Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
The Price of Progress (theirrelevantinvestor.com)
56 points by arikr 9 days ago | hide | past | web | 22 comments | favorite





>So, Uber has said to the global workforce, in hushed but clear tones: ‘Thanks, and fuck you.'”

I have lived years of my life under the poverty line, and so perhaps that's why I get annoyed by the above.

That's just how markets work. I'm not aware of any reasonable theory that Uber should be responsible for solving income resistribution.

The failure is one of government. Trillions spent on the War on Poverty with little to show for it. Meanwhile corruption and collusion between finance, healthcare, insurance, academia and many other industries take money from the poor and working classes, and give it to the rich.

If you truly 'care about poor people,' perhaps you should also be annoyed with groups that actually produce something of value being made scapegoats while truly worse-than-useless, despicable thieves walk free(1).

1-https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-07-26/why-no-on...


@wallace_f and nearly all replies to him assume markets are beyond reproach, question or failure, that if "that's just how markets work", we gotta accept the results as truth.

Quite the opposite. Markets do sometimes need government intervention to serve the functions of efficiency and fairness. But the problem is with the government intervention, not with Uber. Uber provides a service that is valuable to people (otherwise they wouldn't pay for it), and is worthwhile to its contractors (otherwise they would go engage their opportunity cost).

If we are to be honest about caring about the poor, then we need to admit that government is not effectively managing the perverse outcomes of capitalism. Instead, they are often exacerbating these problems. Our financial industry, and so many other industries, wouldn't be possible to be so worthless and financially destructive without the current corruption in government.

This is unfortunately not the direction the political consciousness is headed in.


Is it really worthwhile to the contractors or have they no better options?

Does society benefit in amount of 50 billion dollars from Uber? (Note I calculated in a serious money gains in here.)


>Is it really worthwhile to the contractors or have they no better options?

It could be either, or both.

I don't think it is moral to remove someone's natural rights to fight over resources in a world where there we all inherit at birth (as opposed to produce) a world with more than enough wealth for everyone, and then tell them they must serve some market interests to survive. That's why I have supported basic income for over 10 years now.

Once BI solves those problems, yea, it's fair.

>Does society benefit in amount of 50 billion dollars from Uber?

I'm not sure on the exact amount, but the beauty of free markets is the freedom to choose. If people are voluntarily giving their money for something, than it is >= wortht it for them.


> I'm not aware of any reasonable theory that Uber should be responsible for solving income resistribution.

We can be angry/disgusted/whatever at Silicon Valley startups misclassifying workers to make ends meet for their investors.


So your idea is that they should be employees, not contractors, and so subject to minimum wage laws?

Fair enough, but are you aware of why most economists believe minimum wage laws to be bad for the working poor? These employees are not a captive workforce--they are by their own free will making a choice to do this work in exchange for this wage.


> So your idea is that they should be employees, not contractors, and so subject to minimum wage laws?

In the case of Uber, Uber dictates their wage. It dictates the rules of the engagement almost entirely. This doesn't pass the independent contractor test.

> Fair enough, but are you aware of why most economists believe minimum wage laws to be bad for the working poor?

Most economists live in a fantasyland of theory. I hope they're not too surprised with the sharpness of pitchforks bursting their bubble. If labor isn't as valuable, and needs to survive, you continue to ratchet up wages in lockstep with social safety nets. The productivity to fund this is there: https://thecurrentmoment.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/product...

> These employees are not a captive workforce--they are by their own free will making a choice to do this work in exchange for this rate.

When you have few economic options, you are an economic serf.

EDIT: (hn throttling, can't reply)

> It turns out our government is less concerned with effective redistribution to the poor than to the rich and to itself. If government can screw this up so badly, what makes you think they can micromanage the salaries, services and management of millions of businesses?

Every other industrialized country has a lower Gini coefficient (measure of income equality), and more market regulation. If the private sector can do so much damage, what makes you think they should be permitted to operate in a free market environment?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_eq...

@adrianN: If higher wages speed automation, you tax automation to fund social safety nets. The automation owner gets to receive remuneration for owning the automation, and society benefits by receiving part of that remuneration. Low wage jobs should disappear.


It turns out that not just in economic theory, but in practice as well, it is both more efficient and probably even more fair, to allow markets to function and innovators to compete, and let government take care of redistribution.

It turns out our government is less concerned with effective redistribution to the poor than it is with redistribution to the rich and to itself. If government can screw this up so badly, what makes you think they can micromanage the salaries of millions of businesses?


I'm no economist and I'm generally in favor of paying people living wages. However, it is my naive opinion that high minimum wages will just speed up the push towards automation. So they are just a stopgap measure before the formerly poorly paying jobs disappear completely.

Why is income equality relevant in this case? The presence of billionaires in your country does not automatically imply that the poorest people are worse off than if the rich were driven out. I think what you were looking for is average income or purchasing power for the different percentages of the population.

> Why is income equality relevant in this case? The presence of billionaires in your country does not automatically imply that the poorest people are worse off than if the rich were driven out.

The policies that allow those billionaires to exist without taxing them at a higher rate is the problem. The age ol "capital treated better than labor" issue.

Also:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/11/imf-higher-...

"Higher income tax rates for the rich would help reduce inequality without having an adverse impact on growth, the International Monetary Fund has said.

The Washington-based IMF used its influential half-yearly fiscal monitor to demolish the argument that economic growth would suffer if governments in advanced Western countries forced the top 1% of earners to pay more tax.

The IMF said tax theory suggested there should be “significantly higher” tax rates for those on higher incomes but the argument against doing so was that hitting the rich would be bad for growth."


