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Comment Re:Unemployment (Score 1) 501

I feel that the US - probably most of the Western world but I feel more qualified to talk about the US in particular - is actually in the middle of a huge employment bubble. Basically, a lot of the jobs we have are "bullshit jobs" that provide little of value to society. Jobs for the sake of jobs. Jobs, not to provide useful services or products, but just to keep someone employed. To copy some junk I posted earlier:

Our current economic system is good at creating jobs, since it's "employment or die". What it's not good at is creating good jobs. Jobs that are productive/useful, and pay a living wage. We are becoming an economy of middlemen. We have call centers full of people who are essentially telephone panhandlers, providing little of value. We've got paper shufflers baked-in to our corporations at every level, whose main job is to justify their own salary. We have fast-food workers who can't sit down for 2 minutes because they have to appear to be busy with *something* at all times, whether or not there is anything to be done. We have entire industries, like the health insurance industry, doing nothing but shuffling money around and skimming a percentage off the top. We are ignoring the population's basic medical needs in order to sustain those particular jobs for another few years. (How this system maintains a reputation for hyper-efficiency baffles me - ignorance is the only way I can explain it.)

This doesn't show up much in the statistics either. Maybe a bit, now that we are seeing worker productivity drop in the US. Perhaps that indicates we have hit a tipping point. More jobs, but less being done.

Comment Re: Ontario, largest subnational debtor on the pla (Score 1) 501

In nature, there is a limit to the amount of food and shinies you can stash in your cave. In capitalism, there is essentially no limit. You can stash your "cave" with enough capital to feed or house thousands of people. Punishing tax rates on the rich are the only way I see to re-establish the natural ceiling on wealth accumulation, short of full-out Communism, which either wouldn't work or would be a bloodbath during the transition phase.

Comment Re:Robots are good (Score 1) 287

People didn't complain about that because they have been conditioned to think that tax cuts are invariably good. They DID get a check from the government, but they could feel righteous about it. It's the opposite for welfare programs; people have been conditioned to think it's bad, so their gut reaction is going to be negative.

Of course, this could all change around when we get politicians seriously proposing a basic income. Threatening to implement it gives people something of a reality check - it takes the issue from hypothetical ("The guy on the news said welfare is for bad lazy people"), to actual ("I'm going to get a check.") We see this happening regarding healthcare now - the ACA's popularity surged when the possibility of it going away became real.

Comment Re:Robots are good (Score 1) 287

We might have more jobs in absolute terms, but we also have more population. What's relevant is the relationship between the two, which I think is best measured by the workforce participation rate. The picture being painted there is that people are starting to drop out of the workforce, permanently. Is it because they don't want money, or is it because there are not enough acceptable jobs?

I think the situation is actually worse than the workforce participation rate makes it appear. We've kept inventing new positions for middlemen and bullshitters which is masking the problem of useful jobs going away. But that path is not sustainable. Already within the past couple years, we have seen the statistics show worker productivity in the US dropping.

Our current economic system is good at creating jobs, since it's "employment or die". What it's not good at is creating good jobs. Jobs that are productive/useful, and pay a living wage. We are becoming an economy of middlemen. We have call centers full of people who are essentially telephone panhandlers, providing little of value. We've got paper shufflers baked-in to our corporations at every level, whose main job is to justify their own salary. We have fast-food workers who can't sit down for 2 minutes because they have to appear to be busy with *something* at all times, whether or not there is anything to be done. We have entire industries, like the health insurance industry, doing nothing but shuffling money around and skimming a percentage off the top. We are ignoring the population's basic medical needs in order to sustain those particular jobs for another few years. (How this system maintains a reputation for hyper-efficiency baffles me - ignorance is the only way I can explain it.)

I see the US economy as having an employment bubble right now. I would actually call it the bubble, since it pervades all of our industries and our society at such a deep level. The ideas we have about employment are going to need to be seriously adjusted to make it through this crisis. The longer we wait, the worse it's going to be when the bubble finally pops. Up to and including the collapse of Western civilization. The economic model we used in the 1800s isn't going to cut it anymore. The economy we had in the 1950s won't ever come back. Technology has advanced beyond that, and there's no putting the genie back in the bottle. What hasn't advanced is our society and our government. Many Western countries are taking slow steps to address the automation problem, while the US is sticking its head in the sand. Instead of being proactive, we are blaming Mexicans, Muslims, Chinese, Indians... basically everyone but ourselves. Then we continue to wonder why we fall behind.

Comment Re: minwage $11.40-$9.90 (Score 1) 501

We don't need foreign workers for the most part. The number of workers needed is dropping, which will more than negate the skew toward an older populace. There's also plenty of capable people here that we lock out of the economy in one way or another. Look at our "justice" system. If we need to import anything, it's that portion of our nation's wealth that is locked up in private accounts in the Caymans.

Comment Re:misleading information (Score 1) 256

The information I was more skeptical about was that there are still schools in the US without internet access. I could have understood that 20 years ago, but now? I know that in my state, at least, there are whole sections of state-mandated curricula that require the internet to teach. Do these school districts not do things like digitize attendance records...?

Comment Re: Louisiana is one big sinkhole (Score 1) 307

It could. Where are the floodwaters coming from? What is the ground composed of and what does the water table underneath look like? Are there any dikes or dams along the way that we might adjust? Boiling flood risk down to a single number might work for insurance companies, but devising a real solution to the problem requires a bit more analysis and thought.

Comment Re: Ironically (Score 1) 296

Just because its not absorbed in the intestinal walls doesn't make it "extra crap". Well, maybe literally, but it's useful crap. Fiber, for example, pulls out a lot of the debris (=toxins) that would otherwise stay stuck to the walls of your gut. But regarding soy protein in particular, I do recall that it causes some type of hormonal imbalance. For something like drug manufacturing, it makes sense to take the approach of chemically isolating the relevant compound and removing anything else. Nutrition can't be applied that way, it needs almost the opposite approach - making sure that you eat a wide enough variety of things that, included somewhere among them, will be the required amounts of everything your body needs. It's also my belief that nutritional science hasn't yet progressed to the point where we can manufacture something from whole cloth (Soylent) and be confident that we aren't missing some critical, poorly a understood part of a natural diet.

Comment Re: How can we give a fuck? (Score 2) 146

Considering the juicer is $400, and there is only a tiny install base yet, there is probably a ton of money in the juicer at this point. However, given that the company is in Silicon Valley, all that revenue is probably being used just to keep the eviction notices off the office door.

Comment Re:and this is news because...? (Score 1) 130

The idea isn't new, but people might not have heard of this particular distro. I have an old netbook with ZSNES on it, but if I wanted something more modern this distro would expedite the installation process quite a bit. I'm actually thinking I might get a Pi and a new controller now and put this on it.

Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 177

Skinny jeans have been hip since way before millennials.

"And with your hair swung right
And your pants too tight, it's gonna be all right"

-The Byrds, "So You Want to Be a Rock n Roll Star?" (1967)

Seriously, look at em:
https://lastfm-img2.akamaized....
They look exactly like indie kids, just missing the Chuck Taylors, because I don't think those existed yet.

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