labor; although that's not the issue here. You're talking about markets, while I'm talking about the actual capacity to produce things at a given price.

Governments are necessary to form stable markets. I you want to produce and sell things, you are probably going to want stable governments.

Consider cost and price as an exchange of labor, instead of an exchange of money. If you make chairs by the labor of 10 workers each working 1 hour for $10/hr, that's a $100 chair; if the labor of 10 workers each working 1 hour makes 2 chairs, that's a $50 chair. The naive first-pass is that the $10/hr workers worked 10 hours to buy 1 chair before, and now work 5 hours to buy 1 chair.

I'm not disputing that wages and efficiencies effect the cost of goods. I even agree that an economy should be a way to trade "labor".

If we maintain a 2% inflation (we do) and this reduction of labor occurs over 10 years, then that $10 wage must go up. We want that $100 chair to be a $122 chair. With 5 hours of labor, that's $24.4/hr; and still, you will work for 5 hours to buy that chair, whereas when it was a $100 chair you had to work for 10 hours to purchase it.

Clearly you are trying to make some kind of point with your example, but it's difficult to understand because you example is not based on reality. Perhaps you could make your point first and then give an example.

We can do things to make the model imperfect--wage inequality, minimum wages, taxes, business profits, artificial scarcity, and other market behaviors. All of those things generally operate to a maximum extent: people try to get the most wage they can, and businesses try to pay the least; governments tax what they will tax; businesses take the maximum profit they can get; and so on. In the long-term, you can assume that businesses taking a 10% profit margin will lower their prices 40% if they find a way to make things 40% more-cheaply, simply because the market conditions don't allow them to take a high profit margin; although previously-expensive goods which become quite-cheap can suddenly allow competition on a greater scale, which can push profit margins down on low-demand luxury goods.

That's the strange thing about the "science" of economics. These kinds of details are actually the important details. While you can come up with a simple model, it's not like physics where you can just apply the ideas of the general model to solve new issues. In economics, things fall apart.

Re creating jobs: the implication is that an economy didn't have jobs, and you made jobs. The truth is an economy has the capacity to employ some people (rather, to spend some money), and so that capacity will be consumed. If there are 2,000 jobs to be made, Amazon can expand or Apple can expand or Microcenter can expand or someone else can expand or start a new business. A business does not create jobs in a vacuum; an economy as a whole is capable of supporting a given number of jobs, and businesses take advantage of the capacity to employ.

A business will hire someone if the feel they can make a profit off that persons labor. That's probably a function of the economy but it also depends on other things. (Unless you define the economy is some overly broad way.)

> The net goods bought can go up as the higher salaries increase > purchasing power. This includes having less unemployed people

No, that doesn't happen.

Dazzle me.

Higher salaries increase the spending and purchasing power for the individual whose salary is higher. Salaries are paid out of revenues: you sell to individuals who get wages. Prices are ultimately fixed to wages based on the level of technical progress at the time, so wages impact prices.

Not controversial.

That means higher salaries for everyone just creates inflation, but no additional purchasing power. Higher salaries for some subset of people concentrates the limited amount of spendable income in the given frame of time into fewer hands, meaning fewer jobs.

Higher salaries for some subset of people can be beneficial. For example, increasing the minimum wage can boost consumption and stimulate the economy. In many ways it's just a transfer of wealth from the richer to the poorer. Fortunately, the poorer are better consumers and they stimulate the economy creating need for more stuff and maybe more jobs.

Businesses don't create money when they write a paycheck; they use money taken from consumers. You can't account for the ability of a complete population to buy by looking at one person and saying, "Oh, he makes more, so he can buy more; that means the next guy can buy more, because he created a job; and so forth!" You need to look back and say, "Oh, he makes more, so the thing he produces by his job costs more; the people buying the thing he produces are capable of purchasing less, so something else must not be bought at as fast a rate, and thus somebody else must make less income!"

I'm not sure what question you are answering. Are you trying to define some type of zero sum game? If some guy has a monopoly on some item and can sell it for a high price then yes, he will get a larger share of the "production" pie.

It also doesn't analyze what happens with our current trade imbalance. As money leaves the country, it must return otherwise the value of the dollar would decrease and solve the trade imbalance.

Money is a proxy for labor. You're trading labor hours, not cash.

Yes, yes, I understand your claim, but you must afford me the same courtesy you give yourself and allow me to use the term money to refer to this labor.

I actually did a full analysis against imports for a few import subclasses. If we pay American workers more than $18/hr to make Men and Boys's Cotton Shorts and Trousers which are currently imported from China, we experience a total net-loss of jobs. If we pay the American workers less than $18/hr, we experience a net gain in jobs. In either case--even when paying minimum wage--Americans at all income levels have to work more hours to achieve enough income to buy those pants, and are thus poorer.

I don't know what this means or how it is connected to reality.

> What evidence do you have for 5% unemployment?

Draw a line across the 5% axis. It's roughly-true.

Well, it has some significant deviations, and it's not a big chunk of history, and also only for the US, but it would be interesting to see why it's held in the US since about 1945 while it's failed in other countries.

Basically, high unemployment rates increase poverty and create a general sense of scarcity. We need more welfare, so we're poorer if we try to feed people who need the aid. Even without that, we look around and see the economic consequences of unemployment--people out in the streets desperate for work or food, higher crime, the like. This sense of scarcity tends to slow population and labor force growth; and America has other controls such as immigration rate, early retirement, and the length of time students stay in college (at the height of the 2008 recession, students were going to grad school because they didn't believe jobs existed, and wanted to wait out the recession).

I agree that high unemployment is bad. As you would say, less labor means less money.

Lower unemployment rates have the opposite effect. While extremely-low UE3 causes economic problems on its own (below 2% will cause labor scarcity and destabilize the economy), generally-lower rates lead to a sense of security. Besides population growth, people work longer and take later retirement (with a nice Social Security OASDI bonus); students exit college faster; and immigration rate increases as a tertiary control (although the argument that a large sector of unskilled workers doesn't satisfy the immediate needs of IT businesses is actually valid in that economic condition).

More labor means more money.

In general, this has trended toward 5%-ish in the United States for like a hundred years. It trends toward 2% in Japan somehow; why 2% is destructive to America and stable for Japan is an economic mystery I'd like to see explained one day. I'm sure someone will probably just make something up about workoholic culture.

It's easy to economically explain something from the past. I'm waiting for a significant prediction of the future.

You've focused on the production of goods, but what about the consumption. Workers are both cogs and consumers. It is possible that technology can severely limit the need for workers

That's what technology is. It's the only thing technology is. We cut the number of total workers needed for food production in half between 1948 and 1990. We created electrical and air tools so construction workers wouldn't waste all day banging nails in with hammers. We made the wooden shipping pallet so that the task of loading and unloading a freight of canned foodstuffs wouldn't take three 16-hour days, but rather only 4 hours.

I'm fine if you define technology this way.

The Industrial Revolution is an example of what happens when technical progress occurs too rapidly. They had 60% unemployment and it took 80 years to recover.

Well there goes that 5% down the shitter.

The same amount of progress spread out over as little as a decade would have been painful, but not catastrophic. Machines came in fast; the Industrial Revolution actually happened late, with all of the technology made and ready-to-go a good 20 years before everyone woke up and decided to start actually implementing all of these advanced manufactories. Today, we're more-agile and tend to spread things like that because businesses have a wide breadth of choice over how much risk to take, and some will move slow while others move fast.

So the invisible hand is more agile?

We have 3.5 million truckers and taxi drivers in America. If the DOT immediately creates regulatory processes to enable self-driving cars to operate, then these truckers and taxi drivers will lose their jobs over the next 5-10 years as self-driving vehicles proliferate. Over as little as 5 years, that's as little as 0.03% unemployment per month or 0.46% per year. Meanwhile Uber and freight get cheaper--and freight accounts for around 50% of the cost of a lot of goods like food; consumer purchasing power increases continuously over these 5 years, and the fluctuation is easily buffed-out by every other economic factor besides. The peak uptick in unemployment probably won't even reach 1%.

In your terms, if we can transfer their labor to something else, we all win.

What if the DOT waits 10 years, and then passes regulations? Self-driving cars and trucks are ready to go. The new law passes and, in a month, 10% of every freight job is gone--a sudden uptick of 0.23% unemployment in a month Six months down the line, we've bumped unemployment up 2.3%. An increase in unemployment by 2% in half a year is an economic disaster--it's a huge market crash. We declared the largest recession in 60 years before we saw that much of an increase (and it continued up to a full 10% unemployment rate).

You're right it would be better to slow things down so that we can transfer the labor. Still there is no guarantee that this will always be possible. In fact, the end game of technology is that humans will not be needed. Technology is much faster than evolution.

Comment Re:They are not creating 2,000 jobs, duh. (Score 1) 128

Labor incurs wage. Wages and profits in aggregate are the complete price of a good or service--the minimum viable price is the wage-labor cost.

What about natural resources. While labor is required to extract and refine them, governments create a market for them by allowing land to be owned. It's even true of things like spectrum. These effect the cost of goods since the value of the land can lower with significant resource extraction. At a minimum there is the cost based on alternative uses of the money that is tied up in the "land".

Being that wages are paid from revenue, revenue is obtained from spending, and spending is made out of wages, money is only a mediator for the (uneven) exchange of human labor. Because of this, the amount of money spendable in a given time frame is finite: between two points in time (say, the entire year 2015), only a fixed amount of money can and will be spent.

OK, but not a surprising claim.

Since the spendable money in a time frame is finite and wages are paid from revenue, the number of jobs available in any given time frame under given conditions (trade, technical progress, population) is finite. QED.

Again not surprising.

You don't "create jobs"; you employ people. When you employ people, you may be consuming the growth in a market (trade, technical progress, and population growth allowing more purchasing, more jobs, etc.), or you may be out-competing a competitor as said competitor's ability to employ people falls (those jobs eventually go away, yours replace them; this may happen backwards because businesses have savings, too).

I don't understand what you are trying to say.

It's even possible to do it backwards. If you implement protectionist policies and increase the cost of goods, fewer goods are bought, and less infrastructure is needed.

The net goods bought can go up as the higher salaries increase purchasing power. This includes having less unemployed people.

The number of purchaseable goods of the sort reduces as factory worker wages increase, reducing the number of factory worker jobs created by "bringing jobs back" as well as the number of jobs in supporting infrastructure. Paying low enough wages can increase total jobs, although even paying minimum wage increases the cost of goods produced and the number of working hours every person at every income level must expend to afford the previously-imported good, making every person at every income level poorer. Paying higher wages increases that wage-hour cost even further.

This assumes production goes down. It also doesn't analyze what happens with our current trade imbalance. As money leaves the country, it must return otherwise the value of the dollar would decrease and solve the trade imbalance. Instead the money comes back and is invested, perhaps in the stock market or real estate. These tend to make things hard for the poorer people in society as they don't have the resources to invest. In particular, it raises the prices of things like houses.

The punch line here is that the labor market adjusts in a few short years, and the number of jobs sought moves toward about 5% (U3) unemployment, so you can't even affect total unemployment long-term.

What evidence do you have for 5% unemployment? Historically it's probably not true, and if just looking at more modern times, we don't have enough samples to say anything with significance.

We need to focus on creating wealth and stabilizing the economy, not "creating jobs". You create wealth by trade and technical progress; you stabilize the economy by making sure those things don't happen all-at-once so as to reduce the volatility in employment, as well as by having good welfare policies.

You've focused on the production of goods, but what about the consumption. Workers are both cogs and consumers. It is possible that technology can severely limit the need for workers. In this case, the economic system collapses because there is no need to many produce goods if there are few people to purchase them. One might point to the industrial revolution as a counter example, but I would contend that is still a statistically small and homogeneous example. Perhaps welfare is the answer.

Comment Re: What complete nonsense (Score 1) 308

On reflection, another risk of increasing the minimum wage is based on international competition and technology. I'm less concerned about international competition since many of these jobs can't easily be outsourced, (but I don't really know the statistics). I think technology is the bigger concern particularly in the long term and increasing the minimum wage will just accelerate the inevitable loss of jobs. Perhaps one could use this as a justification to NOT increase the minimum wage to give us more time to prepare. I'm skeptical, as I think the real reason we haven't automated more is not the cost of the technology but the development of that technology.

Capitalism has a fundamental problem that it treats workers as both consumers and cogs. When that breaks, the current system will not work. The easy answer seems to basic income funded by taxes. It would cause the minimum disruption to our current system.

Comment Re: What complete nonsense (Score 1) 308

$15/hr * 40 hr/wk * 50 wk/yr (2 weeks vacation) = $30,000/yr. Most people would consider that a living wage. Federal poverty level for a family of 4 is just $24,250/yr.

Well the parent claimed the upper bound is for 20 hr/wk. So this would give $24/hr to make it to poverty for a family of 4. Still it seems somewhat arbitrary. You want to make minimum wage just enough for them to squeak by. Why not give people more.

Yes this assumes full employment throughout the year. The minimum wage has to be tied to productivity because wages are tied to productivity. If you try to set the minimum wage based on poverty levels for people not being productive the full year, you end up eliminating jobs of people who are fully employed and productive the full year. Inability to find full employment is an employment problem (number of jobs available), not a wage problem (how much you're paid for a job).

I don't understand your reasoning. What does poverty levels have to do with this. The only risk of increasing the minimum wage is substitution. Businesses will need to increase prices which might cause people to change how they use their money. For example, people might not go out to eat if it costs too much. Instead they will cook at home.

This is compensated by the fact that the people who get more money have more money to spend and can stimulate the economy. While there is a concern for inflation, it is limited since only a fraction of the working force is getting this raise. Roughly, it is more about a transfer of wealth from the people earning more than the new minimum wage to the people making less than the new minimum wage.

Poverty levels matter in a different way. Currently we are subsidizing business that pay below the poverty line. Their employees need to receive government assistance. Tax payers are essentially giving money to these businesses.

IMHO the problem isn't the minimum wage, it's the capital gains tax is way too high for lower income people. People always complain the 15% capital gains tax is too low without really researching who actually pays a 15% income tax. The tax rate is graduated meaning just because you're in the 25% tax bracket doesn't mean you pay a 15% income tax. The threshold where you actually pay a 15% income tax (single, standard deduction) is about $58,500. The threshold where the average American pays 15% income tax (after credits, exemptions, and itemized deductions) is closer to $90,000 (you can figure this out from the IRS tax stats). So it makes little sense for people making less than this to invest their money when it's going to be taxed more than if they just spent it and increased their income via raises (e.g. raising the minimum wage) rather than investments/savings.

Again I don't understand your argument. Yes, it does seem unfair that "poor" people potentially have a higher capital tax rate than income tax rate, but why would that entice them to spend it as opposed to invest it. Of course, it's moot since these people don't make enough money to have significant investment.

Same logic applies to lower income people, except some of them "waste" their money on big screen TVs, iPhones, car leases, etc.)

They are not wasting their money. They are stimulating and directing production. People need to consume things generated by these businesses. Do you expect the rich to drive production. How many iPhones can they buy? IMHO it would be bad for the economy if more "poor" people tried to invest. It would damage consumption.

Comment Re:We do not even know that meaningful AI is possi (Score 1) 207

The fundamental mistake physicalists make is to assume physics is the full, accurate and complete model of the physical (i.e. of reality). Physics makes no such claim at all. In fact, they are still searching for the GUT,...

While there is some disagreement on the meaning of Physicalism it certainly doesn't include thinking the current laws of physics are complete. Who would make such a ludacrious claim.

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