Careful there. This is a neoliberal site pretenting to be a serious open minded hacker one. You _will_ get downvoted.

>The failure is one of government. Trillions spent on the War on Poverty with little to show for it.

What we really need to do is bioengineer people to be about 10 inch tall while retaining the same or much better mental capacity (through neural lace/ brain running on super computer phones or whatever-preferrably self sovereign and free from nasty spyware or whatever ha). This would solve the housing crisis, make space travel much easier, and make feeding the population vastly easier. Right now it takes 1/5 acre of soybean for a person for a year. Imagine if it took only a couple of plants to do so.

Farm in your own tiny house via exoskeleton/ hydroponics and thats enough food, you basically dont have to work, and there would be enough extra land for people to techno—minecraft the countryside and get to other planets on cellphone rocket sized space ships.

Discuss.


Why bother with bioengineering once we have neural lace level tech? Just go pure virtual and you can have as big a castle as you want on a square inch of silicon.

A good point - maybe if there were proper measures - once you are fully on the silicon, you've really given up a ton of freedom. How do you get out of the silicon unless you have someone outside to help you? There would have to be safeguards. Like, what if your 'friend' outside the silicon decides he's not going to let you out unless you be worship him for all eternity or, (insert other ethical or not, but definitely human rights-wise degrading act), whatever. It might be that to avoid turning everyone into robot zombies, everyone would need to keep at least a toe in the real, with a way to get out for good, even if, the real is dangerous at 10 inches tall, because a wandering squirrel might bowl you over or whatever.

Seems like it would be difficult to scale down our brain and retain intelligence.

Surely a cell phone of 100 years from now (or maybe sooner, who knows) could be as smart as a human. Now add some arms and legs, and make the main energy source be bio-food (I guess a cell phone uses about 30k joules, whereas a full-size human uses about 2000kcals ~ 2,000*4184 j daily, so f'ing powerful, of course locomotion will use more, but hopefully even out). Make a decent character creation so people can look like whatever they want.

We need to teach our cell phones to eat food is the first step. That will make for exceptionally long lasting batteries, and save the trouble of having to find your charger, which can be annoying, as we all know.


It amazes me that people arent excited to think up and implement crazy ideas and everyone is so war/money/competition focused, we need to get excited about making the world a better place again rather than going stagnant, which seems to be the theme whenever I read things here.

Surely there must be plenty of people like this today: old, retired, destitute. What happens to them currently, generally speaking?

Struggling along in poverty until they die (seriously). My grandmother lives in a retirement community in Florida, I have met these people, and it is a terrible way to live out the last part of one's life. It is part of why I'm an activist for social causes.

this kind of efficiency argument as the root of inequality is quite popular and appealing to technologists it seems, as variations of it show up here every day. maybe we secretly feel clever for being ahead of this particular tidal wave of progress? maybe we feel we can bandaid over it by advocating for technical solutions like universal basic income to pay for our driverless cars and robotic overlords?

in any case, the last 50 years have been a slow but relentless imbalancing of the playing field against labor and in favor of capital, rather than a relentless march toward perfect productivity.

technology certainly has aided and abetted this shift, by helping to speed up the world beyond the comprehensive agility of humans. and it has done so largely for wielders of capital, of financiers and bankers and investors and lawyers and consultants and executives, so that information can be hoarded and honed and aimed precisely. knowledge is power indeed.

as our greed led us to hoard money, and as capital concentrated, it wasn't enough to be well off. some of us really had an urge to be richer than our neighbors and out-compete them. our sense of self depended on it. we needed to influence the political system and even exert influence on foreign nations so that incremental advantages could be won over time. economists advocated unmitigated globalism and reagan cut taxes for the wealthy so they could "create jobs" and the benefits could "trickle down".

instead, money flowed to things like real estate, a relatively greenfield investment opportunity, where the mortgage interest deduction, combined with bailed out government guarantors (freddie and fannie) and tax shelters like 1031 exchanges, allowed speculators to make enormous sums on the spread between their cost of capital and the inflated interest rates of the times. and they could easily sell off the loans, recover their capital, and do it all over again in a matter of months, while the lone home owner often needed to wait years to realize gains (not that i'm necessarily advocating homes be investment vehicles).

money flowed to education, where regulations placed a choke hold on borrowers, basically giving lenders a risk-free investment backed again by government guarantees and the force of government to compel students to pay (bailouts are not for students of course).

executives and their investors, not to be outplayed, exploited tax shields to create private equity opportunities by essentially buying companies on loan, dressing them up, and flipping them. executives simultaneously complained about the lack of talent and the inability to compete with third-world labor, to get further concessions like a cut in the capital gains tax and tax holidays on foreign earnings that went straight past labor and into their piggy banks.

politicians on both sides of the aisle got fat on the largess all these regulatory advantages bestowed to them. the supreme court further obliged with citizen's united, and have so far allowed egregious gerrymandering.

we bailed out the banking industry not once, but twice, as well as the auto industry. we subsidize oil & gas and transportation, and give huge unaccounted-for sums to the military-industrial complex. all this money seems to somehow end up benefitting capital much more than labor. the US spends 3-4 times on infrastructure projects than most other countries; the same with education and healthcare. all with no perceivable societal benefit. we seem to be in collective love with giving tax-payer money to capital holders for free.

and so it goes. but that's not even the tip of the iceberg, that's a few droplets of water melting down off the side. the ground is swelling with anger over the continued blind eye of government and capital at all of this unfairness. we are social animals, and deep down, we expect that the group will care for each other, treat each other fairly, even protect each other, but greed has overwhelmed us. and technology-driven efficiency gains are only incidental to all this.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